Many people are surprised to hear me (and my staff) say that we do not allow rawhide chews, pig's ears, bully sticks, and other "animal parts" in our facility. Let me explain exactly why we feel so strongly about these types of chews, and particularly rawhide chews.
But let's begin by providing an alternative to these chews, first: Marrow bones are a wonderful alternative to rawhide and animal parts, and they are much better for your dog's teeth and digestive tract!
Rawhides are a Very Serious Choking Hazard
I have personally seen this occur several times with my own dogs, before I banned the use of rawhide in my home. The dog is just gnawing away at his rawhide chew when suddenly...gulp...ack...ack! Dogs enjoy these chews so much that they will often work really hard gnawing at a single piece, until they dislodge it from the bone and then, yep...they actually try to swallow it whole! If you have never seen this happen, it is super scary! You literally have such a short time to dislodge that chew from the back of their throat before the dog either attempts to swallow it down further, or it actually cuts off your dog's airway.
If your dog swallows large enough pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Depending on its size and where it is located, a vet might be able to remove these pieces by going in through the throat. But sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.
- Aggression & Resource Guarding: If the choking hazard wasn't bad enough, giving a rawhide or other animal-based chew to a dog can incite aggression. Whether that aggression comes from the dog chewing the bone who is guarding his resource, or from another dog in some adjacent space, many a scuffle has occurred in multi-dog households because one dog thought he should protect what was his, while his housemate thought he should have all the bones! We have even seen dogs protect their rawhides from a dog across the hall or from he dog'd owner, who provided the chew in the first place...to solve that problem, no more rawhides for that dog...ever!
- Irritation of the Digestive Tract: Some dogs are sensitive, or more likely, allergic to rawhide or other substances used in their manufacture. This can cause some big problems, diarrhea and vomiting among them.
- Chemical Exposure & Contamination: Rawhide chews can contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals. And of course, bacterial contamination is always a risk when dealing with non-human-grade manufacturing.
Did You Know? Humans can be at risk when coming into contact with Salmonella or E. coli contamination bacteria on rawhide treats.
Whenever you see the words, "wash your hands thoroughly after handling these treats. Have young children and family members with immune system problems avoid handling them at all..." you have got to start wondering, "Why on earth would I allow my dog to consume it, if my children are at risk by just touching it?!?"
Now for the gross part...did you know?
Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides.
Now, many of us "dog people" are also "horse people"...and I doubt that many people would agree that horses are food...right? If we haven't convinced you to give them up, and you do choose to give these types of chews to your dog, be sure that you watch your dog closely for signs of a problem. (These symptoms can develop in any dog, no matter how many times he "has never had a problem" with them!)
Contact your veterinarian right away if your dog:
- Is making a gagging noise that doesn't clear up after a couple attempts
- Is repeatedly swallowing or flicking his tongue out as if he is trying to dislodge something in his mouth
- Is vomiting
- Is having multiple episodes of diarrhea
- Is refusing to eat
- Is showing decreased energy levels
- Is developing a temperature
NEVER leave pets behind. It is a federal law that states requesting FEMA assistance MUST provide emergency animal shelters! That means there are no excuses for not evacuating, no matter where you are.
To help you prepare, refer to our 4 STEPS TO PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY WITH PETS:
- Make sure that your Christmas tree is sturdy enough that a curious dog won't be able to knock it over, or pull it down as they grab at branches and bulbs. To your dog, this tree may look like a giant tree full of toys, or a big scary thing to be avoided at all costs. Either way, be mindful of your dog's reaction.
- If your dog is curious, erect a little barrier of sorts, using a folding baby gate or by positioning a long table to block the path.
- Tinsel can lead to an obstruction and possible surgery, it is best avoided.
- Shards of breakable ornaments can damage your dog's mouth and digestive tract, so be sure to keep them out of reach.
- Decorative lights are all powered by wires, which can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock should your dog chew through one of them. Be sure to position them out of reach.
