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!

Sales for Pet Treats Are Booming

If there’s one thing we pet lovers love to do – it’s to spoil our furry friends. Now, more than ever, our pets are becoming members of our households. Sharing mealtimes, vacations, and even holiday gift exchanges! In fact, one report from market research firm Packaged Facts uncovered that by the end of 2022 we could see this market hit $9.87 billion and continue soaring over the next two years to come. 

Treats for both cats and dogs have been on the rise ever since the COVID-19 pandemic when many were staying home, social distancing, and bringing new furry friends into their homes. 

It’s about more than just rewarding and spoiling our pets, but consumers are turning to treats to help add more nourishment and health to their diets too. Their study into these increasing consumer purchases of pet treats also found that many are looking at things like plant-based formulas, environmental impacts, and even alternative proteins for their pets. 

Whether you are a new pet owner or have been an animal lover for years, it’s important to ensure that you are keeping your pet healthy and safe all the time. Not just in the foods, they are given to eat but also in their environment. Our wireless pet containment systems provide freedom and peace of mind for pet owners and their furry friends. 

The DogWatch Hidden Fence is the most technologically advanced and the easiest to use, and it is backed up by a no-hassle Lifetime Warranty from a company with more than 25 years of keeping pets happy and safe.

Our number one concern is the safety and well-being of your pet. We provide the support you need to ensure successful training and happy containment.

Should You Invest in a GPS Dog Fence?

There are few things more joyful to watch than a dog exploring and playing outdoors. Dogs love a romp, and they love to have the freedom to play and give their world a good sniff. But while we like to provide dogs with space to play, we also have a duty to keep them safe.

Traditional wired (underground) electronic dog fences are a great way to keep dogs contained while allowing them to maintain some freedom without the need for above-ground physical fences. There is also the option of a GPS Electronic Pet Fence.

Unlike a buried, wired fence, a GPS wireless electric dog fence makes use of satellites to map a specific boundary, such as your yard, creating what’s known as a “geo-fence.” Essentially, the area the pet is allowed access to, or the fence boundary is mapped in advance using satellite technology. This safe area will take the form of a circular region. (There is no other configuration possible.)

The dog then wears a collar into which the center of the area (the radius) is programmed. The wireless shock collar then calculates using software built into the collar the dog’s current position and sends an alert to the receiver collar if the dog approaches the boundary and corrects the dog if it does not retreat from the pre-mapped boundary.

What Are the Drawbacks of a GPS Electronic Pet Fence?

Many dog owners are attracted to GPS-based fences because they’re perceived as easier: there are no wires to lay, the system can be up and running in minutes, which also means you can move the system to another residence or a vacation home.

There are, however, several drawbacks to a GPS-based invisible fence compared to a buried, wired system. These include:

A mismatch with the shape of your yard. The GPS option works based on a circular safe zone: it cannot be custom configured to the shape of your yard, unlike a wired fence. This circular safe zone may not cover every corner of your property.

Confusion for the dog. For a dog that is accustomed to being able to roam the whole yard, a GPS system that relies on a more limited, circular shape, may confuse the dog and require additional training.

Interruptions in satellite signals. GPS satellite signals can also be subject to interference from a variety of sources, including nearby tall buildings and poor weather conditions. So, GPS wireless dog containment fences are often not recommended for properties with potential obstructions.

Cost. GPS pet fences are often pricey to purchase and maintain, and they often have shorter battery life than wired systems. This might put your dog at risk if you skip or delay battery maintenance.

Are the Drawbacks of GPS Solutions Too Numerous?

We think so. At DogWatch, we are committed to providing the safest, most effective electronic pet fences on the market. At this time, we believe wireless GPS fences do not provide the same level of safety and reliability as traditional wired systems.

DogWatch of Western Mass 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 dogs — happy!

What We Feed our Pets Matters

Today, our four-legged friends are becoming even more important members of our households. It’s far more than just a pet-parent relationship for many. In fact, ever since the pandemic, families across the country have introduced new companions into their homes, and the “humanization” trends as experts refer to the phenomenon are skyrocketing.

