Hypoallergenic Dogs

According to the Mayo Clinic Allergy Division, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Most dog allergies are not caused by fur, or shedding, but from a protein that is found in dog saliva and urine. Since dogs use their tongue to clean themselves, the protein in the saliva sticks to our fur when we groom. This protein turns into flakes called dander. Dander is the cause of most people’s pet allergies.

Dogs that do not shed, like the designer breed GoldenDoodle or my brother and sister Yorkshire Terriers, still have dander. But since their hair does not come loose the dander stays in their fur on their body. As all dog Mom’s and Dad’s of shedding dogs know, when hair gets lose, it flies into the air and lands all over the home – on shelves, counters, chairs and the floor. So dander is all over your home. With a non-shedding dog, the dander stays on their fur, and not around your home. This means allergy suffers will have less exposure to the dander and therefore less allergy symptoms with a non-shedding pup. However, you are still allergic to the dog.

So if you are allergic to dogs but want to be a dog parent, you should still look to adopt the non-shedding “hypoallergenic” dogs to lessen your symptoms. Also go for a smaller dog (smaller dog = less dander produced) and bathe him or her frequently to remove the dander from their coat. Make sure your new pup does not go into your bedroom. And you should use air filters in rooms where your dog does spend a lot of time as well as vacuuming regularly to get any dander that may have fallen off your pup out of your home.

Vacuum regularly to clean up any dog dander in your home.

So there you have it. Humans can be allergic to dogs (I still think that is weird!) and there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. But you can have dog allergies and have a dog in your home by following some simple guidelines.

Matthew Scott
Owner, Creature Comforts of Charlotte Pet Sitting

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Hiking With Your Dog

Soon the weather will be warming up here in Charlotte, and there are many hiking trails to explore. Want to take your beloved canine companion? Here are some tips:

First, make sure your dog is healthy enough to go hiking. Your dog should be getting annual physical exams to make sure they are healthy inside and out. Your pup should be clear of any joint or muscle problem, as well as any major medical disorder. If your pup has a problem joint or an illness, they should not go on the trails. Also, growing puppies under 1 year and senior dogs should avoid hiking. Even if they seem to have the energy, they are more prone to muscle and joint damage, so they should stick to your neighborhood and local parks.

Just like humans, dogs need to be in good shape to go for a hike. You want to avoid being a weekend warrior human and doggie. If you and your dog have not exercised (gone on long walks or jogs) in a while, then you should not try hiking. Build up your endurance by taking longer walks or try jogging before you hit the trails. If one or both of you do not have the endurance and fitness level to survive the hike, then you risk injury and a lot of soreness the next day. And don’t just think the day after exercise soreness is just for people, dogs get that muscle soreness too! So work up our fitness levels until we can safely go to the top of the trail with no regrets the next day.

You should always keep your dog on a leash in a public area. This is not only for the safety of others but for your dog as well. We may decide to chase after a small critter in the woods and get ourselves and you in a sticky situation. Countless things can happen if we go off trail, from getting cut on a fallen branch, twisting a joint, or getting bitten by a snake. To avoid the even small chance that we may go exploring on our own, keep us on a leash.

Finally, when going on a hike, you should always bring a backpack with water, a portable dog dish, a first aid kit for you and your pup, sunscreen for yourself and your dog, and small protein snacks for the dog. Always keep your cell phone with you and have your pet’s ID tags secured to his or her collar before hitting the trails. These “just in case” items may come in handy.

If you follow these simple guidelines, you and your dog can have a great time on a hike together! See you on the trails!

Matthew Scott
Creature Comforts of Charlotte Pet Sitting

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Separation Anxiety and Dogs

Did you know about 10% of puppies and dogs experience separation anxiety? Separation anxiety is characterized by destructive or bad behavior while the dog’s parents are away. A dog may bark excessively, destroy items in the home, or even harm himself. You may notice that your dog chews the furniture, the woodwork in your home, or your clothes while you are away. Your neighbors may complain that your pup constantly barks while you are away. And sometimes your dog may urinate or defecate on the floor while you area gone. These actions are not because they are “bad dogs” but because they are experiencing separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is defined as acting out, usually with “bad” behavior, do to unpleasant feelings or nervousness when left alone.

