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Cruisin' Canines

Barbecues and Cookouts: Fun for Humans, Dangerous for Dogs

Safe cookout tips from dog related accidents

As we head into spring and summer—the period of time most of us spend as much time outdoors as possible—it’s impossible not to get excited about the prospect of barbecues and cookouts. While these are fun for those attending, they can often pose a significant danger to dogs in a variety of ways. Before you fire up the grill, check out our tips for ensuring a successful and safe cookout. Don’t Give Your Dog Too Many Scraps We’ve all fallen victim to puppy-dog eyes from time to time, but it’s important to make sure your dog doesn’t get too many “treats” during the cookout. Not only can it upset your dog’s stomach, but also in the case of things like grilled bone-in chicken or wings, it’s possible for your dog to swallow chicken bones, which can be hazardous. Make sure your guests know that your dog shouldn’t be given any table scraps, and gently enforce that rule if you see it being broken. In the same vein, be sure to keep alcoholic beverages away from dogs, as some of them will see an unattended cup as a great opportunity. Keep the Grill Away from Pets When people are playing with the dog, be sure they are doing so far away from the grill. One misstep can cause serious injury to the dog, the people, or both. If your dog is particularly jumpy, you may even want to consider keeping the grill behind some type of temporary fence so that the dog doesn’t try to jump at you while you are flipping burgers. The only dog near the grill should be a hot dog. Pay Attention to Your Dog Aside from actually spending time with your dog, we actually mean paying attention to your dog’s demeanor to ensure that they aren’t getting too tired, too hot, or too over-stimulated at the cookout. Too many people around can overwhelm dogs easily, and if you notice your dog becoming antsy or aggressive, you may want to consider bringing the dog inside. While your dog is outside, also be sure to check that he or she has enough water—especially if your cookout is on a hot, sunny day or your dog runs around a lot. Keep Other Dangers Away from the Dog Other things at cookouts can be dangerous aside from food scraps and the grill itself. Things like bug repellant and citronella candles, for instance, can be imbibed or knocked over, causing injury or other problems, and charcoal can also be mistaken for kibble (albeit very large kibble!) so that should also be kept away from dogs. Cookouts can be fun, and they don’t require much additional planning in order to keep your pets safe, but there should be some extra precautions in place to ensure the event goes off without a hitch.

How to Choose the Best Dog Treats

  It can be difficult to find a good dog treat. At most pet stores, they take up a full aisle, so it can be overwhelming looking at the different packages and trying to make the best choice for your pet. Treats can be given for training or for rewards, and it’s important to be sure that you’re giving your dog something that won’t be too unhealthy—after all, you wouldn’t eat a dozen cookies in one day, would you? 1) Check the Ingredients Make sure that treats you’re considering aren’t made with a lot of fat or sugar—instead, check for whole grains and a single source of protein, for instance.  Oats and chicken or lamb are good for treats, and filler ingredients shouldn’t be non-nutritious things. 2) Watch the Calories Even with treats that are made with high-quality ingredients, you need to be mindful of the amount of calories that are in each one, particularly if you’re using them as training treats and giving your dog multiple treats in one go. If you’re giving biscuits, they can really add up and in just a short amount of time cause your dog to gain a lot of weight. 3) Avoid Table Scraps Table scraps might be what your dog seeks out most, but they’re not very healthy—they can be high in calories, fat and sodium, and they should only be given table scraps on special occasions—most experts say never to do so, but if we’re being realistic, sooner or later you’ll want to give your pooch a piece of chicken or steak. 4) Vegetables Are Great One way to avoid having to worry about picking out treats is to simply cut up some veggies and use those as treats. Many dogs like carrots, so you can cut up some carrots into small bites (just make sure they won’t choke on them), or try out bell peppers. Make sure that you aren’t giving them anything dangerous, though—dogs aren’t supposed to eat certain foods like avocados, grapes, potatoes, mushrooms, and most tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.). Vegetable scraps and chunks can be a great alternative to processed/packaged treats, and they’re low in calories and high in nutrients. Keeping your dog healthy is part of the responsibilities of being a dog owner. Like you would with your diet, make sure to pay attention to what you’re feeding your pet so that they don’t consume too many calories.

