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What is Separation Anxiety in Dogs? Does Your Dog Suffer From It?

What is separation anxiety in dogs? Does your dog suffer from it? Here is my experience of living with a dog with separation anxiety, the signs to look for and what you can do to help your dog if you suspect he or she is suffering from separation anxiety.

Dog looking out window

Dogs with separation anxiety may chew through walls to get out and find you.

Many years ago, I adopted a beautiful four-month-old puppy from a couple who kept him in a dark, hot garage 24 hours a day. They rarely let him out, even to relieve himself. It was four horrible months for this little guy, so when I brought him home he was immediately attached to me and panicked every time I had to leave him. The first two weeks weren’t too bad as I had taken vacation time to help him adjust to his new life with me, but I did notice that when I left the house, even for a brief time, he would panic.

I once ran up to the local store, leaving my puppy gated in the kitchen, only to receive a call from my alarm company stating my alarm had been triggered, again. This time the poor guy had pulled the microwave off the counter. One of the previous times he had knocked over the cabinet where I kept my china. He ate through the drywall by my front door and urinated and defecated all over my house, no matter how many times I took him out. All because I left him.

A well-meaning friend suggested I crate him. He turned that crate into a twisted mass of metal. It was incredible he didn’t physically hurt himself. I cannot imagine what torment that poor dog went through.

I hired a trainer to help me help him, but he needed more than a trainer. This was 30 years ago. Today, trainers, veterinarians, and behaviorists know so much more about how to help dogs with separation anxiety. This is not to say that there is an easy fix for separation anxiety, there isn’t. But you can help your dog if you are willing to put in the work.

What are the symptoms of separation anxiety?

  • Getting upset as you are getting ready to leave.
  • Overly excited when you return.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house while you are away even though they have had ample opportunities to relieve themselves before you left.

    Dog destroying item

    Dogs with separation anxiety may become destructive

  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Destructive behavior
  • Vomiting

What you can do to help:

  • First things first, see your veterinarian in order to make sure there isn’t some underlying issue that is mimicking separation anxiety.
  • Feed your dog just before leaving the house. This can help your dog associate something positive with your departure.
  • Keep your departures and arrivals low key.
  • Provide your dog with lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
  • Sometimes adding another dog to the family can help, but there is no guarantee.
  • There are medications that may help, but they are not long-term solutions.
  • Hire a dog walker or pet sitter to keep your dog company while you are away.

    Sad dog

    A dog with separation anxiety may be helped if you are willing to put in the work

One or more of the solutions above may help your dog cope with their separation anxiety. Be patient, it may take some time to figure out what works best for your dog.

Do you think your dog suffers from separation anxiety? Contact us to see how we can help.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

So, you have decided you would like to add a dog to your family. Wonderful! Dogs are great for getting you out of the house for some exercise, they are therapeutic and lots of fun. But how much does it cost to own a dog? 

Puppy in lap

Should you purchase a dog or adopt one? Weigh the cost.

Before adding a dog or any pet to your household it is important to determine how much your dog is going to cost you on a yearly basis. Not just how much it will cost to purchase or adopt your new pal, but how much it will cost for food, training, veterinary bills and more.

Let’s look at some of the costs you will incur.

Purchase or adoption

If you are set on a pure breed puppy your purchase price could be as much as $5,000 if you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Shelters and rescue organizations also have purebred dogs up for adoption, but you may not get that cute 8-week old puppy (see our blog on the pros and cons of getting a puppy). If you have your heart set on a particular breed there is a rescue group for every breed out there. Shelter adoption fees can range from $35-$75, and usually include vaccinations and spay/neuter and microchip. If you decide to adopt from a rescue organization, adoption fees can be anywhere from $200-$700 depending on the breed and the rescue’s expenses. These dogs too are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped.  

You can save quite a lot of money if you are willing to adopt a puppy and even more money if you adopt an adult dog.

