Tag archives for | toronto dog walkers

Tag archives for: toronto dog walkers

Veterinary emergency or not?

As pet care professionals, our clients often ask us for advice as to whether or not they should take their dog to the vet or try the “wait and see” approach when something isn’t quite right. Sure, we’ve seen a lot over the years, but we’re not vets and sometimes we feel uncomfortable offering this advice, weighing what we would do if it were our own pet against how badly we would feel if we gave the wrong advice.

When we heard that Dr. Scott Bainbridge was hosting a talk at Dundas West Animal Hospital on the subject of ‘recognizing pet emergencies’ a few TDWA members jumped at the chance to attend.

Not surprisingly, the first thing Dr. B discussed was poop. Yes! Every dog walker’s favourite topic! Many dog owners, especially newbies with puppies, book vet appointments for diarrhea, but Scott says you don’t always need to do that. Many owners panic when they see blood in their dog’s stool. Believe me, I get it! But it’s important to know that drops of red blood after a bout of diarrhea are completely normal: it’s usually the result of repeated straining. If your dog’s stool is dark and tar-like in colour, that’s a different type of blood and you should see a vet as son as you can.

So at the first sign of diarrhea, Dr. B recommends a fast. He says 24 hours is an appropriate amount of time to give the bowels a chance to recover. When you reintroduce food, start with a simple homemade concoction of white rice (cooked more than you would for a human), lean ground meat (cooked and fat drained) and low fat cottage cheese. Feed small, frequent meals for two days. When your dog produces a normal stool, start to mix in the “diarrhea diet” with his regular food. The issue should clear up but if it doesn’t your vet will arrange to either have your dog seen or have you drop off a stool sample; sometimes diarrhea can be caused by parasites such as Giardia. Please note that if symptoms like dehydration, vomiting, or lethargy accompany the diarrhea, please call your vet right away.

Sometimes there are underlying diseases IBS/IBD are at play and flare-ups can be caused by dietary indiscretion (new treats, or a found ‘snack’ in the park), or sometimes they occur for no apparent reason. If you have a dog that experiences chronic bouts of diarrhea, mucous coated stools or flatulence, it is wise to look into a home made diet since typically offending ingredients such as gluten can be eliminated. Fresh, cooked food is also much easier to digest. Bowel disease also reduces the absorption of nutrients in the intestine, therefore dogs may experience deficiencies and even malnutrition. Please consult a professional before beginning a home cooking program.

Like us, dogs often react to bug bites and poison ivy. The inflammation is most obvious in the face/jowl area, you also might see hives, but unless your dog is having trouble breathing, don’t panic. Try administering Benadryl – your vet can advise the dosage.

Owners of deep-chested or barrel-chested dogs should all be warned of the signs and danger of Gastric Torsion AKA Bloat. This is a very serious condition where the stomach actually flips and blood supply is cut off. You have a 2 hour window to save a dog’s life, so rush to the nearest vet. Signs: Gaging and unproductive vomiting, bloated bellies (sometimes), pale gums, often an arched back, circling, looking uncomfortable, and/or not wanting to lay down. You can help prevent this by not allowing your dog to exercise an hour after eating or taking a large drink and by feeding smaller, more frequent meals. Find out if you have a susceptible breed and talk to your vet about a surgical fix, which includes tacking the stomach in place. Some vets now do this during spay/neuter surgery.

It’s important for all dog owners and especially dog walkers, to understand that dogs are very susceptible to heat stroke. Brachycephalic (squish faced) breeds, even more so. During extreme heat shorten your walks and avoid strenuous activities. Clinical signs of heat stroke include excessive panting and drooling, choking, gasping, blue tinged gums, glassy eyes, coma and seizures. What to do? Cool your dog with lukewarm water (never cold. ever) and transport him to the vet immediately.

Vomiting paired with constipation? It could be a foreign body obstruction, like rope from a toy or pantyhose. Your dog will likely also show symptoms of abdominal pain. This is a definite emergency.

