Posted by Lynn Smith

Telehealth-for-Pets
Pet Health

Telehealth for Pets

One of the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic has been an increase in telehealth appointments in all areas of medical care. Although some medical doctors were offering limited telehealth options prior to the outbreak of the latest coronavirus, the practice of social distancing was directly responsible for a dramatic increase in health care providers who offer the service.

In human medicine, pediatricians, general practitioners, mental health care providers, and gynecologists have utilized telehealth appointments for post-care check-ins and issues that may not need a physical exam right away. Veterinarians are utilizing telehealth to help see patients without being in contact with their owners.

Veterinary Telehealth Basics

At the end of March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) temporarily changed their rules that state that veterinarians must physically examine animal patients prior to providing medical care. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many veterinarians can now offer telemedicine using technology like video conferencing or a video recording of the animal.

There are two ways for pet owners to participate in veterinary telemedicine. One is through video conferencing with your regular veterinarian. Some clinics use video conferencing along with curbside service (taking the dog or cat in the exam room while the owner waits in their car), and others offer limited veterinary telemedicine appointments without seeing the pet at all. The other telehealth veterinary care option is through paid mobile applications and websites that offer access to specific doctors.

When Veterinary Telehealth Is Appropriate?

Because animals cannot speak in words, veterinarians rely heavily on a physical exam, perhaps even more than a doctor treating a human. The human can tell a doctor where something hurts or what they are feeling, but a veterinarian must use other cues. Vets can gain invaluable information based on a pet’s body language and response to the exam. They can tell if moving a limb or flexing a joint causes discomfort.

Veterinary telemedicine appointments can be very handy in situations in which an issue arises after normal veterinary hours or on a day when the office is closed, and the owner is unsure of whether or not an issue requires regular vet care, emergency vet care, or if they can safely handle an issue on their own at home. Instead of rushing to the nearest emergency clinic only to find that the problem did not need to be seen right away, or worrying that they were not treating something that should have been an emergency, pet owners can get expert, specific guidance on their pet’s exact problem.

Virtual veterinary appointments can also be useful for follow-up appointments for some medical problems in which the doctor does not need to perform an additional exam. Instead of requiring the pet and owner to travel to the clinic, they can connect via video to get an update from the pet’s owner.

Related Blog: Benefits of an RV Lifestyle Post COVID-19

Veterinary Telehealth and the RV Lifestyle

The ability to speak to your regular veterinarian remotely is helpful to RV owners should their pets become sick while they are traveling. They can get information on whether they should find a vet near their campsite or if their own vet can help them without seeing their pet. In some instances, the emergency veterinarian could consult with the pet’s regular doctor over a video to ensure that the pet’s full medical history is considered or that an ongoing problem is being treated correctly.

There are several popular options for subscription-based veterinary telehealth appointments.

Vets Plus More is a subscription service that offers access to licensed veterinarians and trainers. Pet owners can find out if they should go to an emergency clinic, where the closest emergency clinic is, and answers to general non-emergency questions.

Vet Live is a website where pet owners can pay a per-instance fee to ask questions, get nutritional consultations, and obtain a second opinion on a diagnosis.

TelePAWS also offers the ability to access non-emergency information from experienced veterinarians. Pet owners can pay a monthly subscription fee or a one-time fee for each inquiry.

It is important to note that telehealth is not a viable option for a large majority of animal healthcare issues. Veterinarians rely on the ability to touch the animal, assess the animal’s disposition, take skin, bodily waste, and fluid samples and look at the cells under a microscope, take x-rays and perform ultrasounds, and perform other checks required to provide an accurate diagnosis. However, telemedicine is valuable for pet owners who are unsure of what step to take next and to ensure that the social distancing of humans is possible for these essential care providers and their clients.

 

Why-Is-My-Dog-Whining-Nimble-Pet-App
Pet Health

Why Is My Dog Whining?

 

Although dogs cannot speak in words, they communicate with humans and each other through body language and the sounds that they make. In some ways, once you understand the language of dogs, their language is easier than that of humans. In our continuing series of Why Is My Dog Doing This?, We will explore the topic of whining in dogs.

Dogs whine for attention

When the dogs whine, they are typically trying to express the fact that they want your attention to fulfill a specific need. They could be looking for something fun, like playtime or their daily walk. The whine could be to ask to go outside for a potty break or to tell you that it is nearing time for their dinner. And finally, your dog could whine when it is in pain or afraid of something. As a human, sometimes it is more obvious than other times what your dog is trying to tell you.

Read Part-1 of this series: Why is my dog doing this?

Why is my dog whining at night?

Dogs are pack animals, which means they thrive on being part of the family, especially at night. Many dogs will whine or cry at night if they are separated from the rest of the family at bedtime. Deciding whether or not to allow your dog to sleep in your bedroom is a personal decision. According to PetMD, all of the old concerns about sleeping with pets have been debunked. Having your pet in the room with you is healthy for both humans and pets.

Senior dogs can experience Sundowner Syndrome, which means that they experience confusion as daylight ends and night begins, which can result in restlessness, anxiety, and whining. Some Veterinarians will prescribe supplements or medications, late afternoon walks, or mental activities that encourage the dog to sleep better, or adding night lights around the house and property.

