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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 22, 2017 at 6:00 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

It’s easy to say, “I love you” to our favorite people, but how do we communicate with our fur babies when we want to say, “I love you?” It’s easy once you learn how to translate their distinctive language of affection.

Dogs

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Brian Hare, author of “The Genius of Dogs,” said a gentle, relaxed gaze directly into your eyes is a dog’s way of hugging you. Gazing back tells your dog, “I love you, too.”

When dogs lean on us, they’re asking you to keep them safe and protected. If you lean back, it shows you trust them.

Elyse Wanshel, senior writer at littlethings.com, cited a study in Japan that found when dogs saw their owner, they lifted their eyebrows (especially the left). Raising your eyebrows is a sign of affection.

Being hyper-excited when you get home means, “OMG! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” When we’re just as excited, it tells them you missed them, too.

Sleeping in your room/bed means they see you as family. Allowing them to sleep with you says you acknowledge them as an important member of the family.

When your pup greets you with a stretch, he’s saying hello and only does this with people he is completely comfortable with.

I sing the song “Me and My Shadow” to my dog daily. A dog that follows you everywhere can be annoying, but dogs are pack animals and they follow you because they want to be with those they love most: their families.

Cats

Cats can be less obvious with their affection leaving humans confused. In Lori Soad’s article “What To Do When Kitty Brings Home a Gift,” she says, “Your cat really thinks he is bringing you a gift” as a token of their gratitude. They consider you a member of their family.

Cats are prideful, so when they roll over to show you their belly, they’re saying they trust you unconditionally.

Mother Nature Network says a head-butting cat is marking you with her scent and claiming you as her own. When you lean into them, you are encouraging them to mark away.

The difference between love bites and play bites is unmistakable: one tickles and the other hurts. Love bites are your feline’s way of saying, “You’re awesome.” Have you ever seen a cat do a weird vibrating tail wag? This is also a sign of how awesome they think you are.

When a cat kneads on you while in your lap, it’s their way of saying, “I love you.”

A purring cat means they are happy, but did you know when your cat “talks” to you, mimicking the tone and sound of her “word” assures them they are safe and loved.

A slow blink is actually a cat’s kiss. If they give you a slow blink, reciprocate with a slow blink back at them. They know what you are saying!

The ultimate sign of your cat’s love is to groom you. Use a warm, damp cloth to gently stroke their heads and back in appreciation. This mimics how it felt when being groomed by their mother. 

Now that you know a few things about your fur babies’ language of love, start speaking their language and watch how you’ll receive plenty of love in return.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — February 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

On my first day as a dog walker and pet sitter at Dog Paws n Cat Claws, I met Sierra. Sierra is a Pit bull and Boxer mix with the strength and energy of both her breeds. I was trained to hold on tight to leashes and wrap the handle around my wrist for extra precaution and security, especially if I was not familiar with the dog.

Five minutes into our walk, she nearly pulled my arm out of its socket when she saw a rabbit. Lesson one: Watch for small animals. When she saw another dog, she barked furiously, lunging and jumping into the air. Her aggression took over as if flipping on a light switch. Lesson two: Avoid other dogs.

We developed a closer understanding as we continued to see each other every day. I became firmer with her, lowering the tone of my voice and making her walk next to me instead of in front of me. When we would run into another dog or spot a small animal, she remained calm, but I could tell it was a struggle for her. I wondered why she was so aggressive. When I heard she had been to daycare, I was surprised and a little concerned.

Leash Aggression Training

The next time she came to daycare, I checked in on her. Imagine my surprise when I discovered her romping across the room, happily searching for new playmates. She loved the other dogs. Sierra was not aggressive — unless she was on a leash!

Leash aggression is a common issue for dog owners. When dogs are on leash, they can feel restrained, frustrated and uncomfortable. In daycare or dog parks, dogs approach one another on their own terms and distance themselves when they perceive something scary or unlikable. When we put them on a leash, we’re taking away that natural process. In Sierra’s case, it’s not that she didn’t like dogs; she just had issues with dogs when she was on a leash.

If you have a dog with leash aggression, make it clear that lunging at whatever the stimulus might be won’t get them anywhere. Turn and walk away or put your foot on the leash and ignore the behavior. Do avoid punishing them. It will only suppress the behavior and won’t change their negative emotions thereby increasing insecurities.

When you see another dog in the distance, bring out a favorite treat or toy to get them focused on something else. They will begin to see that positive things happen when they see another dog. Don’t let them approach another dog until they are calm.

