Running With Your Dog: When and How to Do It

If you enjoy running and you have a dog, chances are you’d like to take your dog along with you for a run every now and then. If you’ve just up and tried it, chances are it hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would. Running with a dog isn’t as easy as some make it seem, but it can be done if you put in the time and effort.

Distance Runs Not For All Dogs

Before you decide to start taking your dog for a run, make sure your dog can handle it. If you have a small dog, running far distances probably isn’t a good idea. It doesn’t take much to tire out a small dog and you don’t want to overwork your dog to the point of illness or danger. In case you didn’t know already, most dogs will continue to run even after they are exhausted simply to please you.

Make sure you understand the signs of a tired and over-exhausted dog and you stop before you do any damage. If your dog is overweight, it’s also not a good idea to run very far. It might seem counterintuitive because exercise can help dogs lose weight, but running with extra weight is bad for dogs’ joints and can put them at risk of injury. Instead of running with your overweight dog, try walking regularly. Once they have lost some weight and are back to a more normal weight, you can begin running with them.

If you have a medium sized or big dog with a lot of energy, it’s probably running with doga great idea to take your dog for a long run. Shepherds, pit bulls, border collies, and other high energy dogs make great running partners once you have trained them properly. Not only does it help you get in your daily exercise, but it can help keep your dog fit and healthy while also ridding them of any excess energy that may result in destructive behavior.

How to Begin

An important part of training your dog to run is to start slow. Don’t expect your canine companion to immediately be able to run in a perfect line or keep up with your ten minute mile. At the beginning, only run for short distances and if your dog is sniffing along the way, don’t jerk on his or her leash. Instead, try to redirect their attention back to running using verbal commands. Jerking on their leash, especially if they are wearing just a collar, can cause serious neck damage and is similar to whiplash for people. Always do your best to avoid that.

It might take awhile for your dog to understand what they are supposed to do. Because dogs are so sensitive to smells, it is in their nature to want to stop and investigate. If you reward them with a treat or verbal praise when they ignore distractions and continue to run, you will be able to teach and encourage them to keep running rather than stopping. Over time, you can build up the distance that you run with your dog. Again, start slow at the beginning.

Incremental Training

Run half a mile several times before moving up to a mile, and so on. It really can’t be emphasized enough that you pay attention to your dog’s body language to ensure you don’t over-exhaust them. If your dog starts dragging behind or is panting and breathing abnormally, stop running immediately and take them home to have some water. Make sure your dog is keeping pace with you and doesn’t seem like he is struggling to keep up.

Running with your dog is a wonderful, exciting experience. It is rewarding knowing that you are improving both your health and your dog’s health just by spending time together. Make sure you are always aware of your dog’s body language so you know when enough is enough. Besides that, enjoy the training aspect of it. Though it might feel tedious, teaching your dog to run with you will also help you both form a closer bond. Once you’ve got the running straight part down, enjoy building up the distance and soon you and your dog will be thriving together!

Top 5 Foods that are Toxic to Dogs

If you have ever had a dog, chances are you know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. But do you know why? Do you know other foods that can be dangerous for dogs to consume?

Preventing Poisoning in Dogs

Dogs can manage to get into all kinds of things when humans aren’t looking, so you might not even see it happen if your dog decides to eat something forbidden, but often there are consequences.

Because dogs can become extremely ill or even die if they ingest certain foods that are otherwise harmless for humans, it’s important to understand the symptoms of food toxicity and familiarize yourself with foods that can be harmful to your pup. Becoming aware of which foods pose a threat is an important part of being a responsible dog owner, so if you ever eat any of these 5 foods, make sure to keep them sealed up and away from your dog.

Top 5 Foods that are Toxic to Dogs

1) Chocolate – Most people are aware that chocolate can betoxic food dogs toxic for dogs;  it’s just a matter of keeping it away from them. The compounds in chocolate that cause a reaction in dogs are both caffeine and theobromine. A general rule to guide the effect of chocolate on dogs is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Symptoms of poisoning include a high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

2) Onions – Though some people love adding shallots and garlic to every dish they cook, both foods are poisonous to dogs. Compounds in onions and garlic cause the destruction of red blood cells within the dog. The effect on red blood cells can lead to anemia, though symptoms can take between 3 to 5 days to manifest. If you think your dog has ingested either onion or garlic, keep an eye out and bring your dog to a vet if he or she seems unnaturally tired, weak, or has very dark urine.

