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Post-Pandemic Pup Syndrome ™ in Your Dog

Are you getting ready to go back to work? Going on a vacation? We are seeing what we are calling the Post-Pandemic Pup Syndrome ™ with our current clients and our new clients that you need to consider before you schedule your next trip or answer the call to go back to the office!

 

We are at about 15 months since this whole thing started. With the average life expectancy of a dog being 10-13 years, you have to consider that is the equivalent of 10-12 percent OF THEIR LIFE! Changes the way you look at the impact on them, doesn’t it? We have seen that the Post-Pandemic Pup Syndrome ™ has resulted in two significant behavioral changes in many dogs. They are exhibiting more outward signs of separation anxiety when away from home and familiar faces and they seem to have lost some socialization skills.

 

Increased Separation Anxiety

 

One thing we have seen is an increase in separation anxieties. Dogs who were used to, and very comfortable with their owners absence during the day are more stressed when their owners leave for extended periods of time. When we have investigated, we have discovered that during Covid many of these dogs were only left for 1-2 hours EVER due to lockdowns. Please be kind to your dog. Understand that any extended time away from your home will be a significant emotional and behavioral adjustment for them. Make a plan NOW to gradually start increasing the amount of time your pets spend by themselves at home. Remember their pre-Covid routine and move the needle a bit each week if you can. Max 2 hours alone during Covid? Next week increase that to 3 hours alone.  The week after that to 4 hours. Re-acclimate them to their kennel or den area if it is needed. Invest in some busy toys like stuffed Kongs or other mentally stimulating toys. Go to our website at www.4leggedkids.com and download our Separation Anxiety Guide for some more tips to decrease anxieties when you are leaving home.

 

Lost Socialization Skills

 

Another issue that is just now becoming apparent with our travelers, especially our boarders, is the effects of a long-term lack of socialization with both people and pets. In some cases, dogs haven’t seen and socialized with ANY other dogs (besides passing on the street) for over a year! We have seen formerly well-socialized dogs be immediately defensive and become aggressive quickly when being presented in an open, neutral environment. The same goes for new people coming in their home. Give them a little break and slowly work them back into comfortable socializers if that was their pre-covid baseline.

Are you planning to have our team coming into your home when you travel, or do you plan to have them in a boarding environment around strange people and other dogs? Use friends and family to set up controlled environments with other well-socialized, calm dogs.  Slowly introduce back into “doggo society”.

 

How to Re-socialize

 

  • Start with a low-stress neutral meeting on a walk. Gradually decrease the distance between the dogs as long as they are exhibiting accepting body language. Here is a good real-life explanation of body language in dog interactions DOG BODY LANGUAGE . Use liberal amounts of high-value dog treats when the dogs are relaxed, asking them for tandem sits and downs if they have received previous training.
  • Once you see them exhibiting calm interested or indifferent behavior consistently (and after a good walk to mentally stimulate and tire them), take them to a neutral open outdoor area if possible (like a secure fenced dog area with no other dogs, an empty fence tennis court, a fenced back yard that doesn’t belong to either dog). Walk them together around the yard watching for a repeat of the calm, interested or accepting body language (ears, tail, loosey-goosey soft bodies).
  • When they are comfortable in the environment, discreetly disconnect their leashes making sure to keep your own body language neutral. Walk the yard with the other adult dog owner while watching your dog’s behavior. With the proper assessment of body language through the process they will hopefully be doing the zoomies together soon like no time has passed!
  • Do be aware of any tension building and use the “splitting” technique if things become a bit heated. Splitting is when you use your own body to walk between the dogs, a form of “body blocking” while you each redirect your dog’s behavior. This will decrease the tension and allow you to redirect whenever needed.
  • Rinse and repeat until you gradually reintroduce your dog to the joys of hanging with the other dogs!

 

With some advanced planning and scheduling starting now you can ensure that your travel or return to work will be as satisfying for your pets as it is for you!

 

For more information about our dog walking and pet sitting services and to download our Separation Anxiety Guide check out our WEBSITE.

Grilling With Dogs on Memorial Day

Many pet owners will be firing up their BBQ grill this weekend for the holiday.  I don’t know about your dog, but around here they go nuts with sizzling meat on the grill.  Unfortunately, each year thousands of animals are brought to pet emergency rooms because of the dangers associated with summer grilling.  Many of these mishaps can easily be prevented. There are many things to remember when you are grilling with dogs over Memorial Day weekend.