- Make sure that your dog cannot access the tree water. Drinking from this standing water can cause stomach upset, and it's a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Watch that curling ribbon, too, as it can get stuck in your dog's intestines, often necessitating surgery.
- Holly can cause dogs to suffer from nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Mistletoe can cause dogs some tummy upset and cardiovascular problems.
- Poinsettias are toxic for dogs.
- Lighted candles can be knocked over if left on an unstable surface. And watch out for curious noses around low tables!
- Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can cause serious issues with your dog's digestion and be dangerous for smaller dogs.
- Avoid anything sweetened with Xylitol - this is usually found in sugar-free gum and similar products. It is toxic for dogs.
- Be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans, as lots of new and interesting things will be showing up in there!
- Leftovers are best saved for humans, as fatty, spicy foods can cause issues for your dog. Lean un-flavored meat and (especially raw) veggies are usually fine, if you want to share.
- Dogs can digest raw bones, but any type of cooked bones are a big no-no!
- Watch that alcoholic drinks are not left where your dog can get to them.
- Always ask guests to refrain from offering yummy nibbles off their plates; there are a lot of human foods that are not okay for doggies to eat, so a friendly guest may inadvertently cause your dog some serious GI trouble if they slip scraps to him! Sometimes its best to just give your dog his own quiet space to retreat to—especially if crowds make him nervous.
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- Is Easy to Get On and Off
- Leaves his Legs Free (so he can walk, run, and relieve himself)
- Doesn't Rub and Cause Skin Irritations
There are two natural oil supplements that we give our dogs (these can be especially helpful for those with allergies):
- Salmon Oil
- Coconut Oil
Tip: There is no difference between these oils as sold for humans and for dogs; it's just the packaging that is different.
Always work with your veterinarian or animal nutritionist when providing supplements; Always inform your vet of what you are giving your dog, and discuss the proper dosage with them.
We have been using Salmon Oil for years in our own dogs' food. We started using it to help with that flaky skin issue common in many short-haired dogs, as well as to help make their coats nice and shiny. Of course, we researched it thoroughly before we started and learned that Salmon Oil is also a great joint supplement. Plus, it has the added benefit that it supports organ and brain health. I can always tell when a dog is taking Salmon Oil; their coats are absolutely beautiful!
- Orally: Add it to your dog's food.
- Varies, but generally 1,000 mg per 25 pounds of the dog's weight. (Up to 1,000 mg for small dogs.)
What it Does:
- Decreases inflammation, relieves allergic responses throughout the dog's body.
- Salmon Oil has valuable omega-3 fatty acids and provides many benefits for dogs, with virtually no side effects. The omega-3 fatty acids are found in particularly high levels in salmon (as well as other cold water fish).
- Maintains a glossy, healthy coat
- Lubricates the skin
- Strengthens teeth and nails
- Lubricates joints and helps ward off arthritis
- Keeps the heart healthy, as well as other organs
- Keeps the brain functioning sharp in aging dogs
- Slows cancer cell growth
Salmon Oil is recommended for dogs with skin allergies and to help various skin conditions heal faster.
Many commercial dog foods contain salmon meat or added salmon oil, but the omega-3 fatty acids in these foods are at such low levels, that they are nowhere close to what most experts would recommend for maintenance supplementation.
You may want to supplement the capsules or liquid fish oil with cooked salmon or sardines, both of which contain fish oil naturally.
Tip: Sardines are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, so toss one to Fido! Next time you open a can of tuna and start to strain off that juice, save it and drizzle over his food.
We order our Salmon Oil in gallon containers and then pour it into a soap dispenser that we bought strictly for that purpose. The dispenser has a pump, and we dose the dogs' food based on their size; the biggest ones get 2 pumps. (We meausered one pump into a measuring spoon to determine how much one of our pumps was equal to.)