I began training Sierra with her favorite treat–my face! When I saw another dog approaching I would tell her to sit. If she did, I would get down on her level and let her give me a lick on my face. It didn’t take long for her to figure out she only had that privilege when she was behaving herself. When it came to small animals, I remained alert on each walk and eventually she began to ignore them altogether.

We train our pet sitters/dog walkers to take certain precautions. Every pet gets full attention for the entire walk and we don’t walk dogs from multiple homes together. We instruct dog walkers to keep a strong hold on the leash, and avoid dogs, and people until they are confident in the dog’s behavior.

These days, I don’t get to walk Sierra every day, but each time she comes in for daycare, I spend some one-on-one time with her. When I call her name, she recognizes me immediately and her body shakes with happiness. Because you see, Sierra still thinks my face is the best treat ever!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 23, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

“When we rescued Lucy, we bought her a crate. The first time we left her in the crate for a dinner date, we returned home to find she’d rubbed her nose to the point of breaking skin and her gums were bleeding which we assume happened because she was biting the cage. Please don’t put her in one here,” said Susan S., one of our favorite clients, as she dropped off her pup for boarding.

Crates can be excellent training tools for dog owners and essential for puppies, but that doesn’t mean they work for every dog. You may discover that your rescue dog, who came to you with little information about their past, may hate their crate.

If you have a dog that reacts negatively towards a crate, she may have experienced some type of trauma while in a crate or during confinement. With patient training, many dogs learn to accept their crates over time. If you don’t have time for training, creating a larger space, such as a room of her own or a gated area, is less stressful for your dog and easier for you.

If you have a dog that’s done well in crates in the past and suddenly decides to protest, it may have something to do with the size. You want to make sure the crate is large enough for him to comfortably stand up and turn around without obstructions. When buying a crate for a puppy, keep in mind how big he will grow before deciding on a size. Most crates today come with dividers so you can partition part of the cage off and move it as your puppy grows.

Placement of the crate is also critical. They should live in a space free of noisy appliances, away from vents blowing hot or cold air, and far from the entrances of your home. It should be in a room where there’s human activity. You want your dog to feel like he is still part of the family, but doesn’t need to be involved with everything. If you have small children, teach them to steer clear of crates. Poking or banging on crates can be stressful for dogs.

If you choose to work on counter-conditioning your dog’s anxiety, the goal is to get your dog to voluntarily enter her crate. You want her to feel secure in her crate and enjoy her time inside. Placing treats inside the crate with the door open entices your dog to check it out. Keep the door open until she seems a bit more comfortable inside. Once you close the door, make sure your pup can see you and gradually work your way up to moving out of her sight line for longer periods of time.

If your dog barks while in the crate, ignore the behavior. Only reward when they are calm and well behaved using high-quality treats or a favorite toy. Stuffed Kongs are ideal. It keeps them busy and the act of cleaning out the Kong helps them relax. Another option is to cover the crate with a sheet, simulating the feeling of being in a den and calming to your pup.

If your dog continues to hate his crate and causes nothing but trouble when left to roam your home, dog daycare is another option. We have several dogs that come to daycare and boarding with crate anxiety. We have designed our daycare facility to include several small rooms called “zones.” When Lucy and dogs like her stay with us, we utilize these zones to keep them happy, calm and secure during their stay. At Dog Paws, we put extra effort into ensuring a crate hater will never see the inside of a crate.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Growing up in Wisconsin, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but that doesn’t mean I like it. In fact, I HATE it. The ice, the snow, wearing bulky clothes to keep out the bone-chilling cold and what do you mean I can’t wear my flip-flops?

Though I’ve always had cats, I am the proud owner of Anakin, my 90-pound white Boxer. During winter, taking care of him is a priority for me. My cats live indoors all year round and so don’t require special winter care.

Monitor Outside Visits

Puppies, older dogs and dogs with health conditions (especially thyroid problems) are more susceptible to colder temperatures and conditions. Make sure to monitor them on each outside visit. Watch for signs of shivering, shortness of breath, weak pulses and lethargy. Frequently check for frostbite with special attention to ears, paws, scrotums and bellies.

Grooming

If your dog has long hair you will want to keep it as long as possible during the colder months to help insulate against the cold weather. This means you need to be more diligent about brushing so matting doesn’t occur. Matted dog hair can be very uncomfortable for your pup.