 

 

Dangers of grilling with dogs

 

  • -Some of the most dangerous foods include corn cobs and any meat with bones.  Dogs love to chew on these, but the cobs and bones can get lodged in their intestines.
  • -One of the most overlooked items is the meat juices and drippings from the grill spilling on loose gravel, dirt or mulch.  Dogs will lick and swallow the juice and end up with a belly full of rocks, dirt or mulch.   Be careful with drippings and clean up spills as soon as possible.
  • -Be aware of foil, plastic wrap, skewers and string we use to prepare and cook foods.  Make sure these are safely placed in garbage cans (that your dog cannot get into).
  • -Be smart about scraps.   While your pet will happily gobble up pretty much anything that comes off the grill, remind your guests not to feed your pets.  Keep a watchful eye over the food tables to make sure your determined dogs don’t help themselves to the goodies.
  • -Many foods are poisonous to animals, including:  onions, garlic, chives, chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, avocados, and many candies.
  • -Don’t forget the grill itself.  Make sure to keep pets away from the hot grill and coals until they are completely cooled down.  Burns for pets are as dangerous and painful as they are for people.
  • -One last reminder…don’t forget all those cups of alcoholic beverages.  Make sure they stay out of reach of your pets.

 

We wish you all a happy Memorial Day and hope you enjoy the day safely with family, friends, and your 4-legged kids.

Why Does My Cat Do That? Here are some answers

Have you ever wondered  “why does my cat do that?”

 

This is for all Pet Parents of Feline Kids…

 

Cats can be pretty funny creatures, but there is actually a method to all the madness.  Cats sleep for the majority of the time (sometimes up to 20 hours a day!).  For those few hours they are awake, they can do some strange things.  Here are a few that will keep you wondering…

 

Why does he jump up on the bannister, freeze, then jump back down?

  • He is practicing his hunting and survival skills.  This also explains why he may make an obstacle course out of your house and run through it a few times before settling down.

 

Why does my cat knead?

  • This is a behavior he learned as a kitten and was still nursing.  In order to get more milk from a mother cat, kittens will knead the area around her teat while they are suckling.  This helps the flow of milk to the teat and enables them to consume more.  Once cats grow up they sometimes still do this just as a comfort activity, perhaps it reminds them of their mom.

 

Why does she bump and rub me with the front part of her head?

  • This is called bunting and it is how cats show affection.  It’s a cat instinct to mark you with their scent and he is actually claiming you as his territory.

 

Why do my cats claw on the back of my couch?

  • This is an instinctual behavior for cats to work their claws and mark their territory.  Once a cat claws something, their scent is left on that object, so they will come back again to claw it. (hint – give them something appropriate to sharpen their claws on and smother it in catnip!)

 

Why does my cat wake me up to play at 3:00 am?

  • Cats are nocturnal animals and do not understand that you need to sleep at night.  Your cat simply wants some attention.

 

Why does a cat always land on its feet when it falls?

  •  Cats have an exceptional sensory system.  When it falls, the cat’s nervous system knows that it is upside down and falling.  Because of this, the cat can use his tail and very flexible body to twist and right himself for a safer landing.   This built-in ability to adjust its position in mid-air saves many cats from injuries when they fall.

 

Why does my cat put his toy in his bowls?

  • Cats look upon their food area as part of their territory.  Cats are putting their favorite toy in a “safe” place.

 

Why does my cat love drinking from a dripping faucet?

  • Cats prefer their food and water fresh, and running water is as fresh as it gets.  Plus, the motion of water coming out of a faucet is appealing to their sense of hearing and sight.

 

Hopefully this helps you understand a little bit more about why your kitty does some of those quirky things.  Please let us know if you have other questions about things your cat does and we’ll find the answers for you. We speak fluent feline and would love to get to know your cats the next time you travel. Read more about our CAT SITTING

Foster a Homeless Pet – Tips to Get Started

My family has fostered dogs and cats for at least the last 20 years. We have fostered dogs, cats, and kittens for Open Door Animal Sanctuary and dogs from several other local rescues over the years. There are many ways to approach being a foster for a homeless pet, but here are some tips to get you started.

 

So many people have questioned me over the years. First of all, they question my sanity for always having a revolving door. They also ask how I can foster and then let them go.

