Teaching Your Dog to Play Frisbee

Teaching your dog to play Frisbee is fun and rewarding. It is a great way to spend quality time with your dog and you both get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Some dogs take to Frisbee instantly, and others take some coaxing and time to get the hang of it; but almost any dog can learn to love it!

First, as with any change in your dog’s exercise routine, you should take your dog to the vet and make sure he’s in a healthy enough condition for Frisbee. If you have a puppy, discuss with your vet how old your puppy should be before he can start jumping for the Frisbee. If puppies take part in extreme jumping before their growth plates have closed, it can lead to lifelong problems. Generally around 14 months is a good age.

Once your vet has given you the go-ahead to start training, it is time to find a Frisbee and introduce it to your dog. Choose a Frisbee that is soft and flexible. You don’t want a Frisbee that is too hard because it would be more likely to hurt your dog when he catches it. One way to ensure positive associations with the Frisbee is using it as a food dish for a while. Chances are, once your dog has had a few meals out of the Frisbee, he will be completely comfortable around it.

Next, encourage your puppy to play with you with the Frisbee. Sit on the floor by your dog and tease him with it (not maliciously, of course). If your dog is interested in playing with it, let him and praise him enthusiastically. If he isn’t interested, use your super excited voice and play around with him until you get him in a playful mood. Once you’ve got your dog interested in the Frisbee, roll it on its side across the room. If he chases it, praise him enthusiastically. If he brings it back to you, cook him a steak, but the retrieve is not important at this point in training, so don’t worry if he doesn’t. Keep rolling the Frisbee for your dog as long as he stays interested.

The next step is taking your dog outside, tossing the Frisbee short distances and encouraging him like crazy when he goes after it. Never throw the Frisbee at your dog. In the beginning, stick to low, flat, short trajectories.

Once your dog is going after the Frisbee every time, start encouraging him to bring it back. You can help this along with a long (30 ft or so) training lead. As soon as he gets back to you with the Frisbee, trade him a treat and tons of praise for the Frisbee, then throw it again. You shouldn’t have any problem getting the Frisbee from your dog if you give him a treat, but if he’s being difficult, take it as a sign that you need to work on his “drop it” command. Read our Commands Every Dog Should Know article on more information on helpful commands to teach your dog.

Your dog will naturally begin to jump for the Frisbee, but it’s a good idea to take some time to teach him how to land properly. Your dog should land on all fours so the force of impact is spread across four legs. If your dog is landing on just his back two legs, you can teach him to jump through a hula hoop. This will help him get his hind end up in the air when he jumps so he will land properly.

Don’t leave the Frisbee out when you’re not playing with your dog. It will be much more enticing to him if he only sees it when you’re playing. Also, never let your dog chew on the Frisbee. Nicks and breaks will cause it to fly improperly, and could hurt your dog when he catches it.

Don’t be discouraged if your dog doesn’t start making breathtaking, spectacular catches right away. Some dogs are instantly amazing at Frisbee, others take months and months to really get it right. Just be patient and keep it fun for both of you.

Source:  NextDayPets.com Staff

Socializing Early for the Benefit of Mental Health

Socialization is one of the single most important things you can do for your puppy. Depending where you adopted the puppy from, she may or may not have been exposed to all kinds of things before coming to live with you. It is well proven within the dog training industry that dogs that are socialized as puppies are more confident throughout their lives.

Let’s say you get a puppy at about eight weeks old. At that point, you should not take your young pup to hang out with other dogs you and the pup don’t know primarily because puppies lack the proper vaccinations to protect them from diseases. If you have a friend or family member who has a dog that you know has been vaccinated and is safe to hang out with, you can certainly allow your puppy to play with him.

Look for places where it’s safe to take your pup

Some places also hold puppy “Play Times” for young dogs that are not fully vaccinated, kind of the same thing they do with kids. You also want to avoid public areas where people take dogs that may not be vaccinated. That being said, when your puppy is between eight and sixteen weeks, you should still attempt to socialize your dog.

Exposing your puppy to a wide variety of people will help with their mental soundness later in life. This includes adults, children, people with hats on, people with beards, people with disabilities – basically, as many different types of people as possible. You can also carry your dog into many stores at this age for extra exposure to humans, but do not put him down; he’s not ready yet. Any pet shop, as well as places like large hardware stores, welcomes dogs and will understand what you’re trying to accomplish. The wide exposure to a variety of people helps build their mental stability by reducing fear and insecurity, which is vital later in life.

