Wednesday, June 21, 2017

6 Causes of Excessive Barking

Barking in addition to whining, howling and growling is a dog’s natural way of communicating. It can be characterised as a series of short, sharp sounds that tend to vary little in pitch. Barking being a natural trait is not considered a problem – until it becomes excessive that is. 

These six causes should help you understand why your dog may be a frequent barker.

happy dog


1. Attention 


If you find your dog barking for attention, you’re not alone. Attention can be one of the biggest reasons why your dog has decided to become a barking extraordinaire.

 This idea of attention barking is often seen as a cause and effect chain. “If I do this, I get that” is how your dog may think of it. For example, if they bark you come running over yelling or telling them to stop, giving them your undivided attention. It isn’t important to your dog WHAT you are saying, just that you’ve stopped what you were previously doing to come over. 

You have to remember that negative attention is still attention. 

Sitting dog



2. Boredom 


Dogs are active animals that need both physical and mental stimulation; some working breeds need it more than others. Two common solutions to ‘fix’ a bored dog is to buy tons of toys and let them out in the yard. Unfortunately even though they are both great solutions, without some training and interaction doing the above just won’t be enough. 

Dogs need to be motivated to run/play with toys, they won’t do it on their own for extended periods of time. 

bored dog


3. Fear 


Almost all dogs are afraid of something, whether it is the postman or the neighbour’s cat, and it’s almost never a problem. Sometimes however, your dog can be afraid of something they encounter daily and barking is how they deal with it. 

Animals have three biological mechanisms to deal with threats: 

Fight: May start with mild aggressive dog behaviour like barking and escalate to growling, snapping and biting.
Flight: The dog will try to escape and put as much distance as possible between them and the frightening subject/object.
Freeze: The dog will stay as still as possible in hopes whatever the threat may be, won’t see them.  

A majority of dogs don’t like to fight however if they feel trapped, like on a lead, they will go into ‘fight’ mode and start barking. This can scare other dogs away which will teach the scared dog that barking will keep them safe – continuing to do so when frightened. 

scared dog


4. Territorial 


Excessive barking may be in response to people, other dogs or other animals within or approaching their territory. 

This can include your house, surrounding areas and eventually anywhere you dog has explored or associates with you (i.e. your car & their walking route). Dogs can be territorial because they are more often than not bred to protect, however at times it may be an issue of training or learned behaviour. 

territorial dog


5. Excitement 


Dogs, much like people, tend to verbalise their emotions of excitement a lot. For example they may bark when playful and excited or when they anticipate excitement such as being given a treat. 

Excited barking can often be caused when coming in contact with other dogs, especially if the dog has limited opportunity to play with or see other dogs.  Sometimes, owners may also mistake excitement barking as aggression therefore not dealing with it correctly.

excited dog


6. Underlying Health Issues


Less common but still an issue, dogs can find themselves barking excessively if they are in pain or discomfort.  If a dog is faced with a health issue the only way for them to communicate is through barking.

sick dog


Hopefully these explanations help you pinpoint the real reason you pup may be barking all the time!

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Take Your Dog to Work Day - 23rd of June 2017

Take Your Dog to Work Day (TYDTWD) will take place all around the world on Friday the 23rd of June 2017.

TYDTWD was created to celebrate the companionship dogs provide and, and just as importantly,- to encourage adoptions from rescue groups and local shelters.

On this special day, employers are asked to open their businesses to pet dogs to promote the benefits of pet ownership and encourage the adoption of animals.

Are you going to participate and take your dog to work on June 23rd? Here's why we think you should.

There are  a number of physical and mental health benefits associated with bringing your canine companion to your work.

Yep, that's right. Both workers and dogs in an office environment can be a very positive experience. However there are a few guidelines that should be followed before allowing your pooch to join you at work.

