Scaredy Pups: Getting Along with Kids Wednesday 11 April 2018 @ 08:46
As part of our series on dealing with dogs who suffer from phobias, our last post discussed how you might go about helping your dog with their fear of other dogs. This is a real issue for some dogs and their owners, who might have uncomfortable run-ins with other dogs on a daily basis. Other fears your dog might struggle with can include:
We plan on covering all of these fears over the course of the series, but for now we’re going to talk about what you might do if your dog is afraid of children.
We all know and love those photographs of children playing and cuddling with their favourite doggy companions. There are thousands of these photos, and hundreds of films and books imagining what these playful pairs might get up to. You may be surprised or disappointed, then, to hear that dogs who are afraid of children aren’t all that uncommon.
A dog’s fear of children makes sense when you think about how they tend to communicate with the world around them. Dogs can’t use words like humans can, so they communicate through sounds and body language. A dog who is used to living with adult humans will be accustomed to the sounds and movements they make. Children speak in a higher pitch to adults. Their steps are unsteady and faster. Their movements can be jerky and unexpected. It’s entirely possible that a child might hurt a dog by accident, or even fall and land on them. When compared to an adult, children and babies could very well appear to be part of a different species entirely.
What might be even more upsetting for a dog is that the presence of a child can also alter the behaviour of the adults around them, making even the most trusted human suddenly unreliable.
How can I tell if my dog’s afraid of children?
Indicators that your child is afraid of children are much the same as those exhibited with any fear. The signs below are indicative of extreme stress and your dog should be removed from the stressful situation if they are exhibiting these signs around children. The behaviours a scared dog might show around children can include…
… attempting to hide or escape;
… shutting down or going stiff when children are nearby;
… showing teeth (lip-lifting) and snarling;
… biting or nipping (especially when trapped);
… lunging or yapping;
… lowering of head, increased eye contact;
… shaking, rolling over or recoiling.
In some cases, these behaviours can be fairly subtle so if you think your dog might be afraid of children, watch them carefully!
How can I help my dog recover from their fear of children?
If your dog’s fear is of children who visit your home, you need to manage this situation. Begin by identifying an area in your house where your dog can go and where you can prevent children from entering. For example, you may have a room where you can close the door, or set up a baby gate. Make sure children are supervised at all times, as you can’t always trust kids not to open a door or try to touch something through a gate.
Begin training by having children you can trust to behave calmly walk past at a safe distance from your dog while providing your dog’s favourite treats. Your dog should be kept on a leash for safety, but should eventually come to associate the presence of children with good things.
If your dog’s fear is an issue when children are present outside the home, try avoiding parks and schools where kids might be playing.
Always keep socialization fun!
As we’ve mentioned in many of our Phobia Series posts, flooding isn’t generally the best technique when it comes to training your dog out of fearing something. If you want your pup to enjoy something, you need to make sure their experiences of that thing are relaxed and enjoyable. Make sure your dog knows that you appreciate it when they gently check a child out, but don’t force them to do this until all parties are ready.
For example, if their fear of children causes them to act timidly, you can help your dog by getting some quiet, calm children to just sit quietly and spend time making sure your pup is happy and safe. Socializing your dog doesn’t need to involve throwing them in at the deep end with a crowd of noisy kids. Don’t exhaust your dog by forcing them to process sounds and sensations that are scary.
Start by introducing children one at a time, not all at once.
Are your kids animal-friendly?
In some cases, the issue might not be with your dog at all. It could be the children who are the issue. It can be pretty difficult to find children who are actually good with animals, especially when they’re very young. Animal-handling skills aren’t generally something that comes naturally to a kid. It’s something that has to be learned, so they won’t always get it right the first time.
Relatively few children will happily sit still, watch another child pet a dog without getting jealous and piling in, stay calm and respectful, pay attention to where a dog actually likes to be pet or take care to pet gently. If your kid isn’t instantly perfect at handling a dog, try learning what works together. This can be a great bonding opportunity for you, your child and your dog.
Keeping On Top of Your Dog’s Dental Health Monday 15 January 2018 @ 10:25
Last month, we met Ciarra and Keisha, two gorgeous kitties looking for adoption through Hunter Animal Rescue. The pair are still waiting to find their forever home, but if you think you can provide one you can check out their page on Hunter Animal Rescue’s website. When we first met them, Ciarra had just returned from a visit to the vet and had just received a polish, one tooth extraction and a descale. For this reason, we thought it would be a good idea in our last post to talk about some of the best ways to look after your cat’s dental hygiene.
