Transition Your Dog From Crate to Free Roaming

Your dog’s crate fulfills a number of important functions. It’s an excellent house breaking tool, it can be made into a cozy den, and it can serve as a comfortable means of confinement if you need to be out of the house and don’t trust your dog to do their own thing.

However at some point, you may want to kick the crate to the curb. Maybe it’s taking up too much space (have you ever seen a crate intended for a Great Dane? Think: zoo enclosure) or maybe you just want your dog to have the freedom to curl up wherever they please, gaze out the window, and drink from their regular water bowl when you’re not home.

Of course, the prospect of giving your dog that freedom can be a daunting one if you’re used to the crate being their babysitter. And it can be daunting for your dog as well, as they are probably used to the comfort and security that the crate offers them in your absence. So how can you ensure that your dog’s transition from crate to free roaming is a smooth one? Follow these steps.

1. Create a Transition Space

One of the most common reasons people crate their dog when they leave the house is because they are worried about the dog destroying their belongs. And indeed, some dogs do chew when left alone, usually because they are feeling anxious. Set your dog up for success by creating a designated area for them to transition from the crate to free roaming. Maybe it’s the kitchen or a spacious spare room. Clear the area of any furniture you want to protect (bye-bye, Grandma’s rocker) as well as any items that could harm your dog, such as unsecure trash bins, wires, and food. Close windows to reduce outside noises that could scare your dog or send them into a barking frenzy, then put a gate up that blocks access to the rest of the house.

RELATED STORY: 5 Tips for Dog Safety Around the Home

2. Leave Your Dog With a Distraction

You know that face your dog makes when you are getting ready to leave the house? Heartbreaking, right? To reduce the chances of separation anxiety (which can lead to destructive behavior), offer your dog a distraction before you leave, such as a Kong stuffed with peanut butter or kibble. Just be sure that whatever you leave your dog can’t be chewed up into little pieces and swallowed.

RELATED STORY: The Top 10 Dog Training Tips

3. Take It Slow

A lot of owners learn this lesson the hard way. If your dog is used to staying in a crate when you leave the house, throwing them into a free-roaming situation out of nowhere is likely to result in some confusion and anxiety, which can result in a gutted living room. Start by letting your dog be alone in their designated area when you go outside to water the garden for five minutes. Over time, build up to longer outings: a quick run to the store or a visit with a neighbor. Then, start giving your dog access to different areas of the house, but take it slow. Pushing your dog too quickly will not only make the process harder in the long run, it can also undo training that you’ve taken months or years to achieve (for example, a dog who you’ve trained not to urine mark inside may return to this behavior under stress).

Have you transitioned your dog out of their crate? Leave a comment and tell us how you did it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is 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. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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Are Bones Safe For Dogs?

Bones Safe For Dogs

Are Bones Safe For Dogs?


Dogs are so often paired with bones that it might be hard to imagine that perhaps they aren’t meant for each other after all. In recent years, many veterinarians and even the FDA have cautioned against giving dogs bones because of the health risks they pose. So, are bones safe for dogs?

But just what is so dangerous about bones, does anyone disagree, and what are the alternatives? Let’s take a look.

Wait a Second… Don’t Wolves Eat Bones?

This is a common and understandable question. If dogs evolved from wolves and wolves consume bones, shouldn’t it be safe for your dog to do so as well?

The truth is that wolves usually don’t eat the large bones of their prey; they are often left behind with the animal’s hide, skull, and stomach contents.

Additionally, wild wolves have shorter lifespans on average than domesticated dogs due to disease, parasites, and injuries — which yes, can occur if a wolf swallows an unfriendly bone.

RELATED STORY: Why Using Dog Dental Chews Improves Tooth Health

Why Are Bones Dangerous?

The FDA published a report in 2010 outlining the dangers associated with feeding your dog bones.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration.

“Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

The FDA goes on to list 10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:

Bones can break teeth

And fixing broken teeth can cost a pretty penny.

Bones can injure the mouth and tongue

These injuries can be very bloody and messy, as well as painful for your dog. They could also land you at the veterinarian’s office.

Bones can get stuck around your dog’s lower jaw

This usually occurs with round, hallow bones (like the end of a marrow bone). It can not only be a very frightening experience for a dog, it can also be painful and costly at the vet.

Bones can get trapped in the esophagus

Which is the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. This can cause your dog to gag and in most cases you will need to head to the vet’s office.

