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Dog Health Advice & Tips for Pet Owners

How to Keep Your Dog Active in Winter

Nothing’s better than curling up in bed with a warm cup of cocoa during winter, right? But as comfy as it sounds, there could be a downside to staying inactive during the cold months.  For one, the cold weather could put your dog at risk for conditions like frostbite or arthritis. Since dogs tend to be more sedentary during the winter season, they may suffer from weight problems. In turn, obesity could put them at risk of joint problems and make your pet unable to perform its daily activities. Avoid this from happening and learn how to keep your dog active in winter. We’ve listed down indoor activities to help your pet stay fit despite the cold weather. 1. Indoor Trick Training The cold weather makes it difficult for pets to exercise but you can work your way around this by introducing winter dog activities to work their body and mind. Indoor trick training is a great example of this. During indoor trick training, you’ll be making basic commands to your pet like sit, come, down, and stay. Don’t forget to praise your dog every time they follow instructions. This will keep them in high spirits and feel encouraged to continue with the training. If you have a smaller breed of dog, teach it how to stand on its hind legs. Tell them to sit, then hold up a treat near its nose. Slowly lift your hand to make the treat difficult to reach. Your dog will follow your hand and try to reach by standing up using their hind legs. For larger breeds, you could try teaching them to roll over. Command your pet to stay down then hold a treat near its face. Slowly move the treat behind your dog’s neck so they can roll over to try and reach.  2. Find the Treat or Toy Since your pet will mostly be staying indoors during the winter, you’ll need to think of creative winter indoor activities for dogs. One example of a fun game to play is finding the treat or toy. This game trains their instincts and gives their muscles a proper workout, even when they’re in a small, enclosed area.  First, show a treat or toy to your dog, then show them where you plan to place the object. Once the toy or treat has been safely tucked away, give a cue for them to start finding the treat. Play for a few rounds so your dog will understand how the game works. Later on, you might want to increase the difficulty by making your dog stay in another room while you hide the treats. Give your dog a pat on the head every time they successfully find the hidden treat. Just be patient and have fun! 3. Hide and Seek Who says you can’t play hide and seek with your dog? Try it — it’s a great way to bond. Aside from giving your furry companion a full body workout, it can improve concentration and sharpen the senses.  For hide and seek with your dog to work, you’ll need someone to watch over the game and restrain your pet while you’re looking for a place to hide. Once you’re ready, give your dog a signal (like whistling or calling out their name) so it can start finding you. Your dog’s sense of smell will be in overdrive as they follow your scent and trace you to your hiding spot.  4. Mini Obstacle Courses Mini obstacle courses are great for agility training, and it’s suitable for small to large breeds. It’s a great way to keep your pet moving while developing skills like obedience and self-control. In fact, agility exercises can prevent common dog injuries because it strengthens different parts of the body. Even if you’re indoors, you can still create an obstacle course with ramps and tunnels made from homemade items like cardboard or mats. Just make sure you have enough space and keep fragile items away from the obstacle course to avoid accidents and injuries.  