3) Xylitol – This is an ingredient that many people are unaware of in the first place, let one cognizant of its harmful effect on dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in candy and baked goods, but most commonly in sugar-free gum. It can cause liver damage in dogs and has the potential to cause an extreme drop in blood sugar, depending on how much was consumed. Symptoms of toxicity poisoning from xylitol include low blood sugar, vomiting, and loss of coordination. If you do choose to chew sugar-free gum, make sure you don’t leave any packs lying around that your dog can reach.

4) Grapes – Delicious and healthy snacks for humans, both grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Scientists haven’t figured out just how they cause that reaction, but they are sure of the connection. Lethargy, dehydration including increased thirst and urination, and vomiting are all signs of kidney failure in dogs.

5) Alcohol – Not surprisingly, alcohol is poisonous to dogs. toxic food dogsBeverages like beer, wine, and cocktails can cause severe medical reactions in dogs, but those aren’t the only source of alcohol to monitor. Yeast dough can also cause alcohol intoxication in dogs. Because their stomachs are the perfect environmental host for yeast, the yeast multiplies rapidly, expanding within the dog’s stomach and increasing the production of alcohol, which leads to poisoning. If you work with yeast dough, never leave it out on the counter during the baking or cooking process.

Watch for Symptoms

These foods can be extraordinarily dangerous to dogs, so keep careful watch of the foods that you keep out around your canine companion. It’s not always possible to keep an eye on our faithful friends every second of every day, so if your dog seems to be acting strange or exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned, take him or her to a veterinary immediately. Better safe than sorry.

Keeping Your Pet at a Healthy Weight

Having a pet is an experience that good owners take pride in. Providing food, shelter, and love to animal is more than just a service to the animal, it’s often rewarding to the human, as well. Sometimes, though, we humans tend to go overboard in giving our pets love and it often ends in their being overweight or obese. To help your pet, be it a cat or a dog, remain happy and healthy, keeping it a healthy weight is key.

Pet Obesity Rates

According to a 2013 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, pet healthy weight cat57% of cats and 53% of dogs are overweight or obese. That number has jumped dramatically since 2007. The number of obese dogs has increased nearly 37% and the number of obese cats has increased more than 90% in those four years. That means that there are more cats and dogs that are overweight than aren’t, which is very sad considering the hugely negative impacts being overweight can have on your pet’s health.

Overweight pets are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis and joint problems, exacerbated risk of cardiovascular disease, skin disease, reduced mobility, and a shorter life span. Just like in humans, being overweight or obese comes with serious health consequences that can be costly and sometimes deadly. Helping your pet stay a healthy weight will allow them to live a normal, active life and allow you to save money on veterinary bills and enjoy watching your pet thrive.

Many people don’t even know their pets would be classified as overweight or obese. Becoming aware of this information and understanding how to determine whether your pet is a healthy weight or not is crucial to giving your pet the best care possible. If you are unsure of how to tell by looking at your cat or dog whether it is overweight or not, refer to this chart to help.

What Does an Overweight Animal Look Like?

One of the most easily recognizable signs of an overweight pet is how the rib area looks and feels. If you are able to see your pet’s ribs and shoulder blades distinctly and there is no layer of fat over them, your pet is likely underweight. If there is a slight layer of fat over the ribs and tail, your pet is probably at a healthy weight. If your pet has body rolls and you have to push hard to feel its ribs, chances are your pet is overweight. Your pet should have an overall slender figure and its neck should be smaller than its head, with no rolls of fat on the body.