Here are some tips for the special day, three key benefits taking your dog to work can bring you, as well as how you can work on convincing your boss.


girl and dog at desk


Before Taking Your Dog Work


  • Ensure you check with the entire office that it is appropriate to bring your dog into your workplace and that it will not affect the health and well-being of your fellow co-workers. 

  • Unfortunately, some work environments may not be safe or fitting for dogs. If this is the case you could plan an alternate celebration with your co-workers such as a meet up at the park. 


  • Make sure your dog has been micro chipped, wears an ID tag and is up to date with all needed vaccinations.


  • Your dog should only enter the workplace if they have been well socialised with other dogs and people and do not have aggressive tendencies. 


    man holding dog showing girl



    In the Workplace


    • Take your dog’s favourite things with you, including their bed, blanket, toys, food and water. This will help them to feel comfortable in the new environment and preoccupied while you are working. However, keep an eye on their belongings to ensure they don’t become a tripping hazard.

    • Dogs should stay at the work area of their owner, or if needed, another chosen persons’ work area. Depending on the behaviour of the specific dog, they may also need to be tied on a leash to their designated area for the day. This will ensure they can’t go wandering off to possible unsafe or unsuitable areas.

    • When you first arrive at work with your pooch, ensure you allow some time for them to meet and greet with other dogs and your co-workers. 

    • Allow breaks in the day to take your dog to the toilet and on small walks.

    • Be prepared to clean up after your dog. Accidents may occur in new environments due to excitement and from being confused. This can be minimised with frequent toilet breaks; however, accidents may still occur and if they do, ensure you do not punish your pooch.

    • Keep your dog out of kitchen areas. If they do happen to enter the area, have treats on hand and lour them back, rewarding them when they come to you.

    • Reward your dog for their calm behaviour in the office. They will more likely continue to behave if they are rewarded for their behaviour. 


      woman and dog at computer


      3 Key Benefits of Taking Your Dog to Work


      1. They can keep you active

      Dogs in the office increase opportunities for exercise, giving dog owners an excuse to get out of the office take a walk. 

      It has been proven by research that remaining seated for long periods of time is bad for your health and can be linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even premature death.

      It has been discovered that most adults spend more than seven hours per day sitting or lying. Therefore, taking regular breaks away from your work station is a very important part of your day.

      This is where your dog comes in handy. They are a constant reminder for you to get up, stretch and to take a break from your screen.



      2. They can reduce stress

      If you frequently find yourself in need of a mental breather in the office then you may just need you dog.

      Petting or playing with an animal can boost levels of the stress-reducing hormone (oxytocin) and reduce production of the stress hormone (cortisol).

      A study conducted on workplace health management discovered that access to dogs creates a calming influence and reduces the levels of stress. This included a person having access to their own dog or another person’s dog.



      3. They Can Improve Job Satisfaction

      A study conducted at the Virginian Commonwealth University focused on a manufacturing company that allowed their employees to bring their pets to work. 

      Lead author of the study, Randolph Barker praised dogs for their positive impact on the workplace which they found boosted confidence and the performance of employees.

      He compared the differences of stress between days when a dog was and wasn’t at the workplace, discovering that there was a significant difference with the majority of employees being much more satisfied with their jobs on day dogs were present. 

      Taking your dog into the workplace isn’t just benefiting you – it’s also benefiting your pooch! Their day at work will assist in developing their confidence in public and social interactions and exercise them mentally, which is equal of importance to physical exercise.

      Everyone’s a winner!



      woman and dog at desk



      Convincing the Boss


      If your boss is sitting on the fence about letting you and your employees bring your dogs to work for the day consider sliding these points into conversation.


      • The background and purpose of bring your dog to work day
        Remember that bringing your dog to work day is all for a good cause, promoting the adoption of dogs from shelters and to thank your pooch for their companionship.

      • Benefits of dogs in the workplace
        Dogs in the workplace can bring so many physical and mental benefits to you and employees.

