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Importance of Trimming Your Dog's Nails

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In thinking about caring for a beloved dog, many people forget about trimming the nails. Yet keeping your dog’s toenails trimmed is an essential part of the dog’s health, and trimming should be done at least once a month. If your dog’s nails can be heard on the floor when he walks, or if he’s beginning to limp, that means it’s time to trim.

A dog’s walk can be drastically affected by its nails, since dogs walk and run on their toes. This is a stark difference from humans, since our nails are not used for walking or providing balance. If you’re in doubt about how often to trim the nails or how short they should be, keep these two principles in mind. The nails should not protrude over the pads of the dog’s paws, and they should not touch the ground.

When the nail is too long, walking can become awkward and even painful. Long nails can also contribute to hip and back problems, splayed or deformed feet, punctures that open the skin to infections, and bone trouble. Long nails can also begin to split or bleed into the pad of the foot. This will cause the dog to walk slowly, limp, or not walk at all.

There are two ways to trim nails: with a standard toenail clipper or with a dremel. A standard clipper works well, as long as the person is careful not to take too much off. If the clipper cuts to the quick of the nail, it damages the tender vein that runs through the nail. This will cause even more pain for the dog, along with some light bleeding. On the other hand, the dremel is a gentle sander that can round the edges of a nail without cutting to the quick. In light-colored nails, the quick is easy to see. If your dog has dark or black nails, you may want to use the dremel simple to avoid hitting the vein.

Of course, regular trimming should be part of your dog’s care since puppyhood. Yet if you adopted the dog when it was older, there may be an adjustment period as the dog becomes accustomed to the monthly routine. Dogs can often be frightened simply because they don’t know what to expect. Trusting the process to a professional at your local animal shelter or veterinarian may be the best choice simply because that person is skilled at calming down animals in distress. If you opt to trim the nails at home, make sure to involve someone whom the dog trusts, and reward his good behavior with a treat afterward.

Many dogs, especially younger ones, will wear their nails down simply by playing. Inactive or older dogs, though, will prefer to walk on grass or other soft surfaces, and their nails will not be worn down naturally. Check your dog’s nails periodically until you have a sense of how quickly they grow. No matter what your dog’s breed, lifestyle, and health history are, nail trimming should be a regular part of his care.

Author bio: This guest article was written by Eva Kettler, who often writes for LaPorte Animal Clinic in northern Colorado. When she's not writing, Eva enjoys renovating her 60-year-old house and making peach jam.

From The Basket To The Boardroom: Taking Your Pets To Work

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Meet Griffin, a dog with a job. As Head of Canine Communications at Proctor and Gamble, Griffin’s days are spent attending boardroom meetings, visiting schools and representing his brand (which conveniently includes Iams dog food) the best he can. Griffin also has a number of canine co-workers in his office in Boston, as Proctor and Gamble’s pet care division is one of a growing number of pet friendly workplaces.

Griffin’s busy schedule includes encouraging other companies to allow dogs in the office, and it is now estimated that one in five workplaces in America now allow pets. The benefits are clear, as some of the biggest brands on the planet allow pets, proving that their presence can breed success. Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Amazon and Build-a-Bear Workshop all allow pets in their head office, and all have reputations for being some of the best companies in the world to work for.

There are numerous benefits to taking your dogs (or in some cases cats) to work, confirmed by a recent study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management. Looking at a small sample of 75 employees, whose stress levels of workers were monitored throughout the day, the study compared those who worked with a company that allowed dogs in the office, and those who didn’t. Workers who shared their desk with a dog had low levels of stress throughout the day, whereas those with no interaction with animals had their levels rise steadily throughout the day.

Help With Stress?

Stress leads to low morale and lost hours due to overwhelmed and sick workers. The presence of dogs can relax workers and increase productivity. Having a dog around also encourages employees to take a break from their work to have a quick play or pet, which helps recharge the batteries and make sure work levels are consistent throughout the day.

Pets also help co-workers get along, as dogs relax people and make them more approachable and easier to talk to. They act as a true ‘ice breaker’ in the workplace, and if someone is having a bad day, it’s always great to see the happy face and wagging tail of an affectionate canine.

Pet owners are usually nervous and stressed about leaving their sweethearts at home, so taking your pet to work can reduce that anxiety, and spread happiness throughout the office. Workers who don’t own any pets are able to share in the joy of a canine’s company.

Taking pets to work is also a great thing for the pet itself. Being inside an empty house all day is a less than ideal environment for dogs, who need plenty of exercise and attention. Being around people all day in a work place means dogs will quickly feel at ease and (hopefully) will even improve their behaviour!

