We sit on the couch, at our desks, in the kitchen, and on the bed; wherever our eyes may peacefully binge watch our favorite movies and TV without interruption. Accompanying our couch potato journey is the family dog, our trusty (albeit also lazy) sidekick. They may just snuggle and snooze, perhaps boof in their sleep, but sometimes you look over and find their ears alert, eyes staring in the direction of the screen, and...could it be? Is Fido hooked on that cliff-hanger or are you just imagining it?
In an alternate universe I'm sure a modern dog utopia exists - where canines stream videos on 'Barkflix', argue about the 'Old Yeller Cinematic Universe', and tune in to 'Live Viewer Treats'. But in our reality, the real reasoning behind your terrier's interest in the telly may simply be based on personality and breed characteristics.
Dogs are able to recognize visuals of other dogs, even among images of humans or other animals, according to a 2013 study published in Animal Cognition. They also process imagery faster than we do, meaning older television sets showing less frames per second would appear "to be flickering like a '1920's movie'", according to Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist from Tufts University. This is why HDTV channels like DogTV are designed for dogs, since the higher framerate and altered colors allows them to have a viewing experience similar to our own.
What exactly is the difference between small and large breed dogs? And no, we're not just talking about size! Believe it or not, we calculate many separate factors for a dog based on their breed, lifestyle, and nutritional differences. To start, there are actually four classes of doggie size ranges: small, medium, large, and giant.
What size breed will suit my lifestyle?
While temperament, training, grooming maintenance, and athletic ability differs across all shapes and sizes of dogs, there are certain times when you must take size into account. Do you live in a house with a yard, or an apartment or condo complex? Most larger breeds will not be able to adapt to small living spaces if not exercised properly. They need the extra wiggle room to keep them happy and healthy (both mentally and physically), but depending on your activity level, high-energy breeds can live the city life if exercised appropriately everyday. Life expectancy and medical conditions are also correlated differently depending on breed and size, for further insight please read PetMD's article, How Long Do Dogs Live?, and Cesar's Way article Dog size and life span: When bigger isn't better.
What are the nutritional differences for small and large breeds?
While we covered that there are more than just two size classes for dogs, you may have noticed that many dog food brands will label their products either 'small breed' or 'large breed'. What then? And what is the difference? First, smaller dogs have a higher metabolic rate than larger dogs, and they burn through calories much quicker. Small breed puppies should especially be fed a calorie-dense food to prevent hypoglycemia, lethargy, and even more serious health conditions. Large breed dogs can be similar to small breeds, but have different requirements. Large breeds puppies require diets with lower levels of calcium and phosphorus to reduce the rate of developmental diseases such as hip dysplasia. High levels of dietary antioxidants are also necessary for small breeds that live a long time, compared to large breeds who are more apt to suffer from arthritis in old age and require ingredients like glucosamine. Learn more on how to choose the best food for your pet with sites like DogFoodAdvisor, or watch the documentary Pet Fooled on Netflix.
How does size affect grooming?
While coat maintenance is based on breed and not necessarily size, the amount of dog being groomed will definitely affect the time spent in the grooming room! A Toy Poodle may need less time for a trim compared to a Standard Poodle, and both need different preparation, tools, and materials used to conduct a good grooming. Here at Buddies it is important that we schedule our appointments ahead of time so that we may adapt our schedule to different size dogs. This allows time for our groomers to prep the right tools and products for the breed. We make the most out of every minute spent with your buddy, no matter big or small!
Whether you are deciding to bring a new pet into your home, or searching for the best brand of food, recognize that research is the best way to empower your best buddy's health and happiness. Reach out to other pet parents, groomers, or veterinarians to discuss health and nutritional options. We encourage everyone to go beyond the basics, and respect the differences of every breed!
We say 'walking' but really we know it's actually 'skating' or 'slipping' or 'pretending you walked the dog in the snow when you sat by a fire with some hot chocolate instead.' But how long can you resist those pleading eyes? Dogs need their exercise, and a daily walk means a daily walk, snow or no snow. So here are some tactics to aid in the preparation of a good winter's walk:
As New Englanders we know snow, and we also know there are proper ways to make our winter experience at least a little more pleasant. For us pet parents, this might mean dedication spent waiting in the cold until Fido does their business, but it also means time spent frolicking in a winter wonderland.
And we can't deny that our pets provide excellent snowy entertainment!
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, which we know sounds just as exciting as you might think it sounds, but the truth is anytime is a good time to get rid of bad breath, and promote a healthy dog-slobber environment!
Dogs and cats use their mouths differently than us humans, they explore the world by sniffing, licking, and taste-testing earth's natural (and unnatural) wonders. What enters their mouth stays there in the form of bacteria, so always be aware of what your pet decides to deem edible. Dogs and cats both have natural bacteria contained in their mouths, usually species-specific, which is not transmissible to people, just like we cannot transfer our colds or sickness to them. However, it is a myth that dog's mouths are cleaner.