Along with this comes exposure to different places, different smells and different noises. You should gradually introduce your puppy to as many different things as you can to help him become comfortable and confident. On the flip side, be mindful of making your puppy’s world too big too quickly. You can do more harm than good by bringing a puppy you have had for one day to a huge store with tons of noise and people!

When it’s time to introduce your puppy to other dogs

Once your dog is fully immunized at approximately 16 weeks age, you can begin to introduce him to other dogs. You obviously want to be cautious as your dog is young and inexperienced, but approaching friendly canines is a must. This socialization builds your dog’s confidence. In addition, being around or playing with other dogs allows your pooch to figure out the appropriate way to interact with other dogs. Dogs that are never around other dogs feel insecure and frightened, which is often displayed by aggression.

I worked with a young couple who had a very aggressive five year old St. Bernard. They told me that once she got big, they had trouble walking her, so they simply stopped. The dog lived in their home and backyard for 4 1/2 years, without ever interacting with other dogs or people. When I met her, she was extremely aggressive, and it took nearly an hour for her to allow me to approach her. Over the course of a month I was able to help the couple socialize her to both other dogs and a wide variety of people. The rehabilitation took many months, as the lack of exposure really damaged her mentally and created a tremendous amount of fear and distrust.

This brings us to a situation people who have adopted rescue dogs often face. Many rescue dogs were mistreated by their humans, and even more were never properly socialized. I work with a number of clients on a regular basis whose rescue dogs show fear and insecurity as a result of their previous treatment and training. Again, this insecurity is typically manifested in aggression, which is never a good sign. These dogs can only choose between “flight or fight,” and all too often it is the latter. Typically, such dogs were never socialized.

With that being said, if you adopt a rescue dog, you should try to establish how comfortable he is with other dogs and people, and begin to socialize him cautiously. This way you can help your Fido become less insecure and frightened, and increase his mental stability. The process can take a long time with a rescue dog that was badly treated or simply not socialized, but it can be done.

When attempting to socialize your dog

If you’re trying to socialize your pooch, you first need to assess if your dog is afraid and if so, what causes this fear. Don’t allow people or dogs to approach your pet right away. It is always best to do this with friends and family first. If your dog does have a bad reaction, this will help protect both you and your dog from possible injuries, unpleasant conversations and especially legal ramifications if your dog does bite. Never force your dog into a situation they are uncomfortable with, and if they are still displaying aggression, you should seek professional help.

When all goes well with introducing a pup to people you know, bring your dog to a place where there’s a variety of strangers hanging around, maybe even dogs on leashes. Dog parks, or even regular parks that allow dogs can be a good place for socializing your pup. Sit on a bench and have your dog simply take in what is going on around them. If someone approaches you, be upfront that you are unsure if your dog is friendly. Assess how your dog reacts to other animals, dogs and people, and try to establish a pattern. For example, does your dog react to big dogs or small dogs? What reaction is it – fear, happiness, curiosity? How about reacting to elderly people or children? People making loud noises or people wearing hats or riding bikes? Everything counts with a young puppy.

If your dog is showing aggression, you should by no means allow it to continue. You can try to correct aggressive behavior yourself following well establishing obedience training patterns. But if you do not feel confident in handling the situation yourself, seek out the help of a qualified dog trainer. Negative socialization experiences can lead to even greater problems, and avoiding these instances has a similar result.

A well socialized dog is typically comfortable, confident and mentally stable. The more you do for your dog when she is young, the better. If you didn’t get your pooch when she was a puppy, you can still work with her to build mental stability through socialization. With patience, consistency, and good techniques, you can achieve very positive results with most dogs in a reasonable amount of time.

Source: Top Dog Tips

How To Teach Your Puppy To Sleep Through The Night

In many ways, getting a new puppy is just like having a baby in the house. They are cute and fun to cuddle or play with, but also poop a lot and throw occasional tantrums. Everyone has heard horror stories about parents kept awake all night by an unhappy baby. Luckily for you, getting a puppy to sleep through the night is usually pretty easy!

Like their human counterparts, dogs are most active during the day and naturally prefer to sleep at night. Even if they take frequent naps, they will still usually go into a deep, extended sleep at night. Your puppy will already be started on this activity cycle when he comes home, although like other baby animals, he may not be able to hold his bladder very well at first.

