Having a well thought out plan to train and care for your pet is essential for a healthy, life long relationship.
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**Please note, we are not veterinarians. All the information from our website is a best effort and we do not take responsibility for any outcome. Any actions you take for the care of your dog/pup are at your own risk.
Vet & Boarding Recommendations
We often get recommendation requests for Vets & Boarding facilities. It is very difficult for us to track all the information our clients give us and I find from client to client the experience is different. Instead, here is what I recommend: Check Yelp or another one of my favorite tools is Nextdoor. Both are free to use. Nextdoor connects you to your 3 closest neighborhoods. You can make a post for vet &/or boarding recommendations. You will get plenty of recommendations and most importantly the reason why they are so great!! There is a vet in the Desert Foothills area I HIGHLY recommend, he is a holistic vet and he does a GREAT job: Dr. Cohen Stetson Animal Hospital 3780 W Happy Valley Rd #126, Glendale, AZ 85310 (623) 889-7090.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease by age 3. As your pup starts life, his/her teeth are naturally clean, free from decay, because the teeth are just starting to come in. As your pup grows into an adult, decay and bacteria can cause bad breath, tooth decay, health problems, and reduce the amount of socialization and love they receive. Brushing your pet's teeth is a must for the long term health and happiness of you and your pet. By the time your pup is ready to go home they will have baby teeth. Even though all these baby teeth will fall out, getting acclimated to this the routine while they are young and easy to train, is the key to long term success. In taking care of your pet's teeth, your house guests, neighbors, and family members will treasure your pet's company. In addition, your pet will feel more accepted, loved, and will be a much healthier dog in the long run. You will feel proud to take your pet out in public and feel confident when someone comes close to their face.
An easy way to get started is to wet your finger and rub it gently on their teeth during the first month or so. We recommend you do this once a day and it only takes 30 seconds. Depending if you are a morning or night person, it can be the first thing in the morning - right before you let them out of their kennel, or our preference is to do it right before they are kenneled at night. The key to success is to make it part of your daily routine.
At 4-5 months your pup's teeth are coming in full force and are much larger. You will notice your pup will want to chew, chew, chew. At this time, it's recommended to switch over to a dog tooth brush and an enzymatic dog tooth paste. The enzymes "eat" the food right off their teeth. Feel free to rub the dog tooth paste on their teeth, leave it for a few minutes, then brush. One idea for your daily routine is to rub the enzyme tooth paste on, take them out for their potty right before bed, then brush them before you kennel.
Their outside teeth are most prone to decay/bacteria, so you'll want to focus there the most. Use a ping pong ball when they are little and transition to a larger tennis ball as they get older, to hold open their mouth to access their back teeth. While you really don't need the ping pong ball when they are little, the point of it is to get them used to having a ball in their mouth during brushing because you will need to use a ball when they are older.
If you don't plan to brush regularly, once a year, take your dog to the Vet for a dental cleaning. It will cost around $180 - $250 (depending on how good or bad your dog's teeth are). They will put your dog to sleep during this process, but their teeth will come back immaculate. Their health and good breath is totally worth the cost!
Chew Toys are essential. Have one available from the time you adopt your puppy. Be ready to replace them as they wear out. Pups especially love chew toys that can be attached to a crate that will allow them to tug at it. At around 4 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on. At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out. Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls: the materials can wear teeth down quickly and increases risk for tooth decay. Dental chew toys, raw hides, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething. The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys.
Be sure to crate / kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old. Pups that are not crate / kenneled during this time have been known to chew: shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture.
Tips: The best deal we can find on Rawhide rolls are through Costco. Costco sells them on and off. As of 12/15/15 I’m thrilled to say that Costco offers a 6lb bag which is approximately 20 large rolls, for only $21. If Costco stops selling them, the next best deal we found are through Blain's Farm & Fleet. As of 1/8/16, if you order 2 bags at once, the shipping is only increased by ~$1, so we always buy 2 at a time. These are awesome for teething and 1 will last all day during teething. As adults, they are also great for keeping their teeth clean, but will only last a few hours. Be sure to rotate chew toys to keep them feeling "new" and "exciting" to your pup. Give them 1 or 2, then the next day, take them away and rotate in 2 new ones..rotating the old ones back in every 5 or 6 days.
Always check your chew toys for signs of wear and tear. If there are plastic parts that look like they are ready to fall off or fall apart, throw the chew toy away. If a pup ingests hard plastic it can get lodged in their intestinal track causing serious health issues and a big expense at the Vet. Also, as your pup grows, you may want to get rid of chew toys that become too small to prevent a choking hazard. It may not fit down their throats as pups, but by the time they are 7 months old, they might be able to swallow it.
Attach rope chew toys to the crate with a clip. This allows your pup to tug at the chew toy, they will really enjoy it!
At around 4-5 months, pups teeth start to come in dramatically and you will notice your pup will chew everything they can get their teeth on. At this time you will want to ensure your pet has plenty of chew toys, especially harder chew toys to help their baby teeth fall out. Without something hard to chew on, it’s possible for your pup to retain a baby tooth in front of her adult tooth which can lead to an infection, so be sure to get them something harder to chew on. Some chew toys are not recommended such as tennis balls because the materials can wear their teeth down quickly, increasing the risk for tooth decay. Dental chew toys, raw hides, and dog bones are all good ideas to prevent issues associated with teething. The Humane Society recommends rope chew toys.
Be sure to crate / kennel your pup at any time when you are not available to supervise especially during peak teething from 4 months to 1 year old (most labs are done by 8 months). Pups that are not crated / kenneled during this time have been known to chew shoes, toys, curtains, remote controls, electric cords, sprinkler systems, landscape lights, and even furniture.
