When we go on walks, can you please pick up after me?

If I could pick up after myself, I would. But I’m unable to because I’m a dog. Therefore, when you take me outside, can you please scoop my poop? It’s one of the most important things you can do for me. Not only is it your responsibility as the one walking me but it can prevent health problems in humans and dogs too.

About 40 percent of Americans don’t scoop, leaving behind nearly 4 million tons of dog waste. The failures of humans to pick up after their dogs are one of the reasons many people don’t like my kind around. No one wants to walk down the street, on the beach or through a park where there’s feces. It smells. It’s unsightly. And it’s unhealthy.

Dog feces can pass intestinal parasites, like roundworms and hookworms, and infections to other canines and people at parks, playgrounds and even backyards. Children can contract eye diseases, like ocular larva migrans, through the parasitic worms as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 10,000 human cases of roundworm infection annually. And I can even be exposed to infective worm eggs and larvae through waste. If your dog has diarrhea, it’s a good idea to bring along a bottle of water so you can rinse off the contaminated ground.

If you don’t pick up our piles, it can result in storm water pollution. Our waste contains bacteria that can increase the risk of viral infections, flu, and skin rashes for those who swim in the ocean.

In some areas, it’s against the law to leave dog poop in public. Don’t be afraid to scoop up our feces. If you don’t want to walk through the neighborhood with a pooper scooper, use a plastic bag from the grocery store or purchase them at pet stores. (Some are even scented.) Put your hand in the bag like it’s a mitten. Grab the feces with your covered hand, turn the bag inside out and be sure to knot it at the top. Dispose of the bag properly.

It’s really easy and everyone is happier.

– Trevor the Dog

Why size doesn’t matter

Big dogs aren’t necessarily smarter than small ones like me and little pooches are not apt to bark more than larger breeds. Size isn’t what is important because all dogs have our pros and cons.

Some men are turned off by miniature dogs because they think we are a reflection of their manhood. They’re embarrassed to walk us and even to pet us in public. But there are some benefits to having a small dog just like there are plusses to owning a big dog.

Little pooches can be easier on the wallet because we require less food and smaller doses of flea/tick medicine. We tend to live longer, usually between 12-15 years compared to large dogs, which often live between 8-11 years old, depending on the breed. However, dental problems and luxating patellas haunt us. Plus, our tiny bones break easily; therefore, it’s important not to let us jump off the furniture onto a hard surface.

Larger breeds such as Labrador retrievers, German shepherds and Dobermans are more prone to hip dysplasia, which can make them so lame that owners choose to put them out of their misery. But with proper healthcare, sometimes big dogs can live into their teens too.

All dogs, regardless of size, need daily exercise but owners who want a dog to jog with them will prefer a big dog. My little legs can’t keep up. But we can accompany our owners to more places because we’re easily transported. There’s a misconception that all miniature dogs yap. Many of us are extremely quiet. What is true is that some small dogs like to act bigger than they are. Their strong personalities make up for what they lack in size.
In the end, size doesn’t matter. What does is your lifestyle, your living space and your ability to love your four-legged friend.

– Trevor the Dog

Above the Crowd: Standing Out In An Overcrowded Animal Shelter

Dogs like me didn’t have as much competition in shelters before the recession. Pet parents had become better at spaying and neutering their four-legged friends, resulting in fewer unwanted pooches. But now shelters are bulging with my fellow canines left homeless after lenders foreclosed on humans’ homes.
It’s a stressful time for fur babies stuck in noisy kennels, surrounded by unfamiliar people and other dogs that are equally stressed and anxious. Here’s what man’s best friend can do to improve their odds of being selected when a prospective pet parents visits:
Don’t worry if you’re not the prettiest in the group. Your temperament is what matters most.
Don’t play coy by hanging around in the back of the cage. Your shyness could be mistaken for being fearful and distrustful of humans.
Wag your tail just enough that it signals you’re happy. Be relaxed, open your mouth a little so your tongue lolls; even take the playful pose with your rump in the air.
Make eye contact; don’t lunge or growl, signs of a dominant aggressive personality
Don’t seem too eager. It’s a red flag that you might suffer from separation anxiety when your owner leaves you at home.
If the human requests to spend time with you outside of the cage and purposely ignores you for a few minutes, don’t appear uninterested. Instead, show affection by gently nudging the person, licking or leaning in warmly. By no means do you jump on or paw the person.
When you’re petted, stand still and show that you enjoy the human touch by moving in for more contact.
If the person wants to play fetch or tug-of-war, do so. When the game ends make sure you go from excited to calm in a brief time. Sit or lie down to show that your energy level is suitable for a home.
It’s a very rewarding experience for a human after they adopt us. They know they’ve saved a life. That life might as well be yours.