What To Expect On Your Puppy’s First Night Home

Your puppy’s first night home will probably go one of two ways: he will be totally exhausted from the excitement of the day and go right to sleep, or he will have trouble settling in. Moving to a new home with strangers is a stressful event, even if all introductions go smoothly. Ask your dog breeder for a toy, towel or small blanket that smells like your puppy’s mother and siblings to put in his crate at bedtime. These familiar scents will help him to relax and settle in.

The younger your puppy is, the less likely it will be that he is able to sleep all the way through the night at first. Dogs don’t like to soil the areas where they sleep, so if your puppy needs a trip outside during the night, he will start to fuss and cry. When you hear him crying, take him outside for a short walk, then bring him back inside and put him back in his crate. Most puppies consistently sleep through the night by 3 or 4 months of age.

How Can You Help Your Puppy Get To Sleep?

Here are some tips for helping your puppy to settle in and sleep through the night.

1. Help him get plenty of exercise during the day.

One of my favorite sayings is, “A tired puppy is a good puppy!” Stimulate your puppy’s mind and body with age-appropriate activities during the day, both to bond with him and to use up his energy. As your puppy grows up, he will need more exercise.

2. Keep bedtime calm.

Try to avoid intense games of tug or other exciting activities that get your puppy aroused and amped up within the last half hour or so before bedtime. Many dogs enjoy routines: My dogs know that when I brush my teeth at night, it is almost time for bed.

3. Make sure he has peed and pooped.

Sometimes when puppies go outside, they get distracted by the sights and sounds of the world and forget that they are out there for a reason. An “empty” puppy will sleep much longer than one who needs to go.

4. Make his crate comfortable.

Many dogs enjoy soft blankets to curl up in at night, while others prefer a cooler surface. Consider the temperature and time of year when choosing the bedding that will be most comfortable for your pup: No one wants flannel bedding when it’s 90 degrees out!

5. Something to chew on.

Chewing is a calming activity that all dogs enjoy; even more so when your puppy is teething! Some people give their dogs a biscuit or an edible chew at bedtime, or you can give your pup a bone or toy. I recommend a toy that doesn’t have squeakers. Having a toy or bone in the crate will also help to keep your puppy quietly entertained if he wakes up before you do.

6. Keep your puppy’s crate close by.

I like to crate my puppies next to my bed so that they aren’t alone and I will hear if they wake up in the night. As they become housebroken, they are allowed more freedom.

Making sure your puppy gets plenty of exercise during the day and having a play session before bed can help tire him out and encourage sleep. Rolf Brenner/Hemera/Thinkstock


Common Problems and Solutions For Getting Puppies To Sleep

 Problem No. 1:

My puppy fusses at night. What should I do?


Try giving him a chew at bedtime to calm him down. Most dogs are ready for a nap after working on a chew for a while, and the quiet of the house will encourage him to sleep. If his fussing lasts less than half an hour or so and you’re sure he doesn’t need to go to the bathroom, you can also just wait him out. He may be overtired and cranky, or just doesn’t want the fun of the day to end.

One big thing to avoid is allowing late-night walks to become playtime. That will reinforce your puppy to wake you up. He probably thinks, “Ooh, if I whine and cry, Mom will throw my ball for me!” If your puppy cries, take him outside on a leash to keep him focused, then after he eliminates, bring him right back inside to his crate (a treat to settle back in is fine). Ignore any fussing after he has been taken out.

Problem No. 2:

How do I know if my puppy actually needs to go outside?


Each dog has different ways of communicating what they need, so part of this will be trial and error as you learn to read your puppy’s behavior. Most puppies whine or cry if they need to go outside, with or without pacing and fidgeting in the crate. “Emergency” situations, such as needing to pee really badly or impending diarrhea, may cause your puppy to bark urgently. One of my dogs whines constantly when she needs to go out, while my other dog runs back and forth between me and the door (as a puppy she would fuss and stomp around in her crate). Until I learn a new puppy’s signals, I prefer to err toward the side of caution and always take them outside if they are fussing in any way.

Barking is usually in response to a strange sound that startled your puppy, especially if you have noisy neighbors or you just got your puppy and he isn’t used to the normal sounds of your home yet. Your puppy may also bark if he needs to pee but previous efforts to wake you haven’t worked. In my experience, these two types of barks sound different.

