When Should Puppies Get Their First Haircut?

When Should Puppies Get Their First Haircut?

If you have a little bundle of puppy joy at home, then you’re probably wondering when you should be taking your pup in for their first haircut. Well, I spoke to some groomers and found the answer…

Medium- and long-haired puppies should get their first haircut when they are 12 to 16 weeks old. This is only a trim and gets the dog used to being groomed. Short-haired puppies can visit a groomer at 12-16 weeks old to get used to grooming, without a haircut. Most dogs need their first proper haircut when they get their adult coats.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about puppy haircuts and what really happens when you leave your puppy at the groomer. We’ll also look at the dangers of giving the wrong haircut or shaving a puppy, so you know how to best take care of your little guy or gal.

Is it okay to cut a puppy’s hair?

Photo of a Westie puppy getting a haircut

It’s okay to cut your puppy’s hair. But a young puppy has baby fur that only needs to be trimmed, not cut or shaved.

TIP: Make sure that your puppy’s vaccinations are up to date before visiting the groomer.

Grooming can be a scary process for a dog the first few times. Being sprayed with water, hearing the hairdryer’s loud noises, and having to stand still for long periods without moving are all things that puppies don’t usually like.

Taking your puppy to a groomer is not really about the haircut, it’s about getting your dog used to being groomed. This will make grooming a much more pleasant experience for your dog and groomer for the rest of your dog’s life.

A puppy grows its adult coat between 6 months and 1.5 years of age. Once the adult coat is fully grown, you can take your dog to the groomer for a haircut instead of a trim.

How short is too short for puppy hair?

While it’s perfectly okay to take your puppy to the groomer, don’t let the groomer take off too much hair. Puppies don’t need a full haircut until they’re older and have their adult coat, but even a short trim can cause problems.

Never shave your puppy unless your vet tells you to because of an underlying health issue.

There are plenty of problems that can arise from shaving your puppy or cutting their hair too short, including:

  • Ingrown hairs: This happens more with shaving than trimming, but when it does happen, it’s extremely painful for your furry friend and can cause long-lasting skin problems.
  • Damage to their adult coats: When a puppy’s fur is cut too short, it can cause permanent damage that will affect the way their adult coat grows out, especially if you have a double-coated dog.
  • Razor burn: Again, this is more of a shaving hazard, but razor burn is just as painful for dogs as humans.
  • Risk of sunburn: Whether the groomer shaves your dog or trims the hair too short, there’s a real risk of sunburn. A dog’s fur protects them against the harsh rays of the sun, especially if your pup loves lying in the sun. If you remove that protective fur or cut it too close to the skin, your puppy may get sunburnt.
  • Itchiness: Cutting a puppy’s hair too short can make the skin itchy and uncomfortable, so your puppy starts scratching and biting way more than usual. This can lead to skin allergies, or even stomach or digestive problems from swallowing their own skin and fur.

What is a puppy cut?

A puppy cut is an all-over haircut that leaves your dog’s coat evenly cut at about one to two inches in length. This is a cut that’s easy to do and easy to look after. In fact, a puppy cut isn’t just for puppies – many adult dogs get puppy cuts as well.

Puppy cuts work very well for puppies and for adult dogs with long hair that mats easily. It’s also perfect for hot summer months and outdoor dogs, who enjoy playing in the mud and getting dirty.

What does a groomer do to a puppy?

Photo of a puppy with a flower tie in her hair

Dog groomers do more than just trim your puppy’s hair. Different groomers have slightly different routines, but here are some of the things a groomer might do when your puppy visits:

  • Trim puppy’s hair
  • Trim puppy’s nails
  • Brush puppy
  • Bathe and dry puppy
  • Clean and thin puppy’s undercoat
  • Check and clean puppy’s ears
  • Brush puppy’s teeth
  • Inspect puppy’s paw pads

These services are fairly standard and you should speak to your groomer to find out what’s included in the service you are paying for.

Some dog groomers do even more than the list above, such as expressing anal glands when necessary, moisturizing paw pads, giving flea baths, painting nails, “prettying” dogs up with hairbows or bowties, repairing your puppy’s coat with treatments, cleaning tear stains, and perfuming them.