In warmer months, your dog’s nails don’t need to be trimmed as often due to the natural filing from longer walks and visits to the dog park. In winter, keep an eye on those paws and get more frequent nail clips or a good grinding.

Cold Weather Hazards

One hazardous waste that’s deadly for dogs, even in small amounts is antifreeze. Making matters worse, dogs are attracted to its sweet smell and taste. Be sure to watch for puddles of antifreeze, especially when walking near parking lots and garages.

Ice melters are another winter hazard that can cause painful irritation to a dog’s paws. One option is to get your dog a pair of boots to protect his feet.

If your dog doesn’t take to wearing boots, you will need to be extra vigilant about wiping down paws after outings. Around your property, we recommend using sand or one of the many pet-friendly ice melters on the market. Our favorite product, which we carry in our retail store, is Safe Paw Ice Melter.

It’s important to keep your dog on a leash in the winter, especially around ponds and creeks. Dogs can easily wander away and slip or even fall through the ice. Hypothermia doesn’t take long to set in despite their natural fur coats.

Exercise

You may need to limit your dog’s exercise time outdoors, but consider a waterproof winter dog jacket, especially if your pup has short hair or is smaller and closer to the ground. Not all dogs like these coats, but when I put on Anakin’s winter jacket, he’s more likely to stay out longer and gets the outdoor exercise he needs.

Be prepared to throw the ball a few more times indoors and make sure there is a high-quality chew toy to keep your pup busy when he’s stuck indoors. Better yet? Bring them to daycare. They will be safe from the cold weather while getting the socialization and exercise they need. With fewer walks and less time spent at the dog park, daycare is the perfect solution for upcoming cold weather days.

Happy Holidays!
Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

My first cat, Chimichanga, would retaliate if I didn’t keep his litter box clean. Instead of getting into the box, he would squat down in front of it to relieve himself and we cat owners know how difficult it is to get cat urine odor out of a carpet. Even if WE can’t smell it after cleaning, our cats certainly can. Maintaining your cat’s litter box is the most important part of cat ownership and needless to say, Chimi kept me motivated to keep litter boxes clean for all my cats.

The Litter

Each cat has its own rules: from what kind of litter they prefer to where you put the box. With so many products to choose from, it may take time to find the right litter that you and your cats can agree on. Keep in mind that scented litter was invented for humans, not your cats, and they may not like it. I never cared for clay litter and decided to experiment with other options. It took some time and effort to find the winning product that we could all agree on.

Cleaning

Make it part of your daily routine. For example, my boyfriend has the morning shift after walking the dog and I have the evening shift after feeding the cats. If you have children, make it part of their daily chores. The only member of the family that should never touch a litter box is a pregnant woman. She could contract toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection transmitted through infected cat feces. Once a week, dump litter and clean the box with a mild detergent like dish soap that won’t leave a strong chemical smell or residue behind. Anything stronger could be toxic to your cat and they may choose to relieve themselves elsewhere.

Placement

Cat experts recommend you have just as many litter boxes as you have cats, plus one. Cats like privacy when they need to use their box but placement needs to be convenient. If you live in a multi-level home, each level should have a box. Make sure that doors blocking access are propped open. Don’t place litter boxes next to noisy appliances such as washing machines or water heaters. Cats have a very strong sense of smell and depend on this sense to tell them where their food is so keep the box away from their food and drinking water.

Types of Litter Boxes

What type of box you use may take some experimenting. Some cats prefer those with lids, others may not. Start out with two different models and you will quickly discover which they prefer. I love the deeper boxes with holes in the top because my dog isn’t able to reach those “special” treats. Self-cleaning boxes are an option, but keep in mind they need checking daily and changed once a week as well.

Accessories

There are several litter box deodorizers available, but like scented litter, they can be a turn off for cats. Using plain baking soda works just as well. Litter liners were invented for human convenience but when I tried to use them, my cats shredded the bag on the first day while covering up their business.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we train our in-home sitters to scoop the litter on each visit. Your being away can stress out your cat and they could retaliate for this reason alone. Keeping a clean litter box will minimize the temptation they may have to ruin your favorite rug.

An unhappy cat has a way of making your life difficult. Keep your kitty’s litter box clean and fresh and you will have a happier cat…and a happier you!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 28, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Hosting the big dinner over the upcoming holidays can be stressful for everyone and we’ve all heard stories about dogs getting into trouble. Years ago, my sister’s 80-pound dog Hershel attempted to jump on top of the dining room table and nearly succeeded. I recently read a story about a dog that managed to get the oven door open, pull out the turkey and eat half of it before anyone noticed!

