The Happy Beast - Blog - Dog Health

How To Help Your Dog Love Baths

Bathing and grooming a dog are important bonding and hygienic experiences for owner and pup. But for some, grooming and bathing our dogs is not always an easy task even for our water-loving friends. In the past, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside a few wonderful groomers and have bathed countless dogs myself. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get your pup to enjoy a bath (or at least tolerate it)!

  • Start young: Dogs are creatures of patterns and habits so it should come as no surprise that if you begin doing baths regularly (every other week), especially when they are puppies, the process will become easier as they grow older. Desensitization or positive association to certain events or stimulus can act to protect your dog from becoming anxious about a bath.
  • Don’t underestimate a good treat: If possible, bring another trusted companion with you and have that person feed your dog her favorite treat and pet her if you’re dealing with high anxiety.

If you’ve adopted an older dog from a shelter with bathing anxiety, and have little to no background on her prior experience with baths, the next few solutions may prove even more helpful to you.

  • Small steps: Sometimes just the sounds, energy, placement, and surroundings of a bath can create anxiety for dogs. If you are using our tubs at The Happy Beast and have an anxious dog, I always suggest bringing in your pup to inspect the surroundings before giving her a bath. Letting your dog understand that she’s safe and there is no need for fear can sometimes be a great step to lessen anxiety.
  • Treats, treats, treats: While giving a bath, make it short and sweet. Then, over time, slowly work up to a full bath, using our blow dryer, additional brushing, etc. Sometimes small experiences increase the success of the larger experience. We want our dogs to associate the experience with either a neutral result or a positive result. A small treat provides a quick, positive stimulus for most dogs because they’re food-motivated animals.
  • Getting over the evil, loud, blow dryer: It’s also no surprise that most dogs absolutely hate the blow dryer (which is the most effective way to get all that pesky undercoat hair dry). Once again, gradual desensitization and more treats can help most dogs learn to tolerate the dryer. A few other tips:
    • When blow drying a nervous dog, always take off the nozzle on the dryer. This lowers the noise significantly and allows for a more “even” feeling on their skin, which feels more like wind than a dryer.
    • Never begin with your dog’s face or close-up. Start a few feet away from your dog with the dryer and blow directly at her midsection. As your dog becomes more comfortable, you can bring the dryer closer and move it slowly back and forth.
    • Avoid any known sensitive areas and do in small increments over time to allow your dog to get more comfortable.
  • CBD and anti-anxiety treats: For some of us dog owners, no matter how much positive reinforcement or treats we give, our dogs will still panic when it comes to baths. As someone who strongly believes in the use of CBD for anxiety (see our blog post about CBD for more information), this is an underrated tool that can help make any stressful situation safer and less stressful for you and your dog.
    • At The Happy Beast, we carry a wide variety of CBD and natural anti-anxiety treats. CBD acts as a safe way to lower the anxiety response and allow the bath experience to be less stressful. Always give your dog the recommended dose for her specific weight and what the situation calls for. Administer the dose about an hour before you come in for a bath.

To summarize, baths are an important part of upkeep for your dog’s skin and coat and helps reduce excess hair and dander around your home. Although all dogs react, interact, and learn differently, I hope some of these suggestions help guide you to an easier and more fun experience bathing your dog.

Have any questions? Feel free to call, email, or stop by the store to try out our self-serve dog wash. We provide the tubs, shampoo, conditioner, towels, blow dryer, and treats – all for just $12. Or take advantage of discounted washes for $10 on Wash Day Wednesdays.

Self-Serve Dog Wash | The Happy Beast

What to Know about Grain-free Diets & DCM

Over the last year, and especially ramping up over the last couple of months, we have had a lot of discussions with customers regarding grain-free diets, and concerns about their potential of causing heart disease in dogs – more specifically, canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). We feel it is important to address this topic and review new research with an open mind by looking at all the information and facts available.

What is the issue? 

The concern being raised by some in the veterinarian community is that the legumes and/or potatoes in grain-free diets are either interfering with the absorption of taurine, or that these diets simply do not have enough taurine in them, which is leading to diet related Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). However, not all dogs that develop DCM are taurine deficient and the causes of DCM can also be hereditary or unknown. At this time, the research is inconclusive and the information that is available is rather difficult to navigate. 

What is DCM?

Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a heart disease in dogs that is characterized by weakening of the heart muscle, which leads to a decreased ability of the heart to pump, and if untreated, to cardiac failure. 