Heart worm Medications
If your dog will be outside quite a bit, you may consider putting them on a monthly heart worm preventative. Infected mosquitos inject larvae into the dog, which travels to the heart. If your dog develops heart worm, it is often deadly. We buy our heart worm preventative - Valuheart, from Canadavet.com. At the time of this writing, $38 for 12 months supply. Another option is CanadaPetCare.com. You can get 6 months for $21 at time of writing this, and their shipping cost is lower (right now it's free for purchases over $18). Another option you could ask your Vet about is a Heartworm shot. Although we haven't used it ourselves, it lasts 6 months long.
Rattlesnake Vaccines in Arizona is a MUST if you select a pup with a 1 or 2 personality, but a good idea no matter which personality you bring home.
Rattlesnake vaccines are designed to produce antibodies against the venom of the western diamondback rattlesnake. The vaccine may also be effective against other snakes with similar venom, such as the sidewinder, timber rattlesnake, and copperhead. The vaccine does not protect against the venom of water moccasins or coral snakes. The vaccine works by creating protective antibodies that help neutralize venom, so dogs experience less pain and swelling after a snake bite. Dogs that are bitten may also require less antivenin, which can be fairly costly and may produce side effects. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of the vaccine include the location of the bite, the type of snake, and the amount of venom injected. It's important to note that this is not a remedy for a rattlesnake bite. Always get your pet to urgent care if they are bitten, this vaccine is to help mitigate a potential bite. If you are interested, consult your vet. Usually this vaccine is good for 6 months at a time, you could get one in March when it starts to warm up, mating season begins, and that should last you through September, the general snake season in Arizona.
Rattlesnake Bites & Scorpion Stings
Rattlesnake bites can be deadly but rarely are if treated within 4 hours of venomation. There is a HUGE difference between a scorpion bite and rattlesnake bite. A rattlesnake bite will ooze blood and venom, the bite marks are usually easy to see. A scorpion sting will be hard to detect where they were punctured, but you will notice a lot of swelling. Generally most labs don't need to go to the Vet for a scorpion bite. We've had a 6 week old pup get stung by a scorpion before and they were fully recovered by the next day.
If you can see blood and or venom oozing, rush them to the Vet immediately! Try to take a picture of the snake that bit your dog as the Vet will want to know what type it is - pay attention to the dirt/sand where your dog was bit, does it look like a typical snake track or does it look like it could be a sidewinder? There is a deadly type of snake in Arizona,the Mojave, or sidewinder, that is WAY more dangerous than a rattler, causing both hemotoxic & neurotoxic effects. Although less likely to happen comparatively, the chances for recovery / survival for dog or human is close to zero.
Many times urgent care/emergency Vet places will try to make you agree to a treatment plan before assessing how the first treatment will work. This can be a costly decision, so make it carefully. As we previously mentioned, we have had one of our Labs - Y, get bit by a rattlesnake while she was pregnant! The best thing to do is to call the emergency place as you are on your way, let them know that you want to start him/her on intravenous fluids right away to stabilize them. They will likely ask how many anti venom treatments you want, that's where the decision is tricky. Anti venom is super expensive. We told the Vet that we wanted to do just 1 treatment and bring her home to see how she would do and she recovered just fine. Y suffered 2 bites one after the other, on her muzzle. However, initially the ER vet wanted to give her 2 anti venoms and keep her overnight, which would have cost us over $4,000. We left there with a $1,500 bill instead and she recovered just fine.
There are many articles and websites you visit that are convincing that a larger breed doesn't need ANY anti venom at all. I think they may be on to something. Here is the link that turned me onto the concept of using a holistic approach after she came home. I beefed Y up on the vitamins to increase red cell production. I focused on increasing her Iron by feeding her cooked livers, gizzards, and chicken hearts, and giving her Vitamins: A & C, B: 6, 9, and 12, crushed up in fresh, organic, raw eggs from our own chickens.
How to keep Scorpions out of your house
Hands down, lavendar works! We buy the Starwest botanicals Lavendar Dryer bags. They last us for several seasons. In between seasons (during the winter/cooler months Nov - Feb) we store them in recloseable baggies and use them again. They retain their scent well and continue to work. We tape one to the baseboard by each door starting in spring April 1st, taking them down Nov 1st. We haven't had a scorpion since (in our house)! It's lavendar month in August, and they usually offer an extra 10% off if you wait to buy till then. Lavendar plants and flowers are generally considered non toxic, (concentrated oil may damage tissues, dilute oil (as in massage oil) may cause mild GI upset). Lavendar flowers & plants have been used in the kitchen since the middle ages. Many people use lavendar to make lavendar tea for their children, guests, and pets. Lavendar has a calming effecting. So, if your pup gets their little mouth on a lavendar dryer bag and they consume some flowers, don't fret. The worst that should happen is mild GI upset. (Disclaimer: We are not a Vet, when in doubt ask your vet).
Rattlesnake Avoidance Training
This is a must if you select a 1 or 2 personality but highly recommended in Arizona for any personality if your lab will be an outdoor dog or in the wilderness frequently for hunting, camping, or hiking. Rattle snakes are particularly active in the early spring as they move around the desert in search of food.
Rattlesnake avoidance training, also known as snake breaking, trains the dog to run away from a snake encounter. Snakes have a different movement and sound than other wildlife they encounter which arouses their natural curiosity. Rattlesnake Avoidance Trainers use a simple yet effective process. Snake breaking trains dogs to avoid snakes through visual and auditory association with danger. A good Rattlesnake trainer will typically utilize 2 snakes, 1 that rattles, and 1 that does not. Snake Training should only be done once the pup has reached 6 months or older.
A well exercised dog is a happy, well behaved dog.
You should NEVER take your pup for organized jogs or runs until at least 18 months of age. It's simply too hard on their joints as this type of organized exercise is way to strenuous on their bodies and will likely result in hip, elbow, or joint problems later in life. Playing fetch, frisbee, or fun activites that involve running in small bouts is ok.
