Tips for Doggy Dental Health

Taking good care of our pets is important for their livelihood, health and safety. There’s so much more to caring and raising an animal in your home than a few walks and vet visits. Today, pets are an additional member of the household that enjoys family outings, bonding time and provides companionship for all.

One important aspect of their health that isn’t always thought of is their teeth. Dental hygiene and health are just as important for dogs. Dental disease is a very common problem for dogs so understanding the best care you can provide is important. 

Since February is dental health month, we thought it was a great time to review some of the steps you can take to help protect your pet’s teeth and gums.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth 

In case you never knew about it, there are dog toothbrushes and toothpastes available that can help with the task of keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. If you’re unable to do the task on your own there are professionals that can assist with a tooth cleaning service. If your dog does allow it though, it’s good to brush up to every day before bedtime if possible – just like you do with your own teeth and for all the same reasons – prevent cavities, decay, etc.

Choose Tooth-healthy Treats 

While treats should not be given too frequently to dogs, it’s important to choose a quality option when you do. This should include treats that are created to assist with tooth and gum health. Often they will feature fresh minty scents to help with breath and even ridges and bumps that dogs will chew on and can help prevent tartar buildup between dental cleanings.

Schedule a Dental Exam

If your dog’s teeth are a concern, you should schedule a visit with your vet and arrange for a dental exam where they can look more closely at the teeth, any issues that may be occurring and even address any problem area before they become an issue for your dog.

Return to Work Tips for Adjusting Your Pet

Ever since the shutdowns that began due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, most families have been spending more time at home. From work to school and even weekend activities – the home has truly become a central hub for all activities. For some this slow down and time to connect has been a welcome change. For others, the timeline to get back to old routines and out of the office can’t happen soon enough.

One family member we may not be thinking of is our furry friends. They’ve also now over these 9+ months become comfortable with more snuggle time with their families, perhaps a change in feeding routines, bathroom breaks, and even playtime.

All of these things will drastically change back once going back to work and school begins.

One recent study even found that 78 percent of working pet owners are concerned about anxiety and/or confusion for their pets when they return to their normal work schedule and 75 percent are worried over their own personal anxiety when they return to work and will be without their pet.

To help ease your pet into this time in advance we are offering a few key tips for helping them to readjust to the old ways.

Begin with Old Rituals Early

Your pet is smart. They know when changes are occurring so it’s important to have a plan in place early on. If you will need to change feeding times to make it out onto the road start waking up early and getting that routine started now, in case there are any hiccups along the way and to help them get comfortable and readjust to the new patterns.

Keep an Eye out for Stress Indicators

Most pets – especially dogs, will show signs of stress in very predictable ways. Things like chewing up shoes and couch pillows or having sudden potty accidents can typically be traced back to stress, boredom and under activity. As your pet gets used to you not being in the home or taking mid-day walks and bathroom breaks, it’s important to be patient and perhaps spoil them with an extra chew toy or extra after dinner outdoor playtime to make up for the gap.

Increase Bonding and Togetherness at New Times

The great thing about pets is that they’ll take the extra love whenever you want to give it to them! So if you’re lacking in that department because you’re all busy at work and school again, be sure to leave some extra time to dedicate attention and snuggles with them when you are home. Plan weekend outings that involve your dog if you can or share movie time together.

Pet Behavior Problems? Try This

Anyone who has pets knows that sometimes there can be a little adjusting to get them used to their new dwelling when you bring them home. Sometimes, older dogs, or those pets that know better will still have a behavior problem or act out of character and you may come home to torn couch cushions or chewed up shoes.

There are many reasons why a pet may have behavioral issues but some of the more common ones can be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or another issue that is important to know about.

Here are some common behavior issues pet owners are always seeking solutions for and what your dog or cat might be trying to tell you.

Barking that is Uninterrupted

While most dogs will bark from time to time to get their owner’s attention or for other reasons when it is a consistent, uninterrupted barking that seems excessive or even a nuisance your pet might be in danger of trying to tell you something important. Always be sure to give them attention to ensure they or someone else is not in immediate danger. To help teach them to stop barking using the command “quiet” or try to hold your hand quickly over the mouth like a muzzle to indicate quiet time.

Chewing Everything They Can

As we mentioned earlier, destructive chewing – especially of pricey items around the house or dangerous materials can be a very hard situation to deal with. If you find your pup is always reverting back to this behavior (even if they let it go for a while) they could be bored or in need of more exercise. Try to take them on an additional walk, provide chew toys to occupy them, or spend some more cuddle time easing their anxieties.  