Veterinary Care

Just ordinary annual vet care is going to cost somewhere between $100 to $400. This does not include possible emergencies which can run into the thousands of dollars. While pet insurance can help with some emergency expenses, most companies do not cover annual vaccinations. If you insure your pet, which we think is a great idea, you will usually have to put out the initial expense of emergency or extraordinary veterinary care. You then get reimbursed for a portion of that care. In the long run, pet insurance can save you a considerable amount of money.

You will save a good amount of money if you adopt from your local shelter or rescue as these dogs are already spayed/neutered, which is a big expense. Rescue dogs are also vaccinated, so you could have as much as an entire year before your new dog needs to be vaccinated again.

Heartworm, Flea and Tick Control

Heartworm can cost as much as $300 per year depending on the size of your dog. Flea and tick control will run anywhere from $50-$250 per year.

Dog balancing cookie on nose

The cost of food will depend on the quality.

Food and Treats

If you want to feed your dog nothing but the best, it can cost you as much as $600 per year depending on the size of your dog. If you are not picky about what your dog eats you can most budget for about $150 per year, but you may spend more on vet bills.

Bowls, Beds, Toys, Leashes, and Collars

This is an area where your personal style and tastes can affect your monetary output. If you are looking for designer items, you will usually spend more than if you are shopping at your local dollar store.

You might be able to find some great items at your local garage sales or local buy, sell trade groups.

Training

Yes, your new dog is going to need training. Group classes usually start at around $125 for a six-week class, but if your new buddy needs more personalized private training you could spend anywhere from $60-$100 per hour depending on where you live and the experience of your trainer.

Grooming

Dog grooming can be very expensive depending on your dog’s breed and coat length. You also must take into consideration how often you want your dog bathed and how much effort you are willing to put into the process. Are you comfortable trimming your dog’s nails and expressing their anal glands? If this gives you pause, then your grooming bill will be more. In other words, your short-haired Labrador that you are willing to bathe, and trim nails is going to cost considerably less than your Goldendoodle that needs monthly professional grooming. So, if you are willing to get a little wet and have the patience to trim your dog’s nails and such you could be looking at grooming costs as low as $30 per year, but if you have a higher maintenance dog and/or if you are using a mobile groomer, your grooming bills could run as much as $1,500 a year or more.

Dog getting a bath

The cost of grooming will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

Other Considerations

If you live in a house will you need a fence to keep your new companion contained? What about taking your dog out for a car ride? You will then need a crate or other restraint. And what about if you want to or need to go out of town? You will then need someone to care for your dog.

Having a dog is a lifelong commitment and being aware of the possible costs of dog ownership can give you a good idea if you are ready to make that commitment. We hope the answer is a resounding yes! Dogs are a wonderful family addition.

Would you like to learn more about caring for your new dog? Contact us.

Thinking of Getting a Puppy? What are the Pros and Cons?

Getting a puppy is a big commitment. If your family is considering bringing a new pup into your home you first need to make sure this is the right decision for your family’s lifestyle. A new pooch can be a wonderful addition to a family, here are some puppy pros and cons. 

Puppy

A puppy can be a great addition to your family

The Pros of Getting a Puppy:

Cuteness Overload!

Puppies are very cute, but remember that cute little ball of fur is going to grow into an adult dog. Don’t bring a puppy into your life just because it is adorable.

Puppy with ball

Your puppy will love to play.

Fun!

Watching a young pup play and romp is so much fun. Watching them tumble and roll with their favorite toy will give you your daily dose of laughter.

Health Benefits for You

You will get a lot of exercise chasing after and playing with your new addition. As your puppy matures into an adult dog you will both enjoy getting exercise on your daily walks. Studies show that people who have a dog at home have fewer heart attacks and if they do have a heart attack they have a better survival and recovery rate.

Less Stress

Petting a dog has been shown to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. It also increases dopamine and serotonin levels.

The Cons of Getting a Puppy:

Constant Supervision

Puppies can get into trouble quickly. Puppies must be supervised at all times. When you can’t be there to supervise, crate training your new family member will help keep him or her out of trouble.

Chewing 

Puppy chewing on a person's hand

Puppy teeth can hurt.

It is natural for puppies to want to chew. They will chew your shoes, your furniture, electrical cords and even you.