5. Tug of War Some pet owners worry that playing tug of war could encourage aggression. But playing this game can actually teach your dog the importance of following rules and boundaries. For example, taking things too far could inspire feelings of sympathy toward other animals and humans. Before you play tug of war, train your dog by giving them a command (like saying “no” or “drop it”) to calm down during tense situations. Moreover, choose a durable rope made of sturdy materials that can withstand your dog’s pulling force. Then have fun and enjoy the game! If your dog gets too carried away, issue the command when it breaks rules or when its teeth come in contact with any part of your body. 6. Follow the Leader Asking yourself how to exercise your dog in winter? Add the game “follow the leader” to your list of things to do. As the name suggests, it urges your furry companion to trust you as the leader while boosting their own confidence. And since your pet will be following you around, it can help your dog overcome their fears. Start by enticing your dog to follow you with a treat or toy. Then walk through an obstacle course with your dog in tow. To make sure they’re on your trail, teach your pet the command “follow me.” Just make sure to keep you and your pet safe by clearing your path of pointy or slippery objects. 7. Flirt Pole A flirt pole might seem like a questionable name for a dog toy but it’s absolutely fun to play with. A flirt pole is a type of equipment that encourages your pet to chase after a fast moving lure. That being said, it’s a great toy for physically and mentally challenging your dogs without leaving the house.  Here’s how you can play with a flirty pole: first, instruct your furry friend to lay down and leave the pole alone. Then, give them a cue to get the treat where they can chase the object. After a few attempts of pulling the toy and keeping the lure far from reach, you can reward their hard work and let your dog play with the toy. 8. Indoor Parkour If you’re stuck indoors, make productive use of your time by training your dog’s indoor parkour skills. There’s no need for complex obstacles, though — you can use basic household items, such as couches, beds, or pillows. Don’t forget to place treats and toys at the end of the DIY maze to encourage your furry companion to climb and jump around. A parkour can help strengthen your dog’s muscles to make them less prone to injuries. In particular, it could help them become less susceptible to a CCL injury because it’s an activity that strengthens the ligaments, bones, and joints. 9. Pet Treadmill If you own a treadmill, it offers a way for you to exercise all-year-round and condition your dog’s muscles. But before letting your dog use this equipment, it’s crucial to know what treadmill size suits them best. After all, using the right size of treadmill can help ensure your furry companion’s safety while preventing accidents.  Once you’ve found the right treadmill for your dog, make sure you don’t force them to use it if they aren’t ready. Start with a slow speed at first (1 mph) so they can keep up. Once they’re used to using the treadmill, you can start increasing the speed to at least 5 mph. Don’t forget to offer treats to encourage them to run! 10. Swimming Even though it’s winter, your dog can safely swim inside the house. It’s a low-impact exercise that offers health benefits, such as reduced stress and better physical performance. In fact, even just a two-minute swimming session is enough for keeping your dog active during the cold weather. You don’t need your own swimming pool to encourage your dog to swim. All you need to do is to fill your bathtub or dog pool with an inch or two of water so your dog can swim around. If you have a larger breed of dog, increase the water level to up to five inches. Then voila, your dog can swim in the comfort of your home! Dog Activities During the Winter Season The winter season offers an excellent opportunity to bond with your pet. It gives your dog the chance to stay fit with simple activities that don’t require sports equipment. So try out these winter activities and have fun!