Senior Dogs Whining for No Apparent Reason

If a senior dog is whining for no apparent reason, there is probably a reason that you just cannot see. If your senior dog whines frequently, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment at the Vet to make sure that your dog is not sick or in pain. Geriatric dogs experience joint pain, muscle loss, cancer, organ failure, and declining mental capacity just like elderly humans, but cannot easily express to us that they do not feel right.

Read Part-2 of this seriesWhy is my dog doing this?

Why is my dog whining & panting?

Panting is a way for dogs to release heat and cool their bodies. However, panting can also be a sign of distress or discomfort as a result of pain, fear, or anxiety. If your dog is both whining and panting, they are either extremely anxious and fearful or in physical pain. It is crucial to assess the situation and contact your Veterinarian.

Why won’t my dog stop whining?

As a dog owner, it is essential to know your dog’s personality and normal vocalizations. Some dogs use their voices frequently and bark, whine, growl, and even howl more often than others. Certain breeds are extremely vocal, and others are usually very quiet. If your normally quiet dog starts whining constantly, he or she is likely trying to tell you something. If you cannot find the solution to stop the whining, a trip to the Vet is always a good idea to err on the side of caution.

Read Part-3 of this series: Why is my dog doing this?

Exercise-Tips-for-an-Overweight-Dog
Pet Health

Exercise Tips for an Overweight Dog

According to the Pet Obesity Prevention study, 55.8% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. That number equals about 50 million dogs. As we go through our busy lives, we humans often push exercise to the bottom of the to-do list for ourselves, so it is not surprising that so many of our dogs are suffering from obesity, too. Fortunately, exercising your overweight dog can be simple and fun for both of you.

Just like with humans, weight gain in dogs is caused by consuming more calories than the body needs. Dog owners often struggle with determining how much to feed their dogs. Most brands of dog food provide guidelines on how much to feed a dog based on their current weight, age, and activity level. Owners frequently overestimate just how active their dog truly is, resulting in feeding the dog too much and the dog becoming overweight.

When working on a weight loss plan for any pet, it is important to partner with your veterinarian to make sure that the weight gain is not caused by another issue like a thyroid problem, Cushing’s Disease, or other medical problems. Your vet can help you determine how to gradually reduce the amount of food that your dog eats a healthy and humane way. It is also important to make sure that your dog is healthy enough to start an exercise program at their current weight.

Walking your dog good exercise

Once you have gotten the all-clear from your veterinarian, walking is the safest and easiest way to get an overweight dog up off of their favorite dog bed and burn more calories. Not only does walking provide physical activity, but it is an excellent form of mental exercise for your dog because of the smells that they experience along the way. Walking is easier on their joints than running or playing fetch, and according to VCA Hospitals, walking keeps their urinary tract in good working order.

Start slowly by taking walks for short distances and monitor your dog as you go. Watch your dog’s breathing to make sure that he/she is not struggling for breath or panting heavily. It is important to choose your walking route carefully so that you are not committed to a long walk because there is no short path home should your dog become tired. You can also stop for periodic breaks, and make sure that you and your dog are having fun and enjoying the scenery as you go. As your dog’s endurance increases and their weight decreases, you can gradually take longer walks and hikes on more difficult terrain.

If you are in an urban or suburban setting, you can make more than one trip around the block to ensure that you are not too far away from home, or walk when other family members are home and can pick you and your dog up in the car if needed. If walking on a trail, remember that you have to walk back the same distance that you headed out on the trail, so opt for shorter distances and then repeat if your dog is still enthusiastic and not showing signs of being tired.

Hydrotherapy for dogs

Hydrotherapy is a form of exercise that involves walking your dog on a treadmill that is underwater. More and more Canine Hydrotherapists are offering their services around the country as this form of therapy becomes more popular. Although many pet owners utilize this service for physical therapy following an injury, it is also a great form of aerobic exercise for overweight or elderly dogs because it is easy on their joints. The water makes the dogs more buoyant, which is good for their joints, and the therapist can help work certain muscle groups depending on the level of water in the treadmill area, according to this video by CBS news.

Dog swimming

Swimming is also an excellent exercise for dogs, particularly overweight dogs. In most suburban or urban locations, pet owners can find indoor swimming pools for dogs where you can take your dog to swim safely in a clean pool with a trained employee to assist you and your dog.  These facilities are great because dogs can swim year-round and the water is treated to prevent germs and accommodate the specific needs of a dog’s skin and coat so it is not as drying as a regular swimming pool.

If you choose to take your dog swimming in an outdoor, natural body of water like a pond, stream, lake, or ocean, be sure to take several safety precautions and make sure that you understand the currents and undertow of the body of water. Saltwater can become deadly when consumed, as can blue-green algae. Additionally, watch for popular fishing areas as lures and hooks can lurk at the bottom of the body of water and injure your dog’s paws. Depending on your location, snakes, alligators, and other animals can injure or kill dogs. Finally, never allow your dog to swim in a manmade retention pond, as there are hidden hazards that can cause injury or accidental death like underwater drains and aerators that pull water into them that could cause drowning.

