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Thanksgiving Safety for Dogs: Get it Right!

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    Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, with many gatherings filled with food and family. However, the holiday may not be quite as joyful for your canine companion. From an interrupted routine to dangerous foods, Thanksgiving, unfortunately, presents many hazards to our four-legged friends. Read below to learn how you and your pet can have a safe, stress-free holiday this year with our guide on Thanksgiving safety for dogs.

    Do’s & Don’ts for Thanksgiving Foods

    One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the feast itself. However, many traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in fat, contain bones, or include ingredients that are hazardous to dogs. Head into your meal equipped with knowledge of what is and what is not harmful to your dog. 

    Foods to Avoid Sharing with Dogs

    • Turkey: Turkey including the skin can cause pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. Dark, fatty meat is especially hazardous to your pup. In addition, be aware of carcasses and bones which pose a great choking hazard and can even splinter inside the digestive tract. 
    • Dough containing yeast: Yeast can cause painful gas and bloating which may lead to a stomach blockage. This is because the yeast in the dough makes it rise and expand. In addition, the natural fermentation of the yeast in your dog’s stomach can lead to alcohol poisoning. 
    • Garlic and onions: Garlic and onions, as well as other variations of the vegetable (leeks and chives), are common in many traditional Thanksgiving dishes including green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Steer clear of feeding your dog any foods with these ingredients as they are toxic. The toxicity causes damage to your dog’s red blood cells resulting in anemia. These foods also lead to GI upset. 
    • Grapes: Grapes, as well as the dried versions of the fruit, such as raisins and currants, are hazardous to your canine companion. These are often found inside dishes such as stuffing at your Thanksgiving meal. Grapes’ toxicity can cause harm to dogs’ kidneys and affect urine production. 
    • Pie and desserts: Many pies and desserts served at Thanksgiving contain toxic ingredients including chocolate and xylitol. In addition, desserts are often high in fat which is dangerous to dogs. 

    Safe Foods to Feed Dogs at Thanksgiving

    • Sweet potato & potato: Raw, unseasoned sweet potatoes and potatoes can be shared with your dog at Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes are actually filled with nutrients that are beneficial to canines. Just be sure to stick to raw or dried bits, no canned goods. 
    • Green beans: Green beans are a safe treat for your pup, like potatoes, steer clear of seasoned or dressed green beans – keep them raw and hazard-free. 
    • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is tasty and loaded with fiber for dogs, raw or cooked. Always use fresh 100% pure pumpkin, not to be confused with canned pumpkin pie filling that is hazardous. 
    • Apple: Apple slices make for a yummy treat for your dog, just be sure to steer clear of the core and seeds, as consuming too many seeds may be toxic.

    Thanksgiving Celebration Precautions

    Holiday gatherings can pose a number of risks to your canine companion. Follow the tips below to prepare for your Thanksgiving celebration while keeping your dog safe and stress-free. 

    • Put trash away: Be sure the garbage is secured in a place where your dog is unable to access it. Either hide the garbage can away or have a secure lid. Packaging from foods poses a risk to your dog if consumed. Strings and other items used to wrap and tie meat products can be deadly. In addition, you don’t want your dog accessing bones or any other scraps in the trash. 
    • Make sure food is inaccessible: Don’t let Fido jump on countertops or tables during your meal preparation or meal. If your dog is known to be a counter surfer, consider crating or gating them in a separate area of the house while food is present.   
    • Create a “safe space”: With Thanksgiving comes new visitors, larger crowds, and increased activity. These factors may cause stress to your dog. If your dog is nervous or overly excitable with visitors, set them up in a secluded room or crate with their favorite toy or bone. If you do let your dog interact with visitors, always be sure they have access to a “safe space” such as their crate, so they can excuse themselves and relax away from the activity. This way, both your pet and visitors are safe and comfortable. 
    • Put away guests’ bags: As guests arrive, be aware of their purses and suitcases and put them away in a closet or somewhere inaccessible to your dog. While you may be aware that your pup loves scavenging for goodies in purses, your guests may not be. Keeping bags out of sight prevents the likelihood of your dog consuming something hazardous. 
    • Update Microchip & ID Tags: With visitors comes increased traffic in the household, including a lot of in and out through doors. Even if your pet is not typically a door bolter, all of the added activity may cause stress leading to a slip through the door. To be safe, make sure their collar is secured and update their microchip information and identification tags ahead of time. An owner’s name, address, and phone number are crucial to reuniting a lost pet with their beloved owner. 
    • Keep an eye on festive decor: Items to keep an eye out for include pine cones, festive plants, and other attractive decor. These may intrigue your pet leading to intestinal blockages and GI upset. Also, be vigilant around lit candles, a wagging tail or jumping dog can easily knock over a candle resulting in a fire. 