What this means is we’re now allowing our pets to sleep in the bed, share TV time with us and even eat in the kitchen with us at mealtime. For many buying holiday gifts and adding pets to the holiday festivities along with the rest of the family are all becoming commonplace.

One area that’s seen recent growing interest is the food our dogs are eating. Just like humans are striving to feel better and eat better, they’re also looking to find natural and healthy meal options for their pets so they too can live a long, quality life.

Projected to reach up to $81B by 2031, the pet food market is certainly on the upswing.

As this shift happens, we’re seeing more people move away from mass-produced kibble and foods with tons of fillers and ingredients that no one can pronounce. Instead, they are being replaced with fresh options that are organic, natural, and have sustainable ingredients.

So what are some great options to feed dogs? Things like fruits and vegetables (that are prepared properly and are not toxic to your pet) are key. For some breeds, heavy meat-based meals may be okay, for others grain-free.

Natural food diets can have so many benefits. It’s all about understanding your dog’s unique needs and ensuring they get the properly balanced diet to support them.

Just as with humans, eating better translates to feeling better. Not just inward but also our appearance. Better skin, less inflammation and allergy issues, and more.  As such, many pet parents are also looking for holistic and nutritional ways to help their pets improve their skin and coat health as well as strengthen their joint and digestive systems.

It’s important to talk to a board-certified vet if you plan on making drastic feeding changes for your dog to ensure the changes are not just healthy but also what they need.

How to Create a Stress-Free Space for Your Dog

Stress-free environments are good for everyone. Both humans and our pets crave areas where they can feel safe, protected, and unwind. It can be difficult to achieve this if you’re co-living with pets and haven’t set appropriate boundaries. Things like keeping out of the kitchen or the shoe closet. Or staying within your own backyard’s property line has to be taught and guided.

Plus, having a dog that’s happy and comfortable means getting in the right kinds of foods, enough bathroom breaks, and physical activity that’s vital to their functioning. This balance can make you both feel great when it comes time to snuggle at the end of a long day.

Here are a few ways you can create a stress free space for your dog.

Establish an Actual Safe Haven

Dogs find great comfort in having an area where they can tuck away and lay unbothered. Yours may have already chosen a spot, perhaps under a table or in a hallway where you’ll typically find them relaxing away from everyone. If they haven’t chosen a spot yet you can dedicate one for them by using a bed, crate or blankets tucked in a corner. Make it away from foot traffic and comfortable enough for them to retreat to when they want to relax.

Create Consistent Routines

There’s nothing more relaxing and safe feeling for a dog than staying on routine. Establishing consistent practices helps them to feel they are meeting their goals daily and gives them a pattern to follow each day. This level of comfort can also decrease stress and help them to feel more at ease.

Invest in a Hidden Fence

Our hidden fences create a safe space for either indoor or outdoor time for your dog. You’ll both gain peace of mind knowing there’s the freedom to roam without getting to unrestricted or dangerous situations. Contact DogWatch of Western Mass today!

What is the Best Age to Train a Dog?

Training a dog is something most people think about when they bring home a new puppy. Like human children, these young pups often need some extra care and attention to show them right from wrong and the correct ways they should eat, play nice with others, and even use the potty.

Sometimes, older dogs or those that have experienced trauma or illness may also need to be trained again. The age that a dog can be trained and have effective results can vary from dog to dog but with the right dedication and patience, an old dog can certainly learn some new tricks.

Early Stage Dog Training

According to experts, the ideal time to train a dog is when they are around 7 to 8 weeks old. This is a great time as they are still new to the world to start to understand commands and what is expected of them.  Since most of the things your pup will be doing every day – like mealtime, using the bathroom, and socializing will all be introduced at this time too it can be easier to get your dog to just learn what you’re asking of them all at the same time.

Benefits of Training Older Dogs

While you may think an older dog has seen his best days and cannot be trained to do things he’s already conditioned to do one way, there are actually many benefits over young pups when it comes to the training experience. For one, the older dogs are going to be far more intelligent and less hyper, and distracted as you teach them new commands. That means less having to repeat yourself and more time spent showing them the task at hand. Another benefit of training an older dog is that if they already have the basics like “sit,” “lay,” “down” then they can move on to more advanced tasks like scent tracking or rollover.  

