Why the kennel cough vaccine?

A question we get asked from time to time with it being a requirement for any dog boarding or indeed visiting us at the kennels.

What is kennel cough? Also known as Bordatella or Canine Cough. It is not usually in the regular annual vaccines given at your vet but it is good practice to keep it up to date if your dog socialises with other dogs or visits dog facilities with other groups of dogs.

There are two reasons we ask for it to be done:

a) Reduce the risk of a dog bringing it into the facility and spread it to other dogs.

b) Reducing the likelihood that a dog will acquire kennel cough whilst staying with us from another dog that brought it in.

Quite simply put it us a kind of dog flu vaccine, usually given inter nasally with a quick puff up the nose and is effective must of the time for up to 6 months to a year dependent on the brand given, your vet will advise which and mark the expiry date down in your dog’s vaccine book. Immunity usually starts anything from 5-7 days after given. Therefore if your dog is coming to visit us this vaccine needs to be administered a minimum 7 days prior to arrival with us. No vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccines help reduce the risk of illness, but they don’t completely eliminate it. Some vaccines are better than others, and some animals respond better to vaccines than others.

What is it and what are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

It us not too dissimilar to a chest infection like in humans. It is airborne and highly contagious which is why it can spread quickly amongst a group of dogs.

It is a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses and bacteria. For the most part it is not dangerous and usually clears up in a couple of weeks with or without veterinary prescribed meds. A dog will cough and not likely suffer any other ill effect, although puppies, senior dogs and those with other medical co conditions may suffer adverse effects.

The obvious symptom is a forceful, hacking cough, which will sound like your dog has something stuck in their throat. The cough can be dry and hoarse or productive, in which case it can be followed by a gag, swallowing motion or the production of mucus. It is distinct from a cough-like sound known as reverse sneezing, which is common in certain breeds and is triggered by irritation in the throat.

Always check the expiry date in your dog’s vaccine book and think ahead before booking to allow enough immunity time to elapse before your dog arrives.

Dry drowning in dogs!

Without stating the obvious it goes without saying that you always supervise your dog around water. Whether it’s the sea, a swimming pool or even a kiddy paddling pool on the back patio. Water can bite back and we’re not just talking about drowning in a body of water here. Read on.

With the hot weather it’s easy to see why many people encourage their dog to take a dip and have a little fun. Jumping in and out, catching balls and toys whilst in the water or leaping in after them. This is where you need to take a little more care and to be cautious.

Quite simply put, dry drowning is inhaling water whilst swimming or playing with it which causes excess water to build up in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. This can drown your dog within hours or even days later.

Symptoms? Your dog may appear in a drunken state. Vomiting and in a dazed and slow state together with difficulty breathing, they may have an irregular heartbeat, their skin and gums may change colour also accompanied by coughing or hacking.

Prevention: Watch your dog carefully whilst in the water, do they seem to be swallowing a lot of water. If they are holding onto a toy whilst swimming are they also taking in water. Do not let your dog constantly dive in and fetch toys from under the water. Choosing a flat rather than round toy in the water is better as their mouth is more closed reducing water intake.

As well as being in water, actual water play can have hidden dangers. Playing with a hose pipe can also pose a risk if your dog is guzzling down lots of water or if they especially like playing with sprinklers. Do supervise this kind of play extra carefully.

If you think your dog is suffering water intoxication go to the vet immediately. Also remember that humans can suffer this too so always keep an eye on little ones too.

The job of “whiskers!”

No, we are not talking about a certain pet food! We are talking about those extra long hairs on your cat or dog’s face, whiskers.

They are modified hairs (Vibrissae) that are very important to a cat or dog, and also other mammals that have whiskers for example, mouse, lion, sea lion and even horses to name a few. Whiskers are not like hair in that they are innervated, meaning they are directed by the nervous system.

Whiskers are usually found around the nose and upper mouth area and eyes. Manatees have them all over their body but most animals they are forming an orderly pattern on the snout area. The whiskers can be up to 50mm long (in rats).

So how do they work?

They are an extension of a body, their protrusion from the body adds an extra sensory ability to detect things close at hand. As the whiskers brush past an object the irregularity sends a message down the whiskers to hundreds of motion sensors in the hair follicle. These messages send details to the animal about their precise location, size and texture and other information about the object the whisker touched.

Some mammals use their whiskers to detect air currents which may help detect danger.

Dogs whiskers also help them in the dark, remembering that their eyes are not so great in the dark. Like cats they can also use their whiskers in a threatening manner if they feel they are at risk by pointing or pushing their whiskers forward.