A recent study in Norway based on 500 dogs, which included Labrador Retrievers, showed that puppies given the opportunity to exercise in a large open area before the age of 3 months were LESS LIKELY to develop hip dysplasia. Puppies that had to climb stairs on a regular basis during the same time period were at INCREASED RISK. The stresses and strains placed on the vulnerable growing joints by "organized" exercise are believed to be a contributory environmental factor in the development of inadequate hip joints.
The evidence seems to suggest that a puppy will come to no harm from the opportunity to exercise or play on a flat surface. Therefore, taking a puppy for a long walk or asking him to go up very steep or uneven surfaces when he is little, is probably a bad idea.
The rule of thumb is a puppy should have no more than 5 minutes of "organized" exercise per day for every month of his/her age. So a 3 month old puppy could handle 15 minutes of exercise per day (3 x 5 = 15), while a 6 month old could handle 30 minutes and so on (6 x 5 = 30). "Organized" exercise means exercise that you are controlling such as "walks" or "training sessions". Puppies under 3 months old probably don't need any kind of "walks" at all, just access to a "play area" outdoors where they can run about for a few minutes several times a day.
There is no need to prevent puppies from playing about the house as long as the puppy is free to stop and rest whenever they want. Beware of letting a pup play for too long with an older dog that does not want to stop. Keep an eye on children who may accidentally exhaust a pup by encouraging the pup to play when he needs to sleep.
It's important to keep balance with your pup. Build up exercise gradually and do not go for organized jogs or runs until they are 18 months old as this exercise is way to hard on their growing joints. Playing frisbee, fetch, or catch, is ok, just no continuous high impact exercise like running or jogging.
The recommended amount of exercise for an adult Labrador Retriever is 30 minutes a day, 2 X a day. All pups adopted through USA Purebred Labs LLC come from AKC conformation size parents. Typically there will be 1 or 2 pups from a litter that will be larger or smaller than conformation size. Generally, your lab should grow no larger than 75 lbs if you are feeding them an appropriate diet and getting them the right amount of exercise. If your lab starts to get heavier than this, consider slowly decreasing their food intake and slowly increasing their exercise routine. Also, it may be a good idea to talk to a vet.
Tip for walking your dog: You should walk your dog, your dog shouldn't walk you. If you find yourself the owner of the pup that likes to pull while being walked, stay away from the harnesses that go around their chests or bodies. These type of harnesses are effective for restraining but not for leash training and you will likely find yourself exhausted after going for a walk. However, if you need a good arm workout, look no further..haha! :) To overcome this problem, be sure to watch and implement the training mentioned above under the training section.
If your dog is already grown and leash training escaped you, the gentle lead head collar works really well to reduce unwanted pulling. The moment when the dog stops pulling, immediately say YES so that by the time you've said the S in YES, you are putting the treat in their mouth. Be sure to reduce their food intake for any kibble or treat given as a reward. Treats should be small, high quality, easy to administer (often times just using their own dog food works if they are hungry and you are not over feeding them). After several walks on the gentle lead coupled with positive reinforcement when not pulling, your dog will be leash trained in no time. A properly leash trained dog will walk by your side at your pace, never in front of you.
Exercise & Games and Activities that Build Good Social Skills
****Please note, not all of these activities are appropriate for puppies being placed into assistance training, this exercise is for PETS only.****
These toys and games that will give her healthy exercise and teach her problem solving skills, trust and appropriate behavior.
Toy Hide and Seek
Show the puppy her toy, and then hide it under a pillow, behind your back, etc. Let her use her nose and ingenuity to figure out where it went. Increase the difficulty to match the puppy’s abilities. This game is great mental exercise and fun for all.
“Take it” and “Give”
When the puppy takes a toy from you, say “take it,” and when she gives it back to you say “give.” Practice frequently, and “trade up”—give her something of higher value when she releases the item in her mouth. She will be much more willing to give up inappropriate or high value items if she is familiar with this game. Always encourage her to come to you to give up an item, rather than you chasing her and always reward her when she gives up something, no matter how valuable or inappropriate the item is.
Fetch and Bring Back
In the puppy stage keep it low-key by rolling or sliding a toy. As soon as she gets the toy in his mouth, start heading away from her so she will come toward you. Be silly to encourage her to keep coming. When she gets to you, play with her. Have her “give” the toy to you briefly, give her a treat and then return the toy to her. She will learn that bringing things to you is great fun. This is very handy when she has your shoe instead of a toy.
• Never chase the puppy or she will quickly learn to run away from you. Your goal is to make coming to you a lot of fun. If you find you are playing keep away, stop the game. Ignore her, but engage yourself in something she finds interesting. When she moves toward you, be ready to praise and treat.
• Use a variety of toys and avoid using only one type, such as a ball or Frisbee, which the puppy may fixate on. Some dogs become so focused on retrieving that it can interfere with other training.
• Use opportunities that do not involve throwing a toy. For instance, the puppy may find a stick in your fenced yard and you can turn it into a “bring back” game.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek games can be played indoors or outdoors in a fenced area and help teach the puppy to “tune in” to where you are. They work best in new surroundings. Wait for a moment when the puppy seems to forget about you and duck out of sight, but keep an eye on her. When she notices that you aren’t there, make a little noise to get her headed toward you but don’t give yourself away. Let her spend some time trying to find you, giving hints if needed. When she finds you, make it lots of fun by rewarding her with treats.
Swimming and wading are loads of fun for the puppy, especially when the weather is hot. A child’s wading pool in your fenced yard can provide hours of fun. If you take the puppy to a lake, use a long rope so you can safely keep her with you. Always remember that the puppy should never be off leash unless in a fully enclosed area!
