***Looking for a gift to help your pup through their mental health issues? Spoil them with a BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription!
Note: As always, make sure you check with a professional veterinarian if you notice any big changes in your dog’s behavior and/or habits!
Dogs are just like us, both in good ways and bad. And like humans, they can develop mental illnesses that may impede their ability to live healthy, happy lives. And just like their owners, there might come a time when your dog could use some therapy.
Most dogs have experienced the disappointment of failing to catch their own tail, but most eventually give it up as a bad job. If your pup has developed a habit of chasing it for hours, it may be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety.
2. What If My Dog Is Sleeping More Than Usual?
Many dogs slow down with age and may start sleeping more as a result. However, if your dog is still young, or has recently been extremely lethargic, this may be a sign of canine depression (yes, that is a thing!).
Oversleeping can also be a symptom of other health problems in your dog, including diabetes and some infectious diseases, so you should definitely get them checked out.
3. What If My Dog Isn’t Interested In Food?
Some dogs just eat less than the recommended amount on your dog food, and that’s fine—those amounts are only averages. However, if you notice an extreme drop in your pup’s appetite, this could be a sign of depression or anxiety, too.
4. What If My Dog Is Licking Their Body Raw?
If your dog is compulsively licking a spot on their body, and you’ve ruled out physical injury (or the injury in that spot has already healed), you could be looking at a manifestation of your dog’s anxiety. While no one likes the “cone of shame” (we once knew a dog named Winston who would take it off and hide it from his owners behind a boulder in his yard), your dog could really harm their skin by excessive licking.
5. What If My Dog Has Lost Their Canine Buddy?
Losing a pet is a difficult time for any family, but your other dogs will likely experience grief too, especially if they were very close. If your dog seems to eat less, sleep more, or exhibit strange behaviors, it could be time for some therapy to help them get through losing their buddy.
6. What If My Dog Has Lost Their Human Buddy?
Just as dogs become attached to their furry friends, they also become attached to the humans in their lives. If your dog seems to be grieving for a lost member of the family, you might want to see a behaviorist. But also offer them support like you would any other family member—spend some one-on-one time with your pup, and make sure you keep a regular walking and feeding schedule to minimize their anxiety.
7. What If My Dog Gets Anxious In The City?
Even as humans living in cities, we can experience fear and sensory overload on the street. Imagine how terrifying it must be to be a dog in Manhattan! But if your dog seems overly anxious and uncomfortable when they should be used to their surroundings, it’s time to make sure their nervousness isn’t a manifestation of a deeper anxiety.
8. What If My Dog’s Thundershirt Has Stopped Working?
A Thundershirt (or Thundercap) is meant to damp down a dog’s visual stimuli in stressful situations, so that they can remain calm in loud or trafficky places. If your dog is using a Thundercap or Thundershirt and has suddenly reverted back to behaviors like loud barking or aggression in stressful situations, it’s time to get him checked out.
9. What If My Dog’s Tail Doesn’t Wag Anymore?
There is no better way to judge a dog’s mood than to read its body language. We all know that a wagging tail is a good sign, but what if your pup, who usually has a tail like a wind turbine, won’t wag? Many dog breeds experience sprained tail syndrome, which usually means that a tail has been overexerted and goes limp; this will usually heal itself in a few days. If they can wag but refuse, it may be a sign of canine depression.
10. Can My Dog Get Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Yes, your pup can suffer from SAD, too!
Most humans know the experience of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the “Winter Blues”, a depression and lethargy that comes on when the days get colder and darker. If you fear that your dog is experiencing SAD, you can try to change your walk schedule and your pup’s sleeping spot to maximize whatever light there is in February.
11. What If My Dog Chases Their Own Shadow?
Not unlike habitual tail-chasing, this is an example of obsessive behavior. Usually, your dog either needs more mental stimulation (especially in very intelligent breeds) or is insecure about something. Either way, you should see a behaviorist if your dog chases shadows for hours or forgoes more enjoyable opportunities—like a ball, or food, or a walk—for their obsession.
12. What If My Dog Exhibits Reactivity/Aggression?
This really should be a no-brainer. Dogs that exhibit aggression are not “bad” dogs, but you need to make sure that your dog is not a danger to other dogs, other humans, or you. Aggression, like obsessive behaviors, is usually a manifestation of insecurity, and a doggie therapist can help you find the cause so that your dog and you can cohabitate happily and safely.
13. What If My Dog Eats Towels/T-Shirts?
Your dog is not a goat! Though puppies may chew things in your home because they don’t know they shouldn’t, if an adult dog suddenly begins eating through your sock drawer, it’s probably a symptom of a compulsive disorder. Your dog likes, and should want, good food, and if he’s eating other things in your house instead, it’s a problem for both of you.