If you suspect that your puppy is only waking you up because he wants to play, make sure to keep those late-night walks all business. Take him outside on lead, then immediately crate him afterward. Don’t get angry, because you do want your puppy to ask to go outside when he needs to — just be boring. He will quickly learn that these nocturnal adventures aren’t much fun and will stop bugging you.

Problem No. 3:

My puppy sleeps during the day but not at night.


Start by exercising him more in the afternoon and early evening to have him tired before bedtime. You may also need to go back through all or part of the crate training process to make it clear to him that crate time is downtime.

Problem No. 4:

My puppy used to sleep through the night but now is waking me up frequently.


If your puppy suddenly needs to go out to pee a lot more often, he may have a bladder infection. This is very easy to check for and treat — your vet will look at a urine sample for signs of infection and, if necessary, your puppy will be put on a course of antibiotics.

Problem No. 5:

My puppy fusses a lot at night but doesn’t need to go outside.


Puppies that are teething may be uncomfortable because of their teeth. If your pup is teething, offer him some soft toys or treats to chew on. Ice cubes or frozen treats are another popular option to help soothe sore gums. Be patient and know that this stage will pass!

If he is struggling to settle down and constantly fidgeting or scratching, check if he or his bedding has fleas or another biting insect. Even if you don’t find any bugs, wash his crate and bedding just to be sure there aren’t any unwanted guests.

Another possibility, particularly with very young puppies, is that your puppy is overtired. You know how tired toddlers get cranky and throw a tantrum, then fall fast asleep? Your puppy can do that, too. This will typically happen after a very big day where a lot of new or exciting things happened. Be patient and ignore him until he settles down.

You will know your puppy and his normal behaviors better than anyone else. If he is inexplicably fussing at night, you’ve tried several solutions, and things just don’t seem right to you, consult your veterinarian. Your pup may just be going through a difficult stage, but it can’t hurt to seek help if you are concerned.

Problem No. 6:

My puppy won’t sleep in his crate.


I highly recommend revisiting crate training to get your puppy comfortable with being and sleeping in his crate. Crating at night is an excellent way to speed up housetraining, because your puppy will naturally avoid soiling his space, and it prevents messes or damage throughout your house. Crating is also a valuable life skill that your dog will probably need at some point in his life.

Problem No. 7:

My puppy won’t sleep in his bed.


Most likely he is too hot, or doesn’t like to be right next to someone. Try having your puppy sleep in a crate with good ventilation and light bedding, or if he is house broken, allow him to sleep on the floor. In hot weather, many dogs prefer to sleep on bare tile or linoleum because it is cooler. Some of my dogs have loved to sleep next to me, while others prefer their own space to stretch out.

If it is a dog bed that you are concerned about rather than your bed, there isn’t much that you can do. Try washing the cover in case the new fabric has a weird smell that he doesn’t like. You can also teach your puppy to go to his bed on command, but there is no way for you to enforce that while you are asleep. If you would like him to be in a contained place at night, switch to a crate; otherwise, accept that your puppy prefers to sleep on the floor.

Problem No. 8:

My puppy won’t sleep unless next to me.


If he is house-trained and you enjoy cuddling, great! If not, it’s time to establish ground rules. Practice crate training during the day, making it a fun game so he will think of his crate as a happy place. Then at night, bring his crate right next to your bed so you can reach down and assure him that you are close. He may have trouble settling down for the first few nights, but be patient and consistent — caving in and letting him onto the bed will teach him that whining is a great way to get what he wants.

Once he is comfortable sleeping in his crate right next to your bed, you can gradually move the crate farther away if desired. Your puppy may enjoy having an old shirt or something else that smells like you to sleep with.

Good luck with your new puppy!

Source: Petcha.com

Puppy Hernia

Technically a hernia occurs when a tissue or organ pushes through the area designed to hold it. Normally this refers to the body wall, but it can also be the diaphragm (muscle layer that separates the chest from the abdomen).

The most commonly seen hernias in pet dogs are umbilical hernias. These hernias are found on the abdominal wall where the umbilicus is broken off when a puppy is born. The umbilicus may be broken as the puppy emerges, be chewed in two by the dam or cut by the dog breeder.

Normally the body wall seals over this small opening, but sometimes either a small bit of fat escapes through the body wall and remains outside or the body wall does not close completely. Depending on the size of the opening in this second scenario, the dog’s intestines may fall out through the opening and become twisted or strangulated.

