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Ask Gemini Dogs: Antifreeze Poisoning

 
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My dog was licking a spot of antifreeze that spilled on the ground; should I be worried?

Yes, VERY! If you have any inkling of a thought that your dog may have ingested even a small amount of antifreeze, call your vet immediately. Grab some hydrogen peroxide, too. If the vet is more than a few minutes away, you will likely need to induce vomiting right now. 
Let me tell you about Smokey's story. This goes way back to when I was married to John. We had just recently brought home a new addition, Smokey the Golden Retriever. Smokey was a curious pup, and one day John came inside from the yard and casually said, "I think Smokey might have licked up some antifreeze. Is that bad?" I almost had a heart attack right there. Yes, indeed, he had. John had stored the bottle inside an enclosed area of the yard with some gardening tools and supplies, and Smokey decided to hop the fence and grab hold of the bottle, puncturing it, and carry it around for a bit, prancing happily.
I immediately ran for the hydrogen peroxide, because thankfully I knew that the best thing we could do was to make Smokey throw up right away, and start the drive to the emergency vet. We mixed the peroxide with an equal amount of milk, and it went down the hatch. Nothing happened at first, so we prepared to leave and gave him another dose. Thankfully that one did the trick, and he starting puking. That was probably the only time I've ever said, "Oh awesome, he's getting sick!" We drove furiously to the vet, wondering how stupid it was that we would leave that poison in a spot that was so accessible to a determined dog.
When we got Smokey to the vet, they whisked him away, shoved charcoal down his throat to absorb as much of it as possible, and desperately tried to flush his system with fluids to help get the poison out. They finally came back into the exam room and told us that we should prepare ourselves, because he might not make it. I was shocked and so upset...he was our new puppy and they were telling us that he might not live! And what was worse was that when they brought him in to say what could be a final goodbye, his tail was just wagging away and he was prancing around like nothing was wrong! Antifreeze poisoning gives dogs the appearance of being "drunk" and that was what we were seeing then.
We were so lucky...we saved our puppy with some quick action and a good vet, and thank the stars that I had known about how poisonous antifreeze is for dogs. Now, where is your antifreeze? Is it in a safe location, where an industrious dog cannot reach it? Consider that dogs can jump fences and dig under things, and knock over boxes, and make sure that yours is stored in a place where it is completely inaccessible. Do not store it in the back of your SUV and then put your dog in there with it! Antifreeze is sweet and smells good and dogs seek it out. Better yet, use antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol
And be sure to watch out for it on your walks. People often spill a little when filling their cars, and it lands on the ground in a little puddle. Tiny dogs could lick that up and it could be fatal. Keep your eye out and watch for bottles of antifreeze and try to educate people about the extreme danger of leaving even a trace of it where a dog might get to it. (All the more reason for dogs not to be roaming the neighborhood!)

Ask Gemini Dogs: Paw Care

 
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Q. My dog keeps lifting up his paws when I take him outside in the snow. It's like he is trying to balance on one paw. Why does he do that?

A. Dogs' paw pads are very sensitive to the cold. Imagine if you walked through the snow without shoes and socks on!  Wintertime can wreak havoc on a dog's paws. Some breeds are meant to be outdoors in the winter, but most are not.
The salt that is often used to melt ice and snow from human driveways and walkways can be very irritating to a dog's paws. In fact, extended contact with chemical de-icers can cause chemical burns on your dog's sensitive paw pads. The first step is to get him off the cleared pavement and onto the snow-covered grassy area. Use Safe Paw on your property; it has been formulated specifically for the safety of your dog's paws. (That's what we use at Gemini Dogs.)
When your dog is limping around or licking and biting at his paws because he has snow lodged between his paw pads, he can be ingesting salty snow, too. This salty snow can cause digestive discomfort and drooling.
And we've all seen the clumps of ice that often surround a long-haired dog's paws after they've tromped through the snow.
To help keep the ice balls from forming between your dog's toes:
1. Clip the long hairs that extend between the pads of the toes. (Be careful not to cut the paw pads in the process; take your dog to the groomer if you don't have experience clipping a dog's fur.)
2. Use a warm washcloth to wipe your dog's paws when he comes inside. Even better, set up a warm bowl of water that you can dunk his paws into when he comes inside; that will melt the ice and snow in no time!)
3. Consider some booties (like MuttLuks) for your pup. Beware though; Some dogs absolutely refuse to keep the booties on...so before you invest in them, be sure your dog will tolerate them. Take your dog to the pet store and try some booties on, or experiment with toddler socks first. 
Oh, and many of us humans notice that we get more dry skin in the wintertime...well, don't forget about your dog's dry skin! You can also prevent drying and cracking of dog paw pads by using Mushers Secret; apply a thin layer to paw pads daily in winter. (Bag Balm is another option, available in most pharmacies.)
Winter temperatures can be harsh on your doggie, too; try to keep your dog inside other than some quick potty breaks or some snowman destroying. Dogs are also at risk for frostbite on paws, ears, tails and they are susceptible to hypothermia. Short romps in the snow are fine; they will be happy to cozy up by the fire with you, rather than being left out in the back yard alone. That is, unless you have a dog bred for the cold. Huskies will love lounging in the snow, as they often demonstrate to us in daycare!
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Using Natural Oils for Optimum Dog Health

