Revisiting Re-evaluations

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Our daycare program started back in 2011 with a very small group of dogs.  Since then, we’ve put a lot of hard word into evolving. As we’ve grown, we’ve continued to research the best ways to keep your furry friend safe and happy, and we’ve developed our program accordingly.

 

doglist1One of the things we’ve found is that pack stability is crucial to the dog’s safety and enjoyment. Dogs are creatures of habit! With a pack, they get to know each other and that sense of familiarity and structure is comforting to them. This is a big part of why we encourage regular attendance on the same days each week,.  It’s also why we now require a re-evaluation if your dog has been absent for more than three months.

 

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Three months is a long time in dog years! Imagine staying home from school or work for three months then returning. It will take you awhile to get the lay of the land again. There will undoubtedly be new faces, new policies, new social politics, and perhaps new furniture or a new layout. The same goes for your dog in daycare. The group can change a lot in three months. New dogs, new play equipment, new staff, new schedule: any combination of these is possible and your dog will need to become accustomed to each.

 

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Dogs also change as they age. Their preferences, play styles, tolerance of other dog’s antics, and life experiences will go through a natural progression. It’s just like how children age into young adults, and those young adults have different likes and dislikes than they had when they were young. As dogs age from puppy to adolescence to adulthood, they tend to lose some of that never-ending energy and rambunctiousness. They begin to enjoy the slower things in life like naps and snuggles, and they tend to have less tolerance for the young’uns. Think of it this way: your 13 year old (adolescent) may enjoy play that is too rough and tumble for your 5 year old (puppy), and your 19 year old (adult) wants nothing to do with either one of them!

 

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After three (or more) months away from daycare, we want to see what your dog still enjoys and what they have grown out of.  That way, we can make the best decision for what your pup needs right there and then!  And even if they’re eager to get back into their daycare groove, they will appreciate a shorter day on their first day back. It will help them ease back into the swing of things.  So if you’ve been away for a while, we’d love to have you back!  Send us a fresh application: your dog will appreciate you getting the ball rolling!

 

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Toothcare for Toto: Canine Dental Hygiene

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If you’ve checked out our add-on menu at the salon, you’ve probably noticed teeth brushing as an option. You may have also heard a friend lament about the high cost of a canine (or feline) dental cleaning at your veterinarian. This leaves you wondering; do I need to be worrying about my dog’s teeth?

teeth1Dogs and cats can get gum disease, just as humans can. Gum disease is an infection resulting from the build up of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of teeth, and the bacteria it contains can lead to bone infection in the surrounding teeth. The hard dental tartar (the brownish build up you can see on the surface of the teeth) forms when calcium salts from the saliva are deposited onto the plaque. This forms a rough surface, which encourages more plaque accumulation.

teeth02.pngThe most common complaint from owners of dogs with gum disease is that their dog’s breath smells awful.  As the gum disease progresses, the plaque and tartar build up, the gums become irritated which leads to bleeding, oral pain and eventually tooth decay.  So how do you keep Toto’s teeth clean, avoiding bad breath in the present and bad health in the future?

teeth03Daily (yes, daily!) maintenance to prevent the plaque and tartar buildup in the first place. But don’t fret, it’s not as cumbersome as you might think. Daily brushing is the gold standard for keeping your dog’s teeth fresh and clean. There are different types of toothbrushes on the market, as well as different flavors of dog toothpaste. It’s super important not to use human toothpaste! Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed, and contains artificial sweeteners that can be toxic to dogs.

teeth04When brushing the dog’s teeth, apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush and gently insert the brush along the outside of the teeth on one side of the mouth. Use your other hand to gently hold the dog’s mouth. You don’t need to clamp their mouth shut, but you want to dissuade them from opening wide or pulling their head back. Run the brush back and forth along the outside of the teeth, and repeat on the other side. Then make a couple passes along the front teeth. Doggie toothpaste is enzymatic so the not only does brushing mechanically dislodge debris from the teeth, but it spreads the paste around so it can stick to the surface of the teeth and continue dissolving plaque and tartar after brushing. Use a gentle but firm pressure when brushing, and if you see blood on the toothbrush, use even less pressure.

teeth05Besides brushing, there are other products that can help keep Fido’s teeth sparkling. There are a myriad of dental chews which serve to physically scrape off tartar as the dog chews.  There are also water additives can help prevent new tartar and plaque from building up when used daily in the dog’s water bowl (though it won’t do anything about the tartar that already exists on the teeth).

teeth06Your pup’s relationship with his vet should begin during the puppy months.  They can provide basic maintenance, such as a dental exam, during his yearly check up.  They’ll look for any abnormalities, decay or injuries to the mouth. If the tartar build up is bad enough, your vet may recommend your dog get a dental cleaning under anesthesia. Once tooth decay sets in, extractions may be the only option to get rid of dead teeth.  Your dog should also head to the vet if you notice any abnormal drooling, avoidance of eating, dropping food out of his mouth while eating, sensitivity of being petted or handled around his face, or an extra foul odor coming from his mouth. All of these can indicate pain and/or infection and require a trip to the vet.

old-dog-smilingPracticing good dental hygiene for your pup can feel intimidating.  But establishing a routine will quickly become the norm for both you and your pup.  (Be sure to keep any hygiene sessions short and sweet and reward your dog with a good snuggle or play session afterwards, so they come to associate it with good things.)  With a little prevention, your dog can keep smiling well into his senior years!

