Category Archives: Laurie Darroch

How to Know if Your Dog Has Allergies

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs can have an allergic reaction or ongoing allergies caused by a variety of things including food, fabrics, cleansers, shampoos and detergents, and bites from fleas. The symptoms of dog allergies can vary depending on the cause. It can take some detective work to ferret out the offender that causes the allergic reaction. Sometimes the cause is obvious and other times you may have to use the process of elimination or get the advice of your vet who can help to treat the allergies and their symptoms when they are severe or do not go away.

Allergies can make your dog very uncomfortable and cause a great deal of distress. If you were having difficulty breathing, or itching and scratching all the time, you would react the same way. Your dog can’t tell you what the problem is, so that is when you as their companion have to discover and solve their allergy issues.

An allergic reaction is the body telling itself that something dangerous is present and trying to ward off that offender. Some dogs will have no reaction whatsoever to something that may give another dog a severe reaction. Like us, dogs are individuals and their bodies handle things differently.

Airborne

Some of the same allergens that affect humans can bother your dog as well. If you notice your dog sneezing or they have developed a chronic cough, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what is around them when they are having the worst reactions. It may be ongoing or may be acute and only occur when they are exposed to a specific allergen.  For instance, dogs can be allergic to cigarette smoke the same way humans can. Scents can also set off an allergic reaction. Chemicals we use for cleaning or even perfumes can irritate your dog and make them sneeze or cough.

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The Benefits of Booties for Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Although dogs have thick pads on their feet and they are built to weather all kinds of climates and terrain, there are situations where booties can add protection for their feet. When their own natural protection is not enough, booties will help to keep their feet free of injury.

Dog booties come in many different styles and materials designed for specific uses, ranging from weather extremes and injury protection to fun and everything in between.

Seasonal Booties

The extremes of weather can wreak havoc on your dog’s feet. Ice and snow can hurt feet that are not used to walking in the cold, and the sharp ice can cut through the pads of their feet. If you take your dog out to play in the snow, the addition of booties will protect their feet and provide additional insulation.

Dogs can benefit from wearing protective booties in the summer as well, particularly on scorcher days when the pavement or sand is extremely hot. Think about it; if the pavement or sand is too hot for you to walk on with bare feet, it’s probably uncomfortable for your canine friend as well. Dogs can get burned or frozen feet the same way you can.

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Should I Shave My Dog’s Fur in Hot Weather?

By Laurie Darroch

As the weather changes from cold to hot, you may feel that your dog would stay cooler if you cut his fur. However, before you do that, you need to think about what type of dog you have and what the layers of fur actually do for a dog, particularly if they are a double coated breed.

Look into the type of coat your particular dog has. Not all coats are the same, and what may seem cooler to you may not actually be helping your dog. In many cases, it’s better to opt for daily grooming and maintenance instead of shaving off your dog’s protective fur. You may be doing more damage than good by removing natural covering.

Types of Dog Hair

Some dogs have what is called a double coat. It is actually two layers of hair that are meant to protect the dog from the elements, including heat. The undercoat is thicker and softer than the overcoat. The double layers actually trap cooler air in against the dog’s body. It is built-in insulation. Huskies and German Shepherds are two types of dogs with double coats. It may look hot to you and be work to take care of their coat, but you may be doing them a disservice by shaving them if it is not absolutely necessary because of extreme coat damage.

Other dog breeds have single coats, such as the Doberman Pinscher or the French Bulldog. Some dogs are non-shedders or low shedders, such as the Poodle, Kerry Blue Terrier or Lakeland Terrier, but some non-shedders or low shedders can be double coated as well. The point is to know and understand your particular dog’s breed and coat type before you make any decisions regarding shaving or clipping for hot weather.

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Do Dogs Respond to Music?

By Laurie Darroch

When you put on a CD or turn on the radio, you may notice that your dog responds to the sound of the music, but they may be responding more to each individual piece than one style of music.

Every dog is an individual, much like every human. Depending on the dog, they may respond differently to different kinds of music. Many people choose to leave the radio on for their dog while they are away from home, and pick what they think will be soothing for their dog. Even within particular types of music though, the styles and sounds can be very different. Classical music, for example, can range from soothing and calming to bold and brassy loud. It isn’t so much the style or genre of music, but the tones of individual pieces that may affect how your dog reacts to the sounds she is hearing.

Music that has short, repetitive notes is more stimulating than music with drawn out notes, which is more likely to be calming. The tempo or speed may also affect your dog. Music that is close to their breathing rate or heartbeat is more calming. Music that is more frenetic is more likely to stimulate them. The volume matters too.

If you want to play soothing music for your dog, try recording your own compilation of calming musical pieces, not just a random radio station that might play music with a wide range of tempo, volume and style. Observe how your dog reacts to it.

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How to Choose a Good Dog Shampoo

By Laurie Darroch

Dogs do need to be bathed on occasion, and you need to choose the right shampoo to get your canine friend clean. Their skin and fur attracts dirt, debris and pests which can cause health problems. A stinky dog can also smell up a house quickly, and get furniture and bedding filthy.

Don’t use products designed for humans for bathing your dog, no matter how much you like the smell of them. They’re not meant to be used on dogs. Don’t use dish detergent either, as it can be caustic and can burn their skin. The added chemicals and perfumes from these types of products may also cause allergic reactions or make your dog’s skin worse. The strong scents can be agitating to a dog’s super sensitive nose as well.

Look for a shampoo designed specifically for canine care with healthy ingredients such as aloe or oatmeal for moisturizing and cleaning. When buying dog shampoo, keep in mind that an adult dog may have different sensitivities and needs than a puppy does, so be sure to buy age appropriate products. Getting the right dog shampoo will help to keep his fur and skin healthy.

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Do Dogs Understand Spelling?

By Laurie Darroch

Although we often credit our dogs with capabilities far beyond their actual mental abilities, they do often seem as if they understand and respond to specific things we say. For example, when we spell words the same way we would in front of a small child in order to hide our meanings from them. Eventually a child grows old enough to understand what we are spelling, but a dog learns those words in very specific ways.

Dogs are not actually learning to spell the same way, even if it seems they suddenly understand and react to specific words spelled out in front of them. They make associations, and with constant repetition begin to associate certain words, sounds and letter sounds with any given situation such as a treat or other reward. They are clever animals and are aware of everything going on around them, but they process it differently than we do.

Take my dog Kira, for instance. One of her favorite games was chasing bubbles. If my daughter or I said the word “bubbles” Kira immediately went into an excited frenzy and raced to the door of the pantry where we stored our bottles of bubble liquid and the battery operated bubble blower that blew dozens of bubbles at a time for her to chase all over the yard until she was happily exhausted. Her tail would wag and all 100 pounds of her would bounce up and down impatiently waiting for us to get out the bubbles and go outside to play with her.

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