If your dog is in a fight with another dog, check him over thoroughly for puncture wounds. They are not always obvious. Clean wounds with antiseptic soap and visit your vet for further inspection during regular hours. Sometimes an abscess will form and this is something you really want to prevent, as it is painful and dangerous.

Limping is a hot topic. Ignoring your vet’s advice to “take it easy” results in repeated visits to the clinic, sometimes x-rays, and a delayed healing time. If the lameness is minor, you need to rest your dog for at least seven days. Obviously if your dog is not weight-bearing or vocalizes very loudly at the time of injury, it means a trip to the vet. You can help avoid injuries like these by not playing on ice, avoiding areas with holes in the ground and keeping your dog thin. The latter also helps speed recovery.

Like any gathering of dog people in one room, we drifted off topic numerous times and as a result, Dr. Bainbridge didn’t have a chance to cover all the subjects he had intended. That said, it was fun and very informational.

Taken from his notes, here’s what we missed:

Treatment of cut pads

  • Apply pressure to the area up to 2 minutes at a time to stop bleeding. If it doesn’t stop, go to the emergency vet.
  • Clean the wound with antiseptic soap.
  • Larger lacerations require stitches, so make an appointment and fast your dog.

Ripped toe nails

  • Soak the foot in antibacterial soap
  • Clip the rest of the toe nail
  • Use a bar of soap for hemostasis. I imagine this means rub a dry bar on the tip of the nail to block the nail from bleeding.


  • Generalized seizures involve a dog laying on his side, vocalizing, shaking, paddling, and often they will defecate/urinate.
  • When the seizure is over the dog may have trouble seeing or walking, but this is rarely permanent.
  • Try to keep your dog on a soft surface and talk to him calmly to reassure him.
  • After the seizure, record how long it lasted
  • If he seems fine afterwards, book an appointment with your vet. But any seizure that lasts 5 minutes or more requires immediate medical intervention.


  • The signs including pawing at the face, coughing, drooling, gagging, or collapsing.
  • Attempt to open your dog’s jaws (may need two people) and reach back to scoop out the object.
  • Check the roof of the mouth, usually between back teeth where sticks often become wedged. Pull it out.
  • Modified Heimlich: compress the trachea just below the larynx with a few quick squeezes.
  • If your dog is small enough you can try picking them up and shaking them gently.

Eye Injuries

  • For immediate relief you can flush with saline and apply Polysporin Ophthalmic from the pharmacy.
  • Make a vet appointment. Eyes are very sensitive and unforgiving.

Thanks again to Dr. Scott Bainbridge and DWAH for hosting the free talk and helping to educate dog owners and pet care professionals.

News | | Leave a comment

Brain Games – How Mental Stimulation can be as Beneficial for Dogs as Exercise

The following post was written for us by TDWA member, Cindy Carol, owner of For Dog’s Sake, serving certain neighbourhoods in the west end. Cindy’s an experienced dog walker and trainer, a volunteer and foster home for Australian Shepherd Rescue, and a member of the High Park K9 Committee. She believes in continuing education and is therefore always growing her professional knowledge and skills.

Many of us dream of living the lives our dogs do. It sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Someone else goes to work to pay for room and board, cooks and serves the meals, does the housecleaning, and takes you out for a walk when they get home, all while you sleep on a comfy bed or couch all day. Who wouldn’t want to trade places with our well cared for dogs?

Our dogs do live wonderful lives. But we can also look at this scenario from another perspective. Picture this – your best friend gets up early in the morning, takes you out for a walk and feeds you breakfast. So far so good. Next, your friend heads out for the day, leaving you behind. You enjoy a nap, then wake up refreshed and energized, looking for some entertainment. But your friend forgot to leave you access to the radio, television or internet. You don’t have a book to read, or a pencil and paper to write or draw with. You can’t call your friends on the telephone or go out to visit them at the park or a café. You begin to feel a little bored and decide to take another nap. Later on, your friend comes home and you are excited to go out for a walk and some exercise. In the evening, you sit at your friend’s feet as they busy themselves with a project. You are happy to be together, but wish you had a fun activity to enjoy as well.