Cats whiskers are ultra sensitive and pay a huge role in their well being and security in any given area. Did you know that their whiskers can determine if they can go in a tight hole or space, like a gauge for the body to make sure that the whole of their body can get through. It is best not to play with your cat’s whiskers as they are actually ultra sensitive and you can cause them pain by messing with them. Cats also have additional whiskers on the backs of their lower front legs, we bet you didn’t know that and now after reading this you will go and take a look 🐱

Dog kibble or raw food?

With the trend of feeding dogs BARF (Bones and Raw Feeding) we are often asked is it worth a try, our answer is a definite yes!

What would you prefer?

What is a BARF diet all about? Quite simply put feeding your dog raw “red” meat, often muscle and offal as well as crushed bones accompanied with a little veg, raw eggs and a little dairy product. We don’t recommend feeding chicken or any raw bird due to possible salmonella and health risks associated with possible poor refrigeration practices, it’s best to stick to red meat or if you want to include chicken in your dog’s diet, ensure you cook it either by steaming or boiling and keep the juices as an additional scrummy extra.

What are the pro’s to this feeding option for your dog?

Taste and enjoyment, let’s be honest here this must be top of the list, seeing your dog thoroughly enjoying his meals. The satisfaction and flavour can’t be beat for your dog and not to mention the smell beforehand, just amazing! Different meats every day also creates variety and less fussiness in a dog. Wow! Your dog will think he’s gone to heaven. Other positives are the nutritional values within, a chunk of meat holds all natural vitamins and minerals required, no additives required. Fat can be processed so much easier too. Having done our own research it is also a much healthier option as you know exactly what your dog is eating. Commercial dog food/kibble usually contains meat off cuts, by products, additives, aroma enhancers, salt and the dreaded “P” word preservatives to keep a long shelf life.

The con’s you ask, what are the negatives of raw feeding?

We can only think of two, preparation and possible cost. The preparation can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Some people go to great lengths and make little patties of minced meat for easier use or for smaller dogs who might struggle to get their muzzle around a bit of steak! 😁 Other owners prefer the simple route by throwing in the dog bowl some cubed meat, handful of mince, crack an egg or top with some cooked vegetables from last night’s dinner and voila the perfect canine meal. There are commercially available raw food suppliers but again the ingredients can include a lot of unnecessary “extras” and cost a fortune. Your “domestic wolf” will do well and get everything he or she needs by keeping it simple. The internet is vast in ideas, options, nutritional value meal plans and tips on how to keep your dog’s diet on form. The price can play a part in decision making but with a bit of shopping around you can buy meat in bulk, we like the family meat packs in Carrefours and for our raw feeding clients at our kennels we order from http://www.kibsons.com as a lot of their meat is “hormone free.”

So if you are thinking of going raw with your dog and need help on switching over contact either Neil or Scott in our team and we will support you all the way to giving your dog not only a healthier diet but also the natural way for a dog to eat.

Dog or cat shaving, good or bad?

With summer well and truly here you might be thinking it’s a good idea to reach for the clipper blades or call your groomer to get your dog shaved. Surely all that fur on your dog or cat in this heat is better taken off allowing the skin underneath to breath more? Don’t be so sure it may not be the best option for your pet…. read on.

Dog and cat fur is not the same as human hair and you should think about what type of breed of dog you have before getting the clippers out!

An animal’s coat is designed by nature to insulate, this means both from the cold and believe it or not from the heat too. If you shave them you are actually messing about with their in built temperature control system, which can lead to overheating, especially in this Middle Eastern heat. As well as protecting from heat the hair also acts as a barrier against the sun preventing sunburn.

So you have a thick coated dog and want to help a bit with the heat, walking your dog early morning and early is a must and you want to help your dog stay cooler during those times. Brushing is best, every day, especially if you have a double coated breed for example German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Belgium Malinois, Samoyed or Husky. By brushing you are eliminating dead hair, stimulating skin oils to protect the hair better, encouraging air circulation and getting rid of any knots that may occur, this ensures a productive and healthy coat to do its job.

Cats certainly do not benefit from being shaved due to heat, unless of course, you’ve not being brushing your long haired cat and you have knots (that’s another blog to work on 😉). Cats are very good at controlling their body temperature and if you are very worried about the heat keep them inside or allow them out at night if they really must get some outside time, better still invest in a cat flap/door that allows them a choice to go outside when they feel comfortable to do so.

Although shaving is not actively encouraged you can of course get your dog’s coat trimmed or cut. Thinning a coat is also a possibility if you think necessary, ensure you use a competent groomer to do this correctly. Any absolute shaving should not be done close to the skin, at least an inch or two should be left on to provide some protection.