Constant Licking or Scratching

Besides the unnerving sound of your dog licking and scratching at himself, they could be dealing with allergies that are also uncomfortable for them. Skin irritations are common in dogs or bacterial infections could be present as well. Try diverting their attention from the habit, but if it gets to be out of control talking with a professional may be warranted.

Dogwatch Western Mass provides perimeter training for your pet to help them better understand commands and get accustomed to having a hidden fence for protection around your home and yard.  We love your animals just as much as you do. Give us a call today to learn more about our products and services.

Do Dogs Need Coats in the Winter?

The number of families that are adding a furry friend to their homes is growing today. Not only are these pets becoming just like other members of the family – vacationing and even eating holiday meals with the family, but they’re also spending a lot more time together with their owners in public.

On the East Coast, where temperatures can fall well below freezing in the winter months, you might be considering purchasing a coat and some snow boots for your pup. Before you do though, here are some things to keep in mind regarding dogs and coats.

Fashion Can Be Pesky

If you’re buying your dog cute coats because you want to make a fashion statement you should definitely consider whether or not your dog is comfortable or even likes wearing the gear at all.  If they are putting up a fighting or scratching at the clothing trying to remove it, chances are your dog doesn’t like the clothing and may not need it anyways. Clothing that is too tight can also cause scaring and other issues so be careful when dressing your pup.

Not All Dogs Need Coats

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to purchase a coat for your dog because you are genuinely worried that they will get cold outdoors, it makes sense to learn a little more about your particular breed and what they can tolerate. If your dog is long-haired for example, they may naturally be equipped to handle cold temps as their fur works just like a coat.

Other Factors to Consider

Dogs that would benefit from the use of a sweater or coat on cold days either way include those with medical conditions, old age or who have shown signs of disliking the cold weather whenever you head outside. Very small dogs and those that will be outdoors for extended periods of time in the cold could also benefit from a coat. Remember to size accurately including a covering that will protect their neck and tail.

Need a pet containment system and perimeter training? DogWatch of Western Mass. offers experts to set-up areas of freedom for your pet in and outside of your home and who guide you through the process. 

Call today!

Celebrate Halloween with your Dog

Halloween has become a giant commercial holiday today. It’s not just a chance to get into some spooky, fun and dress-up, but it’s also become an event that entire households and neighborhoods partake in over the month.

If you’re planning this year’s ghoulish agenda and thinking about how you can incorporate your four-legged family member in the festivities, we have some important things you’ll want to consider for their safety and also some tips for having fun with your pup this Halloween.

Can’t Go Wrong with Costumes

Nothing warms the heart of passersby and guests more than seeing what creative Halloween costumes the kids are wearing for the night. You can carry this tradition with your dog too. There’s a wide variety of pet costumes available on the market today that range from simple elastic top hats to entire intricate outfits. Feel free to go as wild and crazy as you’d like as long as your dog is cooperative with these shenanigans.

Stay in for the Night

If your dog isn’t a fan of scary costumes and neighborhood kids running about to grab candy for the night, it makes sense to plan a night in. Keep the Halloween spirit going and make it a night of scary movies together on the couch instead. You can even bake some dog-friendly Halloween cupcakes with peanut butter, cream cheese, and whole wheat flour as a special treat for the day.

Safety First

As tempting as it is to take your dog out on the town for the night with you, it can be traumatic for some dogs to be walking their usual block and suddenly seeing costumed creatures moving towards them. If your dog has any apprehensions about the night, safety comes first. Keep them safely indoors and away from the constantly opening front door and especially out of any candy.

Need help with perimeter training or indoor and outdoor hidden fences? DogWatch of Western Mass is your go-to source for everything pet safety. We want you to have an amazing Trick or Treat experience with the family and keep your dog’s best interest in mind too.

Happy Halloween!

Are Grain-Free Pet Diets Okay?

We talk a lot on this blog about how to give your pet the ultimate freedom indoors and while outside. We love all animals and want to also touch on the topics that are important to pet owners and keeping our furry family members safe.

You may have heard the news reports floating around of late regarding grain-free pet foods not being as healthy as they once were thought to be. Including talk that feeding your dog strictly grain-free foods can lead to heart disease.

Since there are very few regulations around pet foods it can be hard to know the right answer and discern what you should be feeding your dog for optimal health.

