Author: Orla O'Keefe

Most of my day is spent playing with dogs. When they nap, I'm here working on my blog. You're welcome to reach out and connect with me.

Is Rawhide Actually Safe For Your Dog?

It’s nearly impossible to walk down the pet aisle at the supermarket without seeing a section for rawhide treats. Coming in all shapes in sizes – from bones, to sticks, to circles – it is a widely popular treat for dogs. Not only do they keep dogs busy, dogs absolutely love them. But, is it really safe? Let’s take a deeper look into the world of this tasty treat.

What is rawhide?

Rawhide is made from the inner layer of horse or cow hides. When making it, the hides are cleaned then cut or ground. From there, they are pressed into chewable treats for dogs. Some treats contain chicken, beef, or liver flavoring to make them more appealing to pups.

What are the benefits of rawhide?

Dogs have a natural instinct to chew. They need to chew and some will spend hours upon hours chewing on anything they can get their paws on. Chewing provides mental stimulation and can help relieve anxiety. Since many of these treats are large and take a while to chew, it helps occupy your pup.  Puppies can benefit from it, especially when used as alternative to shoes.

Rawhide is also helpful in managing your dog’s dental hygiene. Chewing it keeps their teeth clean, jaw strong, and their breath fresher. Pups that regularly chew on this treat tend to have less plaque and tarter build-up on their teeth.

What are the risks of rawhide?

Though many dogs can consume rawhide regularly without any issues, there are certain risks – some serious – that dog owners need to watch out for.

One risk is contamination. Rawhide, like other pet toys, can contain small amounts of toxic chemicals. Furthermore, Salmonella or E. coli contamination is also a possibility. Humans can even be at risk if they come into contact with contaminated rawhide.

Another risk is digestive irritation. Some dogs can simply be allergic or sensitive to rawhide (or other ingredients used to manufacture the product) and can suffer from digestive problems like vomiting or diarrhoea.

A third, and probably the biggest, risk is choking or blockages. Some dogs don’t know how to properly chew a rawhide and will attempt to swallow large pieces. If this happens, it can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. If it isn’t too large of a piece, a vet can typically remove the piece(s) through the throat. But, if the piece is too large, abdominal surgery may be needed. If not treated or resolved, a blockage from rawhide could easily lead to death.

Some signs of contamination, digestive irritation or blockage are: gagging, repeated swallowing, regurgitation, vomiting, diarrhea, signs of pain, refusal to eat, and lack of energy. If you see any of these signs, take your pup to the vet immediately.

How to ensure your pup safely chews rawhide:

You can take certain measures to ensure your dog safely consumes rawhide. First, talk to your vet to make sure you are giving your pup the proper amount. The smaller the dog, the smaller the piece, is a good place to start, though.

If you have multiple dogs, separate them when offering them this treat. This way, they won’t feel the need to eat it quickly or swallow big bites.

Take the treat away from your dog when it is small enough to swallow whole. Some dogs tend to be possessive, so having them sit while offering them another (tastier) treat can help.

But the main thing to do is supervise your pup! Don’t leave them alone with rawhide and make sure they aren’t eating it too fast.

While most dogs can safely consume rawhide, knowing the risks can help if an issue ever does arise. Being prepared will ensure your pup safely enjoys this chewable treat!

What To Do If Your Dog Ate Something They Shouldn’t Have

We all know dogs will eat almost anything they can get their paws on. Whether it’s dropped food on the ground or your dinner. Most of the time it’s no cause for concern, but what about when your dog ate something they shouldn’t have? Here’s what you should do if that happens.

How to Tell if They Ate Something Toxic or Foreign

One way to tell if your dog ate something they shouldn’t have is by observing their symptoms. If they are showing signs of vomiting (beginning as food and ending in water) or gagging, a painful abdomen, fatigue, diarrhea or constipation – contact your veterinarian immediately. Other symptoms include a lack of appetite and changes in normal behavior.