Although many breeds of dogs are natural swimmers, life preservers are always a good idea, particularly if your dog is overweight or out of shape. Make sure to keep your dog’s safety in mind, and avoid swimming in places where you cannot reach your dog yourself if he/she has difficulties.

The Whole Dog Journal has a comprehensive article on how to safely introduce your dog to swim that you can read at this link: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/lifestyle/swimming-is-great-exercise-for-dogs/

Basics-of-pet-fitness-monitor
Pet Health

Basics of Pet Fitness Monitor

Our mobile phones have become a central hub from which we can monitor and control almost every single part of our lives, and our pets’ lives. We can get insights into whether our doors are locked, who is at our front door, how many steps we take, how well we sleep, and of course whether or not the temperature is safe in our homes or our RV units during those times when we cannot be with our dogs. Innovative businesses are continuously launching new products, and the pet fitness monitor is a popular item for tech-savvy pet owners.

Pet Fitness Monitor Basics

Just like we humans can monitor our own Fitness including steps taken, calories burned, our location, and even how well we slept, we can now monitor those same things for our pets by attaching a pet Fitness monitor to their collar and view data through an app on our mobile phone.

Of course, when it comes to a pet fitness monitor, we are mostly talking about dogs, since cats sleep most of the day. Pet Fitness monitors are small electronic devices that are worn on a dog’s collar. Some attach to your dog’s regular collar and others come already mounted on a special collar.

Many pet fitness monitors include real-time geographical location tracking that rely upon technologies like Wi-Fi, cellular technology, or GPS. As a result, most trackers require a monthly service fee to use this technology. Some Fitness trackers allow you to establish a home range or area and alert you if your dog moves outside of that area.

In addition to providing geographical information, most pet fitness monitors provide data about your dog’s movement and whether he is sleeping, moving around, or running full-on-zoomies around your living room. Some monitors provide information on heart rate, respiration, temperature, and calories burned.

Fitness Goals for Pets

You can partner with your veterinarian to establish healthy Fitness levels for your dog and then set goals to ensure that your dog is staying fit and healthy. Of course, pet owners should always consult their dog or cat’s veterinarian before starting a new exercise plan and for guidance on how much Fitness dogs at certain stages in their lives can safely enjoy. Just like with human wellness, exercise is only one part of maintaining a healthy weight, so it is important to also make sure that you are feeding an appropriate diet for your dog and that you know how many Kcals you are feeding your pet each day.

Pet Fitness Monitor and the RV Lifestyle

Whether you are a full-time RVer or take periodic camping trips with your dog, a pet fitness monitor can be a lifesaver if your dog were to get loose and become lost. Fitness monitor can often pinpoint the exact spot where your dog is located so that you and your dog can be united quickly. This is extremely helpful if you are constantly changing locations and your dog is not familiar with their surroundings or the way home to your RV unit.

Important Collar Safety Information

Although one of the benefits of a pet Fitness monitor is to have visibility into what your pet does when you are not with her, it is important to put collar safety first. Collars pose a choking hazard to dogs who are left alone in kennels and crates, outside in fenced areas, or loose inside a home. Additionally, collars can be extremely dangerous when dogs play together. The safest type of dog collar is a breakaway collar like the Keep Safe Breakaway Collar that is designed to come apart if enough pressure is placed on it. This type of collar is specially designed so that you can override the breakaway function when your dog is on a leash.

 

How-to-turn-your-dog-into-your-fitness-buddy
Pet Health

How to turn your dog into your fitness buddy?

As adults it can be hard to find time to squeeze in daily trips to the gym between our other obligations. It can also be frustrating to pay a $40 monthly gym membership fee and not get $40 out of use from it. If you do make it to the gym, it means even more time that your dog is alone waiting for you to come and spend time with them. The good news for dog owners is that you don’t need a gym to get plenty of exercise; all you need to do is go and have fun with your dog.

Walking

Walking is the most basic form of exercise, as well as one of the best because it offers many health benefits. According to the Harvard Medical School, walking can help boost immunity, ease joint pain, reduces the risk of breast cancer, and even tame a sweet tooth. Walking also offers substantial health benefits for your dog, including digestive and joint health, mental exercise, and socialization.

If you and your dog have been hibernating on the sofa all winter, start off with short walks and build up to longer outings. If you live in a northern climate where ice melting products are used frequently, consider using booties on your dog or performing a post-walk paw wash after each walk. You can also find indoor dog parks or tracks in many locales. Some retail stores allow pets, like Home Depot, Bass Pro Shops, and most pet stores, so you and your pup can take a stroll through the aisles if your sidewalks are icy or salt covered.

Hiking

Hiking is essentially walking on a more rugged path, and is the perfect activity for active breeds and their owners. Similar to starting a walking program, start with shorter, easier hikes and build up to more challenging terrain as long as you and your dog are both in good physical health.