They Need to Relieve Themselves Often

As a rule of thumb, a young dog can only hold it for as many hours as his or her age is in months. So, if you have a 2-month-old dog he or she will need to go out every two hours. This is where a professional dog walker can really help you while you are at work.

Puppy on leash

Your puppy will need to go out often.

Lots of Cleaning up

While you will try to be diligent about taking your puppy outside, accidents do happen. There is also the potential mess if your puppy chews something up, such as paper or a pillow.

Having a puppy in the house can be fun and entertaining, but they are also a lot of hard work. Make sure all family members are ready for such a big responsibility. If you decide that a puppy is right for you, have fun and enjoy!

If you would like more information on our puppy visits for your long work days, please contact us.

Five Plants that are Toxic to Your Pets

While we love having plants in our homes and yards we need to be aware that some of those plants are toxic to our pets. Our pets are not aware of the dangers and may chew on the leaves or flowers of these common plants.

Aloe

We have all seen the articles about having aloe plants in our home to clean the air, but aloe can be very toxic to our dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested aloe here are some of the symptoms to look for: diarrhea, vomiting, depression and occasionally tremors. Get your pet to the veterinarian immediately. 

Aloe is Toxic to Both Dogs and Cats.

Bird of Paradise

This plant is all over South Florida and it can be mildly toxic to your dogs and cats. If you suspect your pet has ingested Bird of Paradise some of the symptoms will include lethargy, vomiting and nausea. Get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Bird of Paradise can cause lethargy and more when ingested.

Calla Lily

This is a very common house plant and it can be very toxic to your dogs and cats.  If you suspect your pet your pet has ingested any part of a calla lily plant you need to seek immediate veterinary attention for them. Some of the symptoms are excessive drooling, vomiting and irritation of the mouth. 

Calla Lily can burn and irritate your pet’s mouth.

Rubber Plant

While this plant is not as toxic as some of the others, it is a common house plant and caution needs to be used. The rubber plant is toxic to both dogs and cats and will cause diarrhea and vomiting. Contact your veterinarian to see what your course of action should be if your pet ingests any part of this plant.

This common house plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Sago Palm

This plant is very common in South Florida and is extremely toxic to your dogs and cats. If your pet ingests any part of the sago palm in can cause death. You must get your pet to a veterinarian without delay. Some of the symptoms are increased thirst, bruising and vomiting. Ingestion of the sago palm can cause severe internal bleeding, liver damage and even liver failure. 

The sago palm can be deadly to your pets.

How Your Pet Sitter Keeps Your Home Safe: Keys, Alarm Codes and More

 

Chocolate lab getting a chin scratch

Pet sitters help keep your pets and home safe

When I first started Dances with Dogs 16 years ago my husband looked at me and said, “no one is ever going to give you the keys to their home.” Thankfully he was wrong, but I took his words seriously and have made our clients’ home security a top priority. We strive to keep your home safe, along with your pets, when entrusted to our care.

So, what do Dances with Dogs do to help keep your home safe?

Advertising

We never advertise our pet sitting or dog walking services on our vehicles or clothing while at your home. Why do we do this? Because we feel that this type of advertising attracts unwanted attention to your home, announcing that you are away.

Keys

We take having the keys to your home very seriously. Keys are never tagged with your name or address. Keys are locked securely away when not in use. There is always a backup key locked up in our office in case of an emergency. Keys are never returned by leaving them under doormats or planters, they are only returned in person. We will not leave your keys in your home on the last visit and lock the door when we leave. What happens if you are delayed and we need to make an additional visit?

Alarm Codes

Alarm codes are stored on our secure online scheduling system. We ask that you now write them down and leave them in your home.

Home and Pet Information

All information you provide to us about your home and pets is also stored on our secure online scheduling system.

So next time you travel you can be assured that Dances with Dogs takes your home security seriously and know that your home and keys are well taken care of as well as your pets of course.

If you have questions and would like more information give us a call at 786-299-1552  

Spaying or Neutering Your Dog: The Pros and Cons

Dog sitting

Spaying or neutering your dog has its pros and cons.