 

To be perfectly honest, letting them go can be hard. I always approach the process knowing that these are not my babies. My job is to care for them and prepare them to be the best members for the family they just don’t know yet.

 

Some of my fosters have been “specialty fosters” and others have been a more long-term variety. Here are two of my favorite stories:

 

The Joy of Kittens

I have a special love for working with pregnant mamas. I help them through the queening process (delivery) and raise and socialize the kittens until they are adopted. This is such a fun and rewarding experience and I can certainly tell you has been full of life lessons for my kids as they’ve grown up.

 

About five years ago we had a huge influx of pregnant mamas at the sanctuary. We would all brace ourselves when it was kitten season because at times the nursery would have well over a dozen pregnant mamas or mamas with young litters. For some reason I made a crazy decision and took in two mamas with their very young litters at the same time. I knew it would be a little squishy with two large cages in my office, but I figured that in about six weeks the babies would be a lovely playgroup.

 

We had two very large dog crates next to each other in my office. I would open one and let the mama run around while I cleaned her space and then I would put her back in with her babies and go to the next cage. Mamas can be very protective of their babies and it was not safe to have them too close to each other.

 

One day when I was done cleaning I couldn’t find the mama to put her back in. I turned around and saw that I hadn’t latched the other kennel correctly and she was in grooming the other mama! I had always known that they were both young mamas and were of similar coloring, but I realized at that point that they were in fact sisters themselves! The rest of their time with me was a blissful combination of two mamas with their litters co-parenting!

 

Bella the Franken-Dog

A memorable long-term foster of mine was Bella. When I first started rescue I worked with small foster-based rescue groups. I was the intake coordinator for one early on for a year. You have to be a bit crazy to do that level of front-line rescue. Rescue volunteers have huge hearts and when faced with the mind-numbing number of homeless pets in kill shelters…we tend to go a little nuts. I  would personally drive to Jefferson County Animal Control weekly to see who was on the “chopping block“ and didn’t have any time left. I would temperance test them and load my poor minivan with dogs and puppies. One one memorable trip I had two mamas with seven puppies between them, and four other adult dogs.

 

It was a full day affair every week. I would head straight from Animal Control to a local Chesterfield veterinarian who pretty much opened his back area for me to process the dogs. That is where my veterinary technician background came in handy! I would heartworm test them, vaccinate them, check their stool for parasites, and get them ready for a quick health check by the veterinarian rabies vaccinations. Then came the work of calling down the list of fosters to see who had one more space available…or even who was willing to squeeze one more in. It was a frenzy every week! My hat and my heart goes to those that still do that every week. It is a labor of love and I have to say it takes a crazy person to do it, but where would we be without them?

 

Bella was actually the first foster I had with this particular group. I was at a large pet adoption event in Queeny Park when I met a foster for this organization (it doesn’t take much more than that to be “volunteered”). She called me within the next week with a Rottweiler mix who was “super sweet“ and needed a place so she wouldn’t be euthanized. I brought her home to settle in for a “short” time to wait for her veterinary visit to check out her right eye. She had a genetically recessed eye and the eyelids rolled in and caused her pain and irritation.

 

Guess what? The vet visit also showed she was pregnant! Woo-hoo! We were then responsible for getting heathy babies out of an emaciated and dehydrated mama. We were lucky to safely delivered her babies and we enjoyed raising a litter of puppies. Our one and only. If you have ever done it do you know why I say that. That four to ten week timeframe is adorable but messy!

 

We had Bella spayed after we found wonderful homes for her puppies and she settled in to our routine. She was a knucklehead. We were pretty sure she was part rottweiler and part boxer by her energy and mannerisms. When we would play in the yard she would run along behind us and try to hook our legs with her front paws. Very boxer-ish.

 

The next step to get her adoptable was to determine the best plan with her eye. It was decided that it was causing her so much pain it had to be removed. After her surgery we we’re so relieved that she was no longer in pain. At that point she received many additional monikers such as “Franken-dog“ and “Eye-gor“. She was always our sweet but nutty Bella.

 

As for long-term foster… from start to finish she was with us for 11 months. She was definitely a long-hauler! The main issue was that she did not “present well“ at adoption events. Give these poor dogs and cats some grace when you see them act a bit hyper and anxious at local pet stores or adoption events. They’ve been pulled from their foster homes to these events in the hopes that someone will fall in love. They are out of their environment and under a lot of stress. They will not behave in these scenarios as they would when they settle into your home. See the potential.