Long goodbyes: How I kicked separation anxiety cold turkey

I used to suffer from separation anxiety, the number one cause for behavioral problems, when I was left home alone.

The moment my owner put on her shoes, it would begin. My anxiousness would grow when she grabbed her keys. By the time she had her hand on the front door, I’d start whimpering. She’d feel sorry for me and play with me a little longer. (Little did she realize that she was adding to the problem.) Eventually, she’d have to leave and when she did I really acted up. I scratched on the door and window, hoping to get out so I could be with her. When that failed, I howled and barked, chewed furniture and relieved myself in the house even though I was housetrained. By the time she came home, I was so stressed out that I was shaking.

This type of behavior couldn’t go on forever or else I’d end up in a shelter, which I didn’t want. I knew I had to change so I did, along with my pet parent.

  • Our morning walks became longer, thus allowing me to rid myself of excess energy I used to turn into nervousness.
  • T-shirts she slept in were left for me so her scent could comfort me.
  • Toys were left for me to play with and that took my mind off the fact that she was gone.
  • She left home nonchalantly and stopped making a big fuss about departing. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure when she was going to leave because she walked around the house in her heels and with her keys in her pocket for a while before leaving.
  • When she returned, she didn’t rush to me. Instead, she put down her purse, flipped through the mail, checked her voice mail messages, and then calmly petted me.

It only took a few weeks for my separation anxiety to dissipate. I’m glad I didn’t need medication or get shipped off to go to doggy day care, which can become expensive on a daily basis. What would have been worse was going to a shelter.

– Trevor the dog

The biggest loser, doggy style

Pet obesity is one of the biggest health threats to pets in the United States. Of the 77.5 million pet dogs in the United States, an estimated 54 percent of us are overweight or obese, according to a 2010 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. I was one of those portly pooches but lost weight. Your dog can too.

Even a couple of extra pounds on a dog can be significant. According to Dr. Ernie Ward, the lead researcher on the study, a 90-pound female Labrador retriever is equivalent to a 186-pound 5 foot, 4 inch female and a 12-pound Yorkshire terrier is similar to 223 pounds on the same woman. I weighed over eight pounds before my vet ordered me to lose two pounds. My girth made it difficult for me to walk up hills, was hard on my spindly legs and put me at risk for a multitude of health problems, including kidney disease, various forms of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, hyperthyroidism and heart and respiratory disease.

Your furry friend is overweight if it’s difficult to feel his ribs under the fat, if he has a sagging stomach, and if he doesn’t have a waist. Rather than buy an expensive doggie treadmill, it’s more economical to switch to reduced calorie dog food, cut back on the treats, and increase your pooch’s aerobic activity. Walk your dog 30 minutes a day but instead of allowing Fido to stop and sniff every time he wants, walk at a fast pace for a portion of that time. This benefits the dog walker as well.

Treats are often full of sugar and fat and are the main culprit for obesity in canines. Make sure they don’t account for more than five percent of your little pal’s caloric intake. Have the vet gives a paws up before your four-legged friend begins a weight loss exercise program.

– Trevor the dog

Smile, I’m on candid camera

Even though I’m a dog, my teeth are important to me as humans’ are to them. However, dental care for pooches is one of the most overlooked areas of health care. Four out of five canines over three years old have gum disease because our owners don’t realize that our teeth need proper care, the same as theirs.

Brushing our teeth regularly, an annual oral examination and sometimes even a professional cleaning are vital to our health. Dental disease can lead to heart, lung and kidney disease. Small dogs like me are more prone to periodontal disease than big dogs. Tooth decay and gum disease led to me having some of my teeth pulled and some of my teeth fell out because so much tartar, a contributor to gum disease, was wedged under my gums. I can still eat dry dog food with the few teeth I have left but I wish my owner had brushed my teeth as much as she brushed hers. Maybe that’s asking a lot but a few times a week could have prevented this.