What To Do If Your Puppies Have Hernias

You may read discussions about delayed closure versus true hernia. Proponents of the delayed closure theory feel that a small bit of fat or omentum (the thin layer of tissue that is like netting around many of the abdominal organs) slips out through the slit in the abdominal wall where the dog’s ;umbilical cord came through before that slit can close up. Once there is tissue in the way, that slit can’t close. These pet dogs have a small knob at the umbilicus which is not reducible and very often a hole can’t even be palpated in the body wall. Whether these delayed closures are simply a different expression of a hernia gene or a degree in actual hernias is hotly debated among veterinarians and dog breeders.

The classic umbilical hernia has a firm ring of tissue palpable around the “hole” in the body wall. The size of the opening can vary from smaller than the end of your pinkie finger to 2 or 3 inches across. The hernias least likely to cause problems for a puppy are the very small ones which are too small for any intestine to fall into and the ones large enough that intestines can easily slip in and out of. Your veterinarian can evaluate the hernia with you, and you can decide whether it needs to be fixed, to repair it in a young puppy or possibly wait until spaying or neutering the dog to fix it.

The most dangerous hernias are those big enough for a loop of intestine to fall into and that then close up partly or are of a size to begin with that the intestine can’t easily slip back up into the abdomen. Once caught in the hernia, there is potential for the blood supply to be cut off either simply due to not enough room or by twisting of the intestine and its blood vessels.

Surgery to repair a dog’s hernia may be as simple as closing up the tissue after removing the band of tough tissue that makes up the ring and replacing any contents into the abdomen. It could also involve the need for a mesh material, often wire, to help support the body wall in the case of a very large hernia.

Hernias And Purebred Dog Showing And Breeding

At this time, the American Kennel Club does allow purebred dogs to be shown who have had an umbilical hernia repaired. Dog breeders and veterinarians again argue back and forth about the dangers of breeding a bitch who has a hernia or who has had a hernia repaired. The argument is that the increased weight pressing down on the area from the pregnant uterus could cause the hernia opening to stretch and enlarge.

Purebred dog breeds known to have at least a predisposition to hernias include representatives of the Toy, Sporting, Terrier, Working, Hound and Herding Groups. It should be noted that an occasional umbilical hernia will show up in a litter and may simply be a fluke. Still, dog breeders should at least be aware of the hernia problem and try to avoid doubling up on this defect.

I can think back to a litter that came in at 7 weeks of age for an examination and a first vaccination. ALL eight puppies had good sized, fairly obvious umbilical hernias. The dog breeder insisted (despite this being a dog breed well known for umbilical hernias) that the bitch must have chewed the cords off too closely. Funny how her first litter of six puppies (with a different stud dog) did not have any hernias!

An informal survey of reproductive veterinarians led to estimates of 90 percent or more of all umbilical hernias in purebred dogs being inherited. One veterinarian also pointed out, from experience, that dog breeders should not overlook hernias in their puppy litters. This veterinarian had seen the development from occasional small, not serious, hernias to full litters with large hernias in one kennel since there was no selection against the trait. Other veterinarians stressed that a small umbilical hernia was very minor compared to other serious genetic defects and that a dog who otherwise was a good candidate for breeding should not be removed from the gene pool just for this.

Certainly any dog breeder whose dog has had an umbilical hernia repaired should notify anyone breeding to their stud dog or getting a puppy from their bitch of the defect. Otherwise, the trait will be perpetuated. At least one dog breed classifies umbilical hernias as a “threshold” trait. This means that there is no simple inheritance of dominant or recessive, but the expression of the defect and the degree of the defect may depend on multiple genes, not a simple one-gene dominant/recessive relationship. Also, it is fair to assume that both the stud dog and brood bitch carry the genetic defect if umbilical hernias show up in puppies.

Source Debra M. Eldredge, DVM:


You, Your Dog and Parasites (Giardia)

Giardia is a single-celled parasite that lives in your dog’s intestine. It infects older dogs but more frequently infects puppies. Dogs become infected when they swallow Giardia that may be present in water or other substances that have been soiled with feces.

How will Giardia affect my dog?

Many dogs infected with Giardia do not get any disease. Giardiasis, the disease caused by Giardia infection, usually results in diarrhea. Having giardiasis for a long time can cause weight loss; poor condition; and even death.

How do I prevent my dog from getting Giardia?

The best way to prevent Giardia infection is to make sure that your dog has safe, clean drinking water. It is important not to allow dogs to drink water from areas where other animals have left their feces.

