Dexter’s Diary: Dexter moves in

Welcome back to our series following Dexter the Cocker Spaniel through his first six months growing up! He’s now been at his forever home for two weeks and is having all sorts of adventures. In case you missed the first two parts, catch up with Molly’s Pregnancy and Introducing Dexter (links included when live).

At 8 weeks old, a puppy is full of energy. They are fully mobile and ready to learn all about the world around them (and tire out poor mum too…!) It’s only after two months that the puppies are old enough to re-home, and this is usually done between 8 and 12 weeks.

New place to call ‘home’

Dexter cocker spaniel exploring in the home

It’s a big world for a little pup!

With such keen senses, a new environment can be very overwhelming for a young puppy. They’ll want to see and sniff everything in sight. Dexter was brought into the home of Max and Michael to join their family which also includes two older Cavalier King Charles spaniels, George and Milo.

Their new home was set up with the essential to welcome the new addition and he got straight to work finding his new bedroom.

Crate image (awaiting from Max)

With having two other dogs, Dexter is being crate trained, working towards it becoming his go-to place for when he wants some quiet time (and hide his goodies he doesn’t want to share!) In his crate is his bed (including a square of blanket which has his mum’s scent on), water bowl and toys.

Becoming part of the family

Cavalier King Spaniels and Cocker Spaniel  on wooden floor

From L to R: Milo, George, and Dexter

As Dexter has left his own siblings and enters a new home with two other dogs, their personalities have adapted to fit a new member into their pack. The older of the two, George, found new brother a bit of a shock! To reassert his position as the leader he has become more protective of his food and space. Milo is younger and has found a new shadow in the form of Dexter, he’s taken the little pup under his paw and is acting like a real big brother.

First night

Dexter Cocker Spaniel asleep on the sofa

No mischief can be caused whilst they’re sleeping!

It’s an exciting and overwhelming time for both puppy and owner having a new bedtime routine, but it is important to begin training from his first night at home. So, for Dexter, it’s taking a trip outside for the bathroom before going in the crate with a treat-filled toy (such as our Busy Buddy® Twist ‘n Treat™). This reduces the risk of any accidents during the night and keeps him entertained and discourages barking.

The first few nights are always hard work, and Dexter’s re-homing was no different. After 3 hours he settled down from whining but it’s important that this undesired behaviour is ignored so it doesn’t become routine (however hard it is to ignore the sad whining of a puppy you’ll be glad you did!)

Next steps

Dexter Cocker Spaniel outside on the frosty grass

…only little steps I hope, I haven’t got very long legs!

Dexter is learning so quickly. Just like human children, puppy’s infantile stage is their most mentally absorbent phase. He is learning his name and what is expected of him, but soon his world is going to get much bigger! In next month’s diary, Dexter gets his second jabs and will be fully vaccinated to explore the big wide world.

What do you think of Dexter and his adventures so far? Let us know in the comments below!

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Is your cat getting fat? Tackling the pet obesity problem

Obesity is one of the biggest health challenges facing the human race, but it’s a growing problem for our pets too. According to new research, pet obesity levels have risen for the sixth straight year in the US.

The report from pet insurance provider Nationwide reveals that its members filed 1.3 million claims for pet obesity-related diseases in 2015. Over the last three years, this type of claim has risen by 23%.

There is evidence that the problem is growing in the UK too, with Animal Friends pet insurance recently reporting a 312% increase in cases of arthritis in dogs. Experts believe that weight problems are behind the growing prevalence of other animal health conditions such as arthritis.

Obesity-related problems

Obese golden Labrador lays on the kitchen tiles with tongue out

Both cats and dogs are at risk of a variety of health problems if they develop excessive body fat. Nationwide found that arthritis is the most common obesity-related condition in dogs, while bladder or urinary tract disease has emerged as the most likely ailment for overweight cats.

Other obesity-related conditions commonly seen in cats include chronic kidney disease, diabetes, asthma and liver disease. Obese dogs can suffer from urinary tract problems just like their feline counterparts, as well as low thyroid hormone production, liver disease and torn knee ligaments.

Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer at Nationwide, said it is important for people to look after their pet’s weight by giving them a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. “The new year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid excess weight.”

Giving pets excess or inappropriate food is the main reason for obesity, but a lack of exercise can be a major factor too. It’s important to keep your pet active – and that usually means more than just a quick walk round the block if you’re a dog owner. Remember that certain breeds have a higher risk of obesity as well. Labradors and Golden Retrievers, as well as Pugs, are some of the breeds that are more likely to be overweight.