I actually like having my teeth brushed with the special doggie toothbrush and toothpaste, which has a turkey flavor. Most pooches are like me and will let you brush their teeth. But if they don’t, as an alternative, give your furry friends hard dog biscuits, chews or an occasional raw marrow bone to help reduce the buildup of tartar. Avoid prepackaged bones, which often contain preservatives and several unpronounceable materials that may harm us.

Oftentimes, veterinarians will recommend professional cleaning as early as one year old for small dogs and two years for large dogs. I’ve had my teeth cleaned several times and each time I have anesthesia administered. But before I do, the vet always examines me thoroughly to make sure I’m healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.

Life would be so easier if someone just brushed my teeth.

– Trevor the dog

Winter: the season of arthritis

Arthritis in dogs is almost impossible to avoid once we mature but there are ways you can ease the pain for us during the cold winter months when our joints become stiff and tender.

Once we reach 7 to 10 years of age, there’s a 60 percent chance that we’ll develop arthritis, a chronic pain condition that results when joint cartilage deteriorates. The joints become inflamed due to a lack of lubrication and we hurt when we move. Older, big dogs are especially prone because their frames have to carry so much weight. But younger pooches that are overweight, lack exercise and eat poorly are also in danger. Genetics and poor breeding are also to blame. Notice if we start to limp, favor a limb, are unwilling to and have difficultly sitting and standing up and let out a yelp if you touch us. Sometimes we can’t keep up with you on walks because we’re in too much pain. Have a vet check us for arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form in animals and humans. There’s also rheumatoid arthritis and infectious arthritis.

There’s no cure for the condition but here are things you can do to make us more comfortable.

  • I know we’re in pain but light exercise is vital to help us strengthen the muscles, keeps the ligaments and tendons flexible and helps blood circulate to the stiff joints. Make it fun, short and low-impact. A little incentive always helps.
  • Make sure we have a proper bed – Hard, cold surfaces irritate the joints. Invest in a heated or orthopedic pet bed.
  • Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by a vet and analgesic medications to reduce the symptoms, but be aware that they can sometimes cause gastrointestinal problems. Hip and joint supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Omega 3 fatty acids help as well.
  • Owners who prefer a holistic approach, can try acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage and light therapy.
  • More recently, stem cell therapy has proven effective
  • Surgery is also an option, but is rare

Winter days may be bleak and bleary but there’s hope for us arthritic dogs during this time.

– Trevor the dog

Hybrid cars: easy on my ears, and pleasant to my nose

One of the highlights for me is riding in the car with my owner. It’s another chance to bond, whether we’re running a 15-minute errand or going on a weekend getaway. These outings are more enjoyable nowadays because of hybrid cars, which aren’t just beneficial to the environment but healthier for pooches.

More than 80 percent of dog owners take their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, according to a survey by the Automobile Association of America survey in 2010. But some of my fellow canines have problems becoming accustomed to the noise, vibration and motion in standard cars. Therefore, we might shake, drool and even vomit on your beautiful leather car seats.

We smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans and hear at a higher frequency too. But because hybrid cars are quieter than conventional vehicles, it results in a more pleasant ride for us. Hybrid cars are also easier on our noses because there’s less smog exhaust in the air.

Regardless of the kind of car, always remember to secure us with a doggy seatbelt or crate us and use a seat belt to secure the crate. This prevents us from climbing into your lap, one of our favorite places, or flying around the car should you have to brake suddenly or someone hit your car. And it’s fine if you put us in the backseat. We know how much you want to pet us (and we like it too) but we don’t want to distract you from driving. Letting us hang our heads out of the window may look cool but it’s bad for us because debris can fly in our eyes and ears and harm us. Also, don’t leave us in a closed car, even for a few minutes. You’d be surprised at how quickly a closed car can heat up and cause permanent damage to us or worse yet, even kill us. Therefore, make sure you can take us inside whatever establishment you go to as well.

– Trevor the dog

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