Dog Blog

Holiday Safety Tips

Posted by Michelle Allen on Fri, Dec 18, 2015 @ 08:34 AM

The Holiday season brings a lot of changes to your dog's normal routine. These changes will have an impact on your dog's behavior, so you want to try your best to keep your dog's schedule as close to normal as possible. Dogs are creatures of habit, and can be very upset by changes to their routine.
There are other things that may have an impact on your dog's health and well-being, so as we get into that crazy mode of holiday shopping and parties, we could all use some little reminders:
  • 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.
Plants to Avoid:
  • 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.
Around the Home:
  • 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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Topics: Dog, Holiday, safety

Does My Dog Need a Heavy Coat for Winter?

Posted by Michelle Allen on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 @ 11:54 AM

A dog’s coat (their own fur) is designed to protect the dog, but if you clip or shave longer-haired canines (like poodles) you’ve altered their body’s natural protection. A light jacket can help compensate. But when temperatures drop into the teens and below, many dogs get cold. If you’re headed out into wintry weather (especially when it's also rainy and wet), an insulated, waterproof jacket is a good idea. Just keep in mind that too high a temperature is more of a risk to your dog's health than too low a temperature; if you have a long-haired dog, he does not need a sweater or a bulky coat. A lightweight waterproof jacket is all you need, and depending on your dog, maybe not even that. (For example, Huskies do not need any sort of additional coat.)
Find a Jacket That:
- Is Made of Thin Fabric
- Is Waterproof or at Least Water-Resistant
- Is Easy to Get On and Off
- Fits Snugly
- Ends at the Base of the Tail
- Leaves his Legs Free (so he can walk, run, and relieve himself) 
- Doesn't Rub and Cause Skin Irritations
Why Not Buy a Heavier Coat?
Technically, dogs are already wearing one coat! Veterinarians actually recommend against bulky dog coats for long-haired, larger breeds because these dogs are naturally predisposed to survive cold temperatures. A heavy coat may actually cause your dog to overheat, as it impedes your dog's ability to regulate their own body temperature. Dogs have actually developed a very effective method of controlling their body temperature. Their own coat protects them from the elements, and is easily adjusted.
What About Thin-Coated Dogs?
Some breeds were never meant for harsh winter climates. And tiny breeds especially may need a little help keeping warm, as they pick up the chill radiating from the frozen ground. Small breeds with very short fur, and lean dogs with very short fur, are less able to deal with winter temperatures. Dogs recovering from an illness/injury may also be more sensitive to cold, as are senior dogs and young puppies. Heat regulation begins to decline with age, so a sweater isn't a bad idea for older dogs. Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, and arthritis affect the skin and joints in ways that warrant the use of a nice warm sweater. Basically, if your dog tends to shiver in the cold, consider a more dense coat or sweater. Just be sure to have several on hand, so that you aren't putting a wet sweater on him...that could be worse than no sweater!
What About Paws?
Don’t forget to protect those paws. Paws can crack, bleed, and even get frostbite. You need to be sure that you clean your dog's paws off every time they come indoors, to keep the salt, ice chips, and melting snow from getting stuck between your dog’s paw pads. Booties can prevent skin irritations and infections on your dog’s sensitive paws, but not all dogs will accept wearing the booties. Always try them out first; preferably allowing the dog to walk around the store wearing them for a minute to be sure they can figure them out.
Don't Forget About the Car
When the weather is very cold — regardless of whether your dog has a sweater or jacket — never leave him in a car. He can freeze to death just as easily as he can die of heatstroke.

Topics: Dog, Coat, Jacket, Hair, Fur, Care

The "Perfect" Thanksgiving

Posted by Michelle Allen on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 07:52 PM

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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!



Click here to learn more about our Boarding Services

Topics: Puppy, Doggie Daycare, Therapy, Chewing, Puppies, Dog, Thanksgiving, boarding

Top 5 Truths for Dogs That Chew Everything In Sight

Posted by Michelle Allen on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 01:02 AM

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.

Topics: Puppy, Chewing, Puppies, Dog, dogs, Chewer