Your veterinarian can perform a test on your dog’s feces to see if it has giardiasis. If your dog is infected with Giardia, your veterinarian can prescribe safe, effective treatment for control of the disease.

To prevent spreading Giardia (and other parasites), pick up the feces left by your dog immediately and place it in the trash. Be sure to avoid contact with the feces by using gloves, a bag over your hand, or a scooping device.

Can humans be harmed by Giardia?

Giardia is a common cause of diarrhea in people, but dog Giardia is not generally considered to spread from animals to humans.  While human Giardia may infect dogs and then be passed on to humans, the majority of human cases are of human origin

Source: DogOwner.com

You, Your Dog and Parasites

Dogs are not just pets. They are treated like members of the family. And like any member of your family, it’s important to keep your companion animal healthy and free of parasites.

Monitoring for any changes in behavior, appetite, or water consumption and regular visits to your veterinarian are important to the care and well-being of your dog. Your veterinarian can accurately diagnose and safely treat parasites and other health problems that not only affect your dog, but also the safety of you and your family.

It is fairly common for a dog to become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in its lifetime. Parasites can affect your dog in a variety of ways, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated. Some parasites can infect and transmit diseases to people.

By following your veterinarian’s recommendations and having your pet tested for parasites annually, you can protect your dog and your family from potentially harmful parasites all year long.


Coccidia are tiny single-celled parasites that live in the wall of your dog’s intestine. They are found more often in puppies, but they can also infect older dogs and cats.

Dogs become infected by swallowing soil that contains coccidia or other substances in the environment that may contain dog feces.

How will coccidia affect my dog?

Coccidiosis, the disease caused by coccidia, may not cause any signs in dogs but is usually more serious in puppies. The most common sign of coccidiosis is diarrhea.  More severe infections can cause bloody diarrhea. Severe infections, especially in puppies, can kill them.

How do I prevent my dog from getting coccidia?

Coccidial infections can be prevented by removing your dog’s feces regularly from your yard or other areas where the dog goes to the bathroom. Because coccidia are found most often in puppies, it is important to have puppies examined for the parasite as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can perform a fecal test to diagnose coccidiosis. If your dog is infected with coccidia, your veterinarian is able to give it effective medications.

Can my cat get coccidia from my dog?

A dog infected with coccidia cannot pass the infection to cats and vice versa. Coccidial infections in dogs occur only by swallowing the coccidia in soil or dog feces.

Respiratory System: Anatomy & Function in Dogs


Shortly after birth, once the first breaths are taken, a puppy has a fully functional respiratory system. The respiratory system is basically composed of the nares (nostrils), nasal cavity, sinuses within the skull, pharynx (back of the mouth), larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), bronchi (the branches of the trachea going into the lungs), and the lungs. Dogs have right and left lungs, just like humans. Both sides of the lungs are further divided into sections, or lobes. Inside the lungs, the bronchi divide into smaller and smaller tubes, called ‘bronchioles,’ much like branches of a tree divide into smaller and smaller branches. At a microscopic level, the bronchioles end in small structures called ‘alveoli’. It is here that the blood makes contact with the individual cells in the lungs and oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide. Alveoli are supplied by a vast network of microscopic blood vessels known as capillaries.

The normal breathing process

As a dog inhales, Lung anatomyfresh air moves through the nose (or mouth), pharynx, and larynx to the trachea. The trachea carries the air to the bronchi, which in turn supply the lungs. Air exchange occurs in the alveoli and the used air follows the opposite path of new air: passing into the bronchi, into the trachea, through the larynx and pharynx, finally exiting through the nose or mouth.

Breathing is relatively simple and is accomplished by the actions of the rib muscles (intercostals) and the movement of a great internal muscle called the diaphragm. The diaphragm muscle separates the chest, containing the heart and lungs, from the abdomen which holds the intestines, stomach, liver, bladder, etc. As this great muscle moves toward the abdomen, it creates a negative pressure and pulls fresh air and oxygen into the lungs, causing the dog to breathe in (inhale). The chest cavity surrounding the lungs is a vacuum, thus allowing the lungs to inflate easily when the dog inhales. When the muscle moves forward (towards the animal’s head), it causes the lungs to compress and force air out (exhale), thus ridding the body of used air.