 

SkyThere 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.


Salmon Oil

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!

Method:

  • Orally: Add it to your dog's food.

Dosage:

  • 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.

Benefits:

  • 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.)

Coconut Oil
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!

Method:

  • 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. 

Dosage:

  • 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.

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.

The "Perfect" Thanksgiving

 


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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!

Woof!

 

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Top 5 Truths for Dogs That Chew Everything In Sight

 

dog chewing shoe resized 600Destructive 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.

Doggie Quote of the Day

 
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How true...

4 Ways to Curb Your Dog's Urge to Dig

 

Dog Burying Toy

Has your dog ever buried his bones, or even his favorite  toys, in your backyard? Well, if he has, hopefully he doesn't make it a habit to dig them up and bring the dirty mess back in your house!

What Makes My Dog Want to Bury Stuff?

The short answer is that it's an instinct. You see, ancient dogs survived on anything that they could scavenge or hunt. If they managed to get ahold of more than they could eat in a single meal, they had to come up with a way to make sure that the excess would still be available when they became hungry again. Dogs protected their leftover food by burying it. The dirt helped keep their food fresher longer by protecting it from sunlight. In addition, the temperature in the ground was cooler than in the air, so burying food helped it to stay fresh for longer. It also protected the food from flies, and prevented other animals from stealing it. When the dog was hungry again, he would return to his hidden cache and dig up his leftovers. 

Today, dogs are given their food in portions, so they no longer need to save any for a later meal. However, many of them still have the instinct to bury "extras" in a secluded spot for later. Essentially, your dog is just following an ancestral urge. So even though you feed your dog every day, you can’t take that "save it for later" mentality out of him. The same goes for those toys, and sometimes some other household items like the TV remote.

What Can I Do About It?

So what do you do if your dog is the burying kind? If the burying urge becomes a problem for your pooch, remember that dogs tend to bury extras. Try these tips:

  • Make your dog's favorite digging spots less attractive. You could try covering the spot with chicken wire or something that is not so paw-friendly.
  • Try offering your dog a less-destructive option: Show him how he can bury his favorite toy under a blanket, or create a sandbox for his burying enjoyment.
  • Pick up most of your doggie's play things and limit your dog's access to one bone and one toy at a time.
  • Vary the type of dog bones and toys from time-to-time; this will help to keep him interested.

Limit the quantity of extras and provide some variety for your doggie, and you may just lessen his motivation to take those items out to the backyard and treat them like a buried treasure!

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How Well Do Dogs Hear?

 

Gemini Dogs How Well Do Dogs Hear resized 600A dog’s sense of hearing is up to 10 times more efficient than the average human’s.

Dogs can also hear a much greater frequency range than humans can detect.

Why? Eighteen or more muscles can tilt, rotate, and raise or lower a dog’s ear.

Dogs have specialized ear shapes that allow them to ascertain where a sound comes from much faster than a human can, and to hear sounds that come from up to four times the distance that humans are able to hear. 

How Good Is a Dog's Sense of Smell?

 

What's that I smell?So, have you ever noticed your dog intently sniffing the air, and you're just looking at him thinking, "What the heck are you doing? There isn't anything there." We can't smell what they smell, because dogs actually have almost 50 times more cells that are sensitive to smell than us humans have! Your dog has such a superior sense of smell that he can actually detect odors up to a million times less concentrated than a human can detect.

And a rather interesting tidbit is that a dog's sense of smell is at its greatest when he is moving. Maybe that is why so many dogs love to hang their heads out of car windows...they are literally taking in the scenery with their noses! (Be aware though, that dogs who hang their heads out of car windows are at significant risk of injury from airborne debris.)

It's good to know why they like to stick their heads out there, but that doesn't mean that we have to allow them to do it. The safest place for your dog when traveling is always in a crate. But we'll get to that another time...

How Cute Is This?

 

My Cookie!

That just says it all...

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