You should of course always adjust your training for older dogs based on their condition. If they are having a hearing, vision, or other physical constraints you should take these into consideration no matter how much they want to please you by obeying the new commands you’re giving them.

At DogWatch Hidden Fences of Western Massachusetts, we provide safe, secure, electronic underground dog fence and pet containment systems so you can both feel comfortable living in and around your home. We also offer training & installation to help your dog get comfortable with their new boundaries.

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Pool Safety for Dogs

Dogs love to participate in fun activities, including swimming, with their human companions. Your pet may get overly excited in and around the pool, which is why it’s essential to train your dog and take precautions to keep it and others safe.

Enroll Your Dog in Swimming Lessons

Dogs instinctively know how to swim to some degree, but they tend to use only their front legs, which causes them to get tired quickly. In swimming lessons, your dog can learn to use both its front and rear legs, which is more effective and will help your pet conserve energy.

Don’t push your dog too hard. If your pet is overweight or sedentary, it will get tired quickly. It will need time to build up its endurance.

Some dog breeds have difficulty swimming because of the way they are built. In that case, a flotation device can keep a dog safe in the water. A flotation device can also be helpful for a pet that has arthritis, tires out quickly, or is still learning to swim.

Teach Your Dog How to Get in and out of the Pool Safely

Dogs often love to jump into a pool but have trouble getting out. Teach your dog to enter and exit the pool via stairs. That will help your pet calmly and safely get out of the pool when it’s tired. Teaching your dog to use stairs to get in the water, rather than jumping, can prevent a collision with a person and serious injuries.

Keep Your Dog away from the Pool When Humans Aren’t Around

If you don’t have a fence around your pool, you should install one. A dog can get tired in a pool and drown if it can’t get out. A dog can also drown if it falls or jumps into a pool with a cover.

An outdoor hidden fence from DogWatch of Massachusetts is an effective way to restrict your dog’s movements in the yard. You can decide where you want your pet to be able to go and which areas should be off-limits. Those areas can be marked by an underground wire that emits a radio signal.

Your pet can wear a waterproof collar that will emit a warning signal if the dog gets too close to the boundary. The collar will emit a correction, a mild but safe stimulation if your pet goes farther. With training, your dog can learn where the boundary is and stay away from the pool area. Contact us today to learn more about how an outdoor hidden fence can keep your dog safe or to request a quote.

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.

3 Things to Do When Your Dog is Behaving Badly

Training your dog to behave well is something many owners struggle with. Whether you welcome a new puppy into your home or adopt a dog from a shelter, taking the needed time to train and help dogs improve their demeanor and communication is key to a fruitful and mutually pleasing relationship.

While dogs are great companions and friends, it’s important to remember that they possess qualities unique from humans. The way they understand commands and their instincts all play a role in their actions.

The key thing you want to do to start working on their behavior issues is to find the sources of them. Yes, there is usually more than one cause. Here is a closer look at the typical reasons why your dog is having behavior issues.

Tip #1: Identify Reason for Bad Behavior

Oftentimes dogs will act out when they are lacking or wanting something else as a way of communicating that issue to you. Things like boredom can affect their personalities and end up becoming bad behaviors. Before you try to help your dog try and see if there are things they are needing or wanting that could help correct some of the poor behaviors.

Tip #2: Reward Good Behaviors Only

It’s important as you work on helping your dog to learn new behaviors and replace the bad ones with corrected actions that you only reward them at a time when the job was done well. Many owners will provide rewards and treat to dogs even after a bad behavior and this teaches them it’s ok to still do wrong and get the treat.

Tip #3:  Use Training to Correct Behaviors

The great news is that training – both on your own or with a professional can be used to correct and retrain dogs out of bad behaviors. Whatever things they are doing (chewing shoes, barking constantly, etc.) they can likely be trained out of with the right techniques.

Dogwatch of Western Mass provides wireless pet containment systems for both indoor and outdoor use. We also provide perimeter training to help your dog understand the boundaries. When your dog feels free and confident they will also display that appreciation in their behaviors.

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