We need a dog now!

You have everything right? Great job, nice car, gym membership, fab vacations. What is missing?

A dog! Hmmm 🤔 an easy trap to fall into when you have everything and crave for something more whilst living the expat life. Being expat means you are transient, not settled and often looking to go the extra mile to create perfect harmony and an ideal world to live in, in usually a better living situation than if you were in your home country. The media pressures to have a dog in your family to “complete the picture” can often overwhelm you together with friends and family egging you on to get a dog to have the picture perfect lifestyle.

Without stating the obvious owning a dog has its costs, feeding, veterinary care, boarding costs whilst travelling, possible daycare whilst at work etc, the list goes on. In all this time your dog will start to become an integral part of your family, a true member of your family loved by all and setting his or her own life in your routines. Just bliss for everyone, happy families 😊

Then the unthinkable happens, you have to move country either back home or move on to somewhere new. Be it a new job opportunity, your company is moving or indeed you have lost your job, everything you possess has to be counted for. Most people will size down, sell some belongings to free up space in the moving containers. Some are lucky to take everything with them. Either way you still have your family and this must include the dog right? Yes it must include your dog, this living, breathing, intelligent being is relying 100% on his family members to be taken along too, he is embedded in your world, his love, devotion and loyalty to you all this time needs to be seriously considered. The cost of relocating a dog can be very high (thousands of Dirhams sometimes) dependant on their size and how long a flight is and what medical requirements are needed in advance. This all adds up.

What is the aim of this blog, it is quite simply to make you think before you get a dog (or cat for that matter) if you are an expat and newly posted overseas, take a little time, ensure your situation is solid, that you are financially sound, that you also research the type of dog you want, some breeds are typically more difficult to look after than others (we will cover that in another blog) so you don’t dump a dog because it is too big, sheds too much, digs up your garden or barks too much. Start saving if you want a dog, it cost lots to relocate, plan for an unexpected departure in case your job doesn’t work out.

A dog is not a thing that can be handed on or put up on Social media to be moved on to another family. This beautiful soul will become a part of your family and will, without fail, suffer emotionally if left behind, there will be no guarantee where he or she will end up and no guarantee of their safety and well being once you are gone. There are thousands of dogs if not millions around the world that get abandoned by expatriates usually due to their owners not being able to afford costs.

If you are an expat, think before you get a pet, don’t let your pet become another statistic. Think, Plan, Assess you situation. If you can’t do the above, quite simply don’t get a pet yet until the time is right. 🐶

The litter question!

Which litter? With so many choices in UAE shops now it’s hard not to get blown away by the marketing.

Where to start?

Well we can straight away split litter into two categories, clumping and non clumping. This is all about ease of use and whether you are house proud or not. Clumping for the most part doesn’t track through your home on kitty paws whereas non clumping does for some reason, maybe smaller bits get stuck in the fur. Clumping makes life a lot easier when scooping the urine lumps out as the litter scoop can get big lumps out without falling through the scoop and driving you nuts, it also helps bind any loose stools up into manageable lumps to collect. Non clumping tends to last longer as you can just mix a damp bit of litter back in with the dry for use over again, the choice is yours.

What does your cat think?

Silly question you may ask, no it’s not. Cat’s do have preferences and may well let you know too. Does your cat poop on the outside of the tray? Does your cat sit on the very edge of the litter tray and miss and pee goes everywhere, is your cat stressing over bits between his toes? These can be signs that the litter needs a rethink. Crystal litter is often rejected by cats because it hurts their feet or because their owner does not change the litter often enough and the smell is too overpowering to use. Some litters are too fine or hold too much dust this can also put cats off due to their sensitive noses, which can also include litters with added perfume that can also be too overpowering for kitties.

So if your cat is not using the litter tray or is throwing a tantrum over the litter, think twice it maybe time to change the type of litter you are using. Maybe your cat loves the litter so much she sleeps in it, it has been known 🙂

The perils of Rawhide

The lure of the hide.

Treating your dog is something we all do for varying reasons. From rewarding a good deed, wanting to share the love, sharing a moment of togetherness or in a lot of cases giving a long-term treat by way of keeping your dog amused by themselves for longer, especially if you are going out. This is where the humble rawhide treat is often given, as a “keep you busy for a bit longer” chew.

What is rawhide?

Simply put it is the inner layer of a cow hide. During manufacturing the hides are cut and cleaned (usually with hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach) then shaped into attractive dog treats or bones. Often artificial flavours are added to make them smell and taste more appealing to dogs. Most rawhide chews though are by-products of the leather industry, are you still sure you still want to give your dog a “leather chew” that’s been cleaned in bleach!