As I sit here writing this my two rescue dogs, Briscoe and Kensi, are keeping me company. When my husband and I adopted them from one of our local rescue groups we did have to make the decision about spaying or neutering as that was already done. 

Here in South Florida, a nonprofit dog rescue organization can only adopt out a dog that has been spayed or neutered, unless there is a medical reason for not doing so, such as age or heart condition.

What Does Spaying or Neutering Mean?

In short, it means sterilization. For male dogs, it is castration (removing the testicles). For female dogs, it is the removal of the ovaries and uterus.

Pros of Neutering Your Male Dog

  • Some Health Problems can be Prevented – Your intact dog is at risk for enlarged prostate and testicular cancer.
  • A Calmer Dog – Dogs who are neutered tend to be quieter and less stressed.
  • Less Chance of Marking – A neutered dog generally does not feel the need to mark his territory, especially in the house.
  • Less Chance of Getting Lost – Neutered dogs are not on the hunt for a mate, so there is less chance of him wandering off in search of his next girlfriend.
  • Doesn’t Contribute to Pet Overpopulation – Here in South Florida hundreds of unwanted dogs and puppies come into our local shelters every day. There are dozens of others that are just dumped on the street like trash. While you may not own the female dog, your intact male dog is contributing to the problem. It takes two to tango.

Cons of Neutering Your Male Dog

  • Possible Weight Gain – Your dog may not be as active which can lead to an overweight dog. This can be managed with diet and exercise.
  • Anesthesia Risks – There is about a 20% chance your dog may have an adverse reaction when under general anesthesia, which is required for neutering. Most of these reactions are not serious, but there can be life-threatening complications for some dogs.
  • Hormone Imbalance – This can sometimes cause hypothyroidism, which can also lead to weight gain.
  • Can Affect Bone Growth – This is usually caused by early neutering. Consult your vet as to the best age to neuter your dog.

Pros of Spaying Your Female Dog

  • Some Health Issues can be Avoided – No ovaries means no ovarian cancer and no ovarian cysts. No uterus mean no uterine cancer or infections. Spaying your dog before she hits puberty lowers her risk of breast cancer too.
  • A Calmer Dog – When a dog has no desire to mate they are naturally calmer.
  • Less Mess – If your dog is not I heat there will be no bloody discharge.
  • Doesn’t Contribute to Pet Overpopulation – There are already so many unwanted dogs and you certainly do not want to be contributing to the problem. Besides, finding good homes for puppies is not an easy proposition.

Cons of Spaying Your Female Dog 

Close up of black and tan dog

Weigh the pros and cons of spaying and neutering.

  • Anesthesia Side Effects – Just like neutering, spaying is surgery requiring anesthesia. While most reactions are minor, 1 in 5 dogs reacts negatively to anesthesia. Anesthesia can, however, be life-threatening.
  • Possible Illness – Spaying may increase the occurrence of urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence, and hypothyroidism.
  • Possible Weight Gain – Your dog may be less active, so they may put on a few pounds. This can be managed with diet and exercise.

There is no perfect answer to whether you should spay or neuter your dog. Every day I see so many unwanted pets, that I tend to think spaying and neutering is a must, but there are risks. There are also risks if you do not spay or neuter. Either way, you must be a responsible pet owner.

What are Your Thoughts on Spaying and Neutering? Are Your Dogs Spayed/Neutered? Let Us Know in the Comments Below.

Spaying or Neutering Your Cat: Why is it Important?

In a world where we all see stray cats wandering the streets, is there ever are reason for not spaying or neutering your cat? The American Veterinary Medical Association has supported early spaying and neutering of cats since 1993. What is early? Eight to 16 weeks of age. 

While that does seem early, that is the age when most kittens are adopted from rescues and shelters and these organizations feel it is imperative to spay or neuter these kittens before they go off to their new homes. There is no guarantee that the kitten’s new family will follow through at a later date.

Reduces Shelter Overpopulation

According to the ASPCA approximately 1.4 million cats and kittens are euthanized in shelters across the United States each year. In order to help bring that number down it is important to spay/neuter your cat.