Like us, our dogs are at their best when their minds are stimulated and creatively engaged. Most of us go to great efforts to give our dogs lots of physical exercise. But if you have ever watched a dog chewing a good bone or learning a new trick, a herding dog working sheep or a hound dog catching a scent, you have seen that something truly comes alive in our dogs when their minds are as exercised as their bodies. There is a sparkle in their eyes.

When the weather is inclement or on those days when there just isn’t time for a long walk, exercising our dogs’ minds can be almost as effective as physical exercise in tiring out our dogs. Consider of how fatigued you can feel after spending a day on a mentally challenging task, sometimes it can be more tiring than heading out for a run. Even if our dog gets lots of physical exercise, adding mental exercise to the mix can increase the benefit. Mental stimulation can also be an important part of an overall treatment plan for behaviour challenges such as separation anxiety and excessive chewing.

What can we do to provide our dogs with lots of stimulating mental activity for those rainy days or every day? Here are some ideas:

1)    Use their instincts – give your dog a safe bone to chew, feed whole or part meals in a Kong or other treat toy, hide treats or toys around the home for your dog to find, or invent some scent games to play that require your dog to use his or her nose.

2)    Play games such as “come when called” in different rooms and with different people around the home. Tug can also be a wonderfully fun game that has the added bonus of teaching your dog self-control when played with appropriate guidelines.

3)    Teach your dog a new trick using an effective positive reinforcement training method. In fact, any form of positive training can be one of the best ways to tire out your dog, and you will have a well-mannered dog at the end of it! Good training methods build good relationships, and both dog and trainer will enjoy the fun.

4)    Take up a dog sport such as agility, flyball, dock diving, rally-o, herding or tracking.

5)    There are also many new puzzle toys and games on the market that your dog may enjoy.

Remember, providing your dog with mental exercise doesn’t have to be a daunting or time-consuming task. Even five minutes a few times a day of some trick training, or incorporating a Kong or treat toy into your dog’s meal routine or as you leave the home will provide considerable benefit. Who knows, your dog may even be happy to see you off to work, so he or she can catch up on some much needed rest!

Be sure to “like” our Facebook because we’re announcing a contest this week. The top prize is sure to help one lucky Torontonian dog beat the winter blues!

News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Dog Prevention

It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?  Well, this adage has never applied more than to the professional dog walker, a person charged with the safekeeping of vulnerable, cherished loved ones.   Most dog walking-related tragedies can be prevented, and in this blog post we’d like to share with you exactly how.

This guide is a collective effort between TDWA members, Kelly’s Dog Walking, Rover Achiever, Tail Blazers, oh my dog! and Dog Embarks. We wanted to share our safety tips and check lists with you, our fellow professionals and pet owners, so that you may benefit from our experience, and more accidents can be avoided.

We all know that when we set out in the morning, anything can happen. So we try to be prepared for anything and everything. And when each dog is returned home safely at the end of the day, a good dog walker does not take that for granted. We sweat the small stuff when it comes to our jobs because, the thing is, it’s not all small stuff. The tiniest detail could safe a life.

We were prompted to write this post because of the rash of dogs recently lost while under the care of professional pet sitters and foster ‘parents’. Admittedly, we all know that horrible things can happen to great dog walkers; accidents happen. But each of us sleeps a little better at night because of the set of guidelines we’ve created for ourselves. We’re hoping that fellow pet sitters and dog owners will read this and take something from it.

Door darting:

Safety protocol starts form the second the key hits the lock. Before you even arrive for the first walk with a new dog, ask clients explicitly if their dog is a ‘door darter’. Even if they say “no”, open the door slowly and with caution on the first day. If they say yes, you’re prepared, but ask them if there’s also a way to block off the doorway inside so that you can enter safely, close the door and leash up.