The concern has grown so much so that the FDA conducted its own investigation into grain-free cat and dog foods and whether or not it has been the cause of increasing incidences or canine heart disease.

From Jan. 1, 2014 through April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM (515 canine reports, 9 feline reports).

Pet foods that contain a high proportion of peas, lentils, other legume seeds or potatoes as main ingredients in place of grains, are being targeted as possibly causing the issues in dogs.

Canine dilated cardiomyopathy has been linked to dog food marketed as grain-free from over 16 brand name dog foods. Many popular brands also come highly recommended by the pet community.

Naturally, any loving pet owner wants to uncover what the right thing to do is. There have not been any direct recommendations made by the FDA yet, but understanding that gain-free is not the optimal diet is important.

It’s also important that your pet is seen regularly by a qualified Vet professional who has an overall view of their health and history and that if issues are occurring that they are made aware of the grain-free diet so that modifications and recommendations can be made to their food choices.

You should also do your own research from reputable sources online and choose pet food brands with longstanding track records as they’re likely back by scientists and constant research. Trendy and pricey food options for pets are not always the best option as animals have many different needs from humans.

Looking for perimeter obedience training or pet containment systems? Get in touch today!

Staying Safe Outdoors This Summer: Tips for Your Pup

Summer safety is a topic that’s regularly discussed as the season kicks off this time of year. We’ve all heard the standard rules of safety around pools and the need to apply sunblock. But when it comes to our four-legged family members there are additional hazards to consider as you spend more of your time outside.

Here are some tips for staying safe while outdoors with your dog this summer.

1.      Stay in Clean, Dry and Well Shaded Areas

Whether you’re heading to a beach or going for a long walk to enjoy the weather, it’s important to protect your pet along the way. Not only does the hot asphalt cause issues for their paws, but stay clear of damp areas where leaked antifreeze or broken glass shards from a dropped bottle might be present. Since heat exhaustion is very common in dogs, choose days when it’s not so hot out to take them for an adventure, or always keep fresh, cold water nearby so they can cool off and hydrate.

2.      Not All Dogs Can Swim

Summer is the perfect season to sit by a pool and relax. Whether you have one in your very own backyard or are visiting a home that does, keep in mind that if your pup hasn’t been in the water before there is a drowning risk. While there is a natural instinct to paddle in the water to stay afloat, dogs aren’t able to swim at an advanced level if they haven’t been taught or had exposure to the element before. Certain breeds are also not built to swim and will require a life vest to stay afloat.

3.      Know Your Surroundings

While traveling to new places comes with its own host of possible hazards, there could be problems creeping around in your own backyard. It’s best to do your research and know what’s outside that has the potential to harm your pet. Either blocking off their access to that area of getting it off of your property is the best bet. For example, there are many forms of fungi that might grow and lead to accidental ingestion by a dog. Some can be fatal. Other grasses and flowers can also make them ill. If you see your dog sniffing and chewing it’s worth investigating.

DogWatch of Western Mass services the Pioneer Valley and surrounding areas offering years of professional experience in installation, training and customer service for in-ground pet containment systems. Our solutions help pet owners feel confident that their furry friends are safe even with the freedom to roam around.

Get in touch today!

Beware These Toxic Household Cleaners When Spring Cleaning

With the spring season and warmer weather finally making its way to New England, now’s the time when most homeowners are taking the opportunity to open the windows, let in the fresh air and finally clean up some of the dust and clutter that’s settled indoors over the winter months.

While doing some deep cleaning each season is beneficial there are things to be aware of when it comes to the types of cleaning products you use. Both for your family and your pet’s safety.

Harsh chemicals used in many cleaners actually do more harm than good when they’re released into the air. Everything from asthma to other respiratory conditions and even some cancers has been linked to these toxins.

When it comes time to clean your house, be sure to do your research and use environmentally safe products so you’re still cleaning the house without putting yourself or your pets at risk. For this post, we’re specifically looking at those products that pose risks to your four-legged friends in your home and that, while safe for humans, can be poisonous to pets.

Swap to Natural Alternatives

Thanks to the power of the Internet today it’s only a search away to locate the natural, DIY alternatives for all kinds of cleaners for the home. From polishing pastes, to shower cleaners and even fragrances for the home, there is a way to mix common and safe household items to create a product that will work and is much healthier for everyone who comes in contact with it. Doing this will also lessen the incidences of residue causing allergic reactions or illnesses.