Less Chance of Your Cat Getting Lost

If you do not neuter your cat and he gets out of your home there is a good chance he will go in search of a mate. That is not to say your neutered cat won’t wander off while hunting, but neutering will reduce the risk.

Cats who are not neutered tend to wander.

Better Health for Your Cat

You remove the chance of testicular diseases when you neuter your male cat.

Your spayed female cat will no longer run the risk of pyometra, which is an infection of the uterus. The chance that your female cat will get mammary tumors will be reduced.

According to research done at the University of Georgia, spayed and neutered pets live longer too.

Cleaner House

Male cats are inclined to spray inside the house due to hormones. Neutering your male cat should eliminate this urge. If your neutered male cat is still spraying it might be time for a trip to the vet.

Less Fighting

Neutered male cats are less likely to fight with other cats in the house. And, if you let your cat outside he will be less likely to fight with other neighborhood cats. Cats that get into fights are more likely to be exposed to diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia (FeLV). This is because those diseases can be transmitted through bite wounds.

A peaceful cat household.

A Calmer Household

Spaying or neutering your cat removes the desire to breed and therefore they are not on the constant hunt for a mate.

 

No Unwanted Litters

There are millions of cats and kittens looking for homes each year, so finding good homes for an unwanted litter can be a daunting task. 

Spaying and neutering prevents unwanted litters.

While spaying and neutering will not solve all cat related issues, it can certainly help with quite few.

Are Your Cats Spayed and Neutered? Please Let Us know Your Thoughts in the Comments Below.

Easy Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

I love baking for my dogs and giving them homemade dog treats is the best! This recipe is one of their favorites. It is such a quick and easy dog treat recipe that will leave your dog wanting more and I hope you will have fun making them.

Heart-shaped cookie cutter

Cut your treats with a heart-shaped cookie cutter to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your dog.

This is a cookie cutter recipe and I found some really cute dog bone and dog paw shaped cookie cutters online, but you can use whatever cookie cutter shape you like. Hearts might be fun for Valentine’s Day.   

This recipe usually takes me about 50 minutes to an hour to complete from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cups of canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour (much healthier than white flour)

I like to use organic ingredients when available although this recipe will work with the ingredients you have available.

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°
  • Beat the canned pumpkin, unsalted peanut butter, and eggs together in a large mixing bowl using an electric beater on medium-high. You want to make sure these ingredients are mixed together very well.
  • Slowly mix in the flour one cup at a time until the mixture is not sticky.  You may want to add the last cup 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Place mixture on a flat, floured surface.
  • You will need to knead the mixture a few times.
  • Roll out to a thickness of ¼”.
  • Using your cookie cutters cut your treats into your desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet or silicone baking mat.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes. The longer you cook the treats the crunchier they will be.
  • Make sure the treats are completely cooled before feeding them to your dog. 
Dog taking treat from hand

Your dog will love these easy to make treats.

Please let us know if you made these for your dogs and how they liked them in the comments below.

The Dog Walk: Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

Taking our dog for a walk is one of the great pleasures of owning a dog. However, there are a few things you can do to keep you and your dog safe and get more enjoyment from your time together.

Focus on Your Dog

Man looking at his phone while walking dog.

Stay focused on your dog, not your phone.

Being aware of your surroundings while on your walk will keep you both safe. If you are distracted by a phone call, text message, Facebook or music you will likely miss something potentially dangerous to one or both of you such as your dog eating something off the ground, an oncoming dog or an approaching stranger. 

The purpose of your walk should be spending quality time with your dog, so enjoy.

 Don’t Let Your Dog off Leash

Even if your dog has a totally reliable recall, letting them off leash can be dangerous. All it takes is for them to see another dog, a cat, a squirrel or something else that makes them run off.

Other Dogs Can be a Problem

While your dog may love others of his kind those other dogs may not be so friendly. In the interest of safety, it is best to keep your dog away from others.

Even if the owner of the other dog seems to think it’s alright for the dogs to meet, no one asked the dogs. Play it safe.

Make the Walk Fun!