This article, “DCM in Dogs: Taurine’s Role in the Canine Diet” in Whole Dog Journal is another great resource if you’re looking for more background information.

What is Taurine? 

Taurine is an essential amino acid found in meat, fish, and in smaller concentrations in dairy products. It is an essential building block of protein. From our perspective, the current debate shouldn’t be about Grain-Free vs Grain-Based, but what happens when we feed a carbohydrate-based food? All kibble is produced with a heavy amount of carbohydrates. Making kibble is like baking –you have to have a flour source, whether that is grain, potatoes, or legumes. All companies add a synthetic vitamin and mineral pack to their kibble diets in order to compensate for the lack of fresh ingredients, especially meat, in order to meet minimum nutritional requirements. Because kibble is so heavily processed, there could be other factors affecting the levels of taurine found in the food and how it is absorbed in the body. 

What should I take away from all this? 

We feel there are valid reasons to question the nutritional completeness of all kibble formulas; not just grain-free diets. It has always been our motto to incorporate as much fresh, less-processed food into your animals’ diets as possible. 

We need to broaden our considerations when it comes to the food we traditionally feed our animals. For example, asking, “What happens when we feed our dogs one diet for most of their lives?” “Can any one brand, protein, or flavor meet the nutritional needs of every animal on an individual basis?” “If humans cannot thrive on a fortified cereal for our entire lives, why do we expect our animals to be able to?”

Long story short, we recommend: 

  • Adding fresh, unprocessed meat into the diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid derived from meat, so if the concern is that these animals are developing DCM from a taurine deficiency then we conclude that adding meat is the solution.
  • Use kibble for additional calories and a budget buffer and consider fresh food as your animal’s nutritional foundation.

Other Resources

How To Choose the Right Bone for Your Dog or Cat

We believe strongly in the benefits of chewing on bones for both cats and dogs. Your animal’s mouth is her greatest tool, so it is important to take good care of it! Chewing bones is a great way for them to exercise their jaw muscles, clean their teeth, and provide mental stimulation. (Check out our previous blog posts on the benefits of bones for dogs and cats!)

However, chewing on bones does carry risks, such as breaking a tooth and/or choking. It is important to be aware of the risks and how to safely choose a bone to maximize the benefits and reduce the potential risks.

In order to minimize the risks of chewing on bones, you should take into consideration size, density, and chewing tendencies of your animal:

  • Size: Bones should be large enough that the dog or cat cannot fit the bone entirely into their mouth. If it is too small, the animal could choke on it.
  • Density: Stronger chewers should stick to bones that are more dense or stronger, such as a shank bones, antlers, goat horn, and beef or bison femur bones. Less aggressive chewers may be safe with less dense bones such as lamb or pork bones.
  • Chewing Tendencies: Bones are intended to be gnawed on over a long period of time, not crushed and swallowed. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, and can break large pieces of bone off, then it is important to take the bone away and discard the pieces.

In addition, you should always supervise your animal when she is enjoying a bone just to make sure that she is chewing properly and there are no choking risks.

Finally, if you are ever unsure of what the right bone may be for your cat or dog, please ask us and we’ll be happy to walk you through the various options.

Understanding Puppy Food

What’s different about puppy foods?

Dog food for puppies, or any food labeled for “growth and gestation” are required by the FDA to have higher levels of protein and fat than foods labeled for adult dogs. More specifically, puppy food must have a dry matter minimum of 22.5% protein and 8.5% fat, compared to minimum 18% protein and 5.5% fat for adult dogs.

Many dog food brands will cut the amount of protein and fat in their adult formulas because nutritionally-dense ingredients are expensive. These companies can use less expensive ingredients and still meet the FDA requirements. However, just because dogs can survive with these nutrient levels doesn’t mean they will thrive.

Instead of taking this approach, at The Happy Beast, we recommend quality brands and foods for puppies that are labeled for ‘All Life Stages,’ meaning the diet is appropriate for dogs from puppyhood all the way through their senior years. Instead of replacing high quality meat with less expensive fillers for adult dogs, the brands we recommend choose to promote a high protein diet in line with the nutritional requirements of a canine for the entire life of the dog.