But of course, your cat isn’t the only pet whose teeth you need to keep in tip-top condition. Between the regular vet checkups, fitness and quality food, we put a lot of effort into making sure our canine companions are healthy. But it can be so, so easy to overlook their dental hygiene. Conditions like periodontal disease can easily occur when the deep bone structures of your dog’s jaw are separated from the teeth by calculus, allowing abscesses and pockets to form.
Experts have suggested that around 85% of dogs over the age of 4 will be living with a type of periodontal disease, which can easily lead to infection and tooth loss. If your dog has damaged gums or toothache, they’ll be living with difficulty and pain that you may not even have noticed. A dog’s teeth are often forgotten about, but they’re a major part of their overall health.
As with oral hygiene issues in cats, bacteria from your dog’s mouth, if left untreated, can reach the bloodstream and cause real issues in their kidneys, liver or heart. Fortunately, all of these issues can be avoided with the help of regular tooth-brushing and visits to your doggie dentist.
Doggie Dental Diseases
When your dog has good gums and teeth, they’ll get to enjoy every last morsel of food they can get their paws on, but with unhealthy teeth, this will quickly come to an end and your pup will no longer be enjoying their food. This can be very bad news. So what should you be looking out for as a concerned puppy parent?
- Plaque develops when the bacteria constantly forming in your dog’s mouth get the chance to mix with food and saliva. This appears as a colourless, sticky film on the outside of the teeth, especially the upper molars and pre-molars. If plaque is allowed to build up, it can harden and turn into calculus. Plaque and calculus can be helped to a certain extent by dry dog foods, but you will also need to provide some dental care to keep everything healthy.
- Calculus forms when plaque is allowed to stay on your dog’s teeth for around 3-5 days and combines with the minerals in their saliva. This is also known as tartar and can be very irritating to a dog’s gums, leading to reddened, swollen gums as a result of gingivitis. Gingivitis can also cause bad breath, which can be rather noticeable.
- Periodontal disease is more likely to become an issue the longer calculus is allowed to build up under your dog’s gum line. This is where your dog can begin to struggle with bloody gums, lose teeth, struggle with food and suffer damage to their internal organs. Bacterial growth is allowed to progress unnoticed, eventually causing irreversible damage. And every last part of this process could be avoided with a good cleaning!
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth will be a little difficult when you do it for the first time, but if you’re gentle and allow your dog time to get comfortable with what’s happening it can be a lot simpler than you may expect. Here’s a quick Step-by-Step to help you become the best doggy hygienist out there!
- Be gentle. Give your dog time to get used to having hands and brushes in their mouth.
- Let your dog do a taste-test. Help them get used to the taste of dog-friendly toothpaste by licking it off your finger or brush.
- Introduce the toothbrush. Allow your dog to get used to the idea of the toothbrush and see that it’s nothing to be afraid of, but help them understand that this is not a toy.
- Start small. Just brush a couple of your dog’s teeth at first so they can get used to the sensation.
- Move from Outside to Inside. Brushing the outer sides of your dog’s teeth is less invasive, so it’s generally a better idea to start here and move to the inner sides.
- Introduce a routine. If you turn brushing your dog’s teeth into a routine, it’ll be easier for them to get used to it and for you to remember to do it regularly. Daily brushing will provide the best results, but even three times a week will make all the difference.
There are also a number of high-quality treats and chews that can contribute to better dental hygiene for your dog. These chews will keep your dog entertained, involve less work for you and will still provide a good clean (though you will still need to brush their teeth occasionally).
Four Tips to Make Brush-Time Easier
- Your dog can sense if you’re stressed or tense and will mimic these emotions, so try to keep calm!
- Don’t go straight for the goal - your dog will need time to adjust to this new experience!
- The earlier you start (anytime after the age of 8 weeks), the better your dog will be at having their teeth brushed.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself: You aren’t going to be able to brush your dog’s teeth for a long time straight away. This is something that will get easier over time.
Pets of the Month: Ciarra, Keisha and Birman Cats. Thursday 14 December 2017 @ 08:18
Over the past couple of months, the main topics we’ve been discussing have been how to go about caring for dogs with food allergies, shy cats and long-haired cats. These topics were selected in honour of three of our sponsored pets - Jordy, Misty and Russia.