These services, if available, are generally considered “extras” and usually cost more.

How much does a puppy groom cost?

An average puppy bath and starter trim at a franchise store like Petsmart, without any extras, costs about $20. A private groomer may charge around $50 to $90 for a full puppy groom, and a groomer that comes to your house may charge $130 or more.

If you live in an expensive city like San Francisco, you will probably end up paying more than someone who lives in a rural area like Woodville, Alabama.

But other factors come into the cost of a puppy grooming session, such as:

  • The number and types of services provided
  • The size and weight of your puppy
  • If your puppy is difficult to handle or aggressive
  • Whether your puppy is long-haired, medium-haired, or short-haired
  • The pricing policies of the groomer – for example, the groomer might give discounted rates if you buy a package for regular grooms
  • How in demand the groomer is – the more in demand the more money the groomer can ask for

How often should you groom a puppy?

You should get your puppy groomed about once a month, at least until your puppy is comfortable with going to the groomer. This puppy groom should include, at the very least, a brush, bath, nail trim, and ear cleaning.

Overgrooming is not good for any puppy, so speak to your local groomer for advice on the grooming needed for your dog’s age, breed, coat type, and how your puppy is handling being groomed.

Brush your puppy and give your puppy baths in between grooms only when needed.

Final thoughts

All puppies need regular haircuts after 12 weeks of age, and definitely before they turn 16 weeks old.

Not only will grooming keep your puppy smelling nice and clean, but it will get your pup used to going to the groomer.

11 Easy Ways To Get A Dog To Drink Enough Water

11 Easy Ways To Get A Dog To Drink Enough Water

If you found this article, you’re probably struggling with a dog that needs a little help getting more water in. We know how important it is to keep our four-legged friends hydrated, but what should you do if your dog won’t drink water on their own?

To get a dog to drink water, start by cleaning the water bowl and changing the water daily. Try different types of bowls and put water bowls in different places, inside the house and outside. Another option is to flavor the water or make ice cubes with dog-friendly ingredients, or feed your dog wet food to increase their liquid intake.

It can be very worrying when a dog doesn’t want to drink. Sometimes this is a sign of a deeper health issue, which you will need to speak to your veterinarian about.

But if your dog is a fussy type or can’t tell you why they don’t want to drink water from their water bowl, then below are my top tips to try to figure out what the problem is and get your fur friend drinking again.

Let’s start by understanding how much water a dog needs to drink each day, so we can tell if our dog is getting enough water or not.

How much water does a dog need?

Photo of dog with head on water bowl, refusing to drink

On average, a dog needs to take in 1 ounce of water or liquid per day for every pound of dog weight. There are many factors that affect how much water a dog needs to take in every day to be healthy, such as their weight, size, age, activity level, and whether your pet eats dry or wet food.

For example, wet food has more moisture in it. If this is part of your pet’s diet, they will naturally drink less water from their water bowl as they are getting some liquid from their food every day. 

If you want to know the average amount of water your dog should be taking in each day, find your dog’s weight range in pounds or kilograms below. Then check to see how much liquid your dog needs every day for that weight range:

Weight in lbHow much water a dog should consume per day in ozWeight in kgHow much water a dog should consume per day in ml
1 – 10 lbs1 – 10 oz1 – 4.5 kg30 – 300 ml
11 – 20 lbs11 – 20 oz4.6 – 9 kg300 – 600 ml
21 – 30 lbs21 – 30 oz19.1 – 13.5 kg600 – 900 ml
31 – 40 lbs31 – 40 oz13.6 – 18 kg900 – 1,200 ml
41 – 50 lbs41 – 50 oz18.1 – 22.5 kg1,200 – 1,500 ml
51 – 60 lbs51 – 60 oz22.6 – 27 kg1,500 – 1,800 ml
61 – 70 lbs61 – 70 oz27.1 – 32 kg1,800 – 2,100 ml
71+ lbs71+ oz (1 oz for each lb of body weight)33+ kg2,100+ ml (30 ml for each 0.5 kg body weight)
© Ayo Pets

How to get your dog to drink water 

If your dog is not drinking enough water, here are some ideas to try to get your dog to drink more…

Give fresh water in a clean bowl daily

It’s very important to keep a dog’s water bowl clean. Just like the bowls you and I use, a dog’s bowl can get very dirty and icky if left standing out with something in it. If this is the case, your dog won’t want to drink the water in it.