How to walk your dog on a treadmill
What you'll need: Collar, Harness, 3 leashes, a treadmill
If you don't have the time or desire, or it's just too hot to do daily walks, use a treadmill. Most "hyper" behavior can be prevented just by getting them enough exercise on a daily basis. Whether you start when they are young or old, it's never too late to get them into a daily exercise routine. It's easier if you start when they are little (but not before they are 3 months!). Depending on the structure of your treadmill, you'll want to ensure that the pup/dog is kept in place and not able to jump off the treadmill belt. The first step is to get a dog harness and collar on your pup or dog. Tie one end of the leash to the top of the treadmill, tight enough so that he can't move forward or backwards too much, but loose enough so that it's not choking him. Next, attach 1 leash to the left, and to the right side of the treadmills, tight enough to affix to his harness so that he can't exit the treadmill from the left or right. Next, start the speed slowly, increasing it until you feel your pup/dog is doing a brisk walk. Remember this speed the next time, then set the microwave timer accordingly. Remember, the rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month in age up to 45 minutes 2x daily. Don't have a treadmill? You can get used ones off Craigslist often for a great deal.
Is my dog overweight? Healthy Weight
Don't look at your dog's weight, look at their waste. You should be able to see at least one rib in your dog's rib cage. I"m not saying you should see it clearly, but when they move, you should be able to see with your eyes, where their last rib is. Since labs can vary in size, there is no such thing as a general healthy weight. Here is a super helpful chart to help you understand what an ideal weight looks like.
Dogs that play outdoors regularly, take walks on rough terrain, rocks, dirt, roads, pavement, develop tough paws. Tough paws are like wearing a pair of shoes. Dogs that remain mostly indoors and have little exposure to the outdoors typically have soft pads. If you want your dog to develop tough paws, take them on regular walks outdoors, on rough terrain.
Labrador Retrievers are famous for being great hunting dogs and swimmers. Their coat has a strong advantage that allows them to hunt and swim in most weather conditions. Although Labradors have short hair, it is a common misconception that Labs do not shed. In reality, Labs shed as much as the average dog. Labs have a “blow coat” that can result in heavy shedding. To minimize shedding, the easiest thing to do is to brush your dog daily during your morning or evening routine, preferably outdoors. It only takes 30 seconds and it's very effective.
Properly caring for your Lab's coat is as simple brushing them for 1 minute a day, followed by a thorough brushing once a week. All you really need is a nylon bristle brush. This brushing stimulates the natural oils in the skin which will keep their coat glistening. A thorough brushing takes as little as 10 minutes. Daily brushing feels great to your Lab, will keep your Lab clean, increase your bond, keep shedding under control (brush them outdoors), and is potentially a great way to give your kid's a responsibility that they can succeed with.
Whether your pup will be indoors, indoor/outdoor, or remain outdoors, coat care is essential for their health and socialization. We recommend that you get into the habit right away to ensure a successful long term relationship.
The Furminator comb is very popular and those that use it, swear by it. You really only need to use it twice a year when they start to notice their blow coat shedding (blow coat is heavy shedding 2 x a year). The rest of the time is normal shedding - you can brush them outside for 30 seconds with a regular brush, or you can vacuum their coat once a day.
Generally we don't have fleas in Arizona because it is an arid environment. Typically fleas need a humid environment to survive. However, fleas can sometimes be found in washes where the sand is moist and warm or in lawns with grass and sprinkler systems. Unless your dog is outdoors a lot you probably won't need to worry about fleas. If your dog itches, it doesn't mean they have fleas, your dogs skin might be dry. Brushing them regularly will keep dry skin at bay. Over-bathing your pet may result in dry skin. Using a poor shampoo will result in dry skin. (For a good shampoo, please see the shampoo/bathing section on this page)
If your dog does have fleas, you can typically spot them behind your dog's ears and around their neck and on top of the ridge of their back (where they can't reach to itch them off). Fleas will lay eggs in clumps of poop that they paste to your dog's hair, it will look like small clumps of black. If you suspect your dog has fleas, you could try buying a flea collar from Wal-Mart for $5 and see if that gets rid of the problem. However, our experience is that these flea collars often cause skin irritation and are filled with nasty chemicals..so if you don't have to, don't do it. Another great option to get rid of fleas is Bravecto - it lasts for 3 months and gets rid of ~90% of fleas in the first 4 hours. We buy ours through CanadaPetCare.com.
Fleas continued + Insect repellent for dogs
A great way to keep insects at bay (especially mosquitos) is to use cedar oil. It smells wonderful and it repells all kinds of insects, including fleas and mosquitos, naturally. It's non toxic. There are many cedar oil sprays you can buy, but usually they only contain 10% cedar oil. The product we use is 90% cedar oil. We pour the contents into a spray bottle and cut it with equal parts of water. Before using - shake it up well so it's easier to spray out. Spray it directly on or spray into your palm, rub your palms together and apply around their neck and behind their ears. If you already have a flea infestation, beware this will not solve your problem, this is a repellent only. Another great idea is to spray your dogs inside of their collar with this cedar oil for a nice lasting scent. Reapply when the scent is lost.
If you dog has fleas...where there is 1, there are many. The 1st thing to do is bathe them. Use a lot of shampoo and keep them in a lather for at least 5 minutes, if you can leave it on for 10 minutes. It will drown/suffocate any existing fleas (but may not kill all the eggs). Rinse, and repeat one more time. It's possible that the fleas may have laid eggs attached to your dog's fur, so you'll want to continue bathing them every day for at least a week, and make sure to either use a flea collar (chemicals may harm/cause skin irritation), the cedar oil, or better yet, get the Bravecto and be done.
Does my dog have worms?