These were three gorgeous pets which we were given the wonderful opportunity to sponsor through Hunter Animal Rescue, a great charity which aims to rescue abandoned pets from euthanasia and place them in their forever homes. We think that the best aspect of this non-profit is that while they’re waiting for their new families, HAR’s rescued pets don’t have to sit in a pound. Instead, they’re sent to foster homes where they get to practice being part of a big, happy family until they’re ready to be rehomed. This means they get all the love and care they need, and are more likely to be looked after properly.
For December, Hunter Animal Rescue’s Pets of the Month are Ciarra and Keisha.
All About Ciarra and Keisha
Ciarra and Keisha are two ten-year-old female Birman X cats, currently in care at PETQuarters Broadmeadow. They need to be rehomed together, and the adoption fee for the pair is $200. It’s not yet known if these friendly felines would be suited to a home with children (or birds), but they do like near-constant human interaction so they’ll be sure to give plenty of love to whoever takes them in.
While it’s not recommended that these two are moved into a home with dogs, we do know that they’re fine with other cats so they may be a good choice if you’re looking for a new furry friend for your cat. A dream home for these sisters would be one where they’re kept indoors and made to feel safe and secure. They’ve already had a busy life, and are ready for a quiet, mature home!
Both cats are fully litter trained, have a fairly low activity level and require an intermediate amount of grooming, so they’re good cats to have around if you like to pamper your pets but don’t always have the energy to run after them! Ciarra and Keisha are a pair of real individuals. A chatty, personable lady, Ciarra loves to munch on her human’s hair, receive gentle pats, brushes and chin scratches, sleep on your pillow and bump you with her head.
While Ciarra is keeping busy, it’s likely Keisha will be fast asleep on your lap. Keisha is the quieter of the pair. She’ll love you just as much as her sister will, she’s just happy to let Ciarra do all the talking. Ciarra has recently come home from a trip to the vet and is in great condition, having only needed a descale, polish and one tooth extraction. She is well on the road to recovery by now, though!
Now that we know she’s in full health, she can safely be moved to a forever home with her sister without risk of bringing germs in to share with your other pets. As with any other rescue pets, Ciarra and Keisha are in need of a new home through no fault of their own. Their former owner is moving overseas, and simply can’t bring them along. The pair were brought along to Hunter Animal
Rescued as bonded sisters, and need to be rehomed together if they’re going to be happy.
What do I need to know about Birman Cats?
Ciarra and Keisha are Birman X cats, meaning a lot of their genetic information and the resulting traits have been passed down from Birmans. This is a breed that’s much loved for its reputation as a calm, mysterious and enchanting cat. They also attract a fair amount of attention with their little white-socked feet and gorgeous blue eyes, so it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular breed.
With their contrasting colours and long, soft coat, they look something like a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. Thanks to their striking features and thick coat, they can often seem much larger than they really are, appearing as massive felines when they’re really only a medium-sized cat breed. That said, we don’t actually know for sure how the Birman breed came to exist.
Where did the Birman Cat originate?
All we know is that they seem to have appeared relatively recently in Europe, most likely originating from France. The result is a playful, loving breed that can play happily with children and adults alike. Certain stories suggest that a pair of these cats were brought back from a Temple in Burma by some travellers, which is why they’re known as the “Sacred Cat of Burma”.
As we’ve already said, we can’t be entirely sure about the exact history of the Birman breed. It’s said that the earliest Birmans were a cross between a longhaired cat, most likely an Angora or Persian, and a Siamese with white paws. The Birman breed almost died out entirely during World War II, but was revived when breeders thought to breed their Birmans with Persian cats.
General Description of the Birman Cat Breed
Birman Cats will generally have a slightly cobby and somewhat heavy appearance and muscular, powerful legs. Cats of this breed have wide, large heads that are marginally longer than they are wide. Their nose is roman and intermediate length, and they’ll generally have a firm, striking chin. Birman cats can be most easily identified by their faces along with their legs, tails and ears, which will be darker than the rest of their body. These areas can be seal point (dark brown), blue, red, tortoiseshell, cream, lilac or chocolate.
They also tend to have sweet little white socks on each of their paws. They are a medium-sized breed. These cats can need a fair amount of grooming as they are a longhaired breed, but it’s well worth it for the silky, gorgeous coats they have as a result. They have next to no undercoat. The head of a Birman Cat is fairly round. Cats of this breed will have slightly slanted ears with rounded tips, and furry tufts on the inside.
The majority of a Birman Cat’s coat will be cream or white-coloured. Their tails won’t allow you to view this coat as plain, though, as they finish off the look with the most luxurious plume of fluff you’ll ever see!