Depending on where you live, the weather, the type of terrain, and the local wildlife, you may consider purchasing protective booties for your dog’s paws, a dog coat for cold climates and breeds with sparse coats, and an emergency sling or harness that you can use should your dog be injured while on your hike and need to be carried to safety. Remember to always take sufficient water for both you and your dog. If you are going on long hikes together, some manufacturers offer energy bars made just for athletic dogs that you can easily toss into your backpack along with your own snacks.

Running

Some dogs make great running partners if they have been properly trained with good leash walking skills and are in top physical shape. Always check with your veterinarian before starting to run with your dog and start slowly to allow your dog to gain stamina and strength and avoid injury.

The American Kennel Club website has great information on how to incorporate your pup into your running program: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-train-your-dog-to-run-with-you.

Runner’s World Magazine also offers some tips on running with your dog: https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a20850541/how-to-run-a-5k-with-your-dog.

Agility

The dog sport of agility consists of dogs navigating their way through a course full of obstacles and challenges like weave poles, tunnels, teeter boards, jumps, and more. It is also great exercise for owners who run through the course directing their dog through each portion of the course.

Agility can be hard on a dog’s joints so a thorough veterinary exam prior to starting is suggested. It is also recommended that owners find a dog training school that is extremely knowledgeable about the sport and promotes safety and the use of proper techniques. Great agility trainers will also be knowledgeable about canine physical therapy and conditioning, which is important to reduce the risk of injury.

Agility is open to dogs of all shapes and sizes regardless of breed. Mixed breeds are welcome to participate in all agility events. Agility is a great way to bond with your dog and meet other dog owners at agility events. The American Kennel Club website has information on how to get started at this link:http://www.akc.org/sports/agility.

Skijoring

Dog owners who live in parts of the country where it snows can participate in the sport of skijoring with their dog. Skijoring is a sport in which owners on cross country skis are pulled by their dogs. This is a great activity for well-trained winter loving dogs who are in great physical shape. In addition to your own skis, poles, and winter gear, you will need a special pulling harness for your dog, pulling leashes, and a belt to attach to your own waist, and of course some snow.

Check out this link with basic information for skijoring beginners : https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/the-best-winter-dog-sport-ever-skijoring.

Some dog owners also wear roller-blades instead of cross-country skis, but it is extremely important that your dog is well-trained in order to avoid injury to both of you.

Ladder Workout

Ladder workouts are common among athletes and involve going through a series of exercises, often with a lap of walking or running between them. A typical ladder workout might include a short run, followed by jumping jacks, more running, sit-ups, running lunges, running, etc. You can incorporate this into exercise with your dog by running or walking a set distance, and then performing the exercises while holding onto your dog’s leash or having a walking partner hold the leash while you do the exercises and then swap so that you hold the leash and they do the exercises. You can also exercise in your own yard while your dog is exploring or while you are playing fetch with your pup by doing each run of the ladder of exercises between rounds of fetch.

 

dog-spinning-around
Pet Health

Why Does My Dog Spin Around ?

As a lifelong dog owner, I have frequently asked the dogs in my life the same question, “What on earth are you doing?”

They never answer me. At least not in words.

That’s one reason this reoccurring blog post exists, in order to provide some insight into our dogs’ most dog-like behaviors. This month, we are covering the topic of why dogs spin around when doing various activities.

Read Part-1 of this series: Why is my dog doing this?

Why Does My Dog Spin Around Before Lying Down?

Dog behavioral experts have hypothesized that dogs walk in circles before lying down because their ancestors – wild dogs and wolves – needed to prepare their beds on their own. Before we brought dogs inside our homes and offered up sofas, our own beds, and fluffy dog beds for their comfort, they were forced to find a place to rest wherever they could. Turning in circles helped them push down tall grasses to make a softer surface for them and also helped get rid of annoyances like snakes, small animals, rocks, and other things that might cause discomfort.

In 2016, one researcher performed a study in which he invited 62 dog owners to bring their dogs to test out the theory of whether or not dogs still do this behavior to make their beds more comfortable. They gave 31 of the dogs a smooth, comfortable piece of carpet as a bed, and gave the others a lumpy, haphazardly placed piece of carpet as a bed. Their results showed, “On the smooth surface, roughly one out of every five dogs (19%) turned at least one full circle before lying down. On the shag-carpeted, uneven surface, more than half of the dogs (55%) turned at least one full circle before they finally rested. That means to say that the dogs were nearly 3 times more likely to circle before lying down on the uneven surface than on the smooth surface. “

The next time you see your dog walking in circles before lying down, you will know that she is just making the bed just right.

Read Part-2 of this series Why is my dog doing this?

Why Does My Dog Chase Her Tail?

Few things are cuter in a puppy’s development than the first time they notice their tail and try to catch it. This behavior can continue into adulthood and be nothing more than a silly game. However, obsessive or frequent tail chasing can be a sign of a problem. Some dogs chase their tails in an obsessive-compulsive way because they are bored and do not receive enough physical and intellectual stimulation. You can often alleviate their tail chasing by taking them on more walks and adventures or taking a class to learn a new canine activity like nose work or obedience. Sometimes obsessive tail chasing can be the sign of a medical problem, so dog owners should consult their veterinarian if adding exercise does not solve the problem.

Read Part-3 of this series Why is my dog doing this?

