6 Dog Safety Tips for the Fourth of July

Dog with American Flag

While we just talked about this topic with Sam’s post on Tuesday, the topic of dogs and the 4th of July is a hot one, so we’re revisiting some points and introducing a couple new ones.

Loud noises. Big crowds. Flashing lights in the sky. Leftovers from barbeques. The Fourth of July is a great day for families and friends all across America, but can be challenging for your dog. Find out six simple ways you can ensure a healthy, happy, anxiety-free day for your pup.


1. Food Safety During Barbeques

Whether or not you allow your dog to eat human food is likely a decision you’ve made a long time ago. But food at a barbeque can be particularly dangerous for dogs: alcohol is always a no-no, but so are the onions you’re having on your burger, the avocado in your guacamole, and the bones that might be in grilled chicken. Be sure to let your friends know not to share food with your pet.

RELATED STORY: The Most Poisonous Foods for Dogs


2. Prepare for Loud Noises

If you know — or suspect — that your dog doesn’t like loud noises, plan ahead. Make sure your pet has a safe spot in the house to hang out, cover up the noises if possible, and provide your pet with a Thundershirt or other swaddle-like outfit.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dealing with Dogs Scared of Loud Noises


3. Don’t Bring Your Dog to the Fireworks

The crowds of people, loud crash of the fireworks exploding, and unexpected flashes of light are hard on your dog. We recommend that you leave dogs safely at home. It’s easy for a dog to panic, run away, get lost, or generally freak out during fireworks. Since it’s not a pleasant activity for pets, leaving them at home is both the kindest and the safest option.


4. Definitely Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

If for some reason, leaving your dog at home is not an option, it would be preferable to bring your dog with you rather than leaving your dog alone in the car. During the heat of the summertime, leaving your dog in the car — even with the windows cracked open — is unsafe.

RELATED STORY: 5 Must-Read Safety Tips for Pets in Hot Weather


5. Make Home Cozy for Your Pet

If your dog will be home alone while you’re out celebrating Independence Day, or even if you’ll be around, make your house into a comfortable environment for your pet. For crate-trained dogs, the crate can be the most comforting place to ride out the wild night. Close the curtains to help block out the lights from the fireworks, and think about leaving the television on, or playing music for an audio distraction. Make sure that all doors and windows are closed — even a normally placid pup can have an urge to escape when confronted a the fear-inducing situation.


6. Be Careful With Sunscreen and Bug Spray

What’s good for you isn’t necessarily OK for your pet. Don’t give your pet a spritz of bug spray, and avoid using sunscreen for people on their fur. As well, citronella and lighter fluid can also be dangers for dogs, so make sure to keep those items far away from your pup.

RELATED STORY: Top Mosquito-Borne Illnesses


PetPlus isa new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. Is it right for you and your dog?


Why Is My Dog Afraid of Animals All The Time?


Why Is Your Dog Afraid Of Animals?

A dog’s fear of other animals can have a big impact on their life, and your life too. Some dogs are afraid of all animals. Other dogs are only afraid of unfamiliar animals. And still others are afraid of certain species: many dogs are afraid of cats!

The way your dog shows fear will depend on your particular dog. Some dogs exhibit classic fear behaviors: tail tucking, trembling, panting, lip licking, trying to escape, whining, and hiding. Other dogs respond to fear by becoming aggressive. Rather than waiting for an attack to happen, they go on the defense and growl, bark, lunge, or bite.

RELATED STORY: Reading Dog Body Language

Clearly, a dog’s fear of other animals can be dangerous. A dog who is afraid and exhibiting fear behaviors could become a target for other animals. A dog who becomes aggressive when afraid may hurt other animals or people.

So what causes a dog to become afraid of other animals, and what can you do to help!

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a dog becoming afraid of other animals:

  • Lack of regular exposure to other animals: Even if you socialize your dog early, they may still become fearful if they do not have regular continued exposure to other animals.
  • Genetic predisposition: Some dogs are just born more anxious or timid. In many cases, these are traits passed on by the parents. So even if your dog is well-socialized, they may still tend to be fearful of other animals.
  • Traumatic event involving another animal: If a young dog gets into a fight with another dog at a young age and is badly injured, they may live to fear all dogs. In some cases, a dog may even become fearful if an animal was near them when something frightening happened, even if the animal was not directly involved.
  • Unknown cause: In some cases, you may not be able to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s fear.

RELATED STORY: How We Misunderstand Dog Aggression

What to Do if Your Dog Is Afraid of Other Animals

The first thing to do is correctly identify your dog’s fear of animals. Some pet parents mistake their dog’s fear for aggression and will punish or yell at their dog when it growls or barks at other animals, thus making the dog more afraid and their future reactions to animals worse.

So first things first: study your dog’s behavior and try to find the source of the problem.