Immediately Bring them to the Vet

If your dog ingested something foreign and you’re unable to contact your veterinarian, take them to a 24-hour emergency animal clinic. One mistake some owners make is they wait to see if the object passes on its own, according to Dr. Shari Brown. Dr. Brown advises against trying to induce vomiting yourself without a veterinarian’s okay since some foreign objects cause more harm coming back out.

Treatment

If the vet believes your dog ate something they shouldn’t have, they will most likely recommend X-rays as this will help them assess the severity of the situation and determine treatment options. However, some veterinarian’s may be able to help the object pass by inducing vomiting.

In a more severe situation, an endoscopy may be required. With this scenario, the vet will guide a long tube down your pup’s throat and remove the object from their stomach.

If the object has made its way to the dog’s intestines, surgery may be required. Once the object is in the intestine, there is a greater risk for complications because some parts of the intestines may have to be removed.

Prevention

The best way to avoid a trip to the emergency animal clinic is by preventing your dog from ingesting a foreign object in the first place! One way to do this is to keep any potentially harmful objects or foods out of reach. Whether it’s baby-locking the cabinets, closing off certain rooms of the house, or keeping objects off the counter.

And, if your dog has a habit of chewing and swallowing the stuffing or squeakers in their toys, keep them out of the house!

So if your dog is a lover of all food and toys, make sure to take preventative measures to avoid an emergency trip to the vet!

Can Dogs Cry Tears Of Sadness?

Has your dog ever stared at you with sad eyes? Maybe even with a tear or two? If you thought they may have been crying, you aren’t alone. Many owners assume their dog cries tears of sadness, but that is actually not true. Although dogs are sensitive and compassionate creatures, dogs cannot cry tears of sadness. So what does it mean if your dog looks like they’re crying and how do they react to someone else crying? Read on to learn more.

Why Dogs “Cry”

Like humans, dogs have tear ducts that helps keep their eyes functioning properly. Unlike humans, though, the tear ducts drain liquid back towards the nose and throat area. But, just because they don’t cry out of sadness, doesn’t mean they don’t experience sorrow. Dogs grieve in their own way – not by shedding tears but by becoming aloof or lethargic.

So, if your dog looks like they are crying, it might be a sign something is wrong. Allergies can cause eye watering. Dogs can be allergic to environmental factors like dust, pollen, and smoke or food ingredients. If your dog has an infection, you may notice yellow, mucusy, or bloody tears. If your dog’s tears look like that, bring them to the vet immediately.

Dogs can also suffer from blocked tear ducts which causes eye discharge known as epiphora. You can tell it is epiphora if the area around their eye is damp. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.

Active dogs can suffer from scratched corneas. Rough play or running through thick bushes can lead to a scratched cornea and cause your dog to paw at their eye, blink a lot, or have an inflamed eye area.

Lastly, a dog could simply have a speck a dirt or eyelash stuck in their eye. If this is the case, the tearing should clear up on its own but watch for more serious or prolonged symptoms.

A Dogs Response to Tears

Now that you know why dogs cry, it’s time to look at how they respond to someone else crying. Studies have shown that dogs respond to tears uniquely. Dogs are more likely to approach a person who is crying over someone is humming or talking. They also respond with submissive behavior to someone who is crying.

Though it is not proven that dogs can understand our pain or demonstrate empathy, the fact that they can differentiate between humming and crying points to a stronger overall response than just curiosity.

So, next time you notice tears in your pup’s eyes, make sure it isn’t a sign of something more serious. And next time you’re feeling down, watch how your dog reacts to you. You may be surprised how responsive they are!

12 Dog Breeds That Are Often Also Skilled Escape Artists

There is no feeling like the moment you realize your dog is lost. The immediate panic is followed by the fear that your furry companion will never be found. And while most pup parents will – unfortunately – experience this feeling at some point in their life, some dogs take it to another level and are actually skilled escape artists.