We recently started using Coconut Oil, and I think it really helps our dogs. One of our dogs is older (13 years as a Pittie/Lab Mix) and started having some mobility issues and low protein levels. And one of our other dogs was being operated on to remove a cancerous mass from his leg. These two incidents, which came shortly after another of our dogs passed away at age 17, was what prompted us to look into providing more supplements to our dogs. We decided that we wanted to give them the best possible chance at a strong and healthy body. What we discovered in our research was that all five of our dogs could benefit from these oils, so now they all get them!
- Orally: Add it to your dog's food.
- Topically: Coconut oil can also be used as a topical treatment for skin problems. For example, coconut oil can be used to improves overall skin and hair condition. Applied topically, promotes the healing of hot spots, bites, and stings Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida. It also disinfects scrapes and cuts, promotes wound healing, and clears up warts and moles.
- Start slowly; coconut oil rids the body harmful bacteria, so it can cause symptoms of detox (diarrhea, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms).
- Start with 1/4 teaspoon a day for smaller dogs, one teaspoon a day for larger dogs.
- Increase every few days until you reach the suggested dose. Ultimately, 1 tsp per 10 pounds. (Some sources say 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily, so check with your vet for proper dosage for your dog.)
What it Does:
- Coconut oil has healing properties. It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, plus it can help digestion. It fights the production of yeast, and decreases inflammation. It is well-tolerated by animals and can be used internally or externally. The lauric acid in coconut oil provides many of its benefits. Coconut oil is a saturated fat, made up of a medium chain of fatty acids, and contains lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. The lauric acid is responsible for many of the oil's health benefits.
- Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents that prevent infection and disease
- Improves overall health and speeds healing, Fights infections
- Conditions and makes coats become sleek and glossy
- Deodorizes doggy odor
- Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
- Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs
- Helps with joint inflammation
- Protects against skin cancer, Reduces age spots
- Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
- Helps overweight dogs lose weight; Helps sedentary dogs feel energetic
- Protects from illness; Helps prevent or control diabetes, Balances the thyroid, Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis; Clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis,and itchy skin, Regulates and balance insulin and promotes normal thyroid function, Prevents osteoporosis, Helps to manage diabetes.
- Aids in arthritis or ligament problems
Look for unrefined or virgin coconut oil. Highest quality is organic extra virgin coconut oil, which has been cold pressed.
We purchase our coconut oil from Amazon in bulk, and then we spoon out the solid into a tiny glass bowl, and set that bowl in the sink in hot water to melt it. (We just put the stopper in the sink, fill the hot water to just below the bowl's edge, and start preparing their food. By the time we are ready to add the oil, it's already melted.) Once the oil becomes a liquid again, we use the measuring spoon to distribute it to the food. Any un-used oil simply hardens again for the next time.
If you would like to give salmon oil or coconut oil a try, let us know! We can add yours to our next order.
You've spent a lot of time planning your perfect Thanksgiving meal. You've done your shopping, you've decorated, and now you wake up early to put the finishing touches on your family's Thanksgiving Day table. Your guests will be arriving soon, and as you check the turkey and hurry to get everything just right before the doorbell rings, you realize that Fido never got his morning walk. No worries, you can just put him out in the yard for a few minutes and let him get some energy out before everyone arrives, right? Well, Fido has other plans. He's very interested in what you've got going on in that kitchen; it smells so yummy!
Fido just stands at the back door, scratching and barking, as if to say, "Hey, I don't want to be out here alone, could I just come in and get some samples?!?"
As you close the back door after letting him in from that unsuccessful potty break, you hear the doorbell. Fido is already there, wagging away, and barking hello. You open the front door to invite your brother and his family inside, and Fido jumps up to welcome your sister-in-law with a big wet kiss. She smiles and says, "Oh, it's fine," as you apologize...but then you notice that nice brown paw print on her pretty new skirt.
The kids have arrived, and Fido is keeping them busy by chasing them around the living room and under the table. Oops! Someone knocked the table, and that beautiful vase almost spilled all over your perfectly-set table!