    Thanksgiving Travel Precautions

    Traveling is a fun and often essential part of Thanksgiving. However, it may not be as fun for your dog. Follow the tips below to ensure your pet has a safe and comfortable travel experience this holiday. 

    golden retriever hanging out of car
    • Proper and safe restraint in the car: There are many harnesses, seatbelts, and carriers built for dogs of all shapes and sizes to ensure proper restraint in the car. Utilizing this gear ensures your dog is protected when making a sharp turn or, braking suddenly, or getting in an accident. Just be sure wherever they are restrained in the car, the area is clear of airbags. In addition, restraint ensures your pet is unable to access hazardous food or cause distractions to the driver. 
    • Consult with a veterinarian about air travel: Traveling by airplane can pose a risk to your pet, especially short-nosed dogs. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian if you are considering your dog boarding an airplane. They will go over the potential risks based upon your dog’s age, breed, health status, etc. They may also prescribe medication to keep them calm.
    • Pack Fido’s bag: You probably have your own bag stocked and ready to go for your trip, but be sure that your dog does too. Include essential items: 
          • Up-to-date medical records including proof of vaccinations
          • Favorite toys and comfort items 
          • Medications (including a surplus supply just in case) 
          • Crate and bed 
          • Food and clean water along with dishes
          • Collar (with current ID & Rabies tags) 
          • Pet first aid kit 
          • Primary veterinary information 
    • Emergency veterinary information: While you should have your dog’s primary veterinarian’s contact information on hand, we highly recommend doing some research before hitting the road. Compile a list of emergency veterinary contact information in the areas you’ll be traveling through. This way, if any issues arise, you’ll be able to act quickly and secure care for your dog. 
    • Update microchip, ID tags, and travel tags: With a lot of in and out of the car, restroom breaks, and unfamiliar territory, it is essential to update your dog’s microchip information and ID tags prior. An owner’s name, address, and phone number should be up to date and secured to their collar. In addition to their normal identification tags, consider creating a travel tag. Include your typical information accompanied by contact information for your travel accommodations such as the hotel, family’s house address, etc.
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    Halloween Safety for Dogs 101

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      Photo Credit: SVETIKD

      Halloween is right around the corner. We are all getting prepared for the big day, fitting our pets for costumes, finding pet-friendly events to take them too and more. But do you know about Halloween safety and ensuring your dog is safe on Halloween? Here are some Halloween safety tips for your pup:

      Keep Treats Away (and Offer Alternatives)

      Photo Credit: Ruffle Snuffle

      The majority of treats and candy that are given out on Halloween are toxic to dogs. It may be tempting to count out all the collected candy on the floor post-trick or treating or to leave the bowl of candy right next to the front door, but these are easy access points for pups. Some common Halloween treats that are toxic to dogs include:

      • ​​Chocolate (especially dark chocolate)
      • Raisins and chocolate-covered raisins
      • Candy corn
      • Macadamia nuts
      • Sugar-free candy (they use a toxic substitute called xylitol)
      • Caramel apples

      If you want your dog to be able to partake in the festivities, you can make them their own Halloween treats

      Be Aware of Decoration Dangers

      Many decorations pose a threat to dogs as well as your home. For example, a dog can easily knock over a jack-o-lantern with a candle inside. Certain Halloween plant decorations are relatively nontoxic to dogs including decorative corn but they may cause stomach discomfort if nibbled on. Some other dangerous include:

