I spend a lot of time outdoors with my own dogs as well as the dogs I’m training. Some days, it’s an afternoon spent working with a service animal I’m training—teaching her how to properly and safely maneuver around the city—while other times it’s just me and my own dogs romping around a hiking trail in the country.
Regardless of where we go and no matter if it’s training or just a fun excursion, we always make it an adventure. Dogs love the outdoors and need time outside to thrive. And to be honest, so do I. But there that you need to be aware of and keep an eye out for.
Thorns And Thistle And Ticks…These Are A Few Of My Least Favorite Things!
If you’ve ever had a thistle or thorn stuck in your feet or hands, you’ll understand just how painful these things can be for you. A good rule of thumb is: if it’s painful for you, then it’s painful for your dog!
But more than that, have you ever thought about the potential health issues and complications that these seemingly minor nuisances can cause if left alone and untreated?
Painful sores in tender areas, abscesses and infections are all potential consequences of foreign bodies left in place or improperly removed.
And you can never be too careful about ticks!
In all my years of living with and working with dogs, I’ve developed a two-prong plan to dealing with these pesky and potentially dangerous things. I call my plan “The Daily Squeeze” and “The Big Squeeze.”
First Up….The Daily Squeeze
Before we walk into my house after every walk and outdoor adventure, I give the dogs a once over. I check ears, eyes, tails, toes, paw pads, knees, elbows, chests and abdomens for any foreign body. If I discover anything that shouldn’t be there, I jump into action. I safely remove whatever I find before we walk in the house. I call this my “leave it outside” policy.
After quickly checking the dogs with my hands, I rub a towel or, even better, a brush over the dog for a quick grooming tune-up. The Daily Squeeze helps me prevent the dogs from any unnecessary pain, discomfort or potential infection but it also saves my floors! I have good floors…did I mention that?
The Big Squeeze
Once a month, I elevate The Daily Squeeze to The Big Squeeze.
With the The Big Squeeze, I do a full body check on all of my pets. We lay on the floor and I give a light squeeze from right around their muzzle area to the tip of their toes and then slowly and gently work my way back to the tail. With a light pressure “hug,” you can quickly find things that don’t belong there, such as a grow or scab, sense if something doesn’t feel right—perhaps a lump or bump under the skin- or if something is painful to your dog. If you notice anything unusual, if your dog seems painful or if your gut tells you something is wrong, contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment.
By recognizing and addressing a problem early, you can quickly get a proper diagnosis, get your dog on any treatment that she needs and prevent a minor problem from becoming a big, expensive, painful, stressful one!
Being proactive is powerful. Use your power for good…good dog health that is!
Geralynn Cada-Ragan is a service animal trainer, CPDT, AKC CGC evaluator, and author.
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