Being homebound during COVID has created an increase in pet adoption and fostering around the country, giving loving homes to a lot of happy pooches. Do you have an old dog, a new dog, or hoping to get a dog very soon? There are several factors to consider when upgrading a backyard or patio that will keep your dog happy and healthy.
First and foremost, dogs need access to food and fresh, clean drinking water. Elevated food and water bowls to avoid neck and posture problems are good for most dogs—their bowls should be square with their chest, so they don’t have to lift their neck up or down to get to food and water. As a general rule, a good height for small breeds is between two and six inches, for medium breeds between seven and 14”, and for larger breeds between 15 and 20.” There are also a variety of self-filling food and water bowls available in a variety of configurations.
The next need to address is protection from heat and sun. Dogs can get sunburned and heat stroke, just like people, but a leafy tree, or an overhead tarp or shade cloth can keep them comfortable and safe. Many dogs like lying in a shallow puddle of water during the hottest part of the day and there are pools made especially for dogs. If you decide to buy an inexpensive kiddie pool made for children, choose one made of hard plastic since an inflatable one can be quickly destroyed by a dog’s sharp teeth and claws.
Dog pools need to be scrubbed and refilled with fresh water every few days and situated in a shady area. If your dog starts treating their dog pool like a chewie toy, take it away so that they don’t accidentally ingest any plastic. From a health standpoint, a well-maintained chlorinated swimming pool does not usually cause any problems for dogs who like to swim, although for safety’s sake dogs need to be supervised in the pool, and in case they should accidentally fall in, there needs to be a way they can get out of the water by themselves.
An escape-proof enclosure or a fully fenced yard will keep your pup safe but make certain your dog can’t jump over or squeeze under or through it. A safe amount of space between vertical pickets for tiny and small dogs like dachshunds, toy poodles, beagles, and small terriers is 1.5” while medium and large breeds are usually safe with spacing up to 3.75”. Huskies, standard poodles, and whippets are examples of medium-sized dogs, while large breeds include bloodhounds, retrievers, setters, German shepherds, Dobermans, and their ilk. It stands to reason that big heavy dogs need substantial enclosures, tall dogs need tall ones, and small dogs will be fine with shorter ones—and if your dog is a jumper, the top of the enclosure needs to be smooth.
Dogs need stimulation, especially if they are left outside by themselves. If your dog is friendly and doesn’t bark at everything that goes by, a viewing bubble or a framed opening in a fence or gate could provide lots of entertainment. If your dog is the Lion King type, an elevated sitting area or large flat rock where they can survey their territory may keep them happy. Add some paths if your dog likes to pace and patrol, with landscaping materials that are soft and easy to walk on but not cling to their fur or paws. Grass, brick, pebbles, flagstone, small bark chips, and mulch, (other than cocoa mulch), are dog friendly and won’t get too hot in the sun.
Some common garden plants are surprisingly dangerous for dogs so do your research. Some that can toxic for dogs include ivy, tomatoes, azaleas, lilies, daffodils, and chrysanthemums. Pick sturdy plants that are not easily damaged like rosebushes, camellias, and lavender. Basil, garlic, lavender, and lemon balm repel mosquitos and will make your patio or back yard comfortable for you and your dog. Of course, toxins like snail bait, rat poison, and pest sprays could be fatal to your pup, and in case you wondered, cocoa mulch needs to be avoided because it can cause the same bad reaction in a dog as chocolate.
Many dogs like marking their territory, so consider setting up a designated pee and poop area with enticing posts, driftwood, or piles of stones to encourage them to do their business in a corner away from your backyard grill. If your dog likes to dig, you may be able to keep them out of your prized roses by giving them their own digging spot, filled with soft sand or mulch that you “salt” with buried chewing bones or toys to lure them away from your plants.
If your dog will be outside in cold or wet weather, move their doghouse to a covered patio or inside the garage. Keep it off the cold ground or concrete by placing it on a thick pad of wood chips or straw. Insulated dog houses are available for purchase, and so are electrically heated bed pads. A door flap or dog-accessible door will keep most of the heat your dog radiates inside their house which will help keep them warm, and their house needs to be sized correctly for your dog’s breed. A large, airy doghouse might be perfect for keeping your pooch comfy during the summer, but in the winter their house needs to be snug and cozy.
An environment that is friendly for your pooch is likely to be friendly for you as well … woof!
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Chinese Medicine for Your Pets
Did you know that pets are feeling the pain of the “new normal” just like we humans are? Their anxiety, confusion of why their people are home all day, and the change in schedule can cause their health to be affected. Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture are not only a healthy, helpful way to take care of your wellness needs, but your pets can use the boost too. Acupuncture has been used on pets (both big and small) for centuries for everything from allergies, digestive issues, arthritis, anxiety, and depression. Plus the same herbs that are prescribed for you can be made into special formulas for your pets as well.
Dr. Mao gave our Wellness Living family member, Louie, a treatment in the park (pictured above) to help him with his anxiety and separation anxiety.
“Louie is a rescue dog. He was abused as a puppy and left in a cage outdoors, unloved. Once we adopted him, and he got to love us (and we him) he became extremely attached and suffered from both claustrophobia as well as separation anxiety. He had learned that it was ok when we would leave, but now with the pandemic and us rarely going out, he has reverted to fearing being left alone. Acupuncture helped chill him out from his panic.”
Herbal Pet Care
Natural vegan Chinese herbal pet products to keep your dog and cat healthy, comfortable, and strong. Non-GMO, vegan, and cruelty-free with 50% of sales donated to the Voice for the Animals Foundation, an animal welfare organization, in collaboration with Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic.
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- S. Kaye