No one knows what exactly causes separation anxiety, but there is a strong belief that separation anxiety is due to a dog’s strong bond and dependence on their pet parents. Dogs are pack animals. In the wild, they were always around other dogs and relied on them for safety and comfort. So dogs naturally enjoy being around others, whether it’s other dogs or people. And when they are left alone, they begin to feel anxious and nervous, and thus act out on your home.

Typically a dog that shows signs of separation anxiety was taken from his or her mother too soon as a puppy or they were neglected by their previous owners. When you leave the home, they may think you will never return and thus become overwhelmed with anxiety and act out in fear. The emotions dogs with separation anxiety feel are similar to that of a human anxiety attack. They are intense and scary, and a dog’s best way to deal with fear is to attack, and many times these attacks are on your possessions.

Other times separation anxiety may be brought on by a traumatic experience. The dog may have been abused by a previous owner or lived through disaster, like a house fire or tornado. The dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina have been noted to have severe separation anxiety now due to the trauma from life during and after the storm. The horrible things they lived through create a constant fear in them, and their anxiety gets worse when their beloved pet parents leave the home.

Dealing with separation anxiety is not an easy matter, but it can be done.

Matthew Scott
Owner/Pet Lover
Creature Comforts of Charlotte Pet Sitting


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Dogs and Sugar Free Treats

A lot of humans are trying to watch their weight, and that has led to the creation of lot of sugar free foods for people. They make sugarless candies, gums, cookies and all other sorts of foods humans and doggies love to eat! One common sugar substitute is Xylitol. It is just as sweet as sugar, but has much less calories, so it is used in a lot of low calorie and sugar free products humans like to eat. There is a debate as to whether Xylitol is healthy for people, and I’m staying out of that one. But I can tell you for certain Xylitol is very bad for your pet!

If your pup ingests a product with Xylitol, they can show symptoms of toxicity as early as 30 minutes after eating the food or as long as 12 hours after eating. Xylitol causes low blood sugar in dogs because it mimics an insulin-like response but there is no sugar for the insulin to bond with. This low blood sugar level is called hypoglycemia, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. This is not good for doggies and can cause vomiting, depression, weakness and clumsiness. Eating Xylitol also causes an increase in doggy liver enzymes, which can cause liver damage. If a dog consumes large amounts of Xylitol, they may experience life-threatening liver failure.

If you think your dog has consumed a product with Xylitol, it’s best to contact your vet, the emergency vet or call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 as soon as possible to get treatment.

And remember, if you eat these products make sure you do not give them to your pet as a treat. We are just fine with healthy dog biscuits as a treat!

Matthew Scott
Creature Comforts of Charlotte Pet Sitting


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Benefits of Playing With Your Cat or Dog

No matter the time, no matter the weather, no matter what, dogs and cats are ready to play. Young pups are always up for a game of fetch, find the treat or even obstacle courses! To me, anything and everything can be turned into a game. That’s part of being a
puppy (and part of being a dog Mom or Dad). And not only can playing be fun for your pets, but it’s a great way to get exercise and a learning opportunity for both pet and human.

Playing with your pet is a great way to get exercise. For the more active dog, a good game of fetch or agility/obstacle training is a great way to get some energy out! For an active kitten, playing on their hunting instincts and playing chase the mouse, string, etc is always a fun and active time! And many times, not only does your dog and cat get a great bout of exercise, but the human does too! And guess what? It’s fun!

If that wasn’t a good enough reason to play with your pet, games can help you bond and learn with your pet. Playing a game with your dog, like going through an obstacle course, can reinforce your training commands with your pet. There’s a lot you to learn about your pets personality, and playing games with them is a great way to do this. Plus, the more active time you spend with your pet, the better they trust and
understand you as well. This creates a strong bond between animal and human.

It’s easy to play games with your pet: just use your imagination and go with what your pet enjoys. Whether it’s hiding treats around the house and letting your pet go on a “treat treasure hunt” or playing “pounce on the toy” with your cat, games are an enjoyable and valuable experience for you and your pet. So take some time this weekend to incorporate more playtime in yours and your pets life.

Matthew Scott
Creature Comforts of Charlotte Pet Sitting

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