      • Rubber eyeballs (choking hazard)
      • Fake blood and glowsticks (possibly poisonous)
      • Fake cobwebs (choking hazard and they can be twisted up in them)
      • String lights (strangulation) 

      Block the Front Door and Keep Them Calm

      Constantly opening the door for trick or treaters are constant opportunities for your dogs to dart. Keep the dogs behind a dog gate or put them in a bedroom when someone comes up to your door. On top of that, dogs may be spooked by the dressed-up children and not react so friendly. If people coming to the door may stress your dog out, you may want to give them some CBD before or talk to your vet about anxiety medication.

      Be Careful With Costumes

      Photo Credit: @2husketeers

      Wearing a costume can cause undue stress in pets. Just because they look adorable does not mean that you should do it. If your pet is showing signs of being in distress or any abnormal behavior while in a costume, opt for a festive bandana or their birthday suit instead.

      For pets who will wear a costume, make sure they can move freely and it does not restrict their movement, sight, ability to bark or breath. Inspect the costume for any possible choking hazards like small, dangling bits and remove them. You should also not leave the costume on when the pet is unattended. This may result in strangulation as they can easily become twisted up in them.

      Light Them Up

      If you are taking your dogs out on Halloween night, make sure they are easily spotted. You can get them a light-up collar, light-up leash, or light to attach to their collar. It may be tempting to run across the street to the next house with everyone else but drivers are often distracted Halloween night and may not see your pup being dragged behind you.

      Bring Them Inside

      Pets absolutely should  not be left unattended outside on Halloween night. Unfortunately, pets have been the victims of Halloween tricksters and pranks that have resulted in pets being injured, stolen, or even killed.

      Prepare for the Worst

      It is always better to be safe than sorry. Ensure your pets’ tags are up to date as well as their microchip. If your pet has a microchip and it hasn’t been registered, you can register for free with Found Animals. If they do happen to escape, this increases their chances of being reunited with you. Also, keep the number for poison control readily available in case they happen to ingest some of the treats.

      ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline: (888) 426-4435.

      Halloween is a holiday that most of us love and we love to have our pets involved. But, it’s a holiday that offers numerous dangers that we might not think about. Do you have any helpful Halloween safety tips? Let us know in the comments! 

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      Benefits of Playing Fetch With Your Dog

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        Fetch isn’t just a fun game to play with your dog but it actually presents multiple benefits for both owner and dog! Some benefits of playing fetch with dogs might be surprising to you as it’s more than just exercise. Plus, we also offer alternatives to fetch that are just as beneficial!

        Improve Behavior and Enhance Mood

        Fetch is just one of many games you can play with your dog to help improve their mood and behavior. This is done by wearing them out and a worn-out dog is less likely to be destructive and anxious. Plus, certain breeds need some kind of “job” and fetch can be treated like a job to them. Even more so, the attention you give them while playing fetch can also increase their mood. They love the attention you’re giving them and you can see that in the nonstop tail wagging as they bring the toy back to you each time.

        owner playing fetch with dog in field

        Promote Their Physical Wellbeing

        Fetch is an excellent way to keep your dog healthy! Not everyone can take their dog out for daily walks and playing fetch is a great way for dogs to get the exercise they need. Regular exercise is key in preventing obesity in dogs which can then lead to numerous other health problems like osteoarthritis.

        Because they may be lying down all day while you’re at work, being able to play or go outside can assist preserve their healthy organs and lubricate their joints

        Mental Stimulation

        Fetch is a way to help stimulate your dog mentally. It helps build both their focus and concentration, especially if they need to find the toy that you’re using. 

        Strengthen Your Bond

        Being able to spend time with your dog, whether it’s for a simple stroll or a game of fetch at your local park, can help you bond with them. It’s one of the numerous advantages of spending time with your dog.

        Spending quality time with your cherished canine companion will assist to deepen your bond of love and friendship. You provide them the opportunity to have fun while also helping to gain their trust and loyalty. They’ll start to think of you as the one who makes their lives better.