The danger!

Rawhide chews no matter what size or shape are serious potential choking and blockage hazards. If your dog swallows all or part of a rawhide chew it can get stuck in the oesophagus or digestive track. Once chewed the hide becomes a messy and sticky piece of hide that is hard to move through the body and before even entering the body could cause your dog to choke. Even if your dog does manage to swallow his rawhide safely there are still other health risks associated including gastrointestinal problems and further blockages and difficulty passing the chew from the bottom. Also chews are not easily digestible and due to this can sit in a dog’s stomach for months.

The good news!

There are plenty of alternatives 🙂

With a bit of research you can find plenty of other options including fish skins which are also great for the Omega oils, marrow bones, cattle hooves, edible dental chews, deer antlers.

In a nutshell if you give your dog a rawhide chew, a trip to the vet is quite possible.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

A question we get asked often.

Older dogs or even K9 Senior Citizens are often overlooked when it comes to stimulation and interaction. Their health can be a key factor in deciding if training or fun games and participation is warranted. As with humans if they are not engaged in things to do, achieve and work with they can lose interest in life if their brain is, at least, not being challenged with even the smallest tasks. New training tricks for an older dog can be a lot of fun, it can re-build your relationship with your dog and also give your dog something to look forward to. We all know that as dogs get older we tend to spoil them a little more and ensure they are comfortable and do not exert too much energy on them but working on small challenges with rewards, be they treats, an extra hug or a longer snooze on the sofa can make your older dog’s world so much more interesting and fun to be in.

What about behaviour challenges?

Your dog’s behaviour will probably change as they get older. Their responses will be slower, they maybe dealing with old dog health issues for example arthritis or not see as well as they used to so your responses to these ailments needs to be re-adjusted and allowances made for this. If you are not feeling well or have aches and pains then you will probably be grumpy, less patient and need a bit more space, the same goes for dogs. If you have serious behavioural concerns then rule out any new health problems by visiting your vet first but if all is OK and no change then speak to a dog behaviourist, get an assessment done and work with them on gentle re-patterning of their behaviour and work through the issues with your behaviourist. The Homely Petz’ Dog Trainers and Behaviourists are on hand and have over 30 years experience in behavioural changes in a dog, just get in touch with us, we’re here to help.

Click here for Homely Petz Dog Behaviour support

The 5 Second Rule!

The windows are steaming up, your sunnies haze over when you walk outside and the AC is now going full pelt! The UAE summer is here for both you and your dog and walking together now takes on a whole new challenge.

Your 4 legged buddy relies on his or her paws and pads just as we do our feet, unlike us though they don’t wear shoes or slip on some flip flops to pop outside.

Despite what looks like hard soled pads on their feet their paws do take a hammering during the every day life of their furry owner. Not only are they for walking, their pads provide protection, extra cushioning, traction, shock absorption. They protect their joints, provide agility for manouvering over un-even ground and for sprinting at speed and of course limited protection against extreme weather be it extra cold or extra hot.

Their pads are made of a very tough outer layer of skin and fat. This skin is actually the toughest skin of a dog’s body.

So how can we protect our dog’s paws from the UAE summer elements?

The time of day is obviously important, in the months of June to October, it is strongly recommended to walk your dog before sunrise and after sundown. If you are lucky to have access to plenty of shade and/or grass then you are a little less restricted but the golden rule is to keep your dog out of the direct sun. If you don’t have a garden and have to take your dog out for a toilet break in the middle of the day then immediately you are out aim for shaded areas, go from shade to shade, tree to tree, keep off the exposed asphalt as much as possible, your dogs feet will get burnt.

What is the 5 second rule?

To test the ground heat (be it asphalt or sand) for your dog’s paws, place the “back” of your hand on the asphalt/pavement, if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws, it’s very simple.

Use the back of your hand! Count to 5, if it’s too hot for your hand then don’t walk your dog on it.

Added tips:

Take a bottle of water with you, not only for drinking but also to pour over your dog’s feet if you get stuck, even better buy a dog drinking bottle available from most reputable pet stores here in the UAE.

Try doggy booties, many people think these are gimmicky but for some they are a life saver and protect your dog’s feet 100%, although experiment with them with your dog inside to make sure he or she is comfortable walking in them before going outside.

Take your dog in the car and go to a more dog friendly, shaded area or grass area for the toilet break in the middle of the day.

If you are not sure when to walk your dog in the summer months give us a call, the above is a basic understanding of when to walk, this information can vary dependant on the breed, age, health etc of your dog.

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