Walking your dog should not be a chore it should be a fun adventure for both of you. So, stay alert but enjoy!

Bring Water Along

You should always bring water along for both you and your pal. Even when the temperatures are a bit cooler it is important for everyone to stay hydrated.

When it is very hot outside, staying hydrated is especially important. You can find collapsible bowls at your local pet supply store, so you can pour a drink for your four-legged friend.

Never Leave Your Dog Alone

 It only takes a minute for your dog to be stolen or harmed, so never leave your them alone. There are always heartbreaking stories of dogs that are missing and their owner only left them for a brief moment.  Don’t take the chance!

Keep an Eye on Where Your Dog is Sniffing

You never know what people have thrown out of their car window or just dropped on the grass. Chicken bones or other items could be potentially deadly.

If you use a regular leash such as a four or six-foot lead you are more likely to keep your dog away from some potential danger on the ground. Using a retractable leash gives you much less control.

Watch Where Your Dog is Walking

Happy dog

Taking your dog for a walk is a great way to bond with your dog.

Broken glass is everywhere, so keep your eyes looking ahead to where your dog is walking. There are so many things on the ground that can hurt your dog’s paws.

Keep to Well Lit Areas

The safety of you and your dog is important. Walk in areas that are well lit.

Walking in areas that are dark or underpopulated puts you at risk for falls or worse.

Be present with your dog and you will both enjoy the walk much more.

Taking your dog for a walk can be a great way for you both to unwind and enjoy some quality time together.

 

If you work long hours, but would still like to get your best pal out for an adventure, please contact us for more information on our dog walking service.

Why Tethering Your Dog is a Bad Idea

 

Dog tethered with a chain

Tethering puts your dog at risk.

                                                                                                                                                                    What is tethering? According to Rebecca Wisch of Michigan State University College of Law“Tethering or chaining a dog under most state laws means that a person ties a dog with a rope or line to a stationary object.” Chaining or tethering your dog outside seems innocent enough, but there could be some big consequences. Sure, the dog gets to be outside and you have the peace of mind he will not run away, but at what cost? Here are a few of those possible costs:

Aggression

Dogs that are continually tied up can get frustrated with their inability to move about, causing them to become aggressive. Dogs are also territorial and that small plot of land they are confined to becomes something that needs to be fiercely defended. Also, dogs are very social beings and being confined outside, away from interaction with others for long periods of time can be psychologically and emotionally damaging (think solitary confinement).

Escape

If your dog is tethered in a yard that is not secure there is a possibility that one day that tether will snap, and your dog will escape. Ask yourself this question; would you come back?

Injury or Death

Dogs that are chained run the risk of getting entangled in their chains or tethers, breaking or cutting off circulation to a limb. They can injure their necks and backs when they hitting the end of their tether. They also run the risk of hanging themselves if their chain is caught on an object. Tethered dogs are vulnerable to attack from other animals as well as venomous snakes and insects. Extreme heat and cold can be deadly to dogs confined to the outdoors. And dangerous weather events such as hurricanes and snowstorms can also be life-threatening.

Neglect

Dog tethered with a chain

Tethering can cause emotional and physical harm to a dog.

Are tethered dogs really thought of as family members? Are they getting regular meals and fresh water? Are they provided with adequate shelter? What about veterinary care? What about simple things such as affection and play? They are simple things that dogs need.

These are just a few of the damaging effects of being tethered outside. It is no wonder more and more states, cities and towns are making it illegal to tether your dog. Click here for a comprehensive list of the states that have addressed tethering and chaining.

Here in Florida, there are several cities that have made tethering illegal, but the whole state is not on board yet. Here are the Florida cities and counties where it is illegal to tether your dog (Sourced from PETA.org): Collier County, Fernandina Beach, Hallandale Beach, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, Lake County, Lee County, Miami-Dade County, Marion County, Martin County, Mount Dora, Okaloosa County, Palm Beach County, Pasco County, Pembroke Park, Pinellas County, Sarasota County, and St. Lucie County.

What can you do if you see a dog that is tethered? Call your local Animal Control and report the abuse.