If you find rice like worms in your dogs poop, ask yourself if the poop left outside for a day or longer? If so, your dog probably doesn't have worms. Female flies lay their eggs in poop. Those eggs turn into worms rather quickly and grow and grow, growing to almost a centimeter or more in size until they blossom into flies. So before you rush out to get a dewormer, check your dog's fresh poop. The chances are for most dogs that are mostly indoors, that your dog doesn't have worms, the poop was just set outside too long and the flies laid their eggs in it. If you dog's fresh poop has worms, there are many good and effective OTC dewormers you can buy at places like Petco, PetSmart, and Wal Mart too.
Do not free water or free feed your pup. Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates.
1st Night Home – Feeding is not recommended the 1st night only. Experts recommend this for a variety of reasons ranging from an easier first night of transition to the benefits of bonding. By not feeding them, they will wake up very hungry. After feeding them they will immediately realize how important you are to their own life which will immediately increase their desire to please you.
1st 3 days:
¾ cup 2x/day ~6/7am & 4/5pm, add 1 cup water with food & for girls only - 1 tsp apple cider vinegar at each meal.
After 3 days
1 cup 2x/day ~6/7am & 4/5pm, add 1.5 cups water with food & for girls only - 1 tsp apple cider vinegar at each meal - stop apple cider after 10 days.
The quality of food is important. Our pups eat Nature's Domainature Puppy Formula. The puppy food is in a blue bag and it's about $18 with tax (click on the red hyperlink for a picture). If you are a not a Costco member, look for a super premium puppy food with meat as the main ingredient. The main ingredient is listed first on the back of the label. However, we highly recommend you stick with the Costco brand puppy food that we start them on until they are 6 months old. If you are not a Costco member, you can purchase as many bags as you need from us in advance for $22/bag. Each bag is 15 lbs and lasts about a month per bag so you would need about 6 bags. Otherwise, a Costco membership only costs around $45 and the samples alone are worth the fee. Please be aware that we estimate that a small % pups that switch to new foods may show signs of being allergic. If you switch foods and your pup starts to have digestive issues - they may need a hypoallergenic food. Out of about 150 pups, 1 pup has become allergic to commercial foods. Luckily, hypoallergenic dog foods are widely available - just email me if you need suggestions. With that said, not all pups will do well on the Costco brand puppy food - it is rich. It seems about 1 in 20 owners switch to a new food because the Costco brand just doesn't seem to sit well with their pup. Either way, if you do not want to continue Costco brand, it takes around a 1 week to transition if you use the following ratios:
First 3 Days at Home - do not transition them, keep them on the Costco Brand to reduce stress.
Day 4 & 5 - 75% Costco Brand 25% New Food
Day 6 & 7 - 50% Costco, 50% New
Day 8 & 9 - 25% Costco, 75% New
Day 10+ 100% New
For a list of 4 & 5 star foods, click here. We recommend transitioning them to Costco's Adult Dog food starting at age 5/6 months. Another great food recommendation if you don't shop at Costco is Pro Plan FOCUS Puppy Chicken and Rice Formula.
It's important to control your pup's portions and quality of food to prevent your pup from growing too quickly which can lead to hip dysplasia, joint, and skeletal issues. DO NOT FREE FEED YOUR PUP. To understand why, here is a video by Dr. Karen Becker. Follow this hyperlink for what a healthy weight looks like for pups and dogs alike. You want your pup & dog at a 4/5.
Your pups feeding schedule will depend on your own schedule and what kind of lifestyle your pup will have. Generally most pups should eat 2-3 X a day until they are around 5 months old. After that you can feed 1-2 X a day. We will start feeding them 3x a day, then go down to 2x a day the week before they go home. Generally you should feed them 6-7am and again at 4/5pm. Be sure to consider the poop/pee time into your routine. If you take away water 3 hours before bed, house and crate training is much easier. Never take away water if your pup/dog is kept outdoors, they should have 24/7 access to water and shade at all times of the day. Remember, the sun moves and thus their shade spots move. Be sure to check if there is shade at 9am, noon, 3pm, and 7pm.
By feeding on a set schedule, house training is easier and faster. Make it a habit to give your pup some quiet time after the meal. Do not let children romp and play with him or her for the first 30 minutes after eating otherwise the pup's stomach might get upset.
Do not feed puppies treats other than their own kibble (puppy food). No Nubz, Greenies, etc until they are a bit older. Right now they just need to stay on puppy food and water for a couple of months until they get a stronger immunity and digestive system. :) Generally you want to keep the greenies and nubz for keeping their teeth clean and for teething. All their little teeth will start to fall out at 4-5 months in age - so chew treats, nubz, and greenies are perfect for teething. Until then, they really don't need these kinds of chews etc, just their toys for now. :) If you give them it now, it may upset their stomachs, causing gas and loose stool.
Adult Dog Food. Costco's Kirkland Signature Dog foods are a great choice. Otherwise we recommend Pro Plan SPORT All Life Stages. If you want an organic choice, Castor & Pollux. However, seeing that the main ingredients of most high quality dog foods is meat and sweet potatoes, you could simply buy those main ingredients and cook them up for your dog and get rid of all preservatives and truly go organic.
The Best Diet for Dogs
HARMFUL FOODS - DO NOT FEED
Chocolate, Xylitol (a sweetener), Grapes, Raisins, Macadamia nuts, Avocados, Onions, Garlic, Salt, Tea Leaves, Coffee, Alcoholic beverages, Raw Yeast Dough, Spoiled Foods, Fatty Foods.
Cancer in Dogs
The leading cause of death in dogs over age 10 is cancer. The biggest predictor of your dog getting cancer is it's breed.
Aside from breed, the greatest cancer risks are believed to be environmentally related: What you feed your dog, what you give them to drink, and the toxins in their environment. Cancer can also be attributed to inbreeding and being sold prematurely/too young.
Pups should be kept indoors until they are at least 3 months old and past their first Arizona summer. Hawks and owls are able to prey on lab puppies up until they are around 3+ months old. Be sure to keep your eye on your pup when they are outdoors.