Why Does My Dog Spin Around Before Pooping?

Similar to the reasons for spinning before lying down, some canine behavioral experts attribute a dog’s pre-poop spinning as a way to flatten tall grass and weeds to keep them out of the way. Others think that it is to get a 360-degree view of their environment and predators before becoming involved in a bowel movement.

One group of researchers, though, did some interesting work that suggests that dogs spin around to align themselves north to south when defecating. They studied 70 dogs and watched them poop 1,800 times, and found that dogs prefer to poop on a north-south axis when magnetic fields were calm, and did not seem to have a preference when the magnetic field was unstable. This indicates that dogs have a connection to the earth’s energy and changes in it, which is pretty cool to even dog owners who are not into the science of it so much as they just think their dogs are awesome and intuitive.

 

whys-my-dog-shaking-Nimble
Pet Health

Why is my dog shaking?

Read Part-1 of this series “Why is my dog doing this?

Read Part-3 of this series “Why is my dog doing this?

Head Shaking

  •  Ear Infections

Most dogs shake their heads back and forth when they have debris in their ear or have an ear infection. You can often see signs of an ear infection, as their ears will sometimes be red and inflamed and have a black, tar-like substance in them. Experienced dog owners can also usually smell an ear infection, as infected ears have a unique yeasty odor.

  • Stress Relief

If you took your dog through obedience school, you may have noticed that he/she shakes their head sometimes during intense periods of training. This is because shaking their head is one way that dogs alleviate stress, it is a bit of a reset for their mind. Learning to do this is actually beneficial for your dog because it means that they can regroup and reset without their anxiety turning into a behavior like a bite. If you see your dog doing this frequently, you may want to pay attention to the things that stress your dog and avoid putting him in this position. Most dogs do not like being grabbed or hugged, so you might see your dog shake his head if you invade his personal space.

All Over Body Shaking or Trembling

  • Fear

Shaking or trembling can be a fearful response in a dog. As their owner, if your dog starts shaking during certain situations or when a particular person is in the room, chances are the shaking is fear based. It is important to guide your dog through the fearful situation in a positive way that neither punishes them nor accidentally reinforces the fact that the situation is something to fear. If your dog is frequently afraid of certain situations, you can work with a trainer on positive training methods to socialize your dog and help her become more confident in a variety of situations.

  • Pain/Illness

Shaking or trembling can also be caused by pain or a medical condition. If your dog is not cold or in a fearful situation, you should consult your veterinarian and make note of other behaviors that might help determine the problem. Possible causes include nausea, distemper, Generalized Tremor Syndrome, seizures, poisoning, cancer, kidney disease, or a variety of other serious medical problems that require professional medical attention.

  • Cold

Some dogs are less hearty when it comes to cold temperatures. Breeds like the Chihuahua, Greyhound, Whippet, Chinese Crested, and other sight hounds and toy breeds typically get cold faster than Labradors or German Shepherds. If your dog is shaking and it is cold outside, it is possible that they are shivering to warm up just like we do when we are cold. If that is the case, you can purchase dog sweaters, coats, or beds made for burrowing.

Panting

When dogs pant, moisture and heat evaporate and helps them cool their bodies. Dogs usually pant as a cooling mechanism when they are been exercising or are too warm because of environmental factors. However, panting can also be caused by stress and anxiety. As a dog owner, you can usually tell from the situation if your dog is overheated or if they are anxious.

When panting is accompanied by attempts to vomit, overall restlessness, and a bloated abdomen, it is likely that your dog is suffering from bloat, or Gastric dilatation voluptuous. Bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach stretches and flips. It requires immediate veterinary attention.

Panting and Shaking

If your dog is both panting and shaking, it could be one of many potentially serious medical conditions. Because your dog cannot explain to you what they are feeling, it is recommended that you reach out to your veterinarian (or an emergency clinic if your veterinary office is closed) right away if your dog begins to pant and shake.

Overall, as a dog owner, you can usually determine from your dog’s environment and personality if shaking, trembling, or panting is because of their environment, their mental state, or a medical issue. When in doubt, pet owners are wise to always err on the side of caution and contact their veterinarian.

 

Cardio-Exercises-for-Your-Dog-Nimble
Pet Health

Cardio Exercises for Your Dog

 

Did you know that 56% of all dogs were considered to be obese? According to the Association for Pet Obesity, 50 million dogs in the United States are significantly overweight, leading to an increased risk of arthritis, heart disease, and even cancer.

Fortunately, dogs can lose weight by decreasing the calories they consume and exercise, just like we do as humans. It is extremely important to always check with your vet on how to reduce calories without starving your dog or before starting any new exercise program.
In the meantime, here are some fun cardio exercises for you and your dog to do together.

Dog Walking & Hiking

Having a fenced yard is a must-have for many dog owners. In fact, most shelters and rescues look for owners to have fenced yards before approving potential adopters. However, it is important to remember that even though the fenced yard is a safe place to play off-leash and a handy spot for 3 a.m. potty breaks, it is not a replacement for leashed walks.