Once your correctly identify your dog’s fear, you can go from there:

  • Manage your dog’s behavior: especially if your dog becomes aggressive when afraid. Keep your dog on a leash, stay a good distance from other people and animals, and stay calm. If you grip the leash tighter or tense up when another animal turns the corner, your dog will notice and tense up, too.
  • Do not punish your dog for being afraid: again, it can only make the problem worse. On that same note, you should not constantly reassure your dog when they are afraid. Your dog will not understand and may only become more anxious.
  • Do not force your dog to be around other animals if they are afraid. Many pet parents think that they can fix their dog’s problem by forcing exposure to other animals, and if the dog has never acted aggressive before, what’s the harm? The problem is that forcing a dog into an uncomfortable situation can actually increase their fear, and even if you’ve never seen it before, there is a good chance the dog could respond with aggression.
  • You may need the help of a trainer or animal behaviorist to correct your dog’s fear. Desensitization and counter-conditioning training — in which you to teach your dog that good things rather than bad things happen around other animals — can be very successful, but challenging to carry out.

Is your dog afraid of other animals? Leave a comment and let us know, and sign up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.



What to Do if Your Dog Is Bitten


Bite wounds are one of the most common reasons why dogs end up at the emergency vet clinic. Your dog may have gotten into a scuffle with another dog at the dog park, felt the wrath of the neighborhood cat, or had a close encounter with a wild animal. While many bite wounds appear to be small, they can end up spelling big trouble for your dog if left untreated.

Why Are Bite Wounds So Bad?

Bite wounds are puncture wounds, which means that while the outward appearance of the wound may be small, it likely extends deep into your pet’s skin. When the opening of the wound heals over (sometimes very quickly), bacteria from the animal’s mouth that bit your pet can get trapped deep inside, leading to infection and, in some cases, an abscess.

What to Do if Your Dog Is Bitten

#1 Get your dog away from the other animal as soon as it is safe to do so.

It’s not safe for a human to insert themselves into the middle of a dog fight, so be cautious. If the owner of the biting animal is around, ask them if their pet has been vaccinated against rabies (this will be useful information for your veterinarian to know). You may also want to exchange contact information with the other owner in case you need to follow up.

#2 Control the bleeding.

If the bite wound is bleeding a lot (often the case with bites to the ear or face), apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel or other piece of clean fabric. Try not to panic; if your dog sees that you are upset it may cause their blood pressure to rise, which can result in increased bleeding.

RELATED STORY: The Causes of Aggression in Dogs

#3 Head to the veterinarian.

While you might think your dog’s bite wound looks minor, the only person who can properly evaluate the situation is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will look to see how deep the wound is, how much of your dog’s body area is involved, and recommended treatment.

#4 Treat the wound.

The treatment that your veterinarian recommends will depend on the extent of the injury. In most cases, the area around the wound will be shaved, the wound will be cleaned, and a decision will be made about whether to leave the wound open or seal it up. In the case of a small wound, the veterinarian may determine that leaving it open to drain is the best course of action. Larger or deeper cuts may be sutured up or stapled, and a drain may be placed in cases where damage is extensive or there is a chance of fluid buildup.

In most cases, your veterinarian will prescribe an oral antibiotic to ward off infection, and for minor injuries that are left open to heal, a topical antibiotic may also be prescribed.

Depending on the location of your dog’s bite wound, they may have to wear an Elizabethan collar or “cone” to keep them from licking or further damaging the injury site while it heals.

Follow your veterinarian’s instructions explicitly when it comes to home care of the wound. In some cases you may need to clean it or apply ointment, but you should only do so with products recommended by your veterinarian. Do not attempt to treat a wound with Neosporin or hydrogen peroxide without first consulting your veterinarian, as these products may actually hinder the healing process.

After several days, you and your dog may return to your veterinarian for a follow-up examination.

RELATED STORY: The Importance of Socializing a Dog

How to Prevent Bite Wounds

While there is no way to control the behavior of other animals, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of your dog being bitten:

  • Well-mannered dogs are less likely to bite or get bitten, so consider signing up for an obedience class with your pal.
  • Keep your dog on a leash while you are out walking, and if they are allowed to roam free in your yard, make sure that the area is enclosed and secure so that they can’t escape and other animals can’t find their way in.
  • Be cautious when it comes to other animals. Before letting your dog run free in a dog park, observe the situation and look for signs of tension or aggression. Before letting your dog approach another dog while you’re out on a walk, ask the other owner if it’s safe and okay to do so. The same should go for unfamiliar dogs approaching your dog; either grant or deny the other owner permission first.

Be careful out there. Sometimes, the bite is worse than the bark.