 

What Can I Do To Help?

I’ve had many experiences and I wanted to share several tips for you should you decide to join the ranks as a foster parent:

 

  • Make sure you have the lifestyle for it. You don’t have to be home at all times, but being able to provide a stable, consistent environment is important for their security and rehabilitation. We have had several clients over the years who became foster parents along with their own household of dogs. They relied on our Dog Walking service for their own dogs and for foster dogs and puppy care management during the day.

 

  • If you have a longer-term foster care situation (I would say more than a month assignment) understand that dogs will not even begin to settle in until about three weeks. You won’t even know their true personality until they do. This is the same with bringing any new dog in your home. The first three weeks will be your “honeymoon phase“. The dog will be a little bit more unsure and will express themselves in a more guarded way. You will gradually start to see little behaviors come out that will need some training and management. That comes with the territory! Your responsibility will be to ensure a consistent dependable environment with loving limits as you mold them into good family members.

 

  • Make sure you check your regulations for fostering. If you are renting, this is your first hurdle. Make sure that your landlord will allow you to foster. Some will be pet lovers themselves and be happy to support you and others might require a pet deposit or consider them to fall under “pet rent”. You need to additionally check your municipal or county regulations for number of pets in a household, especially if you already have your own pets.

 

  • Make sure you have no issues with your homeowners or renters insurance. This might (unfortunately) come into play with certain breeds.

 

  • Consider the supplies and materials you will need. Most supplies will come from the rescue group but make sure you keep these items in mind: a secure kennel (you will want to keep them kenneled when not under direct observation), food, bowls, flea and tick treatment, heartworm preventative, a bed or some form of bedding, a Kong or some other indestructible toy (until you determine if they consider “death to the squeaker” as their favorite game). Also consider how to “dog proof” your home. Petfinder has a great article How to Prepare Your Home for a Foster Pet.

 

  • If you have other pets you will need to introduce them to your own pets. You will want to do this gradually. Seattle Animal Shelter does a good job preparing their fosters with some of these following suggestions:

~Do be alert and make the reintroductions gradually and calmly. Even if they got along great at the shelter, your dog may be extremely territorial in the home.
~If possible, go for a walk around your neighborhood with both dogs and two handlers.Walk the dogs side by side on leashes and allow them to sniff one another and become familiar with each other.
~Do give your own dog LOTS of love and praise.
~Do leave leashes on the dogs when you are in the home, so that you can get immediate control if needed. You may only need to do this for a short time.
~Do talk normally. Letting the dogs know that you are fine; they are fine; everything is fine!
~Be patient and go slowly with your foster dog as they may have been through a stressful surgery, abusive situation or a lot of recent changes.
~Don’t leave your foster dog unattended with your resident dog. Even if they seem to get along well in your presence, you should separate the dogs when you leave your house. After a while, you may determine that this is no longer necessary, but be sure to always remove all toys, food, chews and start slowly

 

Fostering a homeless pet is a challenge, but can be so rewarding to know that you have helped save a life and helped shape someone’s new family member! 4-Legged Kids has a mission to Connect and Support pets and people with our Dog Walking and Pet Sitting services and our commitment to local St. Louis Rescue. You can read more on our LOCAL GIVING page. Let us know if we can help you get started on your foster journey!

Perfect Pet Photography – Get the Best Shots

You all have seen the amazing pictures that our staff take of your pets when you can’t be there. Our staff training includes education on pet photography to get the “best” of your pets and not always butt shots. We know you enjoy them! Here is a bit of information from our team on perfect pet photography – and how to do it!