 

Keeping Cool: Pupsicle Recipes

frozentreat5Summer feels like the ultimate dog season, doesn’t it?  Parks are open and ready for exploring, festivals are lined up for every weekend, and almost every restaurant and winery has dog bowls alongside their outdoor seating.  It’s a grea time to enjoy life with your four legged best friend.  But while you’re sipping a mojito on the porch or slicing up some watermelon for the gang, don’t you think your pup deserves a cold delicious treat too?  Here are five health, easy, and inexpensive recipes to keep your pup feeling cool in every way!

frozentreat1Frozen Watermelon Treats, from Roxy at Grrfeisty:

  • A watermelon
  • A can of coconut milk
  1. Scoop out about 1/4 of the melon.
  2. Blend together with the can of coconut milk
  3. Pour into ice cube tray, freeze, and serve!

frozentreat7Strawberry & Banana Frozen Treats, from Andrea at The Cottage Market:

  • 2 cups of Sliced Strawberries or a 16 ounce bag of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1½ cups Plain Greek Low Fat Yogurt
  • 1 sliced banana (if you have two…use them both)
  • ¼ cup of Skim Milk
  • 3 tablespoons of Honey
  1. Blend all ingredients.
  2. Pour into ice cube tray, freeze, and serve!

 

frozentreat8Frozen Pumpkin Treats, from Dog Vills

  • 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  1. Puree banana and pumpkin in blender.
  2. Stir together yogurt, honey, and mashed banana/pumpkin in large bowl.
  3. Spoon into ice cube tray, freeze, and serve!

frozentreat5Frozen PB&J Treats, from Shannon at i heart HGTV

  • 1/4 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/3 cup natural, unsweetened peanut butter
  1. Blend strawberries and blueberries until smoothie-like in consistency. (You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water!)
  2. Spoon the berry mixture into the ice cube tray, filling each cavity about halfway.
  3. Fill each cavity the rest of the way with peanut butter.
  4. Freeze and serve!

Summer is a wonderful time.  Good food, good drinks, good weather, and good company are some of the best parts of the season.  Your pup should be in on the good times, too!  And the best part about these recipes?  Since they’re made with all natural food grade ingredients, you can sample them yourself!

Health Bulletin: Canine Influenza

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Here at No Barks About It, the most important thing is the health and safety of your dog.   That’s why we want to take a moment to talk about something that may be frightening, but is becoming increasingly more important to be aware of: Canine Influenza.

sickdog3Canine Influenza – in particular, the H3n2 strain – starts off very similarly to the more common, and less serious, “bordetella”, or kennel cough. 3-4 days after exposure, dogs have symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever. If caught early, your vet can prescribe medications to put your dog on the mend more quickly. However, left untreated, Canine Influenza can lead to potentially fatal pneumonia, so it’s important to get your dog to a vet if they are showing signs of illness.

dogcleaningWhile this particular strain seems to be largely centered in the dog show circuit in southern states, viruses are extremely contagious and highly unpredictable. So here at No Barks, we are on high alert. We already regularly clean with 256, a disinfectant that kills canine influenza, bordetella, parvo, and over 50 other viruses and pathogens. We’ll continue disinfecting the toys, water bowls, and surfaces daily. We’ll also be keeping a close eye out for any signs of illness in the pups in our care. If we think something is “off”, we’ll be contacting you so you can pick Fido up and take them home to rest.  Canine Influenza is an airborne disease, but it can also be spread through direct contact between dogs.  This means that it is especially important that you keep your dog home from daycare if you think they may have been exposed or if they are showing any signs of feeling less than their best.

dogshotIf you’re concerned about the health of your animal, don’t be shy about talking to your vet: they are the number one resource for keeping your dog in tip top shape. There is a vaccination against H3n2, and if your dog frequents dog shows or facilities often used by show dogs (i.e. boarding, agility, etc.), it may be worth considering.  Canine Influenza is nothing to sneeze at, but with care and vigilance, we’ll do our best to keep your pet safe and healthy!