      • Media attention for the company
        Each year, media outlets from across the United States and abroad contact Pet Sitters International, creator of Take Your Dog To Work Day®, to request to be connected with participating businesses. If your company will be allowing dogs at work on Take Your Dog To Work Day (or anytime during Take Your Pet To Work Week™, June 19-23) and you would like the media notified about your participation, complete this form.

      • Let them read this article
        This article contains everything you need to know about bringing your dog to work day and what the point of it is.


        dog in meeting room

        So remember to save the date and bring your pooch to work on Friday the 23rd of June!

        Wednesday, May 24, 2017

        Could Your Pet’s Belongings Be Making the Whole Family Sick?

        While you won’t catch a cold or a cough from your pet (or give them one for that matter), you may just be in for some other kind of troubles.

        Keep in mind that the overall health benefits a fur-friend can bring to the family, certainly outweigh the bad.  

        But the question here is: Could your pet’s belongings be making the whole family sick?

        From slobber covered dog toys, to dirty food bowls, and smelly dog beds – sounds kind of gross when you put it that way.

        And in fact, some pet belongings are among the dirtiest items in your house, unless you have a soiled nappy lying around somewhere…

        What’s worse is that neglecting to clean or replace pet products can result in a home filled with dirt, bacteria, allergens and parasites. 

        So, if you’d like to learn how often you should clean your pet’s things, how they could make your family sick, and also when it’s time to throw things away, then keep on reading.  

        dog in house

        Bowls & Feeding Accessories


        How often do you clean your pet’s food bowl? After every meal? Once a week? Once a month? Never?

        According to a study by the National Safety Federations (NSF), pet bowls are one of the germiest items in your home!

        Dirty food bowls that have been left out can attract all sorts or rodents that could put your pet and family at risk, plus they also build up with nasty bacteria that can really upset your pet’s tummy. 

        To stop this from happening, it's best to wash your pet’s food bowl and water bowl daily with hot water and mild dish soap.

        And if the bowls are dishwasher safe, simply toss them in.

        During times when your pet’s bowls are being cleaned, it may be useful to have an extra food bowl and water dish on hand.

        Additionally, be sure to replace dishes and bowls if they are cracked, chipped, or scratched. This is not only a safety hazard, but also runs the risk of bacteria and grime building up in the crevasses. 

        dogs eating

        Beds & Blankets


        Now for bedding, think about it, would you like to sleep in a dirty, smelly, damp place?

        Probably not, and neither does your fur-friends.

        Your pet’s bedding should be washed and aired at least one a week, as this rids all of the bacteria and allergens your dogs and cats bring in, plus gives your pet a nice clean and cosy place to rest. 

        Cleaning you pet’s bed and blankets on a regular basis will also minimize odours and help to keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy, and cleaner for longer.

        Wash your pet’s bedding with a mild, perfume-free detergent using the hottest recommended water temperature (in a load separate from your own clothing).

        And if you notice any tears or other damage on their bedding, such as loose stuffing, this makes for a perfect breeding ground for fleas and other parasites, so it’s recommended to replace these items completely. 

        dog on bed

        Toys


        Along with food bowls, pet toys are also among the top 10 germiest things in your home.

        Your dog’s favourite squeaky toy can be a source of coliform bacteria (including Staph bacteria), yeast, and mold. Ew!

        So be careful if you have young children around who like to put things in their mouths, as sharing Fido’s chew bone probably isn’t the best idea.

        And if you or your family is handling your pet’s toys, ensure everyone remembers to wash their hands afterwards. 

        This may seem very cautious, but pets can transmit a range of ‘zoonotic’ or animal-to-human diseases, especially if their parasite protection is not up to date. For a wide range of discount pet parasite protection products and pet supplies, visit http://www.vetshopmax.com/

        To also help avoid germs spreading, rubber toys can be placed in the top shelf of the dishwasher to be cleaned. Alternatively, you can hand wash toys with hot water and mild dish soap or vinegar, or simply toss them in the washing machine on the sanitizing cycle.