Dogs run away for many reasons. Some become bored, lonely, or suffer from separation anxiety while others run away because they are afraid of a storm or fireworks. Working with a trainer based on your pup’s behavior can help keep your pup safe and sound at home.

Nonetheless, there are certain breeds that have the escape artist gene. Here are 12 of them.

Labrador Retrievers

According to FidoFinder.com, Lab’s received the “most likely to get lost” honor. This happy-go-lucky, energetic, curious breed just wants to be around people. Their curiosity often leads them away from homes in search of other people – especially if they suffer from separation anxiety.

Chihuahuas

Despite their small size, Chihuahuas actually require quite a bit of exercise, attention and training. Because some Chihuahua parents don’t know this, this breed can become bored due to lack of exercise and flee their home. Their love of running certainly doesn’t help either.

Boxers

This breed is known for their exceptional jumping skills. Combine that with their playful nature and you’ve got yourself an escape artist. They even have their own term for escaping: “Boxer Bolting”.

Huskies

Probably one of the most notorious escape artists are Siberian Huskies. This breed was literally bred to run and if they don’t get enough in at home, they’ll seek it elsewhere. They also love to dig and climb – the winning combination for escape artists.

Beagles

These scent hounds love to follow their instinct – the nose – all the way out of the yard. Their strong desire to track a scent makes them the perfect escape artist.

Jack Russell Terriers

This speedy breed may be small, but they’re powerful and spunky. Jack Russell Terriers need plenty of exercise to be happy. Plus, their strong prey drive causes them to bolt at the mere sight of a squirrel across the street.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Known for their jumping ability, Staffordshire Bull Terriers need plenty of exercise to keep them happy. And don’t think a tall fence will keep them in, this is one breed that loves to dig and jump.

German Shepherds

German Shepherds were bred to herd and have a strong instinct to chase other animals. They are a stubborn breed that also loves to dig – a perfect combination for a true escape artist.

Golden Retrievers

You may not think Golden Retrievers want to escape often – especially since they are a the tried and true “family dog” – but this breed was bred to accompany hunters. They require a lot of exercise to stay happy and if they don’t get it, they’ll go looking for it elsewhere, right out of your yard.

Cocker Spaniels

Thanks to this breeds loyalty and devotion to their humans, it makes them prone to separation anxiety. This can lead to escaping in an attempt to find their owners. Furthermore, their origin as retrievers has them longing to run after squirrels or rabbits.

Dachshunds

Bred to chase badgers into underground dens, Dachshunds are excellent diggers. They are super aware of their surroundings and will run after smaller animals in an instant. Dachshunds are extremely protective of their owners and stubborn, which can lead to separation anxiety and a non-stop attempt to find their human.

Poodles

Although the Poodle is extremely intelligent and trainable, they also require a lot of physical and mental exercise in order to be happy. They also have a predisposition to separation anxiety which causes them to escape and look for their owners.

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Even if you don’t have a breed on this list, any dog can escape and become lost. Always make sure you keep your dog on a leash or in a secure backyard and never leave them outside alone.

The Top 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds In America

We’re not biased, but we do know that there are some dog breeds that rank higher in the dog lover’s playbook than others. Every breed is different and seeing the natural beauty in each breed is something very special.

The proper ways of a Poodle, the elongated and almost out of place ears on a French Bulldog, the gorgeous coat on a Golden Retriever, the face on a Bulldog only a mother could love. They’re all so uniquely different!

From Bulldogs to Poodles, here’s a list of this year’s top 10 pure bred dog breeds according to the American Kennel Club. Check to see if your favorite breed made the list!