Proper Coat Care isn’t Just for the Winter

After another long Upstate winter, a lot of us are putting our overcoats away for the season or getting them cleaned up after a hard use in the salt, snow, and rain. Lucky for us, we can put our coats in the washer.  Our dogs, however, wear theirs year-round and need us to help keep them in good shape, clean and mat-free.  

You already know what matting is and that frequent brushing is the best preventative.  But did you know that there are quite a few different methods of brushing, and that the kind of coat your dog has dictates what brushing method you should be using?

First, the basics.  You may have heard your mom tell you not to brush your hair when it’s wet; the same thing applies to dogs.  Brushing a coat when it is dry is crucial to keeping it in good condition.  Wet hair breaks more easily and is harder to untangle.  Often wet or damp hair will feel matted and the brush will not go through it. But you’ll find that once it’s dry, brushing is much easier.  A clean dry coat is even better, as dirt, static, and the natural oils in the coat will cause the hair to clump together and the undercoat to hold on tight. This is why periodic baths in between grooms are a good idea – it will make brushing at home so much easier!

 

Let’s talk about the curly or wavy coated dogs.
hand scissor poodle puppy coat

Poodles, poodle mixes, and any dog whose coat has some level of kink or curl to it fall into this category. You’ll need two types of tools for these coats – a simple metal comb, and a slicker brush.

The technique you’ll use is referred to as “line brushing”. In essence, you’ll start at the bottom, hold the hair up with your hand to create a part, and brush with the slicker brush just below the part. It’s important to work in short, light strokes and you don’t need a lot of pressure! To check your pressure, use the slicker brush on your own arm. You want to push firmly enough that the hair is being brushed, but not so firm that you leave scratches on your arm. Brush the hair just below the part and begin working your way up, pulling more hair down as you go, so the part moves further up the dog. If you encounter a mat, use the “pat and pull” method: part the greyhound_comb_and_slicker_brush8-1hair just above the mat, and use the slicker brush to gently pat the mat and pull away and slightly down. Continue doing this in short quick strokes and it will untangle the mat – be patient, it can take a while!

Each dog’s tolerance for this will be different. Most dogs are okay with one or two small mats being de-tangled. When you are done with a section, check your work with your comb. If you encounter an area where the comb gets hung up, don’t yank! Return to the pat and pull method over that area working specifically on the tangle you’ve found. When the coat is fully brushed out, the comb will glide through and, when you run the slicker over the coat, it will glide smoothly without any friction from tangles. This process can be time consuming if not done regularly, but if you break it into 10-15 minute sessions on different parts of the dog every day (for instance a front leg one day, other front leg the next day, etc..), it can be relaxing for you and the dog.

 

The second coat type is the drop coat 

full coated havanese.JPGThis type of coat is seen on shitzu’s, lhasa apsos, maltese, etc. and is fine, straight or slightly wavy, and very prone to static. The tools you’ll want for80615-_ac_sl1500_v1460478783_ this job are the slicker brush, a pin brush, and comb. Ideally, with daily brushing, you’ll just need the pin brush to keep the coat tangle free.
The pin brush is gentle on the skin and coat, and doesn’t break strands, so it’s a top choice for drop coated dogs in full coat (hair that flows to the ground). For most other dogs, you’ll want to use the regular metal comb daily. If you find a mat or tangle, use the line brushing and pat-n-pull method detailed above.

The third coat type is the double coated breeds

IMG_8802These dogs, like newfoundlands, shelties, and golden retrievers, have a smooth outer “guard” coat and a soft, fuzzy undercoat. These breeds, while they shed year round, they have a “blow out” of coat twice a year – a period of massive shedding. The trick is making sure the undercoat is removed as it sheds, otherwise it gets impacted and matted to the guard coat, which can result in the dog needing to be shaved. We never want to shave double coated dogs unless absolutely necessary! A long-toothed basic metal comb is your best friend for these breeds, and a slicker can be helpful too. Both tools will grab the loose undercoat and pull it out. You can use the line brushing method if the dog’s coat is super thick, but often just a regular brushing from top to bottom daily is all that’s needed.

In all breeds, pay special attention to the friction areas – behind the ears, between back 57269110cf033c106e852e2abf38b4ddlegs, armpits, under the collar, the tuck up of the belly. These areas will get matted much faster as the friction of regular movement creates static. Bellies also get matted fast as belly fur gets wet when the dog goes outside in the damp grass or snow. Making sure not to apply lotion to your own hands before petting your dog will stop the “love mats” from forming – those big mats that happen on the top of your dog’s head and neck where you love to pet them!

If you find yourself in need of cutting out a mat, use caution! The safest way to do it with scissors is to put the comb between the mat and your dog’s skin, then scissor over top of the comb. The comb acts as a guard to ensure you don’t accidentally catch your dog’s skin in the scissors.