Leashed walks and hikes have dual benefits. Walks provide important mental exercise to dogs because of the mental stimulation that they get from smelling new scents along each new path. Walking your dog is also the easiest form of exercise to do together because the only equipment you need is a leash and collar or harness. But it is also a great and fun way to burn calories together, so both you and your dog experience the health benefits.

If your dog’s walking manners are rusty, many dog training facilities offer courses for dog owners specially created to help their dogs improve their loose-leash walking skills.
You can also find positive training methods for teaching loose-leash walking on YouTube and on the American Kennel Club website.

Varying your route is fun for both you and your dog. After all, who wants to walk the same route every single day? We suggest researching to find out which trails are available at your local municipal parks or nearby state and local parks. Remember to start with easy terrain, especially if your dog is obese or has joint pain or problems.

You can find new destinations online here

Dog Swimming

Swimming is the best partner exercise to perform with your dog, and it is becoming easier to find a swimming spot with more and more indoor dog pools opening around the country. Not only are indoor dog pools open year-round, allowing your pet to swim even during cold winter months, but they also offer a clean environment and special water treatment methods that are safe for a dog’s skin and coat. Many also offer water therapy treatments for dogs with joint pain or mobility problems.

Of course, dogs have been swimming outside in lakes and streams for hundreds of years. However, blooms of blue-green algae can be deadly to dogs and it is not always easy for an average dog owner to know if algae are present or if it is the type that can hurt their dog. Saltwater can also be dangerous when ingested by dogs, so make sure if you take your dog to an outdoor swimming spot, you should be aware of the water conditions and prevent your dog from drinking the water as he or she swims.

Dog Parks & Doggie Daycare

Dog parks and doggie daycares both offer opportunities for your dog to meet and play with other dogs. Just like with humans, though, some dogs do not want to play with other dogs, so there are several steps to take before choosing to take your dog to an off-leash park or a doggie daycare facility.

Schedule a vet visit to ensure that your dog is up to date on all appropriate vaccinations and that their joints are healthy enough for running, jumping, and rough-housing with other dogs.

Meet with a professional trainer to learn about your dog’s body language, how to spot warning signs of fighting or aggression from your own dog or other dogs, when to step in and take your dog off a play session, and how to break up a fight should one happen.
Thoroughly research all daycare facilities to ensure that they practice collar safety, are sufficiently staffed, and are owned and monitored by knowledgeable, qualified staff.

Dog frisbee & fetch

Some breeds are more obsessed with balls and flying discs than others, but all dogs can enjoy a classic game of fetch. It is important to watch your dog and stop the game when they become visibly tired or overheated. Some dogs will hint that they are finished with the game when they no longer bring the ball or disc to you, but others are so obsessed with the game of fetch (like many Sporting and Herding breeds) that they would play all day if you let them.

Although a game of fetch seems like something a dog knows instinctively how to play, many need to be taught the basics of bringing the toy back to their human. You can find training tips on teaching your dog to play fetch at the American Kennel Clubs.

Dog Sports

Whether your dog is a pure-bred dog or a mix, there are dog sports for every shape and size. These sports allow dogs and their owners to do the activities for which the dogs were originally bred but in a fun and competitive environment. And if your dog is a mix of many breeds, you can try a variety of sports to see where he or she has the most fun.

Agility is perhaps the most well-known sport for dogs. Agility dogs navigate obstacles and compete to get the fastest time on an assigned course. Nose work, also called scent work, is an event in which dogs use their natural sniffing abilities to locate specific scents and mimic the work done by professional detection dogs. Nose work is gaining steadily in popularity, and dog training facilities often offer beginner courses to get you started. Lure coursing is perfect for dogs with a high prey drive who loves to chase. Hunt tests are for retrievers or other hunting breeds who are skilled at finding and retrieving waterfowl and upland game. Dog diving can be done by any dog who loves to leap into the water from a dock.

Dogs and their owners can participate in events just for fun or to earn titles and awards. The only dog sport limited to purebred, unaltered dogs in Conformation, which judges breeding stock compared to the breed standard. Otherwise, any dog can participate regardless of whether they are AKC registered and if they have been spayed or neutered.

Check out the American Kennel Club guide to getting started in dog sports at this link: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/sports/get-started-in-dog-sports-and-events.

 

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Pet Health

Is Pet Insurance worth it?

 

Although the first pet insurance provider began offering coverage for cats and dogs in 1980, the pet insurance industry has been growing consistently since the early 2000s. As of this writing in 2019, there are many options from which pet owners can choose, which has made finding the right coverage easier and more affordable as companies compete for clients.

However, despite the numerous options available, the question that many cat and dog owners struggle to answer is whether or not they need pet insurance in the first place. While we cannot give a binary answer to you, we can help you navigate the basics of pet health insurance.

Pet Health Insurance Basics

Just like human health insurance, pet health insurance helps cover the cost of medical bills for your cat or dog. Pet owners can choose policies that cover wellness and preventative costs like annual exams, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and other veterinary expenses that are part of the everyday life of a pet. Other policies cover only illnesses and accidents.