        Make sure you rotate your pet’s toys regularly, and throw away any toys that are ripped or have stuffing or squeakers that are starting to come out.

        Also, be aware that rubber toys that have been chewed to the point of having sharp edges should also be thrown away, as they could injure your pet’s mouth and stomach.

        dog with ball

        If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter located in the footer of our home page, or visit www.vetshopmax.com/Pet-Health.



        Wednesday, April 26, 2017

        How to Take the Perfect Photo of Your Pet in 5 Simple Steps

        Can we all agree that taking the perfect picture of your pet is not as easy as it seems?

        Charlie sit, stay, look at me, *clicks fingers for pets attention* argh!

        Taking a good photo of your pet can be tricky; as most are not natural born posers… 

        Not to worry, our 5-step guide to taking the perfect picture of your pet will help you capture that Kodak moment!



        Step One: Work with Your Pet’s Personality


        Some dogs are gentle, slow moving and calm; while others jump, lick and run laps of the yard. 

        Think about what makes your pet unique and work with these qualities. 

        For example, photograph your playful pooch during a game of fetch, or your cat that enjoys snoozing for hours, on a cosy blanket next to the fireplace. 

        Try to avoid encouraging your pet into unnatural situations; as showing their true personality always looks best.



        Step Two: Ensure a Relaxed Atmosphere


        Getting your pet to pose in a studio is not only difficult, but they probably won’t enjoy it either. 

        In fact, most pets are more likely to relax and be their best selves in a familiar environment; at home, in the garden, or even the beach. 

        Try make your little photo shoot fun for everyone, and ensure there is plenty of interaction and breaks. 



        Step Three: Work With Natural Lighting


        For the most desirable lighting, try photographing your pet during the day and preferably outside. 

        Also avoid using a flash, as this will not look as effective and can also frighten your pet. 

        In additional to good lighting, you also want to consider the surroundings. 

        An adventurous dog against the backdrop of a crystal clear beach makes for a pretty amazing shot.



        Step Four: Get On Your Pet’s Level


        Our best tip to you, is to get on your pet’s level. 

        Kneeling down when photographing animals really does make a huge difference. 

        Photos taken from a low camera angle will help make your pet the central focus in the final image.

        Aim for the eyes and you’ll capture your pet’s unique personality. 

        And if your pet is acting calm or a little sleepy, this is a great chance to get up close and personal. 

        Most importantly, experiment! Try a close-up portrait or a fun action shot.

        Another great tip is to take your photos with your subject off-centre, and have something interesting in the background.

        Not only will this look nicely balanced, but your friends will think you’re a pro!



        Step 5: The Winning Shot


        Keep things simple, stay relaxed, and just have fun with it!

        Encourage plenty of action by having a selection of toys and treats on standby. This will allow for a range of different shots.

        And most importantly, aim to harness your pet’s natural spontaneity and instinct. Your dog might suddenly do something funny, so be alert and ready to capture the moment. 

        Overall, your little photo shoot most likely won’t turn out quite as you imagined, but you’ll soon see that this makes for some super cute photos, and some memorable moments shared with your best friend.

        Happy snapping!


        We’d love to see your pets and our tips put to use! Share your perfect pet photos on our Facebook page

        Monday, March 27, 2017

        Everything you Need to Know if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

        As most pet owners are aware, chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs.

        If your dog does consume chocolate, depending on the type, amount consumed, and your dog’s weight, could make for a serious medical emergency.

        That being said, no matter how much your dog has eaten, there is no need to panic.

        Learn why chocolate is so toxic to dogs, the signs of chocolate poisoning, and what steps you should take if your fur-friend gets their paws on your Hershey's chocolate block.

        Sad dog with chocolate

        Why Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs


        Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs.

        The risk of your dog becoming sick if they eat chocolate all comes down to the type and amount of chocolate, and also the weight of your dog.