If you are doing a top-notch job of keeping your dog brushed out but find their bangs and the hair around their eyes is impeding their vision, give your groomer a call! Most groomers offer a quick and easy face trim to keep your dog’s face looking cute in between grooms. 

Poison Prevention and Your Pup

March is the month where everyone starts to think green: St. Patrick’s day parties, the promise of Spring, and bringing a little more warmth into your home in the form of forced b4c7015855d1c5ca09b559adfef58a645ulbs and houseplants. But some of these things can also make your dog look a little green in the gills… because they can actually be poisonous! That’s why we are celebrating March as Poison Prevention Month.

We already know alcohol and chocolate can be toxic to dogs, so make sure those green beers and Irish cream desserts stay up out of your pup’s reach! But with parties comes all kinds of other potentials for poisoning. Delicious treats like grapes and raisins can cause severe liver failure in dogs. Goodies sweetened with xylitol (like gum or certain baked goods) are also a serious hazard. Hangover headache remedies like acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.), even vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D3 and Iron can be deadly if ingested by your pup.

Then there are the first vestiges of Spring which are always a bit exciting: the smell of wet earth and quickening plants. Longer days and warming weather. But the melting snows can reveal nasty dangers. Mouse and rat poisons that may have been put out over the winter may now be accessible. Some evergreen shrubs like the Japanese Yew also pose potential for poisoning. Slug and snail bait is also toxic. So if you’re out walking your dog more in the increasing temperatures, make sure to keep a close eye on where he’s going and what he may be getting into!

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Those of us who like to get a head-start on spring by bringing in bits of green into our home ahead of the growing season should know: not all houseplants are created equal and many are not pet safe! Lilies and sago palms are definitely on the short list of toxic plants. Some others include aloe vera, Dieffenbachia, and Philodendron: all commonly available at your local grocery and hardware stores. Here is a list of the 11 most poisonous plants for dogs.

The best way to navigate these dangers is to make sure you pup-proof your yard and home and to always be vigilant when out walking on leash or visiting a friend’s party. Of course, when in doubt, you should contact your vet or call the 24-hour emergency Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.
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Doggy Dayschool: A Guide to Being the Teacher’s Pet

Daycare days are no longer limited to just running out the morning zoomies and wrestling with a best puppy pal. We are now incorporating a whole series of new activities for your pups to participate in. From group obedience training to obstacles and nose games, there’s sure to be something at Doggy Dayschool to get your dog to join in on more fun that ever!

Below is just a sampling of some of the activities we are incorporating in our new Dayschool curriculum:

 Group Obedience

When the total number of dogs in daycare is reduced by rotating in nap times, we can safely and effectively work on obedience training in smaller groups. Group sits, downs, and attention behaviors are important. Simon Says, To Your Place, and Red Rover games are a fun way to reinforce these important behaviors.

Self-control behaviors like Leave It and Wait (especially among distractions!) are life-saving skills that we will work on during group obedience games. By working with the dogs in small groups, we can teach them to wait their turn, follow through on behaviors, and focus in a distracting environment.

Agility and Obstacles

Using equipment like agility structures and obstacles helps the dogs learn how to follow instruction and navigate a changing environment. Targeting to a station, following the trainer’s lead, or learning to trust their balance are all part of the experience. For some dogs, the simple novelty of the item can be part of the fun!

Stringing together cues to form a complicated behavior is not only mentally exhausting (and, therefore, physically exhausting), it’s also a fun party trick!

Puzzles and Nose Games

For those pups that need a little problem-solving to keep their minds active and focused, we have food-dispensing toys and puzzle games that encourage perseverance, patience, curiosity, creativity, and a keen nose to win!

Staff will encourage dogs to search out their own reward (and maybe coax them in the right direction now and again), teaching them the value of independent play and keeping their minds on task for a duration of time.

Trick Training

Pet parents have the option of asking us to work on teaching their dog a new trick. You can leave it up to us as to what they may learn, or request a specific behavior. Results cannot be guaranteed, but we will work with them to try and learn the new trick as well as reinforce other behaviors.


Some of the tricks we’ve already had success with include Wave, Shake, Sit Pretty, and Spin. Other fun tricks we can work on include Bang Bang (you’re “dead”), Rollover, Whisper, and walk backwards.

Loose Leash Walk ‘n Train

Throughout the day, dogs will be worked with to learn and reinforce loose leash walking manners as well as working on-lead and in distracting situations. Although some of our doggy clients already get potty walks, not everyone has the best manners on leash! Taking dogs out during the day not only gives them a change in scenery (and smells), but also the opportunity to work on their leash manners and listening skills.

On days of inclement weather and for those just starting out in training, we have a secure hallway space to work with the dogs indoors.