Eventually you may transition your lab to be an outdoor dog. If your lab will be active, primarily outdoors, or have other canine companions, you may consider giving them access to food and water on demand. Also, if you are planning outdoors, make sure that your lab has plenty of shade available at all times during the day and access to a pool or splash pool filled with water. As the sun moves from east to west and when seasons change, the shade spots change, so be sure to plan ahead. Check shade spots each season at 9am, noon, 3pm, and 7pm. Be sure to keep splash pools in the shade at all times. The water magnifies the sun rays, heats up very quickly, will grow alge and other bacteria if not kept in the shade. Unfortunately many animals die from dehydration and heat exhaustion in Arizona every summer. If you have a pool that is deep enough to require your lab to swim, make sure your lab can get out of the pool on their own. Though labs are naturally good swimmers, labs will drown if they can't get out of the pool.
Do not free water your pup. Unless your pup is outdoors, you should limit their water to their feeding schedule, otherwise, especially during the puppy stage, you'll have more accidents and soiled crates. We recommend bottled water over tap water. Tap water contains chlorine and is most often acidic. Chlorine does a great job at killing microorganisms. However, over time it has been shown to be in the top 5 causes of cancer. Bottled water is typically more alkaline and alkalinity is a known natural cancer fighting agent. If you have to give them tap water, add a teaspoon of baking soda to their water every day to keep it alkaline and reduce their likeliness of getting cancer.
Bathing/Shampoo/Itchy Skin/Skin Problems:
Generally dogs don't really need to be bathed except maybe once a month (use the smell test). Brush them everyday, this is the best way to keep them clean. It's very common for dogs to develop skin allergies and itchy skin. We recommend that if you bathe your pup/dog, follow with a small amount of conditioner or a 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner. Some people think they have to go out and buy dog shampoo. I disagree, we use V05 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner (from Wal-Mart for $1) and our labs have no skin issues. However, some dogs will develop skin irritations. If your dog is one of them, we recommend buying a medicated shampoo designed to treat itchy/irritated skin that help keep your dog’s natural flora in tact. There are many available from Jeffer's Pet or any pet store. Melaleuca Shampoo is a good product to use for dogs with a history of itchy/rashy skin.
Ear Care & Ear Problems:
It's a good idea to clean your dog's ears once a month or so. You can either use a soapy wash rag and a towel or we use Zymox ear cleanser because it has enzymes that prevent bacteria from growing. Just squirt some all over the inside of their ear (be careful, a dog's natural reaction is to shake their head - it really stings if it gets into your eyes, so maybe put protective eye wear on or just squint your eyes in case they try to shake it out). After applying the solution, place a cotton ball inside, flap their ear over the cotton ball, and gently massage - it will collect most of the dirt, repeat until clean.
The most common vet visit is for ear problems. If your dog has "junk" coming out of his ear, he/she probably has an ear problem. If you allow your dog to dig holes, fungus could start to grow inside their ears causing an ear infection. If your dog is in the water a lot, he/she might have extra water stuck inside their ear, causing ear irritation and possible infection. First, try soaking a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, insert into the ear canal, flap his ear over the cotton ball, and massage, causing the alcohol to drain into the ear, cleaning it at the same time. Repeat for a few days. If no improvement, Zymox enzymatic ear solution works really well for almost any time of ear problem. If you dog gets continuous ear infections/problems, instead of using the Zymox Otic without Hydrocortisone Dog Ear Care, it works really well to keep any reoccurring problems at bay. If after using this for a few weeks and no improvement or if the ear problem is accompanied with a fever, get to the Vet. (Normal dog temp is 101.5 - 102).
Taking Your Dog's Temperature
Normal resting dog temp is 101.5 - 102. Exercise might increase their temp so make sure you take it after they've been calm, never after exercise.
Rectal temp is easiest: Put a little lube or petroleum jelly on the end of the thermometer. Insert approximately an inch deep into the rectum while they are laying down on their side.
Bathing your dog:
Once your pup gets bigger, many times they don't like baths. Especially if your pup tested as a 5 or tying as a 5 personality. During the warm months you can give your dog a shower outside using the hose, shampoo, and a scrub brush. During the winter months you can do the same but using warm water. We run a hose from our bathroom to the outside to give them a warm shower, but outdoors. I step on their leash to keep them in place while I spray and scrub away, using my hands I squeegee the excess water off, then towel dry them.
Here is what you need to replicate:
0 Remove the aerator (the round part that screws in to the faucet where the water comes out).
0 Lightweight, expandable hose (way better than using the clunky traditional hoses) - be sure to get the right length for your needs.
0 For frequent use/easy connect & disconnect (LOVE THIS!!) - get a quick disconnect set.
0 Spray Nozzle for Garden Hose
0 scrub brush
0 collar & leash
Keep your dog from digging holes:
First of all, it’s very normal for dogs to dig holes. They are burrowing animals. However, you can train your dog away from it. Here are some tips and ideas that work for others.
1. Training. Your dog needs to see you as the pack leader – the one in charge who gives praise and dishes punishment when necessary. Start by training them to sit, shake, lay down, and stay. When they dig a hole, give a harsh, low voice “no”. Put them in a crate for an hour and ignore them. Increase the “time out” if it happens again. Even if you don’t see her in the act, always follow through with corrections. Example scenario: You just got home from running errands and you notice a new hole, but you have no idea when it happened. Take your dog to the hole and show them, put their face near the hole. Give them a harsh “no” in a low deep voice, then crate them. Dogs are very smart, they will recall what they did, even if it was days ago.
2. Exercise. A tired dog won’t dig. The rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month in age up to a max of 45 minutes twice a day. Be careful not to do exercise that is too hard on their joints. If you don’t have a lot of time, try taking your dog out for a bike ride with her on leash. This will give you less exertion while keeping the dog at a jog or run. Most dogs will be tired out after 5-10 minutes of jogging. Be aware that dogs need to build up to levels of exercise so don’t over do it and always bring a bottle of water.