        This relationship also aids in the development of trust when you go about your daily routine and must leave your animal for long periods of time. When your dog is content and trusts you, he is less likely to engage in undesirable behavior.

        woman sitting on the ground with golden retriever standing on her lap

        Anxiety Relief

        Giving dogs something that they can focus and concentrate on can give them anxiety relief. Spending time with them might also reduce their anxieties as well as give them a more relaxed disposition. It may also help them cope with anxiety and stress in their life, especially if they are left home during the day while you’re at work.

        It’s Good For You Too

        All of the advantages your dog may enjoy during playtime might also be beneficial to you! If you’ve had a hard day at the office, playing catch with your dog when you come home is a great way to relieve tension. It’s a moment when you can put your phone, social media, and other distractions aside and focus only on your dog. And, of course, the relationship you form with your dog during playtime and fetch will continue for the rest of their lives, as well as yours.

        Alternatives to Fetch That Your Dog May Love

        Flirt Poles

        Flirt poles are ideal for when the weather is bad and you can’t play outside, in apartments, or in tiny yards. They get your dog moving about, playing with their toy, and amusing you as much as they do themselves. Flirt poles also aid in the development of abilities like impulse control and coordination.

        Photo Credit: Fit For a Pit

        Dog Chews

        corgi chewing on a bully stick

        Dog chews like bully sticks or Himalayan dog chews are a great way to keep your dog entertained and occupied even if it’s more of an engagement activity compared to fetch. Plus, it’s another alternative to keeping your dog entertained during bad weather. Dogs should only be given chews under supervision.


        Some dogs like jumping and displaying their agility by playing frisbee. Similarly to fetch, you should begin by throwing little objects and gradually raise the complexity of your throws. Also, before each game, inspect your frisbee for cracks or chips to avoid scratching your dog or their mouth!

        beagle playing fetch with a frisbee in a field

        Snuffle and Licks Mats

        Photo Credit: Happy Dog Barkery

        Snuffle and lick mats are a great form of mental stimulation for dogs. You can purchase them or even DIY your own snuffle and lick mats

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        Brushing Dogs’ Teeth: The How and Why

        German shepherd having teeth brushed
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          Why Should You Brush Your Dog's Teeth?

          Brushing dogs’ teeth can often be overlooked but it is, in fact, a crucial part of their health. Brushing their teeth can:

          • Prevent bad breath
          • Remove tartar and plaque buildup
          • Prevent Periodontal disease
          • Avoid Rotting teeth
          • Reduce internal organ damage in your dog

          How Do You Brush a Dog's Teeth?

          Brushing your dog’s teeth is often much more difficult if you’re getting started at some point in your dog’s adult life whether it be you have never thought to do it or they were adopted as an adult but it is absolutely possible! Follow the steps below for assistance in brushing your dog’s teeth:

          1. Find The Right Time to Start

          When your dog is nice and comfortable, brush their teeth. Establish a routine. It is good to gradually increase your brushing frequency until you are brushing everyday. But if their mouth is in good shape, even three days a week may make a big difference in their oral health. As a result of plaque accumulation, your dog is at risk of developing foul breath, gum disease, and teeth decay. It can also lead to painful infections, according to the CDC. Extreme cases of infection can be lethal.

          2. Have The Right Tools

          You’ll want to use a dog-specific toothbrush. Specially slanted bristles make these brushes gentler and easier to use. Dog under 30 pounds may benefit from finger brushing. Longer handles can give you a better reach in larger dogs. Dog toothpaste is a must with common flavors including chicken and peanut butter. Dogs’ stomachs are sensitive to human toothpaste, which includes irritants that might cause stomach upset.

          3. Get in Place

          Check to see whether your dog is comfortable in the environment where you’ll be doing the brushing. Keep your dog at a safe distance from you and avoid intimidating stances. If you want to avoid this, consider kneeling before them, or sitting to the side of them instead. Determine your dog’s degree of anxiousness and t ry again later if they appear agitated. Each of the next steps may take some time to perfect.