Boxers

Fun loving, bright and energetic

Rottweilers

Faithful, loving and a guardian

Poodles

Proud, active, intelligent

Yorkshire Terriers

Active and affectionate

French Bulldogs

Lively, smart, versatile

Beagles

Cheerful, friendly, eccentric

Bulldogs

Relaxed, courageous, outgoing

Golden Retrievers

Smart, friendly, loyal

German Shepherd Dogs

Intelligent, confident, brave

Labrador Retriever

Friendly, active, outgoing

10 Of The Best Dog Breeds For Families

Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but they also make a great family companion. Not only do dogs make life more fun, they teach children valuable lessons like compassion and responsibility. While any breed can make a great family pet with the proper training, some breeds are just naturals. Here are ten of the best dog breeds for families.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds of all time – and for good reason. Labrador Retrievers adore humans and are playful, loving, protective, and reliable. They are quick and eager to learn and love to show off. They make great service dogs and are the only breed that has been accepted for training as an arson dog.

Standard Poodle

The Standard Poodle is a gentle and extremely smart breed. In fact, they are one of the smartest breeds. They are good-natured and make excellent family companions. Poodle’s are great for families with allergies as they do not shed as much as other breeds.

Golden Retriever

Like the Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever’s are gentle, loving, and protective. They are extremely patient – a plus around boisterous children – but have enough energy to keep up with the kids. Originally bred as gun dogs, Golden Retriever’s love to swim and are excellent service dogs.

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Irish Setter

Playful and energetic, the Irish Setter makes an excellent family dog. They love to play and are best suited for families with a yard filled with energetic children. Irish Setters do have a lower life expectancy than other breeds, though. Many Irish Setters only make it to age twelve and few live to be fifteen.

Vizsla

The Vizsla was originally bred as hunting dog in Hungary. They are a loyal, gentle, affectionate, and quiet breed. They have a high energy level and require a lot of exercise – perfect for families with children. Vizsla’s do, however, love to spend time with their family. They are eager to learn and enjoy showing off.

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Newfoundland

With a natural love of children, the Newfoundland is known as “Nature’s Nannies.” Though they are large, they are quite gentle and sweet. Newfoundland’s do tend to shed and drool a lot and do best in families with large spaces due to their size. They love to be around their humans and will love nothing more than to make them happy while keeping an eye on them.

Bull Terrier

An intelligent and friendly breed, the adorable Bull Terrier makes a great family companion. They are energetic and will put up with a lot when it comes to children. They rarely complain about rambunctious children and will even help kids learn how to relate to dogs. Their high energy levels will help tire children out and tend to be protective of their family.

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Collie

Though their gorgeous long coat can be high maintenance, their desire to herd kids will certainly make up for it. Collies are a friendly and intelligent breed that love to please their humans. They’re highly trainable, too, which makes them great family companions.

Beagle

The Beagle is an energetic and friendly breed. They can be a bit high maintenance in terms of bathing and brushing, but they make an ideal family dog. Beagles are sturdy and make great nannies as they would be happy to help you round up the kids for bed. They do have a habit of howling, which is cute in small doses.

Bulldog

Not only are bulldogs absolutely adorable, they are a sturdy breed that will put up with a lot. They’re not overly energetic and have a high tolerance for playful children. Bulldogs are also highly adaptable and are suitable for both apartments or houses.

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Mixes

Another great option for families? Mutts! Mixed breeds are great as they combine the personalities of different breeds into one dog. Visit your local shelter and look for a dog with an energy level that matches with your family. A good rule of thumb, especially if you have younger children, is to focus on the mid-to-larger dogs. Small dogs are more prone to injury either by accidentally stepping on them or knocking into them.

Some dogs are naturals when it comes to families. But that doesn’t mean other breeds aren’t! With the proper training, any dog can be a shining star with a family. These ten dog breeds just happen to shine the brightest.

8 Giant Dog Breeds That Might Be Bigger Than You

It’s not often you see a giant dog walking down the street. But when you do, they’re impossible to miss. These gentle giants are so large – they may even be bigger than you! Here are 8 of the world’s largest dog breeds.