3. Stop the boredom. Dogs get bored. Play with you dog and give them toys to play with. Try throwing the ball to them to play fetch for at least 10 minutes a day. Labs will almost always naturally fetch but don’t always bring it back. When they finally do bring it back for the first time, give her several seconds of petting and praise as a reward and you will see that she will start to retrieve more often. Change out their toys every day, rotating the old ones out and new ones in so that every day they have 3-4 “new” items to play with. Try to keep the rotation to no less than 5 days that pass between playing with old toys.
4. Put an orange or lemon peel to their nose, if they back away, they probably don’t like it. Bury the orange or lemon peels in the holes they’ve dug. If this doesn’t work, bury their own poop in the areas they’ve dug. (Not my favorite choice, but if you have a constant digger, this tends to work).
5. Remote control shock collar. When you see your dog digging, shock them. Or, if you come home to a newly dug spot, even if it’s days old. Bring them to the hole, put their face near it, say “no!” and shock them. Start with low shocks for the first time, then increase the shock duration and level with 2nd, 3rd offenses. Eventually you will get to a point where it’s no longer worth it to the dog to dig. This might sound harsh but it works and it becomes the dogs choice to repeat offend.
Discharge and/or Vaginal issues in Female Puppies
It is fairly common for female puppies to have a bit of discharge from their vulva (sometimes appearing as wet yellowish/greenish mucus, other times as crust). This occurs when the pup is chubby as their belly fat may overlap or cause the vulva to be pushed in and collects bacteria. Most female puppies will not experience this, but once in a while, it happens. As long as your pup isn't running a fever, this is usually a non-event and can be remedied with the following steps:
1. Gently wipe the vulva area with a wet wipe.
2. Using your index finger and thumb, spacing them apart about an inch, gently push around the vulva causing the vulva to push out and become fully exposed. Wet wipe it again.
3. Clean the area daily or as needed until your pup matures and loses it's puppy fat.
4. Be sure to balance your pup's food intake and give them the appropriate amount of exercise to keep them at a healthy weight.
5. Anytime your pup gets dirty, be sure to clean her vulva.
6. If you have a pool, let her swim. The chlorine and water do a great job at naturally keeping her clean.
7. If the problem persists, add a 1/2 single size container of yogurt to her food on a daily basis. The enzymes do a great job at building their immune systems to keep bacterial infections at bay.
8. Add in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to her water. The cider does a great job at keeping bacteria from spreading to her urinary tract.
9. If the problem persists, give her a dog probiotic.
Generally, these steps have proven to be successful in remedying the problem. However, if your pup gets a fever (normal is 101.5 - 102 F - see "How to take your dog's temperature" on this page), be sure to take her to the Vet as there could be more serious problems that are related or unrelated.
Digestive issues / Gas / Bloating / Bad breath / Skinny dog eating eating a lot of food / Diarrhea
If your pup/dog has diarrhea with blood, get them to the Vet right away.
If your pup gets diarrhea (poops liquid), first ask yourself if you gave them anything different like a treat or new food. If they ate a new food or treat, or got into something they shouldn't have and their poop was normal the day before, it is probably just be an upset stomach. If this is the case, don't feed or water them for 24 hours. Give them 1/2 of an Immodium tablet (whole tablet for pup over 5 months). If they poop diarrhea a 2nd time, give them another 1/2 Immodium tablet (whole for a pup over 5 months). For each additional diarrhea poop give them 1/2 Immodium tablet not to exceed 4 doses in 24 hours. After 24 hours, proceed with normal food & water routine. If the diarrhea is still there, give them another 1/2 tablet. Typically it takes a couple of days for a pup to get back to fully normal after an upset stomach.
Generally if your dog has any of the issues mentioned in the title and you haven't fed them anything new, the next thing you should consider is getting a fecal exam to check for worms and parasites. Your vet will be able to prescribe an antibiotic or de-wormer to take care of any issues.
If your dog doesn't have any parasites/worms, consider giving them a dog probiotic. Many times a dog with these types of issues (after parasites/worms have been ruled out), is usually having problems digesting their food. Probiotics usually solve the problem. However, if the problem persists, you should consider switching dog foods. Always choose a high quality dog food with protein (turkey meal, chicken meal, beef meal etc, as the 1st ingredient). If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian.
Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy
Typically these are the signs of parvo. If you suspect Parvo, take it to the emergency animal clinic and have the vet perform a parvo snap test. Parvo shows up in their feces 3 days before symptoms occur. If your pup/dog test positive for parvo, I highly recommend you put your pup/dog down unless you can afford $6-$7k on treatment. Because even if your pup/dog survives parvo, your pup/dog will shed parvo for the rest of their life - in doing so, it continues to spread the disease around forever more. So regardless of the treatment costs, it's just better to put them down IMO for the sake of the greater good - discontinuing the spread of disease. Parvo can live in soil up to 10 years, on inanimate objects for up to a year, only bleach can kill it, and it is easily spread by shoe, highly highly contagious, one of the most hardy viruses in the world that can withstand extreme hot and cold temps, and the #1 cause of death in puppies under 16 weeks in age.
However, if you've recently switched foods it may be Clostridium. Clostridium is a bacterial infection that has similar symptoms as parvo: Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration, abdominal pain. Many times Vets mistake this for IBS and will recommend prescription dog food and it still doesn't solve the problem. Clostridium has to be treated with specific antibiotics as clostridium can be difficult to get rid of. The only case we've seen this happen right after the owner switched from Costco brand Puppy food to a new brand.
Soft Poop, allergy issues, any kind of sickness that isn't an emergency.