Has your dog ever been bitten by another animal? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. Check it out at PetPlus.com


Dog Park Do’s and Don’ts

Dog parks have become increasingly popular in the United States, especially in metropolitan areas where backyards and open spaces for running and playing are rare. While dog parks can be great places for dogs to get some exercise and meet other furballs, they aren’t appropriate for all dogs, and they aren’t free-for-alls! If you do end up at a dog park, you should be prepared to follow some basic guidelines.

Check out these dos and don’ts to find out if your pup is a good fit for a dog park and what rules you should follow before and during a visit.

DO take your dog to the park if he or she is well-socialized.

A dog park can be a great place for a confident, well-socialized pup who loves interacting with other dogs and knows how to play nicely. A dog park is not, however, a good place to give your dog’s behavior a test drive. If you aren’t sure how your dog is going to act around other dogs, they probably aren’t ready for the dog park.

To socialize your dog and give them the confidence they deserve before entering a park, try introducing them to other dogs while on leash, arrange small group play-dates with dogs you know, and consider taking an obedience class where your dog will meet new friends and learn commands that will keep them safe.

DON’T take your dog to the park if he or she is aggressive, fearful, anxious, or undersocialized.

If your dog has a behavioral issue, taking them to the dog park can not only be dangerous, it can also make their problem worse. A fearful, anxious, aggressive, or undersocialized dog who is thrown into a new and unfamiliar environment will probably only become more fearful, anxious, or aggressive, and may even lash out. Additionally, their inappropriate behavior may cause other dogs to lash out.  If you need help with your dog’s behavioral problem, considering contacting a trainer or animal behaviorist.

RELATED STORY: Dog Behaviors

DO make sure that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and protected from fleas.

Because so many dogs come and go at dog parks, the chances of picking up a disease or fleas are fairly high. This is why unvaccinated puppies definitely should NOT go to dog parks, and that goes for unvaccinated adult dogs, too. In addition, make sure that your dog is protected with a flea preventative, as fleas can easily pass from dog-to-dog or ground-to-dog at the park. As a rule, it’s not a bad idea to consult your veterinarian about your dog’s overall health before visiting a dog park.

DON’T take intact male dogs or female dogs who are in heat.

Intact male dogs and in-heat female dogs mixing together at a dog park not only increases the risk of accidental pregnancy, it can also lead to behavioral problems such as sex-related aggression. If you take your dog to the dog park and see a lot of intact male dogs, it’s probably a good idea to leave and go back at another time.

RELATED STORY: All About Spaying And Neutering Dogs And Cats

DO find a good dog park.

Do your research before taking your dog to the park. Here are some great questions to find the answers to before you choose a park:

Is there enough space for a large group of dogs?
If the space is too cramped, the mood could get tense.

Are there separate areas for small and big dogs?
It is usually safest to separate the bigs from the littles to avoid injuries and the littles getting frightened.

Is the park gated and secure?
Even if your dog has good recall, it’s best to find an enclosed space where your dog won’t be able to run off.

Is there water and shade?
Especially in warmer months, your dog should have access to clean water and a cool, shady place to take a breather.

Are there clean-up stations?
Most good dog parks have trash cans and poop bags available.

DO keep an eye on your dog.

The dog park is not the place to read the newspaper or respond to emails on your phone; you should be fully engaged with what your dog is doing at all times. Look out for signs that your dog is being bullied (such as being repeatedly knocked over or chased by another dog), or that your dog is bullying, and step in if necessary and safe to do so.

Additionally, you should look out for situations that could turn into a fight. While wrestling and rolling around on the ground are normal dog behaviors, they can sometimes escalate and get serious. If you notice that the situation is becoming tense, step in and separate the dogs, but again, only if it is safe to do so. A fight that is already in motion may not be safe to enter, but you can try to use a loud sound such as clapping to distract the dogs long enough to call your dog away. Be careful not to grab a dog in the middle of a fight by the collar — they could react by biting.

RELATED STORY: What Kind Of Pet Parent Are You: The Lover, The Trainer, & More

DON’T let dogs clump together too long.

When a couple of dogs or a group of dogs play together too long, the play can get intense and tensions may arise. In addition, a pack or “clique” of dogs may start bullying other dogs. To avoid these situations, move around the park and introduce your dog to other dogs. Reward your dog with a treat for following you and playing nicely with new friends.

DON’T expect other pet parents to follow all the rules.

Just because you did your homework and made sure that your dog was well-suited to the dog park doesn’t mean that all pet parents are doing the same. Many aggressive, anxious, and undersocialized dogs end up at the dog park, and it is your responsibility to keep an eye out and keep your pal safe. If you notice that the vibe at the dog park isn’t feeling quite right or you see a lot of distracted, indifferent pet parents, it may be better to leave the park and come back another time.

Do you take your dog to the dog park? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on pet medications, supplies, boarding, and more.