        Basically, a big dog such as a Lab is going to be able to tolerate a lot more than a small dog such as a Pug.

        However, even the smallest amount of dark chocolate can be lethal to any sized dog.

        A general rule to follow is the darker chocolate, the greater the risk.

        To help you understand better, here is a list of common types of chocolate in the order of theobromine content and greatest risk of toxicity.

        1. Straight cocoa powder
        2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
        3. Dark Chocolate
        4. Milk Chocolate
        5. White Chocolate

        To calculate the expected toxicity level in your dog if they have eaten chocolate, use the helpful guide below:


        Signs Your Dog Has Chocolate Poisoning


        The greatest risk about chocolate toxicity, is that the signs of poisoning usually don’t appear until 6-12 hours after they have eaten it. And at this point, can make it very expensive and difficult to treat.

        That is why it’s SO important to keep any chocolate in your home out of your dog’s reach – especially when you’re not home.

        In the unfortunate case that your dog steals your Hershey's block off the coffee table, in the midst of an epic battle between Harry and Voldemort during your Harry Potter movie marathon. And you only notice right after Harry finally defeats the Dark Lord. Although not ideal pooch has just devoured half the block, at least you’re able to act quickly and give your pet the best chance of survival.

        In the unlikely event that you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate while you weren’t home, look for the following signs:

        • Vomiting
        • Diarrhea
        • Restlessness
        • Increase urination
        • Tremors
        • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
        • Seizures
        • Collapse or death

        Sick dog

        What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate


        Regardless of how much your dog as eaten, or the type of chocolate, you should ALWAYS call your veterinarian immediately.

        That way you can explain to the vet your exact circumstances, and from there they will be able to recommend to you the steps you need to take for your individual situation.

        If your dog has only eaten a few squares of milk chocolate, they might just recommend that you monitor your dog for the next few hours, and call back if you notice any changes in their behavior.

        If your vet is concerned or you are worried for your dog, they will likely get you to bring your pet in and they will induce vomiting and possibly give them a few doses of activated charcoal. This works to move the toxins out of the body, without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

        And for more severe cases, your vet may provide supplemental treatment, such as medications or IV fluids, to resolve the effects of the poisoning, and may need to monitor your pet at the clinic overnight.


        Vet and dog

        Overall, if your dog does eat chocolate the most important thing to remember is not to panic.

        Remain calm and ensure your dog is comfortable first and foremost, before taking any further steps.

        And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your vet and they will happily guide you through.

        If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter in the footer of our homepage, or visit www.vetshopmax.com/Pet-Health.

        Sunday, March 19, 2017

        Six Tips for a Stress-Free Move with a Cat

        Moving house is generally a very stressful time for everyone – especially for your feline friends.

        Dogs don't seem to mind all that much, but the packing, routine changes, and all the strange new smells can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for a cat.

        During this time, cats can show signs of aggression, house soiling, and excessive meowing or crying. And because cats form definite attachments to places, they often will try to return to their old home if they escape or are let out too soon. 

        But with our Six Tips for a Stress-Free Move with a Cat, we ensure your move will go as smooth as possible, and guarantee your cat will accept their new address in no time.

        1. Consider Boarding


        A simple way to avoid some of the stress on your cat is to place them in boarding the day before you move, and bring them home when everything is a little more settled.

        This also stops the risk of your cat escaping and going missing, and allows you to set your new home up, before adding your cat back into the mix.

        Plus by doing so will allow for a much calmer environment to bring your cat home to and become familiar with. 

        cat boaring

        2. Carrier Tips


        Whether you're placing your cat in boarding or bringing them with you, they're most liking going to cross paths with their carrier.

        So if your cat is a little unsure about theirs, bring it out a few days earlier.

        Many cats will eventually start to explore this strange new space, and may even start sleeping in there (try putting a clean towel inside).