 

With the new cameras available we have come SUCH a long way from our early picture uploads a decade ago!  Here are some tips we have learned along the way that will hopefully help you get some good shots of your 4-Legged Kid…

 

Best Tips for Perfect Pet Photography
  1.  Start With Your Pet’s Personality.  If your pet is a bit lazy, capture him laying down or yawning.  If your pet is always active, capture him playing with a favorite toy or performing his favorite trick.  Think about what your pet loves to do and try to capture that.
  2. Think About Location.  Make sure that wherever you take the pictures, your pet is comfortable and at ease.  Also, think about the background of the shots…typically simple is better.  You want to capture your pet and not the surroundings.
  3. Get in Close.   Most of the time, pets are smaller than us and many times end up getting lost in a picture.  The closer you get to your pet, the better your shot will be.
  4. Get on Their Level.  Get down on your pets level and look at them eye to eye.  If you photograph while standing up, you’ll get a “human perspective” on your pet.  You’ll be much more impressed with your results taking the shot from their level.
  5. Mix Up Your Framing.  Take different shots of your pet…just his face, a ¾ length shot, a full body shot, and even just his eyes, whiskers or nose.  You’ll be able to capture your pet in a variety of ways.
  6. Catch them Unaware.  Like children, pets rarely sit still or pose for photographs.  Sit back and start snapping pictures as your pet plays.  You’ll be amazed at what you capture.
  7. Use Natural Light.  If possible, take pictures outside and avoid using a flash.  The flash does not only cause red-eye, but can also scare your pet.
  8. Be Patient.  When you get excited, so does your pet.  If you relax and wait, so will your pet and you’ll be able to capture that perfect shot.

 

Check Out Some of Our Fun Photos

We LOVE using the “Portrait” mode on our phones to really highlight your pets and minimize the background. These can really result in some nearly professional-quality photos! You can take a look at some of our cool pics in our 2020 Dog Walking Yearbook.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you get that perfect shot of your 4-Legged Kid!

How to prepare your pets for your upcoming vacation

One of our favorite times of the year…vacation season!  Of course we have vacation season for some people all year round, but we really peak May through August. Why do we like vacation season?  We get to meet new friends and see some of our long-time friends. We have been assisting pet parents with their vacation planning since 1997 and wanted to share some tips to make sure that you prepare your pets for your upcoming vacation.

 

Prepare Your Pets for Your Vacation
  • Make your pet comfortable with someone coming into their home. Some pets are slow to warm up. Ensure their success by having some of their favorite treats and toys available for your pet sitter to grab on the way in the door.
  • Leave a telephone number where you can be reached.  Sometimes your pet sitter has a question or concern about your pet when they visit.
  • Share your pet’s feeding schedule, a typical daily schedule, how your pet walks on a leash, any medications your pet needs, and any “quirks” your pet might have that need to be understood for the best time for all. 4-Legged Kids has an integrated online platform for all notes to be updated before you leave home.
  • Double check your reservation on your secure online client portal several days before you leave. Changes happen in your schedule and you want to make sure your pets have the care scheduled that they need.
  • Stock up on everything your pets need while you are gone. This includes: extra food, medicine, treats, a properly fitting collar or harness, and a few favorite toys.  Provide lick mats with peanut butter and easy cheese or instructions for frozen stuffed Kongs. We are happy to leave any approved mental stimulation toys and treats for your dogs when we leave.

 

Some Other Things to Consider
  • Is your pet up-to-date on vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, and heartworm treatment.  If it happens to be time for a treatment while you are gone we are happy to administer!
  • Keep our office phone number with you (636)405-0400 if you have any schedule changes or concerns while you are gone. Be mindful of time zones. Many times it is easier and quicker to contact us through your secure online client portal.
  • Advise your veterinarian that someone else will be caring for your pet(s) and authorize the vet to provide medical care in your absence if it becomes necessary. It is a good practice to have your card on file with your veterinarian.

 

Does your pet suffer from anxieties? Download our Guide for you to help prepare your pets for vacation. Get your Separation Anxiety Guide.

 

When you return, allow for a short transition period for you and your pet to adjust back to your normal routine at home.

 

 

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms?

Is your dog afraid of thunderstorms? While we are all grateful for the rain and the recent storms (especially to knock out some of the pollen), some of our 4-Legged Kids are less than thrilled with the thunderstorms. Do you have a dog that gets anxious (or even terrified) when thunderstorms roll in? Many of these dogs sense a storm coming from a long way away and will become more alert and their anxiety behaviors will start to ramp up.

 

Here are some strategies to help your 4-Legged Kid handle storms.

