Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Should you switch your dog's food?

Between the cost of pet foods, and the cost of pet medications, you may think you should change your dog's food to save some money.

Here's the thing about changing a dog's food: You may not be getting the same quality of food you are giving your dog now. You really do seem to get what you pay for when it comes to dog foods. Read the label of any product you are thinking using as a replacement for current pet foods. Many list corn as the first ingredient. Why should we pay the same price for corn as some charge for a quality dog food?

Compare the dog food by the pound. You may notice the big savings you thought you would get is not there. And, if your dog is not having any allergy problems, and seems to like the food it is getting now, you may want to leave well enough alone. If you think buying dog food can be expensive, try treating a dog for food allergies!

If something happens and you must change the dog's food, do it slowly. Trainers differ on how they explain what should be done. Here is what I have heard, and what has worked for us. Each day for one week, we replaced about 10% of a dog's food with a new product. Once we saw the dog tolerated the new food, we added another 10%, and continued to try for a second week.

After the second week, you should be safe to use the new food. This may not work for every dog. Some people may tell you they just changed foods in one day, and never had a problem. Well, that is great for them, but I would not want to be the pet owner who did have a problem. And what about the dog? They can't ask us to slow down on the changes we are making-they just have to put up with us.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Barking dogs.

Is there really a way to teach dogs not to bark? If you live in an area where there are many dogs, you would certainly hope so. And, if you have a dog that loves to make noise, you may want to know this for you own sanity.

Dogs bark for several reasons. If a noise is made outside your home, your dog probably barks in an effort to warn you. This is part of a dogs nature, but that does not mean you can't teach the dog not to bark on command. It does take some doing, but this is what we learned through trial and error.

If you are not there to command your dog to be silent, I can't say there is something that will keep it from barking. When you are with the dog, you can continually show your disapproval when it barks, and eventually the dog will get it. First, when the dog barks for a reason you do not find acceptable, say quiet in a loud, stern voice, followed by a hand signal of your choice. Repeat the same step each time you have a barking incident. Some dogs will get it the first day. Other dogs take many times to get with the program.

When you approve of a dog barking, commend it with 'good boy' and a pat on the head. This helps the dog understand there are times when barking is okay. Most dogs will learn to distinguish between the sounds of the mail being delivered, and strange noises that an intruder would make.

It is true some dogs will never understand how to behave the way the master would prefer. For these pets, a professional trainer may be needed. In most cases, just being consistent and fair will get the results you need.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dogs with allergies: What's a human to do?

Dogs bring so much fun into the lives of humans! Too bad they aren't easier to figure out when it comes to their needs, such as allergy relief.

For the most part, taking care of a dog is simple. Dogs should be kept clean, fed properly, and offered plenty of fresh water.

Aside from exercise and attention, most dogs are fairly easy to figure out. However, a problem can arise when your dog develops an allergy. How exactly do you know if your dog has an allergy? Unfortunately, a dog with an allergy will soon make the problem known.

It's 2 o'clock in the morning. You are awakened by the sound of your dog scratching, and scratching, until you think you will go over the deep end. If you think it's a problem for you, what about the dog? Dogs will scratch to get relief to the point of making an area bleed. This isn't good for either one of you.

The first thing you may want to do is think about any dietary changes. If your dog is on a strict regimen of dog food only, and you are sure no one has been able to give your pooch anything unusual, think about the next question. Have you made any changes in the products used to groom your dog? No to that, too? What about the areas where you walk your pet? Is anything blooming, or has anything changed?

If a day or two pass, and your dog is still scratching, go to the veterinarians. Only the dog's veterinarian can say if your dog has something more serious than a seasonal allergy.

What if the dog does have an allergy? You might be given medication, such as prednisone, to offer some relief. This won't cure the problem, but will give some relief to the dog.

Now what? It is very difficult to determine at times what a dog is allergic to-even with a veterinarians help. Some insist no corn products should be included in the dog's food. Others claim the itching is from fleas. But, what if you have your dog on a monthly flea preventative? Unfortunately, some dogs are allergic to these products, and the only way to find out might be to stop using the product.

Although there is a lot of information on the Internet about dogs and allergy issues, there are no simple allergy tests for pets that are not extremely expensive. Be sure to follow the guidelines of the veterinarian you bring your dog to, as this is where expert information will be found.

Most likely it will be suggested that you begin a trial and error period for your dog. You will eliminate some things, change some things, and hopefully, your dog will soon be itch and allergy free.



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Picking Pet Insurance

If you have more than one dog, you know how expensive keeping a pet healthy can be. What does it cost to help a dog recover from a broken leg? I'm not sure, but I'm thinking it is more expensive than I would be comfortable paying.

We have all seen at least some of the advertisements about pet insurance. At first it was kind of a joke to some of us. After a few years of paying cash for health care issues for a dog, it is starting to seem like a great idea.

When you research insurance for your dog or cat, think about asking the veterinarian you use for your pets which insurance is accepted. It could be your veterinarian does not take any insurance. Does this mean you should get a new vet? That is something you have to decide.

Another concern is, what exactly will it cover? Are existing issues covered? Does the age of the dog or cat come into place? Be sure you know what you are buying before you pay for pet insurance.

The cost of pet insurance seriously varies by company, and the coverage you want. This just makes sense, as it is more expensive for humans to get more health coverage than less coverage.

Perhaps the best thing to do is get a policy that will cover major health issues for your dog or cat.
Routine shots may be something we can handle, or find at a discount. Most of us are limited when it comes to budgeting for our pets. Yet, it is not unusual to leave the veterinarian's office having spent in one day what you thought you would spend in one year.

If money for your dog or cat's care is not an issue, you may not feel pet insurance is needed. For most of us, getting the insurance is a better idea than having the concern of a large bill at one time.