Also similar to human pet insurance, most pet insurance providers offer a variety of levels of coverage so that you can find a premium, or monthly payment, that works for your budget. It is important to research how much you will pay in copays for veterinary visits and what the deductible is before coverage begins. Also take into consideration if there is a maximum payout per incident, as well as each year and for the life of the pet.

Pre-Existing Conditions and Waiting Periods

Most pet insurance providers do not cover pre-existing conditions. Additionally, most pet insurance companies will require that all of your pet’s veterinary records from a specific date range be submitted from the veterinary office to the pet insurance provider before any claims can be paid. You should also expect a waiting period between when you start to pay your pet’s premiums and when coverage actually begins. If an illness or accident occurs during that waiting period, it will be considered a pre-existing condition.

Genetic and Breed Specific Conditions

Unlike human health insurance, some pet insurance providers do not cover genetic and breed-specific conditions. These can include things like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, intervertebral disk disease, patellar luxation, allergies, and more. It is very important to research whether or not this affects your pet and the coverage available. For example, a Basset Hound has a genetic predisposition to intervertebral disk disease because of their long body and short legs, and might not be covered, whereas a Labrador Retriever would be covered because it is not considered to be associated with their breed.

Cancer Coverage

According to the American Veterinary Association, one in four dogs will be diagnosed with cancer. This number increases to half of the dogs ten years of age or older. As a result, it is important to examine the coverage offered by each provider when shopping for pet health insurance. It is also important to review what kind of treatments are covered, including traditional veterinary care, holistic veterinary care, and whether or not they will cover comparative oncology treatments found at many veterinary teaching hospitals so that you know all of your options should your pet receive a cancer diagnosis.

How Claims are Paid?

Another major difference between human health insurance and pet insurance is that pet insurance only reimburses pet owners after the claim is submitted and processed. The pet owner must still pay the veterinarian’s bill in full before being reimbursed for the medical expenses. However, this can still be the difference between having a large medical expense for your pet on a credit card for a short time rather than paying it off out of your own pocket.

An Active, Outdoorsy Dog

Many dog owners are attracted to the RV lifestyle because of a love of the outdoors and the ability to take their dogs on adventures. You never know when a medical emergency might arise as the result of an encounter with another animal, whether another dog or a wild animal or reptile. Walks over rough terrain can result in cuts and scrapes that require medical attention. Dogs love to sniff and eat their way through life, resulting in digestive upsets, and even a simple veterinary exam with medication can cost several hundred dollars.

Depending on where you are located geographically, you may not be able to get to your regular veterinarian. While emergency veterinary care facilities are a life-saver for many dogs, their services also come at a greater fee, so make sure you research coverage when you are choosing a provider.

The What-if Factor

When it comes down to it, deciding if pet insurance is right for you comes down to a lot of “what if” situations. What if your dog stays healthy and accident-free? Are you just wasting money each month? What if you don’t purchase pet insurance and something does happen? Can you pay for their care or would you have to euthanize your pet at a young age if the worst-case scenario happened? Much of your decision should be based on your ability to pay for emergencies entirely out of pocket.

The value of pet insurance cannot be calculated by comparing the premiums paid each month to the coverage that you are reimbursed. Like any insurance, pet insurance is something you probably do not want to pay for, or even think about, but can be a life-saver if you need it. Some pet owners may pay their monthly premiums each year and never use their insurance. Their payoff comes in having a healthy pet. And some pet owners will face bills that far surpass the premiums that they paid to have coverage and the ability to treat their dog or cat when they are sick or injured.

Researching Pet Insurance

Because so many companies offer pet insurance and have a variety of plans from which to choose, staying organized with a notebook or Excel document is important. Remember to compare the following items: deductible, annual maximum, lifetime maximum, the monthly premium, whether or not wellness visits are included, and if you have a discount for multiple pets.

Also, remember to consider genetic limitations for certain breeds and the level of coverage for cancer treatments. You can also search Google for pet insurance comparisons and reviews, as many websites offer a detailed analysis of the most popular pet insurance providers.

 

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Pet Health

Indoor Fun During Inclement Weather

 

If you own an RV or camper, you know that one of the joys of the RV lifestyle is that you can follow the weather, particularly if you are a full-time RVer. You can winter in Florida, summer in Maine, or travel anywhere you can find the perfect temperature to live your best life. This way you can do all of the outdoor activities you love, and avoid the things you dislike – like shovelling snow!

However, even in your perfect climate, storms and bad weather can pop up, driving you inside the RV. While we humans can entertain ourselves inside a small space like a camper by reading, playing games, or catching up on our favourite Netflix shows, our dogs can get bored quickly. Especially if you have a high energy breed with considerable exercise needs, your dog can get stir crazy without access to her regular exercise routine.
Fortunately, you’ve got a powerful tool for canine boredom at your disposal: canine enrichment.

Canine enrichment is a fancy way of saying “mental exercise” for your dog. Mental exercise is just as critical as physical exercise for dogs. In fact, the simple act of going for a walk actually provides more mental exercise than physical, because your dog works his mind as he sniffs and analyzes every scent, sight, and sound along the walk. However, walks are not always appealing when thunder booms and the possibility of lightning makes a walk unsafe.