Okay, so maybe this is a little too much excitement and activity for Fido. Time to take him upstairs. You can just crate him while your company is here, and he'll be fine, right?
Guess again. About 10 minutes into dinner, Fido starts barking upstairs. (Sounds like someone finally decided that he needs to go potty.) You excuse yourself from the table, and run up to get Fido and take him outside. He makes a pit stop at the table, hoping that your guests will take pity on him, and offer him a slice of that yummy turkey!
You finally get him outside and sit back down to your guests...and that's when it hits you...why didn't you just take Fido to Gemini Dogs for the day? You were up early, you sent your hubby out to grab that last-minute item at the store; he could have just dropped him off on the way.
Fido could be playing with his buddies right now, romping around and having the time of his life. Instead, he has been relegated to the back yard (or to his crate), and you are constantly being interrupted while you try to balance your guests' needs and your dog's needs. And now you feel guilty for not thinking of this solution sooner...
But wait! The good news is, none of this has even happened yet! Fido (and you) will be much happier if he spends the day with us at Gemini Dogs, so let's make that reservation now.
Gemini Dogs is open every day of the year (weekends and holidays included) from 6am-10pm. Current family members can make an express reservation online, call us at 978-486-9922, or even just drop in on Thanksgiving morning, if you can't decide yet! If you are new to Gemini Dogs, don't worry, you still have time to register! Just apply for overnight boarding online.
Let us entertain Fido so that you are free to entertain your guests...
And don't worry, our Thanksgiving guests get a little turkey dinner, too!
Destructive chewing is one of the most common complaints among dog owners. It can be a frustrating problem - and an expensive one. Chewing is not bad. It is a normal and necessary activity for a dog. Chewing only becomes a problem when your dog chews things you don't want him to chew. This information is designed to help you understand why your dog is being destructive and to offer you some avenues toward a solution.
1. Your Dog Did Not Eat the Couch Because He’s Mad at You!
Your dog may chew for any number of reasons, but among them is not anger, spite, or hatred. Dogs do not act out of spite. Here are some possible reasons for your dog's demolition of your couch, floor, favorite shoes, or whatever:
- Boredom - One of the ways dogs relieve boredom is by chewing. They will chew whatever is available to them or what they enjoy most. Think of how much fun it must be to rip the stuffing out of a couch and watch it fly all over the living room!
- Fun - No explanation necessary…
- Tension - Dogs, unlike people, don't keep tension bottled up. They release it, usually by chewing. If departure upsets your dog, for instance, he may chew the kitchen table leg to relieve his anxiety.
- Lack of Exercise - All dogs need exercise and some need more than others. If your dog does not get enough exercise, he may use chewing as an outlet for his pent-up energy.
- Poor Diet or Hunger Tension - Dogs not getting proper nutrition or who are sensitive to food additives may exhibit any number of behavior problems, like chewing.
- Teething - When puppies lose their milk teeth (baby teeth), they need to chew on things much the way human babies do when they cut teeth. After the adult teeth are all in, when your pup is about 6 months old, they will begin to set in the jaw. At this time, puppies need to chew more than ever. If your puppy is between 6-10 months old and is left in an empty room, he will chew the walls and floor because he has to chew.
2. It is Possible That Your Dog Has Too Many Toys
If your dog has many chew toys on the floor it will be harder for him to differentiate between what's his and what's yours. It all looks like fair game to him. If, however, he has just one or two toys, it is much easier to teach him the difference. When he is better trained you may wish to add a couple more. It is also a good idea to reserve one favorite toy that your dog only gets when you are gone. It will become a special treat that will occupy more of his time than his ordinary, everyday toys.
