New Dog? 21 Items for your shopping list….

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What’s almost as much fun as welcoming a new dog into your home? Going on a shopping spree to make that welcome complete! Let’s face it. Even though your new dog can thrive on love and attention, even dogs have a materialistic streak, and they won’t turn down a plush bed, a fun toy or an entertaining chewy.

Consider the following items for your shopping spree:

Fence. If you plan to let your dog loose in your yard, you will need a fence. The fence should be dog proof from the start, so your dog is never encouraged by successful escapes. Make sure it also prevents marauding animals from getting in. Buried electric fences, while better than no fence, are not ideal because they don’t prevent other animals from getting inside the boundary, and your dog can also run beyond the barrier even though he’s getting a shock, and then not be able to get back inside.

Crate. All dogs should be crate trained, and the best time to start is now. Crates come in three types: wire, which folds flat and has better ventilation; plastic, which is cozy and is approved for airline shipping; and cloth, which is lightweight but can be shredded by dogs who want to get out. Wait until your dog behaves in a hard-sided crate before trying a cloth one.

Baby gates. Baby gates allow your dog freedom while still blocking off restricted areas in your house. Don’t use the old-fashioned accordion style, which can close on a puppy’s neck. Even a long, sturdy piece of cardboard can possibly do the job in a pinch.

Exercise pen. An exercise pen (X-pen) is a 4 foot-by-4 foot portable enclosure that functions as a doggy playpen. It’s safer than locking your puppy in a bathroom, and he’s less likely to object because it doesn’t have that closed-in feeling that a small room gives him. Set the pen in your kitchen or den, where he can be out from underfoot yet still be part of the family when you can’t watch him. They’re also great for traveling to keep your dog from bolting out of motel rooms.

Dog bed


Bed. Beds can range from a cardboard box packed with comfy towels to a miniature bedroom suite that matches your own. But leave the fancy ones until your dog is over his chewing urges.

Anti-chew spray. Like an off-limits sign for your furniture legs, these sprays taste bitter so your puppy will be discouraged from chewing inappropriately.

Collar or harness. A collar or harness is a means of controlling and identifying your dog. A buckle collar is OK for most dogs. A slip (“choke”) or, better, a martingale collar is a good choice for walking on leash because your dog can’t let it slip over his head. However, it’s dangerous to leave them on your dog unattended, as they can get caught on things and strangle your dog. In fact, don’t leave any collar on a puppy unattended, as they have a penchant for getting their lower jaw stuck in it. Make sure any collar is loose enough for you to get a couple of fingers between it and your puppy’s neck, but not so loose that it could slide over his head when walking on leash — or that he can reach down and bite it!

Leash. Start with a sturdy lightweight leash, 4 to 6 feet long. Don’t get a chain leash, which is hard to hold on to.

Retractable leash. These give your dog more freedom, but too many people give them so much freedom that the dog wanders into the road or up to strange dogs or under people’s feet. Retractable leashes should be retracted unless you’re in a safe place away from other people and dogs. They’re an unpopular choice in veterinary waiting rooms.

Identification. Almost any large pet supply store sells identification tags you can make on the spot. Get one.

Cleaning supplies. For rug accidents, use anenzymatic carpet cleaner, which destroys the odor-causing molecules rather than simply covering them up.

Poop scoop. Scoops with a rake on one side are better for grass, and the flat-edge pusher varieties are better for cement surfaces. Two-part scoops are easier to use than hinged versions.

Poop bags. A variety of special doggy poop disposal bags are available, but you can also use a baby diaper disposal bag or a cheap sandwich bag.

Bowls. Stainless steel bowls are durable and easy to clean. Ceramic bowls can be put in the microwave. Plastic bowls hold germs, and a few dogs are allergic to them. Self-feeding or watering bowls are handy but must be cleaned just as often as regular bowls.

Brush. A soft-bristle brush is ideal for getting your puppy used to grooming. Later, you can buy more appropriate grooming tools for his adult coat.

Rinseless shampoo. When you can’t give your dog a real bath, just squirt some rinseless shampoo on him, rub it in and wipe the dirt away with a towel.

Dog brush


Toothbrush. A doggy toothbrush and toothpaste is ideal, but a child’s toothbrush will do. Don’t use human toothpaste, though, which is not made to be swallowed.

Toenail clippers. Cat nail clippers work fine for tiny puppies. For adults, scissor-type or guillotine-type is a matter of choice. You can also use a grinder.

Plush toys. Puppies love soft fuzzy toys. Make sure no parts can come off and that your puppy can’t gut it and swallow any noisemakers. Avoid bean or Styrofoam stuffing.

Throw toys. Balls and other toys that encourage playing with people are especially good for social development.

Interactive toys. Toys that challenge your puppy to dislodge food treats can occupy him while you’re away. Rotate several interactive toys with different challenges to help prevent him from getting bored.

And that’s just to get you started! Happy shopping!

Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs

Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs, and What Can Be Done About It     (from

Signs of dental disease in dogs include bad breath, bleeding gums and gum loss. We run down the symptoms of dog periodontal disease.

Unlike you, your dog doesn’t brush his teeth two or three times a day to make sure his smile is sparkling white and his breath is fresh. Overseeing our pets’ dental health is something that we, as pet parents, need to do in order to ensure our animal companions a long and healthy life.