Avoiding Kitchen Accidents

When I’m in the kitchen, so is my dog. He’s underfoot, hoping for scraps, volunteering for taste tests and being what he thinks of as helpful. However, eating scraps or giving your dog samples can potentially make them sick and cause weight gain. In addition, my own dog has almost gotten burned, been stepped on and eaten things that are toxic. It’s a risk HE is certainly willing to take. Keeping your dog out of the kitchen while cooking is the best way to protect him. You should keep them crated or blocked off with a baby gate to prevent kitchen accidents.

A Crowded House

There are many reasons why it’s important to keep your eyes open when the house is full. A crowded house can often create behavior problems for dogs when family and friends are engrossed in conversation and heads are turned. Your dog may take advantage of the situation and help himself to tasty plates of goodies, especially when everything smells amazing! Keep food out of reach and as high as possible to avoid trouble. Having children running around can also be stressful for your dog if they aren’t used to being around children. Teaching children how to approach a new dog is essential during the holiday season.

If you choose to keep your pal at home with you, consider blocking off the kitchen as suggested above or creating a space more contained than usual. To keep your dog busy, stuff a Kong full of treats or peanut butter and also set her up with a favorite chew toy or dog bone. And when it comes to bones, don’t offer any from your cooking. Small and slow-cooked bones can splinter when chewed, causing blockages in a dog’s system and possibly tearing intestines.

Boarding

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we recommend boarding anxious dogs in a safe, familiar facility with plenty of socialization and minimal crate time. We only crate dogs when sleeping and eating and schedule our daily cleaning ritual around feeding times. Our goal is to ensure your pet spends the majority of the day free to play, observe, receive attention or nap when and where they choose.

Holiday Dinner Scraps: Just Say No

Dogs foraging into trash cans and kitchen counters while unattended is expected and no doubt social media over the holidays will be full of photos of these canine mischief-makers, giving us plenty of entertainment. However, this can potentially cause great harm to your pup.

Deviating from your dogs’ (and cats’!) regular diets during the holidays can be a bad idea and cause health issues. I know it’s hard for me to resist those puppy eyes politely asking for a handout at the holiday table. Consider finding recipes for safe and healthy homemade dishes for your pets instead of offering scraps. Consult with your vet before proceeding if you have any concerns.

Think about starting a new family holiday tradition by getting your children involved in preparing something special for your pets. Because after all, our pets are family, too!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 14, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

At the tender age of 5, I came home with a caterpillar and announced to my parents, “I’m her new Mommy.”

Obviously, that didn’t work out, but it was clear that I would be a die-hard rescuer. Right after I moved to a place of my own, I rescued a kitten on the highway that lived as my loyal best friend for 17 years! I’ve rescued one from an abandoned house, and another under a car. My current 3 cats were rescued off the streets of New York. I “foster failed” with my 90-pound deaf boxer after 2 days and I signed the adoption papers with tears of joy.

I’m lucky enough today to be surrounded by people who have the same mind set as I do. At Thanksgiving, I make a list of what I have to be thankful for and my pets are always at the top. In turn, I look for ways to show my gratitude to the organizations that rescue pets in need of care, love and a family. It’s time to remember those in need.

It’s estimated that approximately 7.6 million animals enter shelters each year in the US, including 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats. Only 10% of them are spayed or neutered. 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized every year, even with the 13,600 rescue organizations across the US doing their best to save them. Dog Lover’s Digest lists 7 rescue groups in Arlington alone, with even more in the surrounding areas. We have worked with Homeward Trails for over 11 years and know just how desperate the need is to care for all of these rescued pets.

Homeward Trails, who is responsible for finding my own dog, currently has 55 dogs at its rescue shelter, with 125 dogs and 150 cats in foster care. They need your help! Homeward Trails Adoption Coordinator and Dog Paws employee Miranda Trohon says, “With the increasing number of animals we take in during the colder months, we have an ever-increasing amount of animals to feed. We can go through upwards of 30 bags of food a month at our Adoption Center alone!” This is only one rescue group in our area. Each and every one of them would benefit from donations. I am asking you to pick your favorite and give what you can.