3. Your Dog Does Not, In Fact, Know He's Done Wrong
Dogs don't have morals and don't know right from wrong. When your dog looks "guilty" he is actually saying, in dog language, that he is submissive and/or scared. He is in effect saying, "I respect you and don't want you to hurt me." Let's consider what leads up to that guilty look: You leave for work and for some reason, perhaps boredom, your dog begins to chew a shoe you forgot to put away. It feels good on his gums and the leather tastes especially nice. He flips it in the air a few times for laughs. Eventually, he loses interest and takes a nap. A few hours later you come home. Your dog is happy to see you and you him - until you find the rest of what used to be your shoe. So you yell and maybe even hit him as you show him the chewed shoe. On another day you leave for work and your dog discovers how fun it is to rip the stuffing out of the couch cushions. He has a real blast scattering that puffy white stuff all over the living room. Some time later you arrive home to find this mess and again let your dog know how unhappy you are. Notice a pattern? Your dog has. He knows that he has a great time when he chews up your things and that he has a really bad time when you come home. Your dog has not learned that chewing is bad. He has fun when he chews. What he has learned is that your homecoming is very unpleasant. So now after a great day's chewing, when he hears you drive into the driveway, he gets scared and submissive and looks "guilty.” He reacts this way because he knows he's in for it when you walk in the door, not because he knows he has done something wrong. To teach your dog not to chew something, you need to catch him in the act or before. When he so much as looks at your shoe or the couch or whatever, utter a sharp, bark-like sound and/or clap your hands to startle your dog and interrupt his actions. Then give him something else to do like chew on his own toy, come to you, or sit on command. Punishing him after the fact will do nothing more than confuse him and damage your relationship with him.
4. Your Dog May Only Chew Things When You Are Not There to Catch Him
When you are away from home or are too busy to watch your dog, confine him in a place where he can't get into trouble. For some dogs, this can be a small room. For many, this means a dog crate. When confined, your dog will be safe and will not be able to get into anything he shouldn't. When you confine him, make sure he has fresh water and a safe chew toy. A stuffed kong is great for confinement. When you come home at the end of the day it will be with the comfort of knowing that your house is in one piece and you and your dog will both be happy to see each other. If your dog has already developed a habit of chewing your things, you may need to crate him for a long time before the habit is broken. When you begin to give him more freedom, do so gradually to help prevent setbacks. If you have a puppy, plan to crate him until he is at least one year old to get through the worst of the teething periods.
It will also be helpful to your dog if you make your departure and homecoming low-key and uneventful. If you get your dog excited just before you leave, he will be more anxious about your going. The same holds true for your return. If your greeting is a very excited one, your dog will begin to get revved up around the time you usually get home. If you are late, your dog will need to do something to relieve his anxiety and pent-up energy. He will chew. Similarly, if you always feed your dog or take him out to relieve himself immediately upon arriving home, your dog will learn to get excited around the time you are due back. Get your dog used to the pattern that your homecoming means a quiet "hello" and a pat on the head, and that going out and eating have no connection with your return. Let your dog out 10-15 minutes after you arrive (with the exception of a young pup who has been confined for an extended period of time) and feed him 30 minutes to an hour after that.
5. Exercise Can be the Solution
Give your dog lots of physical and mental exercise to provide him with constructive ways to release his energy. Along with 1-2 hours of physical exercise a day; give your dog a mental workout in the form of training. Training gives your dog a job to do and you will strengthen your relationship with him by establishing clear (and fun) communication. Feed your dog a high quality, naturally formulated dog food to ensure that your dog is not being destructive because of a nutritional imbalance or sensitivity to additives in his diet. Feed adult dogs twice a day and young puppies 3-4 times. Give your dog every chance to behave his very best.
Daycare may be another good option for your dog. At a good daycare they will be active for part of the day and have nap breaks in between their play sessions. If you cannot afford daycare every day even a day or two a week can make a big difference. Note: Gemini Dogs Doggie Daycare is open every day of the year from 6:00am to 10:00pm, and pricing can be as low as $20 per day with a package plan.
By trying to understand your dog and his behavior and by following a common sense approach, you'll be well on your way to having a dog that is a joy to live with, a couch (and carpet and walls and shoes) that is intact, and a lifetime of friendship with your dog.