The bacterium that accumulates in your dog’s mouth and that causes periodontal disease is the same kind that can travel throughout his body and affect his kidneys, lungs, and heart. If you know what to look for when it comes to your dog’s teeth and mouth, you can be better prepared to deal with any problems that may arise.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Detecting dental disease in your dog can be as simple as opening his mouth, looking inside at his teeth and gums, and smelling his breath. I have listed some of the things you should look for below:

  • Bad Breath: The bacteria from decaying food that causes gingivitis and infection in your dog’s mouth also results in abnormally bad breath. We don’t expect doggy breath to be “minty fresh,” but any type of sour, acrid odor is indicative of some kind of disease process in your pet’s mouth or other internal organs. (Yes, cats can have bad breath too.)
  • Inflamed Gums: Also called “gingivitis,” the disease that causes your dog’s red, inflamed and sometimes bleeding gums is a result of the bacteria that linger in his mouth from food left in his teeth. This bacterium typically gathers under the gum line around the roots of the teeth and can cause an infection that leads to tooth loss, bone degeneration and, in severe cases, possible major organ disease.
  • Plaque and Calculus: Dental plaque is composed of the food particles and saliva that mix together to form a sticky film on your dog’s teeth. If the plaque is left on the teeth, it will harden into a thick, bone-like formation called calculus (or tartar), which can cover the entire tooth and hide an underlying infection.
  • Swollen Jaw: Often, when infection gathers around the tooth root and creates anabscess, swelling of the jaw occurs that is visible to the naked eye. There will be a lump either on the lower jaw close to your pup’s neck or on the upper jaw just under his eye socket. Sometimes, if the abscess becomes large enough to burst, it will break through the skin covering it and you’ll see pus seeping onto your dog’s fur from a small hole in the lump.
  • Trouble Chewing: You may notice that your dog is having trouble chewing his food, or that he’s stopped chewing altogether and is just gulping it down. If you look inside his mouth, you may also see loose or missing teeth where the tooth roots have detached from the bone because of disease. Rotting, infected teeth and gums can be extremely painful, and loose teeth can cause your pet to stop using his mouth to break up his food.
  • Nasal Discharge and Sneezing: When your dog’s gums become infected on his maxilla (upper jaw), the roots of the teeth can abscess, creating pockets of pus and infection that can reach up into his sinus cavities. When the sinuses become infected, your pup can develop a runny nose and begin sneezing.

How to Take Care of Your Dog’s Dental Disease

Once your pet shows any of the symptoms discussed above, scheduling him for aveterinary dental cleaning is the only sure way to effect a cure for his periodontal disease.

Your veterinarian may request a blood screen to detect any signs of systemic organ problems before placing your dog under anesthesia for the dental cleaning, particularly if your dog is a senior or has some other diagnosed illness.

After the dog is anesthetized, a trained veterinary technician will take X-rays of the teeth to determine if there are any pockets or abscesses around the tooth roots, and to look for any bone deterioration.

The vet tech scrapes the teeth free of any plaque and cleans them with a high-powered, ultra-sonic water pick. The water pick vibrates at such a high rate of speed that any hard calculus formed on the teeth is easily broken up and removed. After the initial cleaning, the technician scrapes and probes underneath the gum line looking for any deep pockets of infection.

If any of the teeth need to be pulled because they are broken or the roots are no longer holding the teeth in place, the veterinarian steps in to perform this part of the procedure. The vet may also inject any needed antibiotics into the gum cavity, and suture the hole closed if it is too large to heal on its own.

Once your dog’s teeth are polished and his mouth is rinsed with an antibiotic wash, he is allowed to awaken from the anesthesia, and you should be able to take him home the same day. Typically, the veterinarian prescribes antibiotics for you to administer to your dog to clear up any remaining bacterial infection.

What Else Can You Do for a Dog With Periodontal Disease?

Here are some more tips:

  • A new dental vaccine called the porphyromonas vaccine has been developed to destroy the types of bacteria that cause periodontal disease in dogs. These particular strains of bacteria are linked to canine lung, kidney and heart disease and have been known to effect bone loss in a dog’s jaws. They have also been shown to be a major cause of aspiration pneumonia in humans. The vaccine is given every six to 12 months as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) and only after a veterinary cleaning. Ask your veterinarian about the vaccine at your next regular visit.
  • Home brushing should be your next step in helping to prevent dental disease in your dog. You can buy a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste from your veterinarian or a pet store. Brush the teeth daily, using downward strokes on the outside of the teeth only. You won’t need to brush the inner portions of the mouth because your dog’s tongue and saliva clean those areas. Note: Please DO NOT use human toothpaste to clean a dog’s teeth. Human products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your pet’s digestive tract.
  • Dental chew toys and treats can also be purchased from your vet, the pet store or online, and they are manufactured to help clean your dog’s teeth as he chews on them. We all know dogs like to chew on things, so finding an appropriate toy or treat that also removes the plaque on his teeth while he chews can be part of the solution to his dental issues. Just make sure to give him a treat or toy that best fits his size, because some toys meant for larger breeds can cause tooth and jaw fractures in smaller pets.
  • Switching to kibble, or a hard food, can be beneficial for your pup’s dental health as it, too, scrapes his teeth clean as he chews during the day. You’ll want to make sure to get the kibble in a size to fit his mouth, and one that has all the proper nutrients for his health.

The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 85 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some sort of periodontal disease. Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums clean and infection-free can mean a difference in years when it comes to your pet’s life.