Turning a workplace into a pet friendly zone requires a bit of effort, and there are some stumbling blocks. The decision needs plenty of thought and consideration, particularly if you have any co-workers with allergies or a fear of dogs, who may struggle in a workplace packed with pooches. 

Convincing The Boss

Purina, the dog food company, has started a scheme to encourage more workplaces to take their pets to work, and their website includes tips on how to encourage the boss and co-workers to make the leap. Preparation is relatively fuss free and easy, dogs will need to be kept in certain areas, and there should be plenty of sanitation equipment and plastic bags on had just in case there are any accidents! Dogs should also be fully vaccinated and introduced to other pets in the office gently (such as meeting outside the office for a little play) to get rid of any territorial issues.

Cats are a more difficult pet to approach, as they usually enjoy staying at home and sitting on top of warm laptops and unknowingly deleting all your work while having a nap. But feline interaction is also proven to reduce stress levels, as shown by the cat cafe craze that started in Tokyo and is spreading across Europe. These cafes are filled with office workers on their lunch break taking a break by having a coffee and playing with cats. There are plans to open one in London, much to the joy of workers in the capital.

Having pets in the workplace is a growing trend, and is here to stay. If you work with lots of pet lovers, introduce the idea at your next meeting and see if the presence of dogs can lead to productivity and success in your workplace!

Vicky works alongside http://www.hrprotected.co.uk/, a supplier of HR documents for employers. She has experience managing a HR department and is also an animal lover to boot!

Is Your Child's Behavior Dangerous To Pets?

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My friend Linda recently told me that she has some concerns about how her son is treating their cat.  She said that her son locks the cat in cabinets, and plays too roughly with it.  I told her that most cats will tolerate some roughhousing, and then when enough is enough will fight back.  I suggested that she continue to put a stop to any mean behavior she sees, and keep telling her son that he must always be kind to animals.  I also told her to watch and see how the relationship changes when the cat decides she’s had enough, and her son comes crying with a bite or a scratch.  At that point things can go two ways, her son learns to treat the cat with kindness and respect, or he punishes the cat further, and if the latter happens, she should be very concerned.

It made me wonder though, when should a parent be concerned that their child has crossed the line between being rough with a pet, and being intentionally cruel.  If your dog or cat is ok with roughhousing, or being dressed up like a doll, you don’t need to worry.  You should always discuss how your child may be making your pet feel so that he learns compassion, and learns when to back off and give your pet a break.  Your pet is also very capable of putting a stop to harassment, though in the case of a dog, this could be dangerous.  Most dogs are incredibly tolerant of their human companion’s behavior, but if they feel frightened, their reaction can turn violent.

It is important that you put a stop to cruel behavior immediately.  Children don’t usually grow out of this kind of behavior, and the natural progression is that they move on to human victims.  Always set a good example in how you interact with pets to teach children to be compassionate and responsible pet guardians.

Watch For Signs

Signs that your child needs intervention to correct cruel behavior before it escalates:

If your child won’t release a pet that is struggling to escape or continues to chase it when it is obviously running away in fear.

If your child becomes more and more secretive about his cruel behavior after being told to stop.

Putting the pet in dangerous situations to terrify it, like dangling it out a window or over a balcony, locking it in a washing machine or dryer - even without turning it on, leading it out to the street.

Restraining the pet in any way, like locking the pet in a closet or cabinet to hear it cry in distress.  Tying it up near something that scares it like fire.  Binding it’s tail or paws tightly with rubber bands or string.

If your child appears to enjoy watching a pet in pain or frightened.

Obvious signs like cutting or burning a pet.

Getting Help

If discussing the problem with your child isn’t working, the next step is getting some professional counselling.  Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.  Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed about getting help for your child, it is absolutely imperative that you put a stop to this kind of behavior to prevent it from doing permanent psychological damage to your child.  

 

Danielle Nottingham is a veterinary technician and writer at DogTrainingCollars.com who often writes about bad pet habits, or bad pet-owner habits, and ways to correct them.

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Your Canine Escapee - Understanding And Preventing

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If your dog happens to be a runner, he will most likely get very creative when plotting his escape. Dogs that do exhibit the characteristics of a runner will escape by climbing the fence or digging an escape tunnel underneath the fence. Unfortunately, you may be harbouring your own little Houdini of the canine world.  Dogs can escape from their yard in any manner that they possibly can, and for a number of different reasons.  Understanding the cause of those daring doggy-breakouts goes a long way to curbing the behavior and keeping your dog safely within the confines of his own yard.

A well looked after dog does not run away from home because he is unhappy.  Any can feel the need to escape just to satisfy his natural instincts to explore his environment.  Sometimes, the boundaries of the yard and an occasional walk around the local park on a leash aren’t enough to satisfy the urge to investigate the smells and activity that are just beyond his boundaries.