          4. Get them used to it

          Rub your finger over your dog’s top gums and teeth to see whether they’re comfortable with you touching their mouths. In this approach, they will become accustomed to the sensation of anything against their teeth. Press lightly. Before going on, you may need to spend a few sessions getting them used to this. Your fingers should be coated with dog toothpaste. Allow your dog to lick the toothpaste off of your finger to become acclimated to the feel and taste of the toothpaste. if they don’t want to lick any more toothpaste after the first few days, switch flavors. This is a treat for them, and you’ll want to make sure you find one!

          5. Test the Toothbrush

          You may start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together once your pet has become accustomed to you opening and touching their mouth. Then, they raise their top lip. Be sure to slant the bristles of the toothbrush as you brush their teeth so that they reach the gum line as you do so Brushes that are placed at a 45-degree angle against teeth will massage the gum line and remove plaque.

          6. Use the Toothbrush

          In tiny circular motions, brush both the top and bottom of each side. The bristles may bleed a little as they travel along the gum line. A little bleeding every now and again is OK. In contrast, persistent or severe bleeding might indicate that you’re brushing too forcefully, or that you have gum disease. Your veterinarian can provide you with further information.

          7. Brush Away the Plaque

          Brush a few teeth at a time, increasing the number of teeth you brush each day as you and your dog get more comfortable. Aim for a total of two minutes. Begin by cleaning the outsides of the canine and rear teeth, where plaque is most likely to accumulate. If you’re able to go inside, that’s fantastic. But if you’re unable to reach them, don’t worry too much about it. These animals have a coarse tongue, which helps keep the region clean.

          8. Use Positive Reinforcement

          Specialists recommend keeping the mood light when brushing your dog’s teeth. Tell them what you’re doing while you brush their teeth, reassuring them that they are fine and safe. Gently pet them while doing so to remind them of what a good dog they are. Make this a positive experience for them. In the end, give your dog with their favorite reward or special attention. When everyone is still having a good time, it’s time to stop. Also, keep in mind that excellent dental care doesn’t end with brushing as you can also help your dog prevent plaque accumulation by eating certain chews and snacks. Schedule frequent professional dental cleanings as well. Consult your veterinarian to determine how often your dog should be brushed.

           Learn more about brushing dog’s teeth with this helpful video by VetVid.

          To find teeth brushing products for your dog, visit our product directory. To find a dental specialist near you, visit our specialists directory! Please consult with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s health plan.

          pinterest pin of German shepherd getting teeth brushed
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          Measuring Quality Of Life In Dogs

          When dogs become older or suffer from a debilitating disease or chronic pain, their quality of life (QoL) comes into question. When determining QoL, you are determining how much a dog may be suffering and if it’s possible to make them more comfortable through further treatment or changes in lifestyle. The QoL assessment is crucial for good palliative and hospice care and is the linchpin of the euthanasia decision.

          When you consider the term “quality of life,” remember that it affects both the quality of life of your pets and your own. Assessing one’s own life does not diminish the love and care that one gives to one’s pet, but emphasizes the priorities and needs that one must cultivate for it. It can be difficult to make difficult decisions due to financial and other constraints, but it is important to take care of yourself and remember that you are doing what is best for both you and your pet. At the same time, you want your dog to maintain its quality of life. If he is in pain, unhappy or has difficulty doing everyday things, you do not want him to continue to suffer.

          senior chocolate lab with white face

          Trying to determine your pet’s quality of life is a daunting task and we are often left in denial. Dr. Alice Villalobos, DVM, has developed a scale to determine whether euthanizing your pet is the right choice for your situation. This is called the “HHHHHMM Test,” which covers five main areas of life:  Hurt, Hunger, Hydration, Hygiene, Happiness, Mobility and More good days than bad days. You can view the HHHHHMM scale here. 

          You can also use a Quality of Life calculator such as this one available by Journey’s Pets. While you shouldn’t use an online calculator or test to fully determine the qualify of life, it can be a good indicator of what steps to take next and which concerns to bring up with your vet. As useful as they may be, QoL questionnaires are at an early stage of development and should not be used by veterinarians or pet owners to make final decisions.