Special Consideration for Large Breed Puppies

The term ‘large breed’ is generally used for dogs that are at least 70 lbs when they are full grown. Conservatively, we can lump puppies who will be 50 lbs or more into this group when we look at feeding requirements. The most up-to-date research tells us that we need to control calorie and calcium intake to make sure these puppies don’t grow too quickly. While many hip and joint problems are caused by genetics, slow and consistent bone growth throughout puppyhood is thought to reduce the severity of conditions like hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis, and developmental orthopedic disease.

If you have a large breed puppy, carefully regulate how many calories are consumed on a daily basis, including bones, chews, and treats. Check your puppy’s weight frequently. You should be able to feel his ribs without using too much pressure when you run your hands over his sides.

Fresher is always better!

Incorporate as much fresh food into your puppy’s diet as possible, which will naturally include a variety of beneficial nutrients and enzymes, which help promote digestion. There are a variety of fresh food options, but a few of our favorites include:

  • Treats: Air-dried or freeze-dried like The Real Meat Co, Smallbatch, and ZiwiPeak
  • Raw Goat Milk: Bark n’ Big, Pure, or Answers
  • Meal Toppers: Rehydrated Sojo’s or Grandma Lucy’s

In summary, puppyhood is a critical time for your dog to develop a healthy digestive system, which helps build and strengthen your dog’s overall immune system. While there can be a lot of hype around “puppy food” labels, we recommend you simply choose a balanced, raw food (frozen, air-dried, or dehydrated) as a simple way to ensure you’re giving your puppy everything he needs to live a long, healthy, and happy life.

Got a new puppy at your house? Stop by the store to talk more and we’ll help you figure out the best option for your pup.

Restricted Exercise? The Five Things That Helped Us Survive My Dog’s Injury Recovery

Restricting exercise is often a first line of healing for dogs with soft tissue injuries, but is also prescribed for dogs recovering from surgeries (including spay, neuter, and ACL repair) and broken bones. Your vet may recommend keeping your dog kenneled when you aren’t home, short leashed walks lasting 5-30 minutes, no running in the yard and no jumping on furniture.

For my super active Aussie-mix, restricted exercise sounds like torture, but we’ve made it four weeks and only have two to go!

These are the five things I brought home from The Happy Beast that are helping her heal faster and bust through the boredom.

FYDO Bagel Bed

I’m a total sucker when it comes to dogs on the furniture. The FYDO Bagel Bed is so plush and snuggly that my dog thinks it’s an appropriate substitute for sleeping on my bed.

Tip: I turned all the furniture to face the wall so there’s no temptation for her to jump up. If you don’t want to lose access to your sofa and chairs, put heavy books on the cushions or block them with baby gates.

InClover’s Connectin

Connectin was developed as a joint support with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, so it’s amazing for dogs with joint pain and arthritis. My dog has a soft tissue injury, so I chose Connectin for its anti-inflammatory and circulatory-stimulating properties. InClover’s clinical studies were done on volunteered animals who already showed joint problems (which I find to be more ethical than studies done by other companies where healthy animals were inflicted with joint pain as part of the study- yikes!) InClover’s studies “show significant relief in weight bearing discomfort and increase in mobility”.

Tip: Connectin is available in three different forms. My dog is taking a crunchy tablet dipped in peanut butter every morning. I saw noticeable improvement after 14 days.

CBDRX Hemp Oil

CBD is quickly gaining popularity for treating pain and inflammation and decreasing anxiety in animals. (Read our blog on how it works.) CBDRX grows their own organic hemp plants in southern Colorado and extracts the CBDs in their facility in Boulder.

Tip: You want to use the lowest effective dose- which their representative described to me as one drop less than what makes my dog sleepy. I started with four drops, and worked up to half of a dropper. When I went over that dose, she slept really hard. (CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties, so you don’t have to worry about your animal getting “high.”)

Clicker and Training Treats

Since my dog is getting limited physical exercise, I’m increasing her mental exercise! Check out these stationary games we’re playing this month. My dog loves clicker training, so I chose a few tricks that can be done without her standing up and moving around. She almost has “lick your lips” figured out and it’s so funny!

West Paw Brain Toys

West Paw’s Zogoflex are stuffable and more challenging than a traditional Kong. Load them up with canned dog food, peanut butter or treats and freeze for a longer lasting “puzzle.”

Tip: It’s extra important to watch calories since your dog is getting limited exercise. On days when your dog is getting a lot of treats, feed less food at meal times. You can also use a Zogoflex toy in place of a dog bowl, and make mealtime into playtime!