Most of the dogs and cats that enter rescue shelters are from a rough background. Nothing helps a puppy or kitten grow like excellent nutrition and a sick animal is more likely to bounce back into a full recovery if they are eating healthy food. Look for grain free food and make sure the top listed ingredient is a protein. All of the dog and cat food we sell in our store is of the highest nutritional quality.

During this time of gratitude, we can all be thankful for what we have. What we can give to help those less fortunate is a wonderful way to say “thank you.” There are so many rescue organizations in our area that are in need and each November, Dog Paws n Cat Claws offers 10% off of any products bought in our store that will be donated to Homeward Trails, making it easier and more affordable to provide high quality products.

My pets have added so much joy to my life and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. I personally want to thank them by donating to Homeward Trails in their name. They brought me my best friend. Join me! Where did your best friend come from? Thank the rescue organization that brought you together by giving back. Better yet, adopt a NEW pet!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sara Schabach
Dog Paws n Cat Claws
In-home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 31, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

If you are a parent of small children, you will very likely spend the evening of Halloween walking through your neighborhood asking for candy with your kids dressed in silly costumes. 

While out and about, you will be sure to see someone with a dog out on an evening walk or joining the family in the festivities. There is a natural attraction between children and dogs. It doesn’t take long for dogs to figure out that the smaller the human, the more food they are likely to pick up and messy faces are delicious desserts. Kids love dogs because they are soft, adorable and just plain fun to be around. Training your children how to approach dogs they’re not already familiar with is important for many reasons: The most important reason is SAFETY!

First, let’s talk about the approach. Don’t ever RUN at a dog. It can make a dog feel threatened or overwhelmed. A calm, slower approach will allow the dog to see you coming and begin the proper greeting. Another important thing to remember is to ALWAYS ask the owner for permission to continue with the meeting. Most owners are going to be very honest if they believe there could be the slightest issue in meeting new friends. Respect anyone who says it may not be a good idea. 

A large, over-excited dog can do harm to smaller children just by jumping up on them and knocking them over. It is certainly unintentional, but the owner of the dog may not feel comfortable with the possibility of harming your child in this way and therefore ask your child not to approach. ALWAYS comply with any owner’s recommendations, as they know their dog better than anyone else. 

At Dog Paws we train our dog walkers to avoid other people during their walks simply because we don’t always know how they will react in all situations. If there is a dog being walked and they cross the street to avoid you, don’t take it personally — it’s probably a neighborhood dog walker.

Once permission has been granted, walk forward with your arm out in front of you, your hand in a fist, palm facing down. Hold it low to allow the dog to take a few sniffs. If the dogs leans forward or gives it the “lick” of approval you may proceed. If the dog does not lean forward or looks away, it’s better to leave it be. Instruct your child to stay away from petting faces and avoid the tail. Not even the nicest dog in the world is okay with a tail pull. Petting should be gentle and slow with long strokes to begin with. Encourage your children to talk to the owner about what the dog’s favorite “scratch spot” might be.

Something to remember is that dogs — even those who do well with children on a regular basis — may feel intimidated if there is a large group of kids. I know a dog that would pull me to the playground on our daily walks to meet the children playing, but once there were more than five of them surrounding her she would show signs of stress. Teach your children to look for these signs of stress in dogs. If a dog is backing away, begins to snarl or you see the hair on the back of his neck and down the spine go up, it’s time to move on.  

Teaching children how to respect dogs will help them develop stronger, healthier pet relationships in the future. Knowing the correct techniques when meeting dogs is the best way for all parties involved. 

Happy Trick-or-Treating! 

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 17, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

We’ve all been there. We’ll see our dog eating something strange or even downright disgusting and ask ourselves, “Why is my dog eating that?” From grass to poop to the remote control, what are the reasons why some dogs have pretty strange appetites?

Grass. I refer to this as “having a salad” and it can mean a number of things. He may have an upset stomach and grass is a natural remedy for gassy upset tummies. Try a dog food higher in fiber or add fresh cooked veggies to his kibble. Grass eating can be as simple as liking the way it tastes or feels. It also can be a sign of boredom so keep your dog engaged with walks and outdoor activities. Keep in mind that although grass itself is not bad for dogs, the pesticides they pick up from treated lawns could be harmful.