So what is the best way to ensure your pet has a healthy dental environment?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommend daily tooth brushing and annual dental cleanings. Chew toys designed to interact with teeth and gums, or natural chews like antlers, also assist in strengthening and cleaning.
What are the signs of a dental problem? Just like with people, tooth and mouth complications can be unpleasant for our furry friends, and bad breath especially can signal underlying health issues. For questioning bad odor, see our other post Why Does My Dog Stink? Also look out for excessive drooling, loss of teeth, or visual changes, such as spots or cysts on the tongue.
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning under anesthesia? Veterinary professionals can perform oral checkups during a regular exam, but dental cleaning procedures are done under anesthesia. This is often necessary in order for pets to stay still and tolerate dental work, as well as to prevent fear and pain. Certain breeds and older dogs are more likely to require tooth extractions, but always discuss with a medical professional the use and monitoring of anesthesia for pets. For more discussion on anesthesia, check out PetMD, Pet Health Network, and, Veterinary Practice News.
As a part of National Pet Dental Health Month we hope this information proves useful and helpful to the pets and pet parents we interact with everyday. Rest easy knowing your pet won't wake you in the morning with bad breath, invest in chews toys and simple daily tooth brushing to ensure their comfort, health, and happiness. We always appreciate bright, clean smiles from people and pets!
Does your dog need a massage? Or how about a chiropractor?
Admittedly this is probably not the question on everyone's mind coming into the new year, but as 2017 begins, we look forward to our #1 goal of promoting pet health. While a groomer's domain is the skin, pet parents are always welcome to bring up health concerns to groomers. It is important for us to know whether a pet has a serious health condition or has recently undergone surgery. Other conerns we hear often may include 'My pet is limping', 'My pet is constantly licking their paws/licking off their fur', 'My pet is older and cannot stand or sit comfortably', or 'My pet is sensitive in a specific area'. Our groomers will take everything into account and analyze sensitive areas if need be, but beyond fur and skin, we will recommend a visit to the vet if necessary.
Other benefits include:
Want to learn more about pet massage or how to massage your own dog? Try Cesar's Guide on Dog Massage, How to Massage Your Own Dog by Modern Dog Magazine, or learn more through the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy in Worcester, MA. And yes, massage is also great for cats!
Also check out the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Canine Journal, or The Conscious Cat to learn how pet chiropractic works.
We just had our annual Pet Pictures with Santa Paws here at Buddies (all proceeds donated to the Marshfield Animal Shelter), and at the end of the day one question soared above the rest: "How do you do it?"
First and foremost, know your pet. Where are they comfortable, or who are they most comfortable around? It's not wise to take your pet to an unfamiliar setting, especially if there are distractions or other pets galore. Be smart, if your dog is friendly towards you but not so much with other dogs, know the boundaries and enforce them. If your dog only wants to play with everyone and has endless energy, try going for a walk beforehand. Allow them to see and sniff the camera, as well as know the sounds or flashes it will make.
Take lots of pictures. Do not hesitate, or bother to wait. You may end up with many blurs and funny faces, but there is always a hidden gem to find. Afterwards, it is always fun to have a laugh about the overflow of completely silly pictures which lead up to the perfect moment.
Has your pet hit their mark, but failed to look into the camera? Try using a favorite toy, or grab an assistant to help. Movement is also great for capturing attention. Use your hands, such as holding a hand above your head and rubbing your fingers together. Sound works as well, and having a higher pitch like a squeaky toy, or audibly creating noises yourself, is a definite way to make heads turn.
Technique. Keep in mind what different lightning or backgrounds will make your pet shine best, or whether getting down on their level or a different angle may inspire something unique. Try not to get hung up on the logistics of it all, sometimes natural is best, but if something is not quite right, then mix it up a little. As for equipment, most smart phone cameras are professional quality nowadays, and there are plenty of photo-editing apps out there. We will list some free apps and websites that are great for post-photo operations at the end of this article.
Finally, have patience. We all know there is a reason why pets are so difficult to catch on camera - they are in constant motion. Stubborness is another trait that enjoys sharing itself once the camera comes out. If your pet is having a bad day, remember it is okay to take a break and try again later. Be patient, a good photo will come at the right time, but not if frustration or stress is in the way. Again, if it is not working, then try something different. A new toy, a different person, or setting. Maybe you yourself need to move closer, farther away, or to another angle. Working through struggles can make a picture so much greater. You know your pet best, and photos taken by your hand will surely capture their quirks and characteristics to the finest!