Preventing pet obesity or helping your pet lose weight doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s much easier to prevent obesity than it is to reverse it, but reversing it is entirely possible. Be sure you are feeding your dog or cat the same measured amount of food at every meal. Don’t leave food out all day or your pet might turn into a “grazer” and begin eating even when he or she is not truly hungry.

If there are multiple pets in the household and they seem to competitively eat, separate the food bowls so there is no rush to finish. This will help prevent overeating. Another important thing to keep in mind is treats. Don’t go overboard on the treats! They are fine in moderation, but some people end up giving their pets large amounts of treats and that can contribute to obesity.

Exercise is Vital

Make sure your pet is getting enough exercise. pet healthy weight dogA great motto is “if your pet is overweight, you aren’t getting enough exercise”. If you have a dog, go on at least one walk every day. If your dog is a larger breed or has high energy levels, one walk will not be enough. Several walks or playtime at the dog park might be necessary to help keep your pet healthy.

If you have a cat, don’t neglect exercise, either. Many people think cats can’t be exercised, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some cats love going on walks, so if yours is one of those, strap on a harness and a leash and walk your cat just like you would a dog! If your cat isn’t keen on walks (or a harness and leash), pull out the laser pointer and have a long play session until your cat seems tired. Toys with long strings and something dangling at the end are another great way to help your cat get some exercise.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is vital to helping them live the happiest, healthiest, and longest life possible. Being overweight or obese can have serious negative effects on their basic bodily functions, so be sure to keep a watchful eye on your pet’s weight and don’t skimp on the exercise!

The Benefits of Fostering a Pet

The benefits of having a pet are immeasurable: companionship, feeling of safety, reduced risk of depression, reduced risk of heart disease, and oftentimes, a great source of amusement. Not every one is in the position to adopt a pet, though.

Whether you are on a strict budget, you travel frequently, or you just don’t know what kind of pet you want, taking the step of adoption is a commitment that isn’t right for every one. Fortunately, fostering a pet provides all the benefits of having a pet without the long time commitment of adoption.

Why Fostering Helps

Statistics from the Humane Society estimate that approximately fostering a pet2.7 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters each year across the United States. A number of factors contribute to this number, but a main one is a failure to spay and neuter these animals.

Too many strays are still intact and continue to breed even though there is not enough food, shelter, and space to house them all. Sadly, many of them die every year because of the lack of space. There is a way to help address this issue, though, and animal rescues across the country are constantly doing so by helping promote spay and neuter programs and rescuing homeless animals. Fostering pets saves lives and provides both the human and the pet with benefits they wouldn’t be able to attain without fostering.

Fostering essentially means you are taking care of an animal for a temporary period of time. Usually, an animal remains in the same foster home until he or she is adopted, but it can vary depending on the situation. Many rescue organizations rely on foster homes to help continue their work of saving animals.

What do Fosters Do?

Pet foster parents take care of the dog, cat, or whatever animal it may be once it has been rescued from the shelter. This way, the animal can be socialized before it gets adopted, which increases the chances of a successful adoption and makes for a happier pet, too.

Fostering provides that animal the chance to learn housebreaking, crate training, basic manners and obedience, and even tricks before it goes into its adoptive home. It also provides a safe space and environment for the animal, so he or she feels comfortable and is able to experience the good life out of the shelter.

For foster parents, the situation is often a win-win. Adopting an animal can be expensive, but fostering, especially if you work with a local rescue organization, is typically free or costs very little. The rescue organization usually covers all the veterinary and food costs, leaving the foster parent to buy any toys if they want. So, the foster parent gets all the benefits of living with an animal without having to handle the financial expenses. For some people, especially college students and younger people, this can provide the perfect situation. You still need time to devote to the foster animal, but there is little to no financial burden.

Saving Lives

Besides the benefits that the human and pet reap from the foster situation, rescuing that animal from the shelter also makes room for a new animal to be taken in by animal control. That means every animal that is living in a foster home equates to another life saved in the shelter.

If you are able, consider fostering with a local rescue organization in your area. Fostering pets provides a wonderful opportunity to help not only enrich your life with various pets whenever you have the time, but the opportunity to save the lives of more innocent animals, too.