 

  • Find a “safe place” where your dog can stay during the storm…this is sometimes a bathroom, a closet, or a crate covered by a blanket.  Playing white sounds or music can also help calm your dog (or at least drown out some of the sounds of the storm).
  • Never leave your dog outside during a thunderstorm.
  • Examine your own behavior and the behavior of other people in the house.  Dogs react to human anxiety, fear and stress.  Try to remain relaxed.
  • Don’t just ignore your dog’s fear and anxiety. It is real and is an extreme source of discomfort to them.
  • Try distracting your pet by practicing basic commands or playing games together.  Reward your pet for calm behavior with praise and treats.
  • Several clients have had success with a “thundershirt.”  These can be purchased at many local pet stores or online.   Make sure to read the instructions on how to introduce your pet to a thundershirt and use it properly.

 

If your pet has extreme anxiety, you’ll want to consult your veterinarian or a dog behaviorist.  Many pets with extreme anxiety need a combination of medication and behavior therapy.

 

If your dog exhibits anxieties such as separation anxiety, you can get some practical tips in our Separation Anxiety Guide.

 

Fear Free Happy Homes has a video series on anxieties you can learn from Preventing and Alleviating Anxieties 101

Hiking with your dog in St. Louis

Hiking with your dog is a great thing to do for both them and you!  From your dog’s perspective it can be so much fun to go out in the woods…so many smells, people to admire them, and other dogs to visit.  There are lots of things to consider before lacing up those hiking boots and taking off.

 

First of all, hiking is great exercise for any dog, especially for dogs that are a bit overweight (hiking is much better than getting less food to eat!).  It’s also good for large breed dogs because it helps keep muscles strong, so they don’t have as much trouble with joints when they get older.  Plus, it’s a great way to expend a lot of the extra energy some dogs have.

 

Before you go hiking, make sure pets are allowed at the park you’re going to.  Can you believe that some parks don’t allow dogs?  Fortunately, most St. Louis County Parks and Missouri State Parks allow dogs to come hike all they want (as long as they are on a leash), but some Missouri Department of Conservation parks don’t allow dogs.

 

A few other things to think about before you head out….

 

  • Make sure you bring water and some type of bowl.  Your dogs are wearing fur coats all year and it can get hot during the summer…they can dehydrate easily with activity.
  • Make sure you are current with flea and tick protection (hiking, woods, ticks, do yourself a favor and spray yourself also)
  • If you’ve never been hiking before, start with a small trek and work your way up to a more adventurous one. I have such fond memories of taking an “unimproved trail” and having to poop in the woods. Your dog will appreciate the gradual introduction.
  • Always stay on  leash—there are unknown dangers in the woods (other animals, getting lost, or scaring other people, just to name a few). And, it is the rule pretty much everywhere. Some “dog experts” (sarcasm inserted) feel they are so fabulous they are above the rules because their dog has a “perfect recall”. Hmmmm…   Don’t be that person.
  • Make sure you pick up your dog poop…no one likes to step in it, smell it, have their dog eat it (yep, go back and read about Turd-Herding)
  • Microchipping is best, but at least put an easy-to-read tag on your dog’s secure collar with name and contact number, just in case they get lost and can’t find their way.

 

With our warmer weather now here, it is the perfect time to bust out of your Covid isolation, toss the masks, and breathe in the fresh air with your dog! Here is a great article with some parks in the St. Louis area to consider tackling with your dog Dog-friendly hiking trails.

Poop eating – yes I just went there!

Yes, I just went there! Poop eating in our dogs is about the nastiest thing ever, isn’t it? It is always encouraged to pick up your dog’s doo right after for many health reasons, but it is a must for the turd-herders. Of course some people just think it is a great way to have the dog do the work for them…

 

Our golden retriever, Louie, was the best at poop eating…and by the “best” I mean the “fastest”. Sometimes he would just do a snatch-and-run and then it was a game for him to swallow faster than I could catch him. Then there was the “sneaky and sly” move. He would casually walk the yard, stopping to sniff and stare off into the woods as a distraction technique. He would make the slightest movement while sniffing the ground and pretty much just curl his tongue around a tasty turd and roll it into his mouth. I guess he thought he could sneak one past me. Ugh!

 

Winter time he was in his prime. He loved his poopsicles. It was his own version of the substance vs. form argument.

 

Pick it up people…just pick it up.

 

I know it sounds like the most hideous of habits, but it is common with dogs. Enough to get it’s own big 50 cent word.  It is called COPROPHAGIA. Dogs can start the habit for many reasons like boredom, a poor diet, medical condition, scavenging behavior, and stress relief. 

