Monday, December 21, 2015

Shedding Holiday Weight

Shedding Holiday Weight!

At Urban Tails, our Thanksgiving feast of turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie was enjoyed by every canine lucky enough to have stayed with us this year. With the new year approaching, many will make plans to begin a fitness regiment to make up for the extra slices of pie. Our canines aren’t excluded from this yearly phenomenon so this month, we’ll review a few guidelines about canine weight loss to make it easier, healthier and with greater chances of success. Before you attempt helping your dog to lose weight, check with their veterinarian to choose the best diet and to be sure there are no underlying health issues that are contributing to weight gain. 

Obviously your dog’s diet is essential to both losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Choose a diet with above average protein but below average fat and calories. The average protein in dog food is 29% in dry kibble and 40% in canned food, with the average fat calculated at 16% for kibble and 23% in canned food. The average calorie count is 250-350 calories per 8 ounce cup of kibble or 13 ounce can. When shopping for dog food, be sure to pay close attention to the ingredients listed on the label as many times fat and calories are replaced by empty carbohydrates that offer only a temporary sense of satisfaction. 

If you decide to substitute a portion of your pets’ diet with human food, such as green beans, get frozen instead of canned vegetable as canned items often contain too much sodium for it to be considered a healthy option. Cutting back on treats or choosing a smaller healthier treat can make all the difference as well. Remember for dogs, it is the act of getting a treat that matters more than the dependence on treats as a filling part of their diet. Pay attention to chews or rawhides and try to give ones that will last a long time, like bully sticks, providing the chewing satisfaction without the fat content. 

For a canine, the fun part of losing weight is all in the exercise – a natural pastime for any pooch. Like any exercise regimen, start off small and work your way up. Don’t leave the house thinking Fido can jog a mile right off the couch. Start off with relaxing walks and build up the length as you see your dog becoming more comfortable moving around. Swimming is a great exercise for dogs of all ages but especially for older dogs as it is easier on their joints than movement on surfaces such as pavement or that include sudden movements like a game of fetch. 

Exercising with a friend is always more fun and stimulating so if you’re having a hard time getting your pooch to cooperate with complicated yoga moves, try letting him burn some calories with his friends at Urban Tails. For dogs who need a focused approach, sign them up for a group or private swim in our indoor canine pool or have them do a fifteen minute session on our canine treadmill. Many dogs are overweight simply because your house is just not as much fun for them without you in it. This can lead to long naps and decreased activity which is precisely what leads to overweight dogs struggling to keep up when they finally get to the dog park. With a pack of dogs to spend the day with, their focus is on the best kind of canine fun with the best kinds of canines at Urban Tails!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

While most northerners are preparing for the first blanket of snow to start their winter, Houston has been inundated with yet another rainy season with thunderstorms, flash flooding and even tornadoes. Some dogs take this all in stride, jumping in puddles and soaking up the indoor time cuddled under a blanket with their best friend. Other dogs, to put it frankly, freak out. They become anxious: whining, hiding under beds or in closets, pacing back and forth, or acting out by tearing up some part of their environment to deal with their anxiousness. There are, however, techniques to soothing your pooch through Houston’s November weather. 

The first tactic is to keep the dogs in a room or a crate where they are not confronted with the storm through a window or door. The crashing thunder and flashing lighting is less of a trigger if they can’t see the storm and only hear some of the thunder at a volume consistent with other neighborhood noises they are more familiar with. Here at Urban Tails, since we have windows in our day care rooms, we will remove a stressed dog from the day care floor and let them calm down in one of our lofts where the thunder and lightning aren’t as much of a stress factor.  

Another technique is the use of Thundershirts. This is a relatively new product designed specifically for stressed and agitated dogs. Made of t-shirt like material and fitted with flaps that allow it to wrap tightly around your dog, it provides comforting pressure that calms dogs during many kinds of stressful times like storms, traveling, fireworks, and can even help with separation anxiety. While the patent is pending, the product has worked wonders for many dog owners. At Urban Tails, we have Thundershirts set aside for those dogs we know will be anxious while staying with us. 

In severe cases where dogs tear up a door or the flooring of their environment, whether they are crated or not, the veterinarian can save the day with medication to help your pet get through the storm without injuring itself or your home. These medications are more often than not tranquilizers that induce a state of calm restfulness so be sure you are aware of your dogs’ reaction to these as they can impede their abilities of movement. 

Many owners are familiar with what causes their dogs’ stress and will notify us of what behavior to look out for and how they can best be comforted. Sometimes it’s as easy as a soothing voice or comforting cuddle, a distraction like a tennis ball to chase, or a few minutes to themselves. Be sure to speak to your veterinarian about how best to deal with stressful activity that can affect your favorite canine and if Urban Tails can help out in anyway, please let us know! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Halloween Safety tips for your pup!

Halloween Safety for Dogs -
There’re no bones about it, dogs are probably even more adorable than normal when they are dressed for Halloween – preferably in an outfit that compliments their humans’ costumes.  The hilarity hardly ever goes unnoticed and is often the best of the best costumes in the neighborhood. For the purposes of this article, we will assume you and your friend(s) have decided on The Wizard of Oz cast. While it’s a great way to show off your best friend, there are a few things to keep in mind when dressing up your dog and hitting the town in what can only be described as a loosely organized  door-to-door fashion show.
When it comes to dressing your canine up for the big night, keep in mind that dogs need to keep their head free of obstructions so they can see and smell everything that keeps them informed of their environment which is a huge source of comfort but also stress for a dog. Strong adhesives, stifling fabric that raises their body temperature, cumbersome designs that inhibit their movement and color aerosol sprays that are toxic to your friend can cause skin irritation, poisonous or injury. With everything else to keep up with during the holidays, it’s best to stay away from costumes that include any of those characteristics.
While going door to door dressed up in a costume is probably the most fun way ever to network, beware the door you knock on that has not informed its canine that there’s a very strange stranger and an even stranger dog on the very property it has been trained to protect. Now there’s a guy dressed like Dorothy and a dog with a fake mane around its neck on the doorstep. Whichever side of the door you’re on, think carefully about how safe your pet will be when that door opens. An aggressive dog should be contained away from the front door for everyone’s safety. A curious dog should remain curbside till it is clear it is safe to approach a house you’re not sure about.
To be sure, the “treat” part of Trick Or Treat is probably the best part of the night for the canines. While there are plenty of great dog friendly treats, the ones to stay away from are just as plentiful. The obvious things to look out for usually include chocolate, but did you know that grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and onions are poisonous to dogs as well? Often times there is a 24 hour period that follows before the dog shows any symptoms. These symptoms include all the things you’d hate to spend your holidays taking care of and don’t forget - it is NOT fun for Fido either: vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, kidney failure, tremors and other horrible things. Keep your dog safe and research those edible items you’re not sure about to see if they contain any problematic ingredients. When in doubt, call your veterinarian.
Halloween is one of many really wonderful days of the fall season. But unless you’re planning on dressing up every day, treat this as just one of the many fun things to do while the weather is not too hot and not too cold. In Houston, it’s a nice time of the year to catch that vagrant cool breeze on an evening walk or spend those few extra minutes at the park without having to worry about heatstroke. Have FUN this season and be SAFE. If we at Urban Tails can help in any way, let us know!