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed and were originally bred to hunt wolves. They have since evolved into a quite gentle dog. Irish Wolfhound’s are true gentle giants that love nothing more than to be with their family. Their average weight is between 115-180 pounds!

Leonberger

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This lion-like dog was named after where they originated from and has an average weight of around 120-180 pounds. With enough attention, exercise, and space, the Leonberger makes an amazing family companion. Plus their deep bark makes for a great watchdog.

Great Dane

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Next to the Irish Wolfhound, the Great Dane is among the tallest dog breeds. They were originally known as the German Mastiff and bred to be a guard dog. But today, they prefer to chill out on the couch – if they can fit! Despite their large size, they are one of the best-natured breeds and great around children.

Saint Bernard

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The Saint Bernard was originally bred as an avalanche rescue and guard dog in Switzerland. Their peaceful and serene temperament helped calm the people they rescued. Today, the Saint Bernard remains a calm and gentle breed weighing in at 140-265 pounds!

Newfoundland

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Newfoundland’s are a hardworking breed that were originally bred to help pull nets and haul wood for fisherman. Today, they remain hardworking but are also sweet-natured and gentle. They can weight up to 150 pounds and make wonderful family companions.

Bullmastiff

Bullmastiff’s may have an intimidating appearance, but they are actually giant softies who love to hang out with their family. They weigh around 100-130 pounds and will make a great watchdog thanks to their size and looks.

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is the cousin of the Bernese Mountain Dog. Like their cousin, they make wonderful family companions. Greater Swiss Bernese Mountain Dogs are a gentle breed and get their size from their original job as farm dogs. They can weigh anywhere from 100-155 pounds.

Great Pyrenees

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A true protector, the Great Pyrenees makes a great family companion and watchdog. They have a gentle disposition and absolutely adore their family. A Great Pyrenees tend to weight between 85-160 pounds.

If you’re looking to add a giant dog to your family, consider one of these eight breeds. Though their size and weight may be intimidating, they are actually big softies just looking for a family to love.

The Happiest Rescue Dog Ever?

Meet Coso, a 7 year-old Australian Shepherd Mix. She was left by a family that felt they could no longer look after her. We have to remember that our dogs are for our lives, they are family. But thankfully, that didn’t stop her from being the happiest rescue dog ever.

Thankfully over the weekend, Lort Smith Animal Hospital, which is also a rescue, saved her and helped her find a new loving family. Corso throws her paws up to celebrate as possibly the happiest rescue dog of all time.

Before Corso left the shelter, she decided she had to pose for one last legendary picture.  Look at how happy she is! Doesn’t this make you want to go out and adopt a pup right this very minute?

More heartwarming rescue dog stories

We love heartwarming stories like this one. Looking for more?  Check out this adorable video of Benny the shelter dog who was also beyond excited to be adopted!

This is one of our all time favorites – a dog adopted by the firefighter that rescued him from an abandoned building. Does it get any sweeter than that? Grab the tissues!

4 Ways To Make Your Senior Rescue Dog Healthier

A senior rescue dog is the sweetest dog. We love them so much and they deserve our love as they enter the twilight of their lives. We do have a special challenge with every senior rescue dog. How do we make senior rescue dogs active and healthy. Our dog experts share their dog training tips.

4 Ways to Make Your Senior Rescue Dog Healthier and More Active

  1. Make Getting Around Easier

Simple task such as climbing into bed with you can become akin to climbing Mt. Everest for your elderly dog. Sure, just a few years ago she’d make that leap without a second thought, but her hips are a little stiff now, maybe her knees hurt, and there was that time she tried to jump, and missed.

Something as simple as foam stairs leading to your bed gives her the freedom to climb on the bed, couches, or into her favorite window nook without pain.

  • All dogs, especially seniors, thrive on routine. Keeping your senior’s favorite walking routes clear can alleviate anxiety. Do this in both the yard, and in your house.

A lift to get into the car is helpful as well.