 

You typically will see this behavior start as puppies. This might be just an investigative behavior, it might be self-entertainment, scavenging behavior, or a response to their mom cleaning their own poop out of the bedding area. Of course when they are in the home we get all gaggy and try to stop them or correct them and it becomes a great way to get their new human’s attention! What a fun game!

 

I am embarassed to say, I grew up with the “rub their nose in it to punish them” old-school torture when a pet would soil in the wrong place. Not only do they have NO CLUE why you just did that, but it can also encourage stool eating in some circumstances.

 

If you have a healthy, vaccinated dog, there isn’t any real “harm” in it (except when Louie would eat and come inside and throw it back up on the carpet!). Make sure you talk to your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical issues. There are products that your veterinarian can provide that you put on their food that apparently makes it taste “bad” (like whatever, their concept of bad is apparently a bit off).

 

The bigger issue is road poo. Like, when you are out on a walk or at the dog park, or if your dog plays with others. You may know the health status of your dog, but the rest are a big unknown. Your dog can get a wide range of health issue from eating other dog’s poop (or wildlife…I can’t forget to mention that! Louie LOVED snacking on, and rolling in deer poop). Avoidance is the best practice here. Keep your dog on a leash if they absolutely can’t control themselves. It would be a bit challenging to go around sprinkling nasty powder on every other dog’s poop.

 

Of course, why can’t people pick up their own poo? It is the law, but SMH (insert big eye roll here).

 

Do you have a poop eater?

 

P.S. If you are a child of the 80s like I was, you are VERY familiar with Mr. Yuk! He was created in 1971 by Dr. Richard Moriarty at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh as an easily recognizable icon to prevent children’s poisoning. Here is a nod to Dr, Moriarty on the 50th anniversary of Mr. Yuk (who I think is also quite appropriate here!).

 

a bit of that fun news story HERE

Protect from fleas – the battle all pet owners face

Let me tell you about Cody, a terrier buddy of ours. Cody’s mom noticed he was itching and biting at his tail and back legs.   Poor Cody, he was miserable!  She started investigating a little closer, expecting to find a dead tick (Cody goes hiking a lot and gets ticks quite often).  Instead, she found black stuff all over his back legs and tail.   She ended up doing a little research and discovered it was flea poop! She had to figure out how to protect from those fleas.

 

How in the world did Cody get fleas?  His mom is really good about keeping Flea and Tick treatment on him.  Well, the month before, Cody’s mom had bought a different flea and tick treatment (apparently, it was on sale and his Mom is always trying to save a little money).  After calling the vet, his mom learned that not all flea and tick treatments are the same.

 

A little bit of information about fleas…fleas are tiny insects that have six legs, no wings, and can leap tall dogs in a single bound.  There are nearly 2,000 species of fleas, but typically it’s the Ctenocephalides felis (the cat flea) that gives dogs the most grief.  Fleas can be more than just irritating.  Besides the usual itching and scratching, some dogs are extra-sensitive to flea saliva.  One bite from a flea may be enough to bring on the unbearable itching of flea-allergy dermatitis.  Fleas can cause more problems than itchy skin…they are carriers for intestinal parasites, like tapeworms.

 

Fortunately, for Cody, it was an easy fix.  He had to take a bath with some flea shampoo (which he HATES!).  It was stinky, but it helped with the itching.  Then, his mom had to buy more flea and tick treatment from the vet to put on him.   His Mom also had to vacuum a lot to get rid of the dead fleas.  Within a week or two, Cody’s skin was better and the fleas were all gone.

 

How can you protect your pet from those pesky fleas?  There are over-the -counter products to treat your dog, but (as Cody’s mom learned), they are not as effective as prescription products from your vet.  The prescription product may be more expensive, but they’re safer and work faster.  They generally work to repel and kill adult fleas as well as the flea eggs.  Most of these include tick treatment, too.

 

No matter what product you decide to use, make sure to follow the directions exactly.  Flea-control products are technically poison and can harm your dog if not used properly.  If your dog begins to drool heavily or shake after applying a flea control product, get him to the vet immediately.  Also, be aware that there are different products to control fleas for dogs and cats, so make sure to use the right type for your pet.

 

Another option is to check with your local pest control company. If you have an infestation in the yard it can be a tough battle to get them under control in the house.

 

If you have any questions about fleas and treatment, or are wondering if your pet might have fleas, contact your veterinarian!

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