April 30, 2012 in Leia's Corner
When my husband first got me Leia, I can not express to you the joy I felt. She passed the Rocco Test right there in her own front yard, she got along great with our son, she was beautiful, and she was Chihuahua. Everything I was looking for in a dog. I snuggled her into my arms on the way home, and discovered something very quickly about my wonderful dog.
My perfect puppy had a whole lot of fleas. To compound the problem, we’d taken Rocco with us to make sure any new additions we brought home were ones he approved of. What were the odds one didn’t migrate?
We took them by my workplace where Rocco and Leia both got flea baths and 30 day flea protection. I figured the bites would heal in a week, and there’d be no more itchy dog. Boy was I wrong.
Leia continued to itch for weeks. I changed her food, changed her shampoo, and called the vet.
Between these things, I learned a lot about itching dogs and what causes them. If you have an itching dog, check for these problems:
They can hide from you. They can hide in short haired dogs, and just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Use a flea comb to check the base of the tail, chest, belly and the top of the head. If you have a flea collar on the dog, check under it. Fleas frequently hide under them. If you don’t find fleas but you do find little tiny black grains, you found flea dirt.
If your dog has 30 day flea protection on, he may still be suffering from fleas. Flea protection works by killing any fleas that bite the dog. The dog still has a flea bite to show for the dead flea, and that bite still itches!
A common culprit in dog allergies is grain, or rather the toxic insects frequently found in animal-grade cereals. Common signs of allergies include itching, black pigmented skin on the belly, red oozing ears, yeast infections and more. That’s a lot of problems! Unfortunately it takes anywhere from six weeks to six months for a food change to help with itching since it has to work from the inside out.
Leia’s major problem was her previous food. Switching her to EVO solved the problem…six weeks later. This can be frustrating when you’re buying an expensive new food and even though you can practically see your dog eating dollar signs, he’s still itching!
Dogs get hay fever too. If you’ve ruled out food and fleas, ask your vet about environmental allergies such as pollen. You can limit this by wiping down your dogs feet and belly with a cleaning wipe or even a damp rag every time they come in. Don’t forget shampoo and topical flea treatments as possible external allergies.
Some dogs are prone to skin problems, and a few breeds have skin disorders specific to their breed alone. Unfortunately there is no easy solution for many of these diseases. Ask your vet for help, and do your research before getting a puppy.
Has your dog ever had itchy skin? What did you do to get rid of it?
For the third time this week, Leia is sitting with her face smashed up against my leg, whining for attention. She has also been barking at all hours of the night, digging holes in the garden, destroying what ever she can get her claws on, and raiding the trash.
Sound familiar? These are all common signs that a dog isn’t getting enough exercise. But how much exercise is the right amount? It depends on the breed and the individual dog.
Well great. Most of us can’t afford a personal trainer for ourselves, let alone for our dog. If there’s no blanket response for every animal on the face of the planet, how do you figure out what’s right for your dog?
If this question has plagued you, look no farther. We’ll show you how to measure your dogs exercise requirements in 3 easy steps.
Evaluate Your Pet
If your dog is under a year of age, elderly, sick, deformed, morbidly obese, or has a squished in face that makes breathing difficult, ask your vet before starting an exercise program. Dogs with unique physical issues need an exercise program tailored to them by a medical professional. Young dogs should be leash trained, but running or very long walks are out of the picture for those developing bones!
If your dog has no medical problems that might make exercise a challenge for it, we need to group him into one of three energy groups. Low energy, medium energy, high energy.
Low energy dogs are happiest when they are on the couch. They don’t want to exercise, and their idea of a good walk is a gentle stroll from couch to food bowl. Medium energy dogs need some exercise, but won’t go to quite the lengths a high energy dog will to get it. High energy dogs act like five-year-old children after drinking a six pack of soda if they don’t get their daily 10 mile run.
Don’t rely on the internet to tell you which energy group your breed falls into. I found a website informing me that chihuahuas get enough exercise running from room to room. HA! Tell that to Leia. Instead, spend a day observing your dog.
If your dog:
- Doesn’t seem to care about walk time.
- Spends most of his/her time laying down.
- Doesn’t display any restless behavior.
He or she may fall under the category of a low energy dog (or you’ve met its energy requirements, in which case why are you here?)
If your dog:
- Gets excited about walk time.
- Spends equal time playing, exploring the house, and resting
- Only displays restless behavior when cooped up for long hours
You may have a medium energy dog. (Corrections appreciated here. All of my dogs have been either FLOOR IT dogs or Couch potatoes, and the couch potatoes all became FLOOR IT dogs after a couple weeks on my food.)
If your dog:
- Is trying to shovel its way out the door, regardless of whether your coming or not.
- Has holes dug half way to China in the backyard.
- Barks over nothing.
- Destroys the toys meant to amuse him.
- Goes nuts at the sight of a leash.
- Gets “the zoomies” in the house.
- Is a Jack Russel (just kidding, there are some relaxed JRTs…I saw one once!)
Your dog may be a high-energy dog. These are just guidelines to help you group your dog to an energy level. You know your dog. If you have a gut instinct about it, its probably true.
Even if your dog is very high energy, starting it in a triathlon his first day isn’t going to help either of you. Remember your dog can be out of shape just like you, and if he hasn’t been getting regular exercise, he probably is. Before exercising your dog, warm him up first. Start by giving his major muscles a light rub to get blood flow going, and then ask him to turn a complete circle in both directions. (You can bribe him with a treat if necessary.)
After he’s limbered up, start by walking him on a leash for five minutes. If your dog is very out of shape or low energy, this warm up may be all you want to do for one day. If he’s still vibrating at the end of your leash, now is the time to choose what direction you want to go with your dogs exercise program.
- If you don’t want to do much exercising but want him to, try playing frisbee or fetch. Start with 10 or 15 tosses in an enclosed off leash area.
- If you are a jogger, start your dog off as you would a new recruit. Include as little as 30 seconds of jogging in your first run with your dog.
- Some dogs will drop dead before they say, “No.” Use common sense even if your dog seems eager for more.
- If you can’t keep up with your dogs pace, consider training him to run beside a bicycle. You may need professional help with this one, and I don’t recommend it for pullers!
Evaluate your dog throughout your exercise program. If he’s heavily panting or needs to sit down and rest, its probably time to quit for the day.
Gradually increase your dogs daily exercise like you would if you yourself just started the program.
Keep Changing It Up
Just like in humans, dogs benefit from a change in their exercise routine. If you normally walk, try fetch instead. If you normally fetch, try a brisk run. If you always walk the same path, go the other way. If your exercise is always physical, try a dog puzzle that exercises your dog’s brain instead.
Evaluation. (High Energy)
Warm-Up. (Massage, turns, 5 minute on leash walk.)
Work-Out. Fetch, 25 tosses in backyard.
Cool-Down. 5 minute on leash walk. Turns. Massage.
Day 2: Recovery day.
Warm-Up. (Massage, turns, 5 minute on leash walk.)
Work-Out. 10 minutes Power Walk
Cool-Down. Slow walk back to our house, massage, turns.
Mental exercise: Sit/Down Drills. Dog puzzle with kibble in it.
Day 5: Warm-Up. (Massage, turns, 5 minute on leash walk.)
Tug 5 minutes. Fetch 25 tosses in backyard.
Cool-Down. 5 minute walk on leash, massage, turns.
Day 5: Recovery day.
This is just what I came up with for my specific dog. Do you have a training program? Share it with us!