14. How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Training?
As recent studies have shown, though different dog breeds have different temperaments and tendencies, individual incidences of aggression are likely to depend little on the breed and a lot more on its owner and its environment. Take a training class, if you haven’t already, to make sure that you aren’t inadvertently worsening any aggressive behaviors with your body language or tone.
15. Is My Dog Sad Because I Am?
Other studies have shown that dogs respond uniquely to human sadness, and may actually respond to and empathize with your pain. No, our dogs are not mind readers, but any dog owner knows that their pup always takes cues from your mood and tone.
For example, if your dog is nipping at your shoelace and you laugh-scold “No!”, they make take your cue from the laugh and not the “No”. Similarly, if your dog seems sad, they may be responding to you if you’re feeling down in the dumps. See if you can’t cheer each other up, and if that doesn’t work, see if some professional help won’t do the trick.
16. Any Other Tips For Helping My Dog?
You know your dog best. Trust your gut. If you see something that’s erratic or out of character, especially if it could endanger you or others, go ask a veterinary behaviorist for help! Just like when humans have emotional or psychological issues, a dog’s behavioral problems will often worsen when ignored. They’re still the pup you love, but they need some extra care – and if all else fails, the doggie psychiatrist will always have treats!
For more info, be sure to check out the brand new Animal Madness book!
***Looking for a gift that’ll make both dog mom and her pup happy? Try BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription!
Two legs, four legs. What’s the difference? They’re both precious and you’re their mom! Bask in maternal love for your little one with these great dog mom gifts.
***Looking for the best way to save money on toys, treats, and chews for your dog? Try BarkBox! Every month BarkBox delivers 2 original toys, designed in-house, 2 full bags of all-natural treats, and a chew. Sign up here and receive a free extra toy every month. <– This deal is worth up to $120 in value if you sign up for a 12-month subscription!
Being a dog parent is one of the most fulfilling experiences you can have. But let’s be real—it can also be one of the most expensive! Between all the dog food, treats, trips to the vet, and other miscellaneous expenses (we’re looking at you, dog-sized raincoat), it can add up—and take a serious toll on your wallet.
But being a pet parent doesn’t have to completely train your bank account. You can give your dog everything he needs to be happy and healthy—without spending a fortune.
Let’s look at 13 strategies that break down exactly how to save money on your dog:
Buy High-Quality Food/Treats…
It might seem counterintuitive, but spending a little extra money on high-quality dog food and treats will actually save you money in the long run.
Cheap dog food is filled with all sorts of unnatural ingredients and fillers that can cause digestive issues with your pup—and, over the long-term, can actually do some serious damage to your dog’s health.
High-quality dog food and treats might have a higher price tag, but they give your pup the nourishment he needs to stay healthy—and the healthier your dog, the less money you’ll have to spend at the vet!
…Or Make Your Own!
If the price tag for high-quality dog food and treats gives you sticker shock, save some money and make your own! There are tons of recipes out there to make nutritious (and delicious!) food for your pup—and, in most cases, you can make it at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at the pet store.
If your dog is a creature of habit and likes to eat the same dog food all the time, you might be able to save a few dollars by getting your dog food delivered on a regular schedule.
Online retailers like Chewy offer auto-delivery discounts on certain products—including dog food. If you know your dog munches his way through one can of grub each day, schedule a regular delivery of 30 cans every 30 days. Buying in bulk can save you a few dollars a month—and, over time, those few dollars can add up to some major savings!
Become The King/Queen Of Coupons
Coupons are an essential tool in any thrifty person’s arsenal. If you search hard enough, you can find coupons for just about everything—and that includes things for your dog. But where, exactly, can you find puppy-centric coupons?
First, check your mail. Local stores will send out mailers all the time—and, if you’re lucky, you might get one from your local pet store. Also, check the grocery store mailers—you might find something dog-related sandwiched between the coupons for toothpaste and mustard.
Another great place to scout coupons is online. If you have a particular brand or product you (and your dog), check their website for printable coupons or sign up for their email newsletter—that way, you can get coupons delivered straight to your inbox.
Invest In Pet Insurance…
No matter how well you take care of your pup, things happen. Broken bones, emergency surgeries, dental work—there are tons of things that can happen with your dog that can leave you stuck with a steep vet bill. Which is why one of the best ways to save money on your dog? Pet insurance.
Pet insurance works similarly to people insurance. While preventative care typically isn’t covered, it does cover your dog in case of emergency or pricier procedures. If your dog goes to the vet and has a covered expense, you submit a claim to your pet insurance company—and then they reimburse you for the cost.