Always try a raw egg and apple cider vinegar first. I can't tell you how many vet visits this trick has saved myself and my clients over the years. Raw eggs contain enzymes that boost the immune system significantly. Same with apple cider vinegar. If your pup/dog is having softer than normal poop, is wheezing from allergies, or just isn't feeling real well, crack a raw egg and add in a teaspoon (puppies under 4 months) or a tablespoon (pups over 4 months) over their food for a few days in a row and see if that solves the problem first.
Puppy with Pee Accidents
Pee accidents after they are pooping outside and pretty well house trained, may be a UTI or a behavioral issue. If you suspect it's a UTI, see below. If you think it's more behavioral and you have a male, try using a belly wrap. Essentially when they go pee, they go in their belly wrap and they don't like it because then the pee sits against their fur around their pee pee and belly, if it's behavioral, it will usually nick that in the bud within days. If it's a female and she is pooping outside but having frequent accidents inside, it's likely a UTI. If you need other ideas, email me!
Urinary Tract Infections
Although most common in females, males can get UTIs too. If your pup starts having pee accidents it may be a sign of a UTI. Other symptoms include: Inability to urinate or only passing a small amount of urine, bloody or cloudy urine, fever, loss of bladder control, dribbling urine, increased amount and/or frequency of urination, straining and/or crying out in pain when trying to pass urine, soiling in inappropriate places, constant licking of urinary opening, and a strong odor to the urine. If your pup has a fever, it's probably best to take them to the vet. If they don't have a fever, then you can try a few home remedies that really work well. 1st, keep the area clean. Use a wet wipe, or give her a warm bath. Next, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog's water. Not only will the apple cider vinegar make your dog's urinary tract an inhospitable place for bacteria, it can also alleviate allergies, balance out their pH, and even helps with arthritis.
Bumps on chin/muzzle are likely Puppy Acne
For a picture, click on the red words above. Puppy acne will appear as bumps usually on or around their chin. Puppy acne will usually go away on it's own unless the pup starts pawing at it, causing it to get red, rip open, and potentially getting bacteria in it. If it become bloody, red, and your puppy/dog develops a fever, go to your Vet. The Vet will likely prescribe some antibiotics. If they aren't running a fever, chances are you can treat it at home. Generally if you see puppy acne, wash it, keep the area clean, but leave it alone. If it starts to become irritated, put an antibacterial ointment on it to ward off a bacterial infection. When in doubt, consult a vet! ;)
Pee on carpet
For the best results, act immediately. Pour an excessive amount of baking soda over the pee area, heaping it up high. Leave it there for a day. Vaccuum it up the next day. The baking soda does an amazing job at soaking up the pee, drawing it out of the carpet, and deoderizing the area at the same time.
Dried on stains/tough stains out of carpet or clothes
Always test on your carpet 1st, we've never had any issues, but you never know. Try at your own risk.
IMO, there is nothing better than using food grade hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and hot water. First step, wet the area with a mix of vinegar, food grade hydrogen peroxide, and steaming hot water. (When the water mixes with the Food grade hydrogen peroxide, it turns into oxygen, it will bubble and loosen any particles - sort of like oxi-clean on steroids but without the detergent residue that later will attract dirt). You don't need that much of the food grade hydrogen. For an area of 1 foot wide by 1 foot wide, I would estimate you need maybe 1/8 cup of food grade hydrogen peroxide, a 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1 cup of steaming hot water. Mix it together, pour it on, let it soak for 2 hours. Next sprinkle baking soda over it and scrub any areas - everything should come right off. Next use a wet dry vac to suck up the excess water. Last step pour 2 cups of clean hot water over the area and immediately wet dry vac it back up. Place a fan on the area to help it dry.
For an individual shirt, put a rubber band around the part that is soiled to isolate the area. Dip it or apply enough food grade hydrogen peroxide to get it soaked. Next, pace the isolated section into a cup or bowl of water and let it set for an hour. Most times the stain will be gone. If it's not all the way gone, ring out the excess water and repeat. For a load of laundry, add in a 1/4 cup of food grade hydrogen peroxide in the same place you put detergent. For really stinky / disgusting laundry, add in a 1/2 cup vinegar.
Puppies use their mouths like we use our hands. Mouthing/biting during the puppy stage is very common. How to address it/deter it. In summary a very loud yelp should help him realize that he hurt you. I have had several clients do this successfully and the pup learns not to mouth or to mouth in an inhibited manner. A 2nd method is to grab your pup's mouth and squeeze it shut so it hurts him a bit and say "no" in a deep voice. Usually after a few times they associate mouthing with the unpleasant mouth squeeze. A third option is when they mouth you, stop, open his mouth and shove several fingers down his throat to gag him. After a few times he will associate mouthing with gagging.
Small Children - Special Considerations
If you have small children - supervise! Although it rarely happens, the few times clients have had "problems" with mouthing, usually involve small children. If you have small children NEVER leave your pup unsupervised - the pup's teeth are razor sharp and can easily draw blood. The difficulty with small children is they don't know what to do and if the rough mouthing goes uncorrected, the pup can easily develop a dominant position with your small children if you aren't there to immediately respond. Although it rarely happens, when it does, it is very upsetting for parents.
If you have a mouthy pup, have heart, your pup should naturally outgrow this stage. However, it is imperative that you begin training right away. Start with basic commands so that they understand that you are the master. You must be the leader for your puppy. If you have a persistently mouthy pup, aside from the gagging/yelping tips aforementioned, I recommend sticking something in their mouth that they can chew on. If you have small children, get a muzzle for when you can't supervise - it's amazing how much a muzzle can change behavior.
In conclusion, expect that your pup will mouth/bite, the severity of it will completely vary and depend on your pup, your leadership, and your ability to implement the tips to deter it. Based on our experience, we estimate that 98% of pups will have easily corrected mouthing, the other 2% might take more work. If you need tips, reach out to us immediately. If you have small children you must always supervise until the pup is at least 4-5 months in age - this is when they are usually past this stage.