What Happens if my Dog Licks its Incision Site?

Dogs like to lick their body parts as a way of grooming or expressing themselves. They also tend to lick their wounds in an attempt to clean them. While their saliva has antibacterial properties, letting them lick or chew on a wound will do more harm than good. Fresh wounds from an injury or incision from procedures such as a TPLO surgery or spaying may get infected and take longer to heal. Keeping your dog from licking the fresh wound or incision site is vital for its proper health and recovery. This blog will talk about the various reasons your dog licks its wounds, how you can prevent it, as well as other post-surgery care tips for your pet. Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Its Wound? After your pet comes home from an operation and its anesthesia has worn off, your dog might be inclined to check out the incision site and start licking the area. For some, this is merely a response to pain or the curiosity of your pet. But if this behavior persists, it can worsen the condition of the incision site and impede its proper and speedy recovery. Below are some common reasons dogs tend to lick their wounds: The incision site is itchy Just like in humans, a stitch or fresh wound can become extremely itchy. Your pet may have the impulsive yearning to scratch, lick, or even nibble on its wounds. This is dangerous, as your dog might tear the stitches open or irritate the wound as it scrapes the healing scabs.  It’s your dog’s way of coping with the pain  For many dogs, licking is more of a natural urge to examine the area it might be feeling uncomfortable with. Additionally, licking results from your dog trying to alleviate and soothe the pain and swelling of its wounds as it recovers.  Boredom or restlessness Other than pain or itch, your canine may lick its wound to fight off boredom and stress. For example, dogs that have a high level of anxiety after surgery may find themselves licking their wounds more frequently. This action might be relaxing to them or gives them a sense of gratification.  Is it Safe for my Dog to Lick its Surgical Incision?  Despite evidence suggesting that dog saliva does have some antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, licking is harmful to fresh incisions and recovering wounds and should be prevented.  Excessive licking can irritate the incision site causing inflammation, leading to further infection, and will even cause it to reopen. Licking and chewing on the wound will also tear the sutures and require you to visit the vet again to close it properly. Take note that closing reopened surgical incisions is more complicated than suturing during an operation. Dogs that fixate on their wounds can worsen the condition of their injuries. They tend to be more focused on trying to lick and clean their wound while the closed incision site is still fresh due to the procedure. So the days right after an injury or surgery are the most vital time to prevent them from making their condition worse. How Can I Prevent my Dog From Licking its Stitches? Keeping the wounds of your dog clean and out of reach is vital if you want it to heal quickly and adequately.  Here are some tips to help you stop your dog from licking, chewing, and biting its incision wound from a procedure: Use a Cone or E-collar After surgery, most vets will place a cone on your dog to prevent it from licking the incision. A cone, officially known as an Elizabethan collar or E-collar, is usually made of plastic. It has a wide surface area that prevents your dog from reaching to lick or scratch its wound.  The cone is typically used for about one to four weeks, depending on what your vet recommends and your pet’s healing process.  However, using a cone can be harmful to your dog in the long run. These collars are generally uncomfortable. They also prevent your dog from eating, drinking, and moving about freely. While cones and collars are the conventional choice, they can do more harm than good in the recovery of your dog. Instead, you can use different alternatives to keep your dog from touching its incision site. Bandages & Sleeves One of the best alternatives that you can use over the cone-of-shame is a leg sleeve. Unlike the cone of shame, limb sleeves and bandages are safer, more comfortable, and less intrusive for your dog. They also allow your pet to move around normally as its incision site heals. The sleeves also protect the wound from dirt, moisture, licking, and biting so that the incision will close up properly. These specialized sleeves also do not hinder your dog as much as they recover, allowing them to enjoy basic activties as their wound heals.   Here at Lick Sleeve, we’ve produced the most comfortable, water-resistant, durable, and breathable sleeve on the market. If you need post surgical leg-coverage, we suggest you get fitted for one today! Canine Clothes & Apparel Another less intrusive option for preventing your dog from licking or biting its incision site is using a specialized shirt, recovery suit, compression onesie, or other similar clothing products. These outfits should cover the incision site properly so your dog will not be tempted to lick, scratch, or bite into it. Some brands have breathable fabric and helping keep your pet more cool and comfortable. Just make sure that they’re not too tight so that your dog can breathe comfortably. Medication can help prevent his urge If clothes, cones, and sleeves won’t do the trick, your vet can recommend anti-inflammatory medication to help your dog manage the pain from its wounds. Since licking and scratching can also be a response to pain, and these medications can greatly prevent your dog from getting its wound infected. There are special strips that you can apply around the stitches that give off an off-putting flavor, which helps against licking.  Remember, keeping your dog from licking and biting at its incision site is vital if you want your pet to recover better. Signs of Wound Healing in Dogs and Aftercare Depending on your procedure, your dog may begin to regain some of its energy and start moving around normally within a few days or a few months. Here are some signs of a recovering wound in dogs: Redness at the incision site begins to fade Swelling at the incision site has gradually flattened The edges of the wound will begin to close together The color of his wound may lighten up But if you notice any discharge at the incision site, such as a small amount of blood or pus-like fluid, call your veterinarian right away, as this can indicate a possible deeper infection. Post-Surgery Incision Aftercare for Canines To take better care of your dog after his operation, make sure to check his incision site daily and clean it by following your veterinarian’s instructions. More so, keep your dog confined, to prevent running, jumping, or playing with other dogs. Your veterinarian may give you special instructions about how long your dog should rest after surgery as well. To learn more about how you can help take care of your dog and treat other conditions or injuries, explore the Lick Sleeve blog today.

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