Bones can get trapped in the windpipe

This can happen if a dog inhales a small piece of bone. This is an emergency situation, as your dog will be having a hard time breathing. Go to the vet’s office or an emergency clinic right away.

Bones can get stuck in the stomach

If the bone was small enough to swallow but not large enough to move from the stomach to the intestines, your dog will most likely require surgery to remove it.

Bones can get trapped in the intestines

If this happens, it can cause a gastrointestinal blockage, and surgery may be required.

Constipation

It can be difficult for a dog to squeeze out sharp, jagged bone fragments. This is a painful situation and requires a trip to the veterinarian.

Bleeding from the rectum

Those sharp, jagged fragments can cause injury to the rectum and severe bleeding. This can be very messy and you’ll need to see the veterinarian. Never attempt to pull out a bone fragment that is partially protruding from your dog’s rear end; this could cause further injury.

Bones can cause peritonitis

Peritonitis is a severe bacterial infection of the abdomen that can occur when bone fragments puncture your dog’s stomach or intestines. This infection can be deadly and requires emergency veterinary treatment.

Varying Opinions

Some veterinarians and raw food groups argue that while cooked bones are not safe for dogs, raw bones are because they are softer, less likely to splinter, and more easily digestible. Talk to you veterinarian to find out their opinion on the matter. The opinion on whether bones are safe dogs will vary based on their recommended diets.

RELATED STORY: Raw Food Dog Diet

Safe Alternatives

No one is saying to throw out chewing altogether. Indeed, the right kind of chewing can be good for your dog’s teeth and breath, soothe the painful gums of teething pups, and be an outlet for mental and physical energy.

Ask your veterinarian about bone alternatives and chews like Greenies and Kongs, and always supervise your dog whenever you give them a new chew.

What do you think? Should you give your dog bones? Leave a comment and let us know your opinion, and to keep your dog safe and healthy, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus is 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. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

For more information: No Bones About It: Bones Are Unsafe For Your Dog via the FDA

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How To Help A Teething Pup

When your puppy is 3 to 4 months old, they will lose their baby teeth and new, permanent teeth will begin to emerge. As you might imagine, this process can cause swelling, redness, and irritation, and your puppy will seek out ways to soothe the pain. The most common behavior? Chewing, and not always on items that are appropriate.

There are plenty of stories of pups chomping on shoes, gnawing the sofa, and nibbling on the molding, but fortunately, there are things you can do to help soothe your pal’s pain and protect your belongings in the process.

1. Provide One or Two Appropriate Chews

If you don’t give your pup something to chew on, they will find something to chew on. Instead of leaving your buddy to their own devices, offer them a chew or two — and only a chew or two. If you offer your puppy too many options, it will make it difficult for them to distinguish between what is appropriate to chew on around the house and what isn’t. You can entice your puppy to chew their new toys by smearing a bit of peanut butter on them. And remember to supervise your puppy when they are chewing, especially if they are munching on something like a bully stick or rawhide that can break into small pieces.

RELATED STORY: Your New Puppy: Everything You Need To Know

2. Freeze To Ease

Frozen items help to soothe teething mouths by numbing sore gums and reducing inflammation. Offer your puppy an ice cube, wet down a rag, twist it into a knot, and freeze it to create a satisfying toy, or freeze a carrot and let the your pal munch on it. Carrots are rich in Vitamin A and Potassium and make a great snack, but because they are also high in fiber, you should feed them in moderation to avoid an upset stomach.

3. Puppy-Proof Your House

Even if you offer your pup lots of safe and healthy chews, they may occasionally still look for other things to nibble on. Puppy-proof your house to make sure that they won’t ingest anything harmful, such as poisonous foods or loose items on tables or shelves. You should also hide electrical cords, which if chewed on could be fatal. If you want to teach your puppy not to chew on something in particular, consider purchasing some Bitter Apple Spray. Bitter Apple Spray is a non-toxic, odorless formula that can be sprayed directly onto furniture or items that your pup is likely to go after. The taste is terrible to a dog, so chances are they won’t go back for a second bite.

RELATED STORY: How To Buy Puppy Supplies You’ll Actually Use

4. Monitor Your Pup’s Teeth

Teething usually lasts a few weeks to a month (you’ll get through it!), and you should keep an eye on your pup’s teeth and take them for a vet visit during the process to ensure that all of the new teeth are coming in appropriately. Retained deciduous teeth can cause problems down the road, and it is better to catch the issue early than face the medical and financial consequences later.

How do you help your puppy with teething? Leave a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on your pet’s medications, supplies, boarding, and more. 

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