How to check your pet’s weight

white and brown spaniel enjoying the beach

Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult your vet if you’re concerned your pet is putting on too many pounds. However, you can also carry out a few simple weight checks at home. According to the RSPCA:

  • You should be able to see and feel the outline of the ribs without excess fat covering
  • You should be able to see and feel your pet’s waist (and it should be clearly visible from above)
  • Your animal’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side

The charity advises getting in touch with your vet if your pet does not pass these checks.

Exercise tips to help prevent obesity

Golden Labrador in harness going for a walk in the grass

Everyone knows that dogs need daily exercise, so make a good walk part of your routine – and stick to it! You can make walking your pooch easier, especially if you have a big and powerful dog, with an Easy Walk® Deluxe Harness or EasySport™ Harness from PetSafe® Brand.

Simple games like fetch are perfect for helping your dog exercise and you can even play it inside if you have enough room. For really energetic dogs, you could consider a regular organised activity such as agility classes or flyball – a fun and increasingly popular sport in which teams of dogs compete against each other.

Unlike our canine companions, cats have the advantage of a high metabolism that works even when they’re lounging around in their favourite spot. But that doesn’t mean they don’t benefit from a mild workout every day. If your cat stays inside all the time, it’s particularly important to make sure they stay active. Many vets believe indoor cats don’t get enough exercise.

Playing with your cat for 30 minutes or so each day is a great way to promote exercise. Toys like the FroliCat® DART™ Automatic Rotating Laser Light can also help – and even encourage your cat to stay active when you’re not around.

Are you concerned by pet obesity? And do you have any special exercise tips for fellow cat or dog owners? Let us know in the comments.

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What are the biggest health risks to your dog?

At PetSafe® Brand, we know dogs really are a man’s best friend! Our furbabies are a huge part of our lives and we hope that they’ll be happy and healthy their whole lives. And watching out for some ‘tell-tail’ signs in your pet’s health means you can keep them at their best. We take a look at the biggest health risks below…

Diabetes

A golden retriever dog lying in bed feeling cold

It’s estimated that 1 out of every 100 dogs will develop diabetes, and is most likely to occur between the ages of 4 and 14. And, unspayed female dogs are twice as likely as male dogs to suffer from diabetes.

Symptoms:

  • Drinks more water than usual
  • Urinates more often, produces more urine per day, or has accidents in the house
  • Always acts hungry but maintains or loses weight
  • Has cloudy eyes

You can find out more about pet diabetes in our earlier blog post and find out the likelihood of your dog developing diabetes.

Obesity

A pug dog lying down looking up

Estimates show that up to 1 in 3 dogs are overweight in the UK, simply through eating too much or exercising too little. The PDSA found that there were two main causes of pet obesity; overfeeding in general and feeding pets treats such as cheese, chips, and crisps throughout the day.

Effects of obesity:

  • arthritis
  • urinary tract problems
  • low thyroid hormone production
  • liver disease
  • torn knee ligaments

For tips on how to get on the move with your canine companion, you can read our blog post ‘don’t just take your dog for a walk, take him for a run’.

Arthritis

Border Collie Australian shepherd dog on brown leather couch under blanket looking sad

Arthritis is, unfortunately, very common in our furry friends with 1 in 5 dogs affected by it in their lifetime. It’s a lot more common in older dogs as their bones become degenerative and eventually affect their movement.

Signs to look out for:

  • Slow to get up
  • Hesitant climbing steps, jumping up, running etc.
  • Less active and playful
  • Lying down and sleeping more

It might not be possible to treat arthritis but there are steps you can take to make it easier on your pet. A balanced and nutritious diet and regular walks will help keep your pooch at their best.

In an earlier blog post, we asked a vet ‘What health advice would you give to pet owners…?’ Read the full interview here.

Cancer

Yellow lab enjoying the fall air in the back yard

Sadly, 1 in 3 dogs will develop cancer, and the three most common areas affected are the skin, the digestive system and the breast. Although it is a horrible thought to face, being informed what to look out for in your pup will help you identify the next steps with the help of a vet.

Symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Limping
  • Recurrent digestive problems

For help and support if your dog has cancer, you can find more information here at Blue Cross: Coping with Cancer in Dogs.

Enjoying time with your dog is important not just to keep your eye on their physical condition but also to connect with them, and deepen the bond that can only truly come from man’s best friend.

Do you have any stories to share with us? Let us know in the comments below.

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