As mentioned, your regular check-ups won’t be covered, but pet insurance can save you thousands of dollars if your dog needs surgery or emergency care.
…And Get Regular Check-Ups
Pet insurance might not cover regular visits to the vet, but if you want to save money on your dog, you’d better make those regular visits a priority.
Preventative care is not only one of the best things you can do for your dog’s health, it’s one of the best things you can do for your wallet. Getting regular check-ups will help you identify any health problems in your dog—and nip them in the bud before they cause more serious (and more expensive) problems down the line.
Host A Pet Supply Exchange
Have you ever heard of a clothing exchange? Essentially, you get a group of people together and everyone brings articles of clothing they no longer want/need/wear. Then, you lay out the clothing and everyone gets to choose new items to take home. It’s like shopping—except it’s free. And guess what? You can do the same thing for pet supplies.
Get your dog loving friends together and have everyone bring the leashes, collars, toys, treats, and any other items their dog no longer uses. Once everything is assembled, everyone can choose the “new” items they want to take home. A pet exchange is a win-win situation; not only do you get to get rid of items you no longer use, but you get to take home new items for your pup without spending a dime!
Groom Your Dog Yourself…
Grooming can get expensive. If you want to save some serious cash, roll up your sleeves and bathe and groom your pup at home!
…Or Try The New Groomer In Town
If at-home grooming just isn’t an option, another great way to potentially save money on your dog? Take your pup to a brand new groomer.
New businesses typically offer lower prices and discounts as a way to build a customer base. So, if you can find a new groomer in your area, chances are, you can get the same level of service you’d get at a more established groomer—with a significantly lower price tag.
Propose A Trade Exchange With Your Trainer
You need to train your dog. But training can be expensive! Luckily, you might be able to save money on training your dog—if you get a little creative.
Service exchanges can be a great way to save money—and if you have a valuable service to trade with your dog trainer, you may be able to get a steep discount (or even free training!). So, for example, are you a professional baker? Offer to do a custom cake for your trainer’s next open house even. Are you an accountant? Offer an hour of consulting services come tax time.
If you have a valuable service to offer, see if your dog trainer would be willing to do a service exchange—which will definitely cut costs on training.
Get Friends/Family To Puppy-Sit
When you go out of town, paying a puppy sitter can be almost as expensive as the vacation itself! That’s why, if you want to save money on puppy-sitting costs, you need to tap into your network of friends and family.
The people that love you will probably be willing to watch your dog for much less than a traditional dog sitter. They might even be willing to do it for free! Just make sure you say thank you and pay them back in other ways (like offering to dog-sit the next time they go out of town).
Is your dog is a serious chewer, they go through toys, treats, and chews—and they go through them fast. That can add up quickly!
Super Chewer BarkBox is curated with super chewers in mind; you can rest assured that every toy, treat, and chew is built to withstand your dog’s epic chompers. And because your pup will get more use out of each item, you’ll save money. It’s a win-win!
This photo set is a series from April 2007, and are some of the first pictures I took of Charlie. I’ve never shared them before, because they are technically terrible shots. But I thought you might enjoy them anyway, as they depict the climbing route Charlie used to get on and off of my bed when he was really tiny.
Tiny but agile and determined and clever!
You’re used to feeling your dog’s wet snout every day when they greet you or nuzzle up to you on the couch after a long day. So when their snout has gone dry, it’s normal to wonder what’s going on.
There are a few reasons this may happen, ranging from the normal to more serious. Here are a few causes and ways to treat your pup’s dry nose.
What Are Possible Causes?
Dogs get dry noses for many reasons. Some dogs simply don’t lick their noses all that much, leading to an overall drier snout.
Dogs also get dry noses while they’re sleeping – they’re not awake to lick their snouts, after all. If, however, you’ve noticed unusual crusting or dryness, take note of when it’s happening to determine reasons behind the newly dry snout. Here are a few:
Just as humans develop springtime allergies and get sunburns, dogs experience physical changes when their environment changes. Big drops or rises in temperature can lead to excessive dryness. Skin dries out in the winter, and dogs can experience sunburn, including on their noses.
If your dog spent several hours outside in the blaring sun and that evening you found their snout to have dried out, this may be the cause. And during the winter, take stock of your pooch’s favorite nap-time spot. Is it right in front of a heater blasting dry air? This may be the culprit.
Have you brought in any new toys or cleaning products into your home? Your dog may be having a reaction to any changes to their toy collection, carpet cleaner or even new food you just bought. If you’ve recently introduced a new plastic food bowl, for example, that may be the cause of a newly dried-out snout.