  • Lay down traction on slippery floors. Tile and hardwood can be tough to navigate with paws, and a slip of the leg can mean a major joint issue for a senior. Putting down a carpet pathway helps them get around the house. If you have wood stairs, it’s a good idea to provide traction there as well.
  1. Exercise is For The Mind as well as The Body

Walking your dog is important. If they are healthy enough to walk, even if it’s just to the mailbox and back, they should do it. Obviously, you need to find the sweet spot between enough exercise and over-use, but they should get some kind of stimulation physically. Remember that dogs are programmed to walk (much like humans, so the walk is good for you, too). Even brief walks help stimulate your senior’s mind, and can relieve anxiety and boredom.

Many times lethargy is attributed to age, when in fact the dog is simply bored silly.

Senior Rescue Dog Getting Active

Swimming is a great way to get your senior moving without stressing their joints.

It may feel silly at first, but if your dog is hurting but you want them to have walk-time, putting them into a doggie stroller can solve this problem. So will simply walking with them in your backyard as they sniff around.

  1. Watch the Weather

Older dogs, like older people, can have trouble regulating their body temperatures. This is especially dangerous in the heat and humidity of summer. Your buddy may be able to do a brisk 15-minute walk in the crisp fall air, but the stifling humidity of august can have 5-minutes feeling like an eternity for her.

Take care to watch their breathing rate in the heat, or extreme cold. Provide cool water in the summer, and take them into the air conditioning after exercising or playing in the heat.

  1. Play

This can be part of exercise, and it is sometimes surprising to new senior-rescuers, but senior rescue dogs still like to play. It may take some research, but you can find something they’ll love to play with. Try out different toys, tennis balls, bones, cat toys (make sure they’re not too small), and ropes. You may just find that they love playing with the box that the toy came in best.

Retirement Farm For Senior Dogs

An Upstate NY Farm Acts as Retirement Community for Senior and Forgotten Dogs

Unfortunately, every year thousands of dogs are abandoned, forgotten, or given to kill shelters. Stray dogs often end up at “the pound” never to be seen again. Senior dogs are hit hard because they are tougher to adopt out. Most people want to buy puppies. 

As anyone involved in rescue knows, seniors have a lot of love and life left in them. 

Luckily, for forgotten senior dogs in the NY area, there is now a wonderful place to call home. 

Silver Streak Kennels Retirement Farm

Silver Streak calls itself a “country retirement home.” It specializes in housing senior dogs that were surrendered by owners, given away, or ended up in shelters. 

Instead of sleeping in a cold, concrete kennel, seniors are free to play on the vast farmland. They are given him cooked meals and vet care. 

Silver Streak is seen as a last resort for many of these seniors. 

Their room and board does come with a cost. Many dogs are sponsored. Others were placed their by families that could no longer take care of them. 

Caring for a Senior Dog In Your Home

It is fortunate for many seniors that places like Silver Streak exist.

But, the better option is to care for your senior in your own home. 

Consider rescuing or fostering a senior dog. You will literally be saving their lives. 

Myths About Senior Dog Adoptions and Care

Many people seek out a puppy when considering a dog. There has been an un-killable belief that:

  • Senior dogs are hard to train
  • Puppies are better behaved because you train them from day one
  • You are inheriting “someone else’s problem”

The reality is that seniors can be trained just as easily as a puppy. In fact, seniors are often easier to train because they have a longer attention span. Because of their life experience, they’ll often pick up new tricks and training much more quickly than puppies. 

Puppies don’t show their true personality until adulthood. Your happy puppy could turn out to be a dominant, stubborn adult. With seniors, you know who they are when you adopt. 

Seniors (and rescues of all ages) are not someone else’s problem.  Many were given up because they lost their youth, were too much work, or the family simply lost interest in them. 

The reality is that adopting or fostering a senior can save their lives. Seniors are active, love to walk with you, and will play. And, the best part is that when play time is over, they’ll happily crash on the couch with you for marathon Netflix binges. 

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