Making Your Own Dog Food Saturday 02 December 2017 @ 00:00
Back in August, we sponsored Jordy. Jordy is an energetic, loving, playful pupper who just loves to be affectionate with his humans. His only special requirement was that he needed a family willing to pay special attention to what he ate, as he had a food allergy. But in return for this extra care, he was ready to give all the love in the world!
Jordy’s allergy is the reason that our last blog post was all about hypoallergenic dog foods. With food allergies becoming an increasingly big deal for people and pets alike, it’s easy to feel a little lost when you find yourself staring at stacks of food, all of which claim to be grain-free or hypoallergenic or any number of other things.
An alternative to investing in some complicated hypoallergenic, organic and grain-free dog food while still keeping your pup healthy would be to make your own dog food. This may sound a little fiddly, but it’s quite possibly the best way of making sure your dog doesn’t eat anything they’re allergic to. There’s a whole community of people out there who have all taken to making their own dog food.
Try looking at some hacks and tips such as those shared on websites like Pinterest, and some recipes like the ones shared on Rover.com. To help you get started, here are a few tips that might be helpful.
The Perks of Making Your Own Dog Food
- As we’ve already mentioned, making your dog’s food yourself can be a great way of keeping them healthy if they have allergies. This is the only way you can personally choose the ingredients that go into their food, and the best way for you to make sure you’re avoiding everything you should be.
- If you’re smart about your sourcing and try to buy in bulk, making your own dog food will be no more expensive than buying it in cans, and can sometimes be even cheaper while still being more nutritious.
- You will be able to save time and effort by preparing large batches of food which you can freeze and use later.
- Picky dogs are often more likely to love the food you’ve prepared for them yourself than processed food from cans.
- Better food often means more compact, tidy stools.
- Many people who make their own dog food find that their dogs tend to be leaner and more muscular as a result.
- A healthier diet often brings with it fresher breath, less doggy odour, clean teeth and good skin.
- Preparing food for your dog will be no more difficult than cooking for your family, but will make a big difference to your pet’s health.
- You will no longer need to worry about dog food brands being recalled, as you know that the food you’re giving your dog is safe to eat.
- Making your dog’s food means you get to choose the standard of ingredients you want to use. You get to choose if you want foods to be free-range, organic or anything else. You get to choose if you want to buy ingredients from a farmer, market, supermarket or wholesaler.
Animal Products and Meat
These should always make up at least 50% of your dog’s meal. Be careful of meat cuts that contain excessive amounts of fat, as these are unhealthy and can cause obesity. Unless your dog gets the chance to have intense exercise on a regular basis, try to remove the skin from any poultry you use, cut off as much fat as possible and use lean meat, ideally with less than 10% fat.
If your dog becomes obese and you have to try and reduce their food to control their weight, this can result in deficiencies in the other nutrients. Remember that unless your dog needs an extremely low-fat diet, dark-meat poultry is better than breast meat. If this is already starting to sound a little tricky, just consider all of the advantages this change can bring.
In time, you’ll be able to come up with your own recipes without any help from us. But until you feel like you’ve got the basics of doggy dining down, here are a few ingredient lists you could try. Please note, all ingredients in these lists should be cooked before use!
Doggy’s Salmon Supper
3 potatoes (any variety)
1 head of broccoli (with the stem)
2 portions of salmon with skin (or 1 ounce per 10 pounds of dog)
|1 pound of beef mince
1.5 cups of rolled oats
Half a cup of cottage cheese
1.5 cups of your dog’s favourite grated vegetables, like carrots, peas or aubergine
Tasty Turkey Stew
|2 pounds of turkey mince
2 tablespoons of raw chicken or turkey liver
2 grated carrots
1 cup of broccoli florets
Half a shredded aubergine
1 cup of cauliflower florets
|OR:||1 cup of brown rice
1 shredded aubergine
Half a cup of peas
3 cups of chopped baby spinach
3 pounds of turkey mince
2 grated carrots
Add Any Necessary Supplements
Just because you’re cooking from scratch, it doesn’t mean your pup’s supplements are off the table. Even if you’re using the best recipes possible, it doesn’t mean your dog will automatically be getting all of the necessary nutrients. Supplements for nutrients such as calcium are the best way of keeping your dog healthy.
The supplements you need to include will depend based on the ingredients you’re using and the nutrients they already contain. For example, a recipe containing spinach and broccoli will contain iron, but might not have enough zinc. For more guidance on this topic, talk to your vet or a pet nutritionist.