At the dog park and on the trails:

  • Keep a constant head count, and never count a dog unless you have an actual visual.
  • Work on recall from day one, with only the most delicious of treats.
  • If a dog does stray from the group, keep calling them so they can hear your voice.
  • Never change locations in a larger park without a visual on each dog.
  • Never let brand new dogs off leash until they’re well established, comfortable with you, making eye contact, and coming when called in a fenced park.
  • Make sure you’ve attached the leash to the right loop, rather than the ID tag ring.
  • When things don’t feel right, collect your group and move on. You can only do this if you’ve got control to begin with.
  • Make sure all dogs have an up to date name and number tag.
  • Add other walkers’ numbers to your contact list and call for help right away if needed.

Know your dogs and your surroundings. Here are just 9 scenarios in which a dog might bolt:

  1. Thunder phobic dogs during a thunder storm.
  2. Chasing wild life
  3. Chasing another dog and then getting misplaced from group and becoming frightened.
  4. Dog is distracted (maybe sniffing, eating garbage) as the group moves on, when the dog looks up he panics and races to look for his group in a panic
  5. New dogs in the car should always be tethered, crated or in front seat as they are not used to the door opening and closing.
  6. When another group of dogs charges at your group, a frightened one may run.
  7. Picking up a scent of garbage
  8. After a fight dogs may panic and bolt
  9. Separation of group. ie. two walkers walk together and then separate, the dogs might be working to keep group together or not know who to follow.

Tips for on-leash walkers:

  • Some use a carabiner to clip the dogs’ leashes to themselves so there ‘s never a dropped leash.
  • Never leave dogs outside of condos, buildings, coffee shops etc.
  • Make sure collars and harnesses fit properly, especially when they’ve just had haircuts <hot tip: sometimes owners loosen the collars and harnesses after you tighten them>
  • Use martingale collars whenever possible; they are designed to tighten if the dog jerks or pulls away, which will prevent slipped collars. Most other types of collars or harnesses can be slipped out of, given the right degree of panic.
  • Don’t let the dogs cross the street before you enter into the street yourself.
  • All dogs need to have a safe and strong leash – no retractable leashes.
  • Examine leash & collar for signs of wear and tear before every walk.
  • Ensure that all harnesses and head collars are secured with a safety strap.
  • Double check that leash is clipped to the collar ring and not the more flimsy tags ring <this one was worth repeating>
  • Whenever possible, position yourself between your dogs and possible sources of fright, like busy roads, other dogs, police horses, sidewalk cleaners, garbage/recycling bins, construction sites, cement trucks, sandwich board signs on windy days, etc.
  • When stopped at an intersection, keep dogs several feet away from the road.
  • Always be fully alert and present while crossing streets.

If you use a vehicle:

  • From day one, all dogs should be trained to wait until they are given the “ok” to jump out of the car.
  • Always open the door a crack, then slowly open it, blocking the gap with your body. Have a hold of ALL the leashes before allowing them to jump out one by one.
  • Grab the leashes of the more excited ones first.
  • Be aware of smaller dogs who might be hidden from view, and creeping up towards the front.
  • Keep your windows up, or not open more than a crack; on hot days use your air conditioning instead and have a second set of car keys if you need to. If a dog can fit his head through a cracked window, he can fit the rest of his body though also. This is because dogs’ shoulders move freely, unlike a human’s, and also applies to the use of chest harnesses.   Also use your car’s child lock system for automatic power windows to prevent curious paws from accidentally opening a window while you’re parked OR while you’re driving.

Please feel free to add your comments and suggestions. Each tip and story we share makes us better dog people and decreases the odds of a dog going missing.  This blog post is a great example of why we started this association in the first place, and why we do what we do. These dogs mean the world to us, so let’s be Safe, and not Sorry!

News | , , | 2 Comments