Don’t Let the Cold Weather Make Your Dog Fat

  When it gets cold outside, it can be understandably more difficult to find the motivation to take your dog on longer walks. You’re cold, they’re cold, and even with the cutest dog sweaters and jackets available, it’s still no fun being outside for any length of time. While it’s fine to shorten your dog walks a bit, it’s important to make sure that the winter weather doesn’t give cause for your pooch to make a New Year’s Resolution to hit the gym. Check out these helpful tips for keeping your dog’s beach body afloat all year long. 1) Play Fetch Inside Making your pet run the length of your house is an easy way to get them to burn off some energy (and calories) even when they’re not outside. If your dog isn’t great at playing fetch, you might have to get their toys for them in the beginning. You can train them to fetch using treats, but don’t go overboard, because then you’re back at square one. 2) Check to See if Your Neighborhood Has an Indoor Play Space Some cities and neighborhoods have indoor spots for dogs and their owners to gather so that the dogs can get some exercise and socialization without having to endure the cold. Find out if your town has one of these, and if so, take advantage of it (but only if your dog is good around other dogs, obviously). 3) Consider Doggy Daycare In a similar vein to indoor play spaces, you might want to consider dropping your pet off at a doggy daycare once or twice a week. This will not only keep them socialized and tired from playing, but they’ll get to run around all day and burn off some of that excess energy. 4) Hire a Dog Walker for More Walks If you’re not interested in full-day doggy daycare, another option to consider is bringing on a dog walker once a day or a couple times a week. This way, your dog can still enjoy outside time, but you won’t have to freeze out there with them. Most dog walking services, including Cruisin’ Canines, set up routine walks with your dog so that they can get regular exercise. 5) Feed Them Slightly Less Of course, like with humans, dogs can adjust their diet in accordance with activity level. Look at it like this: if you were training for a marathon, it would be fine to eat a few hundred extra calories a day. However, if you finished the marathon and stopped running altogether but kept up that diet, you’d gain weight. The same can be said for dogs—when they’re not walking as much, you can cut back on how much you’re feeding them. For instance, if they typically get a half cup every morning and night, cut it back by a few tablespoons per day—not enough to make your dog feel truly hungry, but just a few bites less to curb the difference from having shorter walks. Keeping your dog in good shape is essential for their overall health, not to mention better on their joints (and hey, it could save you a few bucks on their food over the next few months). Follow these tips and you’ll be worrying about how to avoid getting wet from spring showers in no time.

What Kind of Food is Best for Your Dog?

As humans, we get the luxury of eating virtually whatever we want, whenever we want. Dogs, however, don’t have that option—obviously. As pet owners, we’re responsible for making sure our dogs have a good diet—not too many snacks, enough vitamins and minerals, protein, etc. With all of the options on the shelves these days, though, it’s overwhelming to try and decide what to give your dog. There are even canned food brands that market their food as actual, human-food type meals, with varieties including “Grammy’s Pot Pie,” “Thanksgiving Day Dinner,” and more. So with all of the information floating around about grain-free, corn-free, high-protein and more, how can you know which is the best for your pooch? Check out these tips that will help you narrow down your choices. Weigh the Pros and Cons While both dry kibble and wet canned food offer health benefits to dogs, there are a few things that stand out about each. Dry food is easy to store and measure, and it has benefits for your dog’s digestive system because it is easy to digest. It is also said that dry food can scrub your dog’s teeth and gums, an often-disputed idea, as it can theoretically be compared to the health benefits of people eating cereal for tooth and gum health—potentially questionable. It is also typically less expensive than canned food. One drawback of dry kibble, however, is that is tends to be higher in carbohydrates and fillers than canned food, which can cause weight gain. As for canned food, some of the perks are that it has a long shelf life and is higher in moisture and protein, which can be beneficial for a dog’s digestive system and urinary tract. It can be more difficult to measure out, however, and must be refrigerated after it’s opened. Canned food can make dogs feel fuller longer, which is good for dogs who are on weight management programs or who are prone to being overweight. What About Grains? Many dog foods include things like corn, wheat and other grains as filler, which while enjoyable for the dog’s palate, may not be as healthy as you’d prefer. Grain-free food is often touted as being better for some dogs nowadays, particularly those with allergies or sensitivities; like some people, some dogs can be allergic to gluten or corn. Grain-free food provides a lot of energy and nutrition for your dog, so it’s great for active dogs. However, if your pet is not as active or requires less exercise, these richer foods can cause weight gain. Is Mixing the Two Okay? To get the best of both worlds, you can choose to mix the two types of foods. This will offset any potential negatives from your dog eating only one or the other, and it also provides variety for your pet so that they don’t have to eat the same thing every day for every meal. You can, however, always ask your vet for advice before switching your pet’s food, and if you do change your dog’s diet, you’ll want to do so gradually so as not to upset their digestive system.

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