Dogs can have allergic reactions to everything from new food to spring pollen and mold, all of which can lead to your pup licking their nose to alleviate symptoms. If you notice your dog scratching or rubbing their nose in addition to the dryness, allergies may be to blame.
Separation anxiety or general nervousness may be a factor in a dog developing a dry, crusty nose. While some dogs have conditions that cause dryness on their own, take notice if your dog has developed a nervous habit of licking their nose. Just as humans licking their lips will cause them to dry out, a dog’s anxious habit of licking their nose will do the same.
Chronic diseases such as lupus and pemphigus can cause a persistent dry nose. If your dog’s dry nose doesn’t resolve itself and is accompanied by persistent coughing, sneezing any other signs of illness, take your dog to the vet to get some testing done. It may be the flu, allergies, or something more serious.
What Are Possible Treatments?
If your dog has a persistent dry, crusty nose, take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of treatments available to help get that snout back to normal, starting with treatments at home. First, if your dog’s dry nose is accompanied by other physical symptoms such as persistent sneezing, coughing, sluggishness or if you suspect they have a fever, it’s time to call the vet. It’s always better to be safe in these circumstances. If you notice any changes in the color of your dog’s nose in addition to dryness, that’s another reason to give your vet a call.
If the cause of your dog’s crusty nose is allergies, your vet may prescribe some antihistamines or a round of steroids to help your dog beat back allergies. If it’s something more serious like an autoimmune disorder, it’s best to figure that out sooner rather than later, and you can move forward with your vet for different rounds of treatment.
Supplements & CBD!
If your dog has a crusty nose as a result of anxiety or allergies – and again, you should visit a vet to determine the reason – there are some supplements (and CBD options) that can help them out.
Bark Calming Supplement: It’s veterinarian-formulated, made with all natural ingredients (tryptophan, lemon balm, and green tea), and it comes in the form of 120 soft chews. Basically, it looks and tastes just like delicious treats, and it could really help soothe your dog in their time of need. ($24.99.)
Bark CBD Extract: This holistic remedy is made from MCT, organic coconuts, and co2 extracted high CBD hemp oil, and it’s been known to help with all forms of anxiety – but also arthritis, nausea, inflammation, and other physical or emotional pain. It contains no THC (<0.1%) and will not make your pup feel “buzzy” or “high.” ($69.30.)
Bark CBD Chicken Biscuits: These handcrafted treats are made with premium, human-grade ingredients including full-spectrum CBD hemp oil and are available for both small and large dogs. They’re a holistic, natural product for anxiety, arthritis, nausea, inflammation, and other physical or emotional pain. They contain no THC (<0.1%) and will not make your pup feel “buzzy” or “high.” (Starting at $24.30 for 4 oz. jar of 25 treats.)
(NOTE: It typically takes more than a single dose of CBD – and sometimes up to two weeks’ worth – to see results.)
What Are Some At-Home Remedies?
In addition to calling your vet – or before calling, if your dog’s nose has just started to dry out – take stock of your dog’s environment and try some at-home remedies to see if they’ll clear up your dog’s problem.
Start by shopping for soothing balms and creams to give your dog some relief from dryness and itchiness. Dogs tend to lick and scratch at problem areas, which can worsen symptoms. By using a soothing cream, you may give your dog the break from irritation they need to stop excessive licking and rubbing on their own, clearing up their dry nose. Make sure any balm you use is safe to digest for dogs, as they’ll continue to lick their noses even as they improve.
If you’re anxious and want to get your dog some relief right away and before you get a balm or cream at a pet store or online, you may be able to find some treatment options right at home. Rub a little olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil on your dog’s dry nose. You can also apply these at-home treatments to dry paws and ears. No need to use too much – a little goes a long way. You can even add a teaspoon to their food once a day to encourage healthy skin starting with their diet.
It’s also important to examine your dog’s living environment. Have you started using a new laundry detergent? You may not have any negative reactions yourself, but your dog may be. Similarly, some plastics can cause an allergic reaction in dogs. If you recently replaced your dog’s stainless steel bowl with a plastic one, you may have found the culprit.
Speaking of bowls, is your dog’s bowl always filled with fresh, clean water? If it’s not, your dog may be suffering from dehydration, leading to a dry nose, just as dehydration will lead humans’ skin to dry out.
Dogs may also develop irritation and crustiness around their snouts if there’s mold present in the house. Do a deep cleaning in your house, particular in areas prone to develop mold such as the kitchen and bathroom, to give your dog a fresh and clean place to live and to reduce any issues they may have with mold.