All About Pets

What do you mean … part 3

July 19, 2017

What do you mean my dog is fat?!

Last week we focused on one of the big causes of poor health for our dogs, terrible food. I gave as much guidance as possible (considering this is a big topic), basically advising against popular brands of supermarket kibble (dead food with empty calories) and suggesting we expand our thinking to include as much whole unprocessed food and a wide variety of food to keep those doggie intestines well exercised and working hard. Which leads perfectly to the next key indicator of poor health-little or
no exercise.

Once again we are a busy, overscheduled society, constantly on the go and preoccupied. How to make time for a very time consuming and yet very beneficial practice-exercising our dogs?! Not easy and I confess that I can also be very lax when the weather gets as hot and humid as it has been this summer. So we need a plan and it needs to be flexible and doable.

For young dogs (up to a year of age) playing with other dogs of similar size and age is tremendous exercise. My Gwen is 11 months now and I am lucky that she has several siblings living nearby who come and play with her often. It tires them out and I keep a sharp eye if the play becomes too rough. It is very important to remember young dogs are not fully developed for a long time (in my breed not until 18 months), and we need to protect those immature joints, so no rough play with older bigger dogs. The same goes for ball throwing (I call it the lazy way out). They race back and forth at full speed twisting and turning and pounding their bodies-really never a great way to exercise them, especially for immature dogs.

Once again I do not recommend dog parks as size and rough play come with this venue.

Just plain getting out for a walk can be terrific for you and your dog. Wood walking with a trained dog (meaning she stays around and will come when called) is wonderful for both of you in so many ways, it is quiet and peaceful and nature is healing and restorative (and your dog can run and trot and gallop and use its body fully unencumbered by leashes and you). Once again the caveat is you put the time and energy into making sure your dog will stay near and listen to you while off leash.

If off leash wood walking is a no go then walking with a drop line is also a good compromise. Go to the hardware store and buy 20-30 feet of clothesline and attach a snap bolt-attach it to the collar and let your dog drag it behind. Voila! You can step on it or pick it up when needed and you have the benefit of better control while your dog gets to run.
Still more exercise tips next time.

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

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What do you mean … part 2

July 12, 2017

What do you mean my dog is fat?!

Last week we talked about the two major causes of unhealthy dogs, bad food and the lack of exercise. The food is perhaps easier to tackle. Please don’t listen to the slick marketing of the dog food companies. There is one notorious (and very popular) brand that does not have one single ingredient pictured on the bag. Looks good but it isn’t real. But even if we find a well made kibble with good ingredients it is still dead highly processed food. And just as our nutritionist would tell us to eat minimally processed food and fresh as possible, the same goes for our pets.

If we decide to feed kibble (as opposed to a raw or less processed diet) we should make an effort to bump up the diet with supplements. I feed a raw diet and add a good quality fish oil, a vitamin and a probiotic. (Also Glucosamine but that is another story). The fish oil is a powerful antioxidant and terrific for teeth and hair coat and eyes. The vitamin helps cover any uncovered bases. And the probiotic supplies additional good bacteria to the gut.

I also regularly give my dogs table food to enrich their diet-pieces of fish and chicken, veggies, pan drippings from the oven etc. I know the pet food companies say to never feed table food but they are wrong. Feeding the same food day in and out with no variety is not good for your dog. When a pet has never had anything but Purina just try to change the diet. Be ready to deal with a very upset stomach. Why? The gut is not used to being active and digesting a variety of food so it rebels at the change. My dogs have eaten a wide variety of food their entire lives and they have cast iron stomachs.

Of course we are still watching overall intake and including the calories from all the food we feed. Another caution, do not let your dog learn to beg for the leftovers. I feed leftovers randomly and sometimes stick them in the frig for later. Never directly from the table.
Next week-exercise tips!

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

THE CONTENT OF THIS COLUMN IS THE EXPRESS OPINION OF NORA HAYES, AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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What do you mean … part 1

July 5, 2017

What do you mean my dog is fat?!

So how fit are our dogs—I mean really!! Maybe not so much?! As a trainer if I had a nickel for every time I hear…”She’s not fat she’s just big boned”, or “the Vet says she’s fine”, or “Labs are supposed to be blocky” (you get the drift), I would be very rich. In fact we have the same epidemic of out of shape obese dogs as we have with our children. What’s going on?

Here are a couple of reasons why our dogs are overweight:
• We feed them terrible food. I’m sorry to say most kibble sold in supermarkets and pet stores is simply bad nutrition. The pet food companies have gotten smart about promoting their food as “grain free” or “all natural”. Empty words. Corn is still the main ingredient in most pet food (try raising a child on corn flakes) and grains are being replaced by high carb alternative ingredients like peas and potatoes. So, by and large, we have been convinced to feed our pets highly processed cereal with cheap sources of protein with all kinds of really bad ingredients thrown in as filler. This starts them off with an unhealthy non-nutritious foundation.
• Next, we lead busy lives as we’ve discussed before and our exercise and our pets’ can be way down on the list of to do’s. Dogs really need consistent exercise to develop strong bodies and to feel ok. Underexercised dogs can grow dull and lazy. Combine the poor nutrition with the lack of healthy exercise and we begin to see why there is a problem.

Recently there was a special report on one of the early morning talk shows about the canine obesity epidemic and the consensus was we are loving our pets to death; feeding them too much food and treats. I think the real issue is we aren’t really sure what a fit healthy dog should look like so we don’t have a canine role model to aspire to. It’s funny because we sure do know what a healthy fit person should look like, why not a fit dog?
Next week, let’s figure out a way to get our dogs in better shape and healthier!

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

THE CONTENT OF THIS COLUMN IS THE EXPRESS OPINION OF NORA HAYES, AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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