Does my dog need flea treatment in the autumn months? Pumpkins are seen everywhere in the fall— can I feed my dog pumpkin for tummy upset? These are questions dog parents start thinking about as the seasons change. However, there are many dog myths about autumn floating around on the cooler breezes. Not all things you read online are true (surprise surprise he he), but here are eight dog myths debunked:
Myth: My dog is safe in the car during cooler months.
Fact: Do not, repeat: Do not leave your dog in a car unattended. Cars act like a refrigerator in the winter months and not only that, but a dog alone in a car is subject to theft. During fall months, a sitting dog alone is subject to a variety of dangers. I read and research a lot in the dog world and news related to dogs, and I have read more stories about dog theft in the last 30 days than ever before. Please do not think “five minutes” is okay while running into a store or just for a quick “pit stop to see a friend.” From California to Maine, dogs are going missing and being stolen from cars. Worse yet, leaving a dog tied to a pole outside of a store while you run in is like asking for sharks not to bite a rump roast while you tap dance across town.
Myth: Fleas and tucks go away in the fall and winter.
Fact: Fall and winter months do not eradicate fleas and ticks. In fact, last winter a hiking friend of mine found two ticks on her dog in February. Fleas and ticks will make a home beneath piles of leaves, so proceed with caution. Although fleas may not survive in brutal winter temperatures outside, the warmth of home means fleas gravitate towards indoor comfort where they can affect pets. I am a fan of non-chemical ways to prevent nasty ticks and fleas. Our Puppy Relations Manager, Dexter, goes the safer route with human grade Diatomaceous Earth, one version is from a company called DERMagic, which has a version called Flea Dust.
Myth: A dog’s pads protect them from all elements of weather.
Fact: Though a dog’s pads contain much fatty tissue that does not freeze as easily as other tissues, protection against scuffing, scraping, cutting, and ice damage is crucial in fall and winter months. Ice cubes and “snowballing” may occur in the delicate areas between toes and pads. Protective booties or a product like Musher’s Secret, which is used on sledding dogs, can help ease extreme conditions on sensitive pads.
Myth: Though a humidifier may help people, it does not do much for our pets during winter heating season.
Fact: Dry air in the home can make pets itchier, cause dry noses, upper respiratory infections, more dander, and dry throats. Consider a humidifier, talk to the veterinarian about skin conditioners and fatty acid supplements for healthy skin.
Myth: I can slack off on cleaning my dog’s teeth as we get into the fall and winter months.
Fact: According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. If pet parents don’t attend to the dog’s teeth, oral disease can hit the kidneys, liver and heart, and seriously affect a dog’s quality of life. None of us want that. My rule of thumb and paw: Brush my dog’s teeth as I would my own; so two times a day works famously. If you can only do it once, you just hit tartar where it counts. Be sure the toothpaste is made for dogs. I use CET vanilla and mint, available at the vet. Dogs cannot spit and the enzymes that make human toothpaste foam are bad for them. Smile and woof it up with Fido!
Myth: I don’t need to check my dog’s food since I store it properly.
Fact: Do a double check and ensure the dog’s food is fresh and properly stored. Just as we wouldn’t want to eat stale food (nor is it safe), the same holds true for our pooches. Here’s a go-to list for reference and guidelines:
Wet or Dry Dog Food: ALWAYS look for “best used by” or “sell by” date to ensure freshness.
Dry food: Store in sturdy plastic containers with a lid or in a clean galvanized metal garbage can with a lid or even a large popcorn tin with lid. Make sure containers are sealed and airtight.
Unopened Cans of Wet Food: Store in a cool, dry place.
Opened Can of Wet Food: Purchase plastic lids that fit over the can and store in refrigerator. Do not reuse after two or three days. Another option: Depending upon the amount of food Fido eats, the remainder of wet food can be divided into scoops in a ice cube tray and frozen. Before using it, scoop out needed portions and place each serving in a zip-lock bag and thaw in the refrigerator.
Uneaten Dehydrated Food: Store in an enamel or other airtight container with resealable plastic lid. Treat as you would fresh food. Store in zip-lock bags in the freezer or in the refrigerator for shorter periods of time.
Treats: Most dog treats and snacks should be stored in ceramic jars or stainless steel containers with lids. Look for expiration dates, and throw away any expired treats. They can and do make dogs sick or worse.
Myth: I can feed my dog pumpkin pie filling for an upset tummy.
Fact: You can feed your dog canned pumpkin for stomach upset and discomfort but not the sugary, raw, spicy pumpkin pie filling. Generally speaking, a dog with soft or loose stool may find comfort in having a teaspoon to tablespoon (depending on size/weight) of canned pumpkin with their meal. A tablespoon or two of canned pumpkin added to food is a good source of fiber yet is low in calories.
Myth: My dog should gain some extra pounds in the cooler months to help keep warm.
Fact: Not all dogs are created equally and not all dogs should gain weight to “stay warm.” An overweight dog is more prone to heart disease, cancers, diabetes and a host of ailments, not to mention a decrease in metabolism. Dogs should stay active with indoor games, brisk walks, and activities to stimulate their bodies and minds all year long, despite the season.
So what are you doing to keep your dog safe and protected in the cooler months? Bark at us below in the comments.