Keep Everything Locked Away

Like children, pets can be curious and get into anything within their reach. It’s important in a home with pets or children that these dangerous chemicals are always tucked away in a safe and locked cabinet where they won’t mistakenly be ingested.

Even with everything locked away, it’s important to set-up safe perimeters around your home for your dog or cat that you feel comfortable with them having access to and blocking from traveling to other hazardous areas of the house. This is achieved by setting up a wireless containment system for your pet.

If you’re in Massachusetts and surrounding areas let DogWatch of Western Mass come help you gain peace of mind while giving your pet freedom.

Contact us today!

Fight Obesity in Dogs – 3 Tips to Get Healthy this Spring

Obesity rates present a growing epidemic for the American population today. The problem with excess weight is that it can lead to other health complications and put a toll on one’s overall wellbeing.

And it’s not just the increasingly high-calorie foods and low activity amounts that are causing humans to gain excessive weight, it’s also impacting our pets.

One recent USA Today report uncovered that most American pets (dogs and cats) are overweight and even obese – 59.5 percent of cats and 55.8 percent of dogs to be exact.

We care about you and the health of your four-legged family members so we’ve put together 3 tips to help you both get more active and make better meal choices this spring.

Tip #1: Consume Better Quality Foods

Choosing the right types of food to feed your pet is important. Low-quality foods with grains and other fillers are never a good option. Not only can they lead to weight gain, but they can also bring other health issues. Instead, opt for wholesome, quality sources and that contain balanced nutrients needed for their bodies to continue functioning optimally.

Tip #2 Eat Appropriate Portions

One of the most important factors in weight loss and health is not only the quality of the food we eat but the amount. The same is true for our pets. While each breed will have a differing requirement on how much to eat and how frequently (depending on their lifestyle) it’s important to get familiar with the recommended guidelines for your pet and stick with it. That means not going over portion sizes, choosing only wholesome and nutritious, quality food and forgoing extra snacking in between meals (save those treats for the big praising occasions).

Tips #3: Get Outdoors and Commit to More Activity Time

Now’s the perfect time to make sure you’re holding up to your own fitness goals and walking more too. While you’re at it, you can add an extra walk for the dog at night or even set-up pet containment systems indoors, or outside that give your pet the freedom to roam and run around while keeping them out of harm’s way.

The weather’s starting to get nicer here in New England, so it’s a great time to get outdoors with the family and your pets and enjoy the fresh air.

Lace up your sneakers and grab the leash!

Celebrating Puppies & Keeping Pets Healthy this March

The month of March is swiftly passing by and for those of us who live here in New England, that means warm weather is right around the corner. Our four-legged friends will also be pleasantly surprised to find that they can soon spend more time outdoors and maybe even take an extra walk each night.

The month of March is also a health-focused month filled with prevention awareness and lots of days dedicated to reminding the public about health and safety concerns.

When it comes to dogs, nothing’s more important than caring for their health.

Getting active outdoors goes a long way to help improve dexterity, use up extra energy and even improve temperament. Another critical element to a dog’s health is nutrition.

Be sure you’re feeding your dog only quality foods that are safe for their digestive system and that are made of good ingredients and void of fillers.

While you’re using the extra daylight hours to get out there and be active with your dog, and focused on eating better, it’s also a great time review poison prevention tips.

With National Poison Prevention month also going on in March, here 3 things to keep your dog safe:
1. Keep all human prescriptions and OTC drugs far out of reach and in a locked cabinet if possible to stop accidental ingestion.
2. Do not give your dog table scraps. There are far too many dangers with possible ingredients added to these foods to risk poisoning. Stick to foods either prepared specifically for them (with no additional seasonings) or their own usual kibble and treats.
3. Gardening stuff can present a big problem in terms of possible poising for your pet. If they get into toxic plants themselves or ingest things like insecticide it can have fatal consequences. Do not leave anything laying around or leave your pet unsupervised around it.

Celebrating Puppies

Finally, the end of the month, March 23, brings a fun day to celebrate our little four-legged friends with National Puppy Day. Who doesn’t love a good puppy cuddle? These pets are bringing so much joy to households across the globe and we’ll be dedicating the day in their honor.

One recent study looking at why puppies are so cute found that the peak of their cuteness actually happens at around 8 weeks. This is perfect timing as it’s also a prime time for when most people are looking to adopt.

Have a wonderful rest of the month and as always, if you need assistance with pet containment so you can give your dog some freedom and gain peace of mind, we’re here to help!