Reasons your dog may try to escape your yard are:

  • Social contact – if your dog has been left alone for a long time, he may go looking for some company.
  • Search for a mate – entire dogs will do whatever it takes to get to a female in season.
  • Bored – a lack of play toys in the yard will encourage your dog to look for toys elsewhere.
  • Energetic – if your dog needs more exercise, he may take himself for a walk.
  • Separation anxiety – dogs with this debilitating condition will escape to search for their owner.

The problem for dogs, when they escape is that they have no concept of the dangers they may face in the wide world.  They have no understanding of the difference between roads and pathways, or the injuries they risk by stepping in front of a moving vehicle.  What does concern them however, are the distractions such as socializing with other dogs; chasing smaller animals, and raiding garbage bins in a quest for leftover food.  These positive rewards only reinforce your dog’s desire to escape, making it difficult to break the habit once it takes hold.  

How to Escape Proof Your Fence

Obviously, ‘plugging the leaks’ goes a long way to stopping the escapes, as does an understanding of the underlying causes listed above. Your fence may need to be reinforced both above and below, and any gates with loose latches will need repair. Move any items that your dog could climb on well away from the fence.

If you are struggling with your dog’s need to wander, there are several things that you can do to reduce the number of escapes, or even prevent them altogether. These include increasing the level of physical and mental stimulation through walks, games and interactive toys, providing clean and comfortable bedding, initiating regular feeding times with a well-balanced diet, obedience training to keep your dog’s mind active, and ensuring that all gates are locked and obvious escape routes blocked. If your dog is not neutered, then this would be a good way to reduce his efforts to woo a lady dog.

The sooner the reason for your dog’s escaping is identified and managed, and the more secure your back yard, the less you’ll have to worry about him. You will have peace of mind when you’re not home, knowing that your canine best friend is safe in your yard and not at risk of coming to harm.

Amanda Davis is a service dog trainer and a freelance writer. Amanda uses her love and talent for writing to share dog training and behavioral tips for dog owners.

5 Ways That Pets Can Help With A Child's Development

Somewhere along the line of a child’s development, he must learn about the world outside of his own individual needs and wants. While he can be left alone to find things and explore his surroundings, under adult supervision or care, he needs assistance for the most part. Pet animals can help in this instance if the child cannot have adult help.

More specifically, animals can help in the child’s development in the following aspects.

Physical development.

To strengthen and develop his muscles the right way, a child should exercise them through vigorous movement. Interacting with a frisky pet, the child will be encouraged to experiment with his motor skills, learning along the way. Aside from being fun, the child-animal interactive activities are never monotonous, though they may look routinary. In other words, running with the dog in the park will be more enjoyable than jogging alone around the neighborhood, no matter how pretty the area is.

Emotional development.

In many instances, pets that serve well are first given friendly attention, then lavished with loving affection. There are millions of stories about people considering pets as members of their families, to the point where the animals were endowed with inheritance and similar actions normally given to human relatives.

For a child, an animal may give unconditional loyalty and affection, so that it almost becomes a surrogate sibling when such is absent. Thus the child learns emotional reciprocity, responsibility, kindness and, yes, love and loving. The animal becomes the object as well as giver of affection that becomes a vehicle for emotional growth.

Furthermore, by learning that animals also have feelings, children may also learn to understand the animal better and therefore by extension, himself.

Social development.

A pet can serve as the focus or bridge of relationship between socially less open children, as well as become a social companion for the child in lieu, and even in spite, of the presence of peers. This latter becomes more important in instances where the child must have less social criticism and more acceptance. Animals give singular attention and often affection that the child can be less inhibited in expressing his feelings, resulting in better self-esteem.

Intellectual development.

A child will wonder why his pet acts one way and not another, obeys a command or not, responds to one way of calling and differently to another, so that he starts to associate a result to a previous condition, encouraging rationality. This post hoc, ergo propter hoc logic he can thus apply to other things in life and may serve him well later on.

Therapeutic service.

A child who does not understand human behavior ---often temporarily, as when Mom scolds him—may well turn to an animal to vent his feeling and express sadness. Because a pet is never judgmental, the child experiences total acceptance and no discouragement which lessens his hurt and raises his self-respect. This can be a positive factor whose influence on the child can never be quantified even later.

In short, a child’s humanity is enhanced by his constant association with a friendly, affectionate pet animal. Children who grew up with a pet tend to become better adults in many ways afterwards. 

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This article was written by Claire from Easipetcare - nationwide low cost vet centres. When Claire isn't blogging she loves spending time with her 2 kittens while tucking into her favourite book.