So you think you have what it takes to be a master pet chef? You're a connoisseur of all things tasty, you cook nonstop at home, you text your friends recipes at midnight while catching up on the latest episode of the Great British Baking Show. But what will it take to impress your pet?
More about bagged and canned pet food on our previous blog post here. Always be careful when considering a raw food diet for your pet, and be aware of the bacteria or possible illness which can occur from consuming raw foods. Consult your vet before any influential changes to your pet's diet. We've listed only the basics of pet nutrition, and we encourage chefs to expand their knowledge further through ongoing research and practice. By taking your time to make these healthy choices for your pet, they will judge you for the winner you are!
October is the official Adopt-A-Shelter Dog Month, notably shared with National Pet Wellness, Black Cat Awareness, and Pitbull Awareness Month. The first week of October is also National Walk Your Dog Week, so grab a pet and a pumpkin spice latte, and you're all set to go! Right? Well, sort of.
While October may encourage you to cozy up in a sweater and adopt all the dogs and kitties of the world, the choice and commitment to adopting a shelter dog, or any pet for that matter, has a few important steps to it. Preparing your household and lifestyle for a new member of the family is one, but unlike buying a puppy from a breeder, shelter pets have a variety of backgrounds which may affect their behavior when entering a new home. The knowledge of where a pet has previously been is a great tool to learning about your new best buddy, but sometimes your pet's backstory might be a mystery. In this case, talk to the shelter about any behavioral concerns, and make sure to research and prepare for any special proofing or adjustments an overly anxious or handicapped pet may require.
After thorough preparation, it's time to choose! Animals of all ages can be found in shelters, so know when considering adopting from a shelter that puppies, kittens, and their adult counterparts are all available to find homes. Older pets may even come with the perks of previous training, and most shelters will spay/neuter pets in their care, with no additional charge to you! Shelters often give full health-screenings, including vaccinations and heartworm tests, and may also microchip the pets in their care. Even more, shelters also have the choice of mixed breeds, which tend to have fewer health issues compared to pure breds.
To search for available pets up for adoption in shelters near you, sites like Petfinder can search by location for a variety of animals, with extra tools to sort by breed, size, and gender. You may also search directly on the MSPCA Boston website, or other shelters and rescue groups like the Marshfield Animal Shelter, the Scituate Animal Shelter, PAWS New England, Last Hope K9 Rescue, or the Greyhound Pets of America. If you bring home a new buddy this month, congratulations knowing you helped a pet in need! Happy October!
Ah, yes, one of the many topics pet owners can bond over. A true classic. There are even multiple dog smells to choose from. Wet dog is a definite favorite, followed closely by dog breath, and who could forget the beloved scent of old dog?
Well, we've been there, done that. Dog smell is just part of the package when you're a groomer. Stink is one of the many reasons owners show their pets a one-way destination to the tub. But what causes a dog to smell, aside from playing not-so-nice with a skunk, and how often is too often for a good, clean wash and dry?
Assess the stink:
Health is a common correlation to a smelly dog. Just like with people, a dog's body emits particular odors if ill or stressed. It is important to recognize what the natural smell of your dog is like, and appreciate them in good health.
What you can do to help:
Cars can heat up like an oven even if the windows are rolled down. Open windows actually have little effect on the internal temperature, and the hotter the day, the faster a car's temperature rises. With summer days currently ranging from 80° to 90° in Massachusetts, it can take 10 minutes or less for the inside of a car to turn deadly. The following video demonstrates how an NFL player can only last a short amount of time in a hot car before escaping the fatal heat:
As the video explains, Tyrann Mathieu could only last 8 minutes before leaving the car, but dogs do not have the ability to escape such conditions. At this point when dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, heatstroke can set in.
Symptoms of Heatstroke:
If you see a dog trapped in a car displaying these symptoms, there are ways to help. Firstly, it should be noted that in Massachusetts it is illegal to break into a car in order to remove an animal, but a bill for helping animals in hot cars is in the works. For now, the best scenario is to call local police or animal control immediately if the dog shows signs of heatstroke, and take down the vehicle's make, model, and license plate number. Alert nearby businesses and attempt to locate the owner. If possible, find other witnesses and do not leave the scene until the situation is resolved.
Of course the best way to prevent an emergency scenario is to not leave your pet inside a car, especially on a scorching hot day. Try not to travel with your dog if the temperature is too high, even going for a walk on a day where it is 80° can cause the pavement to burn a dog's paws. The ground can also reflect heat onto their bodies, which can lead to heatstroke. If the asphalt is too hot to touch, then it is too hot for your dog.
During these last few weeks of summer, remember that it's okay to relax once in awhile. Let your pets chill in front of the air conditioning, or in the shade of a backyard pool. Remember to stay hydrated, keep a water bowl out, take plenty of naps, and receive well-earned cuddles and kisses!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.