Functions of the respiratory system

The dog’s respiratory system serves two purposes. First, it is the exchange mechanism by which the body’s carbon dioxide is replaced with oxygen. It is also a unique cooling system. Since dogs do not have sweat glands (except on their feet), they cannot perspire to lower their body’s temperature like humans do. To cool their body they must breathe harder (pant). By breathing faster, warm air is exchanged from the body for the cooler outside air. Additionally, moisture within the respiratory system evaporates, further cooling these surfaces. Therefore, the lungs function both to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and to cool the body.

Article by: Race Foster, DVM

Fun Facts About Your Dog’s Tail

Short, long, puffy, curly, they’re all different, but all dogs have ’em! We know dogs wag their tails when they’re happy, but did you know that their tails can convey other messages? Or that communication isn’t a tail’s only use?

Get ready to be intrigued, because chances are, you’ve never thought about your pup’s wagger like this before! Here are 10 fun facts about dog tails–as it turns out, they’re more than just a cute accessory!

1. Tail wagging is a social cue.

According to Animal Planet, studies have shown that dogs do not wag their tails when they’re alone, only displaying the gesture when around other humans and other animals. (Note: this means that dogs with docked tails have a difficult time using this mode of communication. Likewise, other dogs have a hard time reading the social cues of tail-less pups.)

2. And it’s not a behavior that’s developed right away.

Animal planet explains that puppies don’t start wagging until they are about a month and a half old. Then, they practice with their first audience: their litter mates and their mom!

3. Tail wagging can display happiness–but what else can it mean?

Certain types of wags can indicate certain emotions. According to Psychology Today:

  • The slight wags when meeting newcomers can offer a tentative greeting
  • A high-sitting tail making a short, fast back-and-forth motion can be the display of a threat
  • A broad, swishing wag is friendly and unchallenging
  • The slow wag of a tail “half-mast” is neutral, neither excited nor anxious.

4. And the height a dog holds its tail, as well as the speed it wags, indicates certain messages, too.

5. Even the direction that the tail is wagging means something. 

The direction of a dog’s swishing tail corresponds to the hemisphere that’s been activated in its brain, says the Washington Post. If you’re looking at a dog and her tail is wagging to the right, she is pleased, relaxed, and/or happy; if a dog’s tail is oriented to the left, she is nervous, anxious, perhaps threatened. This nuance can be tricky for us humans to pick up on, but for fellow canines, the message is crystal-clear.

6. The tail was evolved for more than just communication. It might have been used to help dogs with balance.

According to AOL News, dogs have long since discovered that this appendage to be a handy balancing aid when walking along tedious and narrow paths.

7. Tails can even help propel natural-born swimmers through the water.

AOL also notes that some dogs, particularly retrievers, use their tails like a rudder, steering them through the water.

8. Dogs can chase their tails for multiple reasons.

Dr. Kathryn Primm for iHeartDogs explains that obsessive and continuous tail-chasing may be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Pet Finder says that anxiety, curiosity, boredom, prey drive, and even fleas can also be culprits. Bottom line: the occasional tail-chase is normal.

9. Tails are an extension of the spine.

However, this section is more flexible, and has its own set of muscles and discs, according to AOL.

10. They also help dogs spread their scents.

Alpha dogs, with their tails held high, can release more scent from the anal glands, explains Animal Planet. Scared dogs hold their tails between their legs, submissively covering their scent glands. The swoosh of a tail also helps fan the smell into the air.

by Karen Tietjen

Dog Eye Facts

A dog’s eye functions much the same as any mammalian eye. The eyeball is round in shape with a light sensitive membrane, called the retina, lining the rear of the eyeball. Incoming light is focused and information is transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. The dog’s eye has a reflecting layer, called the tapetum lucidum, which intensifies available light, giving the dog an advantage during dusk or dawn, the prime time for hunting.

Because dogs have two eyes, they have binocular vision. Binocular vision is the area within a dog’s total vision field that overlaps, providing it with the depth of perception needed to pursue prey. The exact degree of binocular vision within a dog’s total visual field depends on the shape of the dog’s head and the exact placement of the eyes.

Most dogs have a total visual field of 250 degrees. The degree of binocular overlap is about 75 degrees for long-nosed dogs to 85 degrees for short nosed breeds. Humans have about 120 degrees of binocular vision, but since their eyes are set directly on the front of the face (and not the side of the head) a human’s total visual field is only 190 degrees, giving dogs the advantage of 60 degrees more peripheral vision. There are dog breeds, such as the Chow Chow, however, that have such deep set eyes that their peripherial vision is reduced — a factor that should be kept in mind when approaching such breeds from the rear.