When you cannot go for long walks or take your dog for runs at the local dog park, there are many canine enrichment activities that can be done in a small space like a camper or RV. Of course, you can also do these when the weather is nice, but they are good to have at your disposal for those days when everyone is cooped up inside your RV unit.

Training

Obedience training should be fun for both you and your dog. Even when done in a fun way with plenty of positive rewards, obedience training should be limited to ten to fifteen-minute sessions. Any longer and your dog will probably stop wanting to participate and lose interest.

If your dog has mastered the basics, you can put her through different sequences of commands to practice things like sit, down, stay, or come. Having a rock-solid “stay” can be lifesaving, so if your dog has a solid stay, you can train for longer times or practice doing peculiar movements and arm gestures while she stays. For example, if she has mastered a two-minute stay, try for three or four minutes. You can practice having her stay while you turn your back, look away from her, do a little dance, or swing your arms around. Of course, you may look funny if anyone passes by the window of your camper, but it is good practice for your dog to know that they should stay until you give their release word no matter what is happening around them.

You can also work on your dog’s “leave it” or “off” command and add in continually challenging situations. If your dog will “leave it” when you place a treat on the floor in front of him, try placing the treat on his paw or tossing two treats, giving the “leave it” command as the treats land. This training is perfect for small spaces and can be fun. It also teaches your dog the critical skill of looking at you for further instruction and waiting for you to hand him food items instead of snatching them off of the ground. This is another command that can be lifesaving, especially if you drop medication or come across something while hiking or walking that your dog might immediately try to sniff or pick up.

Nose Work

Canine Nose Work continues to grow in popularity. In this sport, dogs use their powerful sense of smell to find a scent and communicate to their handler that they have found it. Dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages can participate just for fun and mental enrichment, or for titles at official scent work events. You can read more about getting started at the American Kennel Club Scent Work page. In order to get started, you can find videos on YouTube and also purchase books and supplies needed to participate in the actual sport.
If you do not think you want to get involved in actual nose work as a sport, and just want to do something fun in a small space, you can also play the Find It game with treats so that your dog searches for treats rather than scents. You can hide the treats in increasingly difficult places or place them in boxes or bins.

Check out the section called Find It at this link: https://thisfurrylife.com/2018/01/17/dog-boredom-busters.

Nose Work is a sport that you can extend outside your RV when the weather is nice. Your dog can learn to find the hidden item around the RV and around your campsite, with more and more complicated hiding spots the more your dog progresses.

Food-Dispensing Toys

There is a seemingly endless array of educational dog toys that require that your dog works through puzzles for treats or food. Toys range in complexity from the basic Kong, which is a rubber toy with a hole through the centre that can be stuffed with food, all the way to more complicated puzzles that require dogs to move multiple parts in order to access their reward. You can purchase toys or make them yourself. Just make sure you always supervise your dog when using any of these toys.

Kong Style Toys

Toys like the Kong or the West Paw Toppl can be stuffed with a variety of foods of different textures. You can start with something moist like a banana and a teaspoon of peanut butter, add in some crunchy treats or pieces of carrot, and then freeze to make the treat longer-lasting if you have access to power while in your RV. The Kong website has many recipes for dog owners https://www.kongcompany.com/recipes.

Puzzle Toys

There are a variety of puzzles on the market that you can purchase to hide dry training treats or kibble. Some have movable pieces and others require the dog to roll them around to release the food. You can also make several toys with things that you have on-hand. One favourite is to place treats in the cups of a muffin tin and place tennis balls over the openings. Your dog will work to remove the tennis balls and find the food. As your dog figures it out, you can hide treats in only some of the cups to increase the level of difficulty.
Another easy option is to take a small dish towel or hand towel, spread it flat, scatter some food across the towel, then roll it up with the food still in it. Place it rolled up on the floor so that your dog must work to figure out how to get to the food. Some dogs will patiently unroll the towel and others will pick it up and shake it; it is interesting to see which method your own dog chooses.

Snuffle Mat

The snuffle mat is another toy that you can purchase or make yourself. It consists of small strips of fabric tied together to form a flat mat with plenty of hiding spots. In fact, it is a great way to recycle fabric from worn-out clothes that you might otherwise toss. You can hide dry food and treats inside the fabric pieces so that your dog must work to find them. Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a snuffle mat: https://youtu.be/DJQY08LPfts.

The Shell Game for Dogs

The shell game is a game in which a prize is hidden under one of three shells, and the participant must try to watch the shuffling of the shells to keep track of where the prize is located. You can easily do this with your dog using three plastic cups and a treat. Place a treat under one cup, shuffle the cups around, and then ask your dog to find it. Of course, your dog is not going to use their memory of where the treat was located, she is going to use her nose to find it.

Check out this video for a quick demo on how to play: https://youtu.be/JTk41dWia5M.
You can come up with your own ideas, just make sure that all of the materials you use are safe for dogs and that you always supervise your dog to ensure that he is not eating something he should not. Not only do these games help your dog work his brain and alleviate boredom and excess energy when you are rained in during a camping trip, but they also strengthen your bond as you play together and you learn more about the powerful mind of your best friend.