Feces. The scientific name for eating feces is coprophagia and it’s not an uncommon behavior in dogs. It’s a mother dog’s natural instinct to clean herself and necessary to stimulate urination and defecation in her puppies. What about the dog that does this for apparently no reason? Research shows it could mean a dog is suffering from parasites, diets deficient in nutrients, conditions such as diabetes or as a side effect from drugs, such as steroids. Consult your vet to rule out any of these health issues. It also can be due to anxiety. Try adding a Vitamin B complex supplement to your dog’s diet and monitor his behavior for any further signs of anxiety.

The cats provide one of my dog’s favorite “treats” each time they use the litter box. He thinks they’re delicious, we think it’s gross! He probably acquired this unusual craving because of his love of cat food. He’ll do anything to get it and I’ve moved the food to a higher shelf. Cat poop will naturally taste of the cat food he craves but it can make him sick. Cat food is higher in fat and protein than dog food, which is hard on a dog’s liver and kidneys. Chemicals in the litter can cause blockages in the intestines, as well as transmitting parasites.

To solve this problem, go to the pet store and find a top entry litter box. I actually took an old Tupperware bin and cut a hole in the top. It’s deep enough so that even if his head enters the hole, he can’t reach the forbidden treats.

Chewing objects. Puppies have a bad habit of chewing on everything and anything as they explore their world and usually outgrow this behavior. However, when you are not home, a dog may find something that smells like you and immediately want to check it out. Objects like jewelry, cell phones, TV remotes, kitchen utensils and clothing — especially shoes — contain your scent and oils and commonly become chew toys for your dog. If your dog displays this tendency, make sure to keep these objects out of his reach.

Chewing is something dogs need to do to keep their teeth healthy as well as relieving boredom and tension. But it can also be due to lack of exercise so it’s important to make sure your dog gets at least 1-2 hours of exercise each day and mental stimulation through playtime and obedience training. Take her to doggy daycare to blow off some of that steam!

No dog is perfect and let’s be honest…we wouldn’t want them any other way!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 3, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

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The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Dog Paws n Cat Claws, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, DPnCC offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

“Moose is doing something I’ve never seen him do before,” Jay, one of our midday dog walkers, called to tell me. “He’s barking at nothing! Aggressive barking but there is nothing! No other people or dogs… I don’t even see a squirrel!”

I jumped on my computer to email the client and she had an unusual response: The area they live in has a population of foxes, and since she has become pregnant, Moose has been far more protective of her and the house. Ryan Fochler, owner of Dog Paws n Cat Claws (DPnCC) was sitting next to me and I relayed the information to him. I find it incredibly fascinating that this dog seems to know his mommy has something precious inside her. Ryan turns to me and asks, “Did I ever tell you about Booker?”

Booker is a cranky older black Lab/Hound mix that Ryan and wife Katie rescued years ago from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, an organization DPnCC has worked with for 11 years. Booker was their first pet and he was never known to be affectionate or particularly sociable. When Katie became pregnant, Booker’s behavior changed so much they became concerned something was wrong. He followed Katie everywhere! He would lie next to her and didn’t like her to be too far out of his sight. He became much more affectionate and very protective of anyone getting too close to her.

When their baby son RJ came home, Booker went back to his usual anti-social behavior. A few years later, Booker for no good reason, began to follow Katie around again, protecting her, demanding affection and would even curl up on her lap, resting his head on her belly. A few days later, they found out she was pregnant! Somehow, Booker knew before his owners. On the day Katie’s water broke, she went into the shower and Booker climbed in with her!

There are several factors that may explain how a dog senses a pregnancy.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body chemistry changes and for a dog, whose sense of smell is between 1000 and 10,000,000 times stronger than a human’s, it’s going to make the dog take notice that its owner’s scent has changed. A transformation in body shape and posture is another clue your dog could pick up on. Variations in your mood or your normal everyday behavior are also evident to your dog.

Very likely, your dog doesn’t know exactly what is going on during pregnancy, and will still be confused when you bring home the new bundle of joy, but they know something is different. While there aren’t any empirical studies, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence on this matter. Most of the stories I found were similar to that of Moose and Booker but not all dogs react with affection or overprotection.  Some can exhibit such behavior as marking territory, chewing on things they normally would not or being down right uncooperative.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we consider ourselves a very family-oriented business. We have had so many pregnant clients schedule our pet taxi service to doggie daycare when it’s time to go to the hospital that we now provide a free pet taxi run at no charge to Dog Paws when the time comes.

So, a little word of advice: if your dog starts acting unusual, you might want to stop at the pharmacy on your way home. Rover may be trying to tell you something!

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager / Writer Extraordinaire

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