Although dogs have greater peripheral vision, they cannot perceive detail as well as humans. Objects that are stationary can elude their notice. When undecided about what they are seeing, dogs depend on their sense of smell to confirm any doubts. Although motionless objects can be missed, a dog’s sight is very sensitive to moving objects. They can perceive direction, speed and may even be able to recognize an animal or human by their pattern of movement.

Dogs were once believed to be color blind, but scientists now agree that dogs have enough color preceptor cones in their eyes to perceive a limited palate of colors.

Most dogs have brown eyes, but there are breeds with pale blue, speckled, golden or hazel colored eyes. Some dogs are odd-eyed, having one eye that is blue and another eye brown. The shape of the eye and its placement on the head varies with different breeds. Most are oval and placed midway between the side and front of their faces.

Dog fanciers have terms to describe certain eye colors and shapes:

  • An eye that is clear blue but flecked with a white or lighter blue is known as a China Eye.
  • Dogs with a prominent, visible third eyelid (nictitating membrane) are said to have Haw Eyes. Haw eyes are seen in such breeds as the St. Bernard and Bloodhound.
  • Triangular eyes have a three cornered, tent shaped appearance and are seen in Afghan Hounds.
  • Wall eyes, characterized by a pale bluish-white iris with flecks of brown, are seen in some Harlequin Great Danes.
  • Prominent eyes are big, round projecting eyes such as seen on Pugs.
  • Other eye shapes include Almond, Circular and Oval.

Source: Dog.com

A Warning to Dog Owners Who Use Inhalers

While cooler air and the smell of burning leaves are harbingers of fall in many parts of the country, they also usher in a time of increased risk of asthma attacks for many human sufferers of the condition. Many people who have asthma keep inhalers readily available to treat an attack. Inhalers can save human lives, but unfortunately they can kill dogs.

At the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, we know that dogs appear to have a particular penchant for chewing up their owners’ inhalers. Perhaps it is due to the fact that people put these in their mouths and they smell of food. When dogs bite into an inhaler, they often can get both an inhaled dose of the medicine, plus an oral dose, which means that they may get a very concentrated dose. They develop signs quickly, and those signs can last for several hours to days. Depending on the type of inhaler, the signs may be mild to life threatening.

Asthma Drugs: Relative Risks

Inhalers usually contain drugs that work toeitherreduce inflammation or dilate, or open up, airways. You should alwaysknow what kind of inhaler you have for your own safety, as well as in case a pet or a child comes in contact with your device.

Inhaled corticosteroid drugs, such as beclomethasone, budesonide, fluticasone and mometasone, work by decreasing inflammation in the airways when taken regularly. In an overdose situation, these products can cause increased thirst and urination lasting up to several days. Such signs will begin to manifest within a few hours. These exposures are not expected to be life threatening, although you should, of course, call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has been exposed.

Inhaled (bronchodilator) drugs, such as albuterol, levalbuterol, salbutamol and terbutaline, work by opening up airways to increase the ease of breathing. In an overdose situation with pets, however, these drugs can sometimes cause life-threatening problems including increasing the heart rate and affecting the balance of electrolytes, particularly potassium, in the blood. Within a few minutes of exposure, the dog may become agitated and begin to pace. As the heart rate begins to increase, the dog may become lethargic. The heart beats so fast it cannot pump blood normally. The electrolytes in the blood also start to change, and the dog may become weak and unable to stand. Your veterinarian will treat these exposures with intravenous medication to reduce the heart rate and normalize the electrolytes. Without treatment, the dog may die from cardiovascular collapse.

Store Inhalers in a Safe Place

There are more than 40 million asthma sufferers in this country, and that number is on the rise. That means many pets may have access to inhalers. Always keep these medical devices away from pets (and children), and if you think your animal has bitten into an inhaler of any kind, call your veterinarian right away. The longer the heart rate is elevated, the more at risk your pet is for permanent cardiac damage or death. Though the prognosis with treatment for most pets is very good, animals with known or underlying cardiac disease may be at a higher risk for complications and sudden death.

On a final note, since inhalers are under pressure, it is not uncommon to see a “frostbite”-type lesion (aerosol burn) on the tongues or lips of pets who may have chewed or bitten into one of these devices. These lesions may require pain medication or antibiotics to treat.

If you think your pet has bitten into an inhaler, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 immediately.

Powered by AWS