          It’s important to note that wagging tails doesn’t automatically equal high quality of life as many dogs display happiness through their suffering. As your dog ages and his health decreases, it can be difficult to decide when is the right time to euthanize. The concept of QoL can be applied to any animal, but they are complex and difficult to measure.

          woman looking at her dog at the vet

          Understanding and measuring the quality of life of older dogs can go a long way to ensure that our pets live the best lives we can give them and can help us know when it is time to let them go. The purpose of measuring the so-called Quality of Life Scale is to help owners measure the quality of life of a pet at a time when emotions are still raw. Saying goodbye is always heartbreaking, but when it does, we can seek solace in knowing what a wonderful journey we have made together. 

          Quality of life pinterest pin
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          Keep Senior Dogs Feeling Young

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            It’s no fun watching our dogs become seniors as they start to slow down, they get that grey around their face and start to have difficulty getting around.  Keeping senior dogs active and healthy can help them feel young again and prevent things like joint issues.

            senior chocolate lab with white face

            What Are The Signs Of Aging In Dogs?

            The term “senior” can be used to characterize an elderly dog, as per the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), although the length of time a pet is deemed “senior” varies. Dogs become seniors at different ages depending on their breed and size. Large dogs also typically age faster than small dogs. For example, a Great Dane would be considered a senior at 7 years old but a chihuahua might be 14. On average, the age a dog is considered senior is between 5 and 10 years old.

            It’s also important to note the concept of senior and geriatric dogs differ. A senior dog is usually still healthy and has just started aging while geriatric dogs are on the older end of the spectrum and have more age-related health issues and are in more pain. Signs of dogs aging include going gray around their muzzle and the rest of their body, and they might start slowing down a bit and need assistance jumping or getting down from high spots. The signs of aging in dogs are very similar to those in humans and can be readily identified. Common health problems in seniors include vision loss, oral problems, weight gain or loss, joint pain, and senility

            How Can You Help Your Senior Dog Age Gracefully?

            Increase Comfort

            With age, dogs usually develop joint pain which makes everyday things difficult or painful. In general, make changes that will put less stress on your dog’s body. Other ways you can do this are ramps/stairs in the house or to the car, anti-slip socks on hardwood floors, and a quality orthopedic dog bed that can make the biggest difference. View our curation of senior dogs products!

            Keep Up With Oral Care

            Dental care in dogs is always important but as they age, keeping up with it is even more important. The plaque buildup can harm a dog’s organs and get into their bloodstream. Older dogs are also at risk for rotting teeth so consistent brushing can be detrimental to their health. Check out our curated oral care products.

            westie getting teeth brushed

            Watch the Weight

            A dog’s weight can often go up or down with age and maintaining that weight is crucial. An obese dog can have much worse joint pain and general health. But being underweight is also extremely unhealthy as their body isn’t holding onto nutrition. Try opting for low-calorie and high digestible foods and treats with less high-protein foods. 

            Dabble With Supplements

            There are many supplements that can aid in your dog’s aging process. The most popular are glucosamine to aid in joint health. Fish oil is also very popular as it’s a natural anti-inflammatory while also aiding in managing certain heart and joint problems while keeping their coat and skin healthy. View our collection of curated supplements!

            Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!

            It’s important to keep senior dogs moving to avoid losing muscle mass and increasing stiffness. Keep the exercise light such as one walk a day so as to not have them over-exert themselves.  Even daily play time can keep them feeling spry.

            Try Enrichment Games

            One of the conditions that can often come with canine aging is Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS). CCDS is a compilation of changes that many dogs go through as they get older, including loss of housetraining, loss of interest in usual activities or people, aimless wandering or pacing (especially at night), loss of normal daily rhythms, and general confusion. Enrichment games can keep your dog’s mind stimulated and keep them from displaying symptoms of CCDS.

            Meet With A Physical Therapist

            A physical therapist can set up a regimen for your senior dog to keep up their muscle mass, prevent stiffening and help with any arthritis they may be experiencing. This could often include practices such as hydrotherapy, cold laser therapy, and acupuncture. Find a physical therapist near you

            dog playing with outward hound puzzle
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