        And when the moving day does come around, make sure their carrier has a nice absorbent towel base – as some cats are known to soil themselves out of fear or stress.

        cat carrier

        3. Feline Tranquil Formula


        Cats see and experience things a lot differently to us. So when we pack, move furniture and introduce them to a new environment, their whole world changes.

        Their senses are practically bombarded with new stimuli.

        This can be a very traumatic time for them, as cats like routine, patterns and predictability – basically they don’t like change.

        Feline Tranquil Formula Tablets are a simple and cheap option that can be used to bring your cat's anxiety levels down, and overall help them better deal with being in an uncomfortable situation. These tablets contain Tryptophan and essential B group vitamins to help maintain normal emotional balance in cats.

        Feline Tranquil Formula 120 Tablets

        4. Before the Move


        A few weeks before moving house some general things to consider include:

        • Make sure your cat is micro-chipped and wearing a collar with a pet tag that is up to date with correct phone numbers.
        • If they are home on the moving day, restrict them to a small and quiet space in the house (laundry, bathroom or bedroom).
        • Try to keep your cat’s routine as similar as possible and don’t forget to schedule some cuddles and playtime at the end of a long day.
        • If you’re travelling a far distance by car, consult your vet about any health concerns that could impact your cat’s well-being.
        • Avoid feeding them breakfast on the morning of the move as this may contribute to an upset tummy.

        cosy cat


        5. During the Move


        If your cat isn’t placed in boarding during moving some general things to consider include:

        • Keep your cat safely enclosed in their carrier until you're in an enclosed room at your new place. And try not to open the carrier to ‘comfort’ them during transit as they may make a quick dash and try escape.
        • Do not leave your cat unattended in a hot car or out in the sun in their carrier. A car can heat to dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes, even on a relatively mild day.
        • Avoid putting food or water in their carrier, unless you're planning on being on the road for more than 12 hours. 
        • For lengthy journeys, ensure the carrier is big enough for a littler tray and have food bowls that ideally can be refilled from the outside, and won’t spill during transport. 

        cat on leash

        6. After the Movie


        Once you have moved house some general things to consider include:

        • Set your cat up in a small room; the bathroom or laundry are ideal. And let them get use to this one small space where they have food, water, litter, plus some things that smell familiar – basically set it up like a nice cosy home.
        • After a few days, let you cat suss out another room, and gradually allow them to explore their new environment. 
        • Do not let your cat outside for at least 2-4 weeks after a move. And when you do decide to let them out, make sure the initial access is supervised and ideally just let them out into a fenced area. Cats are easily startled and will often dash out into another cat’s or dog’s territory or the road. Some cats have been known to return to their old homes, so the longer you keep them inside, the better.
        • Avoid letting your pet outside after dusk and before dawn to not only protect your cat, but the wildlife too. 

        cat in trees

        Overall, you can’t help that your cat is a creature of habit, so moving can be quite stressful for them. We do hope that these tips will help to make the whole process a little easier, and smooth as possible for you and your feline friend. 

        Did you know talking to your pet is good for your health? Click here to find out why.

        Sunday, March 12, 2017

        6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog

        Superfoods for my dog…? That seems a little far-fetched don’t you think?

        To answer the question, not at all!

        We’re not talking about goji berries, or organic flaxseeds, we’re talking about affordable wholefoods that are possibly already sitting in your pantry or fridge.

        In fact, there are many superfoods that humans and dogs can share, so it won’t even cost you an extra cent.

        And besides being awfully convenient and money saving, superfoods are a fantastic way to keep your dog healthy, strong and living long (plus they fight disease, boost energy and taste great)!

        To make things even easier, they can be added to your dog’s specifically formulated pet food, or mixed in with their home cooked meals.

        So without further ado, here are Dr Mark’s top 6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog.

        6 Superfood Ingredients for a Healthy Dog

        If you'd like to read more about pet nutrition, check out Dr Mark's Dog Food Safety Guide & learn what human foods are safe and unsafe for your pet.