The good news is that it’s super easy to keep a dog’s water bowl clean, sterile, and free from bacteria – click here for instructions and more info on my three-step process to clean and sterilize a dog’s water bowl

As a quick guide, here’s how to clean a dog’s water bowl:

  1. Wash the bowl in hot, soapy water daily
  2. Each week, disinfect the bowl with a non-toxic disinfectant, such as this spray from Amazon
  3. Always dry the bowl completely, on top and underneath

Try a water fountain

Photo of a dog drinking water from a fountain

When dogs were still wild and living in packs, their natural instinct was to drink moving water rather than still water. So dogs drank water from streams rather than stagnant puddles.

This is because running water is fresh and less likely to carry bacteria or organisms that make animals and humans sick.

And guess what – your dog might still have this instinct and prefer to drink from a water fountain with moving water rather than from a standing water bowl.

If your dog enjoys moving water, try getting a water fountain like this pet fountain from Amazon. It’s great for dogs, cats, and multi-pet households (click here to find out if a dog and cat can share a water bowl).

Make ice cubes

If your dog likes ice, then take advantage of this by making doggy ice cubes from plain water or flavored water.  

Ice cubes are fun and crunchy, and dogs enjoy playing with them as much as eating them. Puppies, especially, are fond of ice cubes because the cold ice can soothe teething pain.

Watersicles – popsicles made of water – are popular with many dogs because they look like human food, and sometimes just seeing you hold out a piece of food to lick is enough to convince a dog to eat it.

Making watersicles is easy!

Just fill popsicle molds with clean water, stick popsicle sticks in the end, and freeze them. Be sure to take away the stick before your dog chews and swallows it.

Make it easy to get to the water bowl

Sometimes dogs are lazy, tired, not feeling well, or too old to walk around much. This means that where you keep the water bowl will impact your dog’s water-drinking decisions.

Try placing your dog’s water bowl near the dog bed or anywhere your dog loves to stretch out and sleep. Your dog’s much more likely to lean over and take a sip of water if it’s within reach rather than walk far or up/down stairs to quench a thirst. 

Add a dog-friendly flavor

Some dogs just don’t like the taste of water. You can make your dog’s water more appetizing by giving it some flavor.

Be sure to add things that have no salt, spices or artificial additives. Your dog’s sense of smell and taste is very advanced, so you don’t need to add much to the water to get the desired result.

Here are some dog-friendly flavorings to choose from (links are to recommended products on Amazon):

  • Dog-friendly broth (many generic store options are not safe for dogs)
  • Water after boiling chicken
  • Gravy mix
  • A tablespoon of canned dog food
  • A tablespoon of dog ice cream
  • A few drops of tuna water
  • Food toppers

Try different types of bowls

Each dog is different, and what one dog likes another may not. Give yourself some time to figure out what works best in your household.

What the bowl is made of could make a difference…

Try water bowls made of different materials. It’s easiest to keep ceramic and stainless steel water bowls clean and hygienic, but some dogs just prefer plastic bowls (click here to find out if plastic bowls are safe for dogs).

How deep the bowl is also makes a difference…

Some dogs don’t like their whiskers or chin hairs getting wet and dogs with flat faces, such as pugs, may struggle to drink from a deep water bowl.

If your dog isn’t drinking water, keep the water bowl full to the top of the bowl so your dog doesn’t have to wet their face to get a drink.

You can try different materials and bowls with different depths, such as a saucer, a wide bowl, a raised bowl, and a regular dog bowl. You will soon find out what your dog likes.

Try different types of water

Photo of a dog drinking water from a hose

Last December we had friends visit. They complained how bad our tap water tastes and how much they miss their tasty tap water back home. Ironically, we didn’t like their tap water when we visited them and much prefer ours.

Water is water, but water can have different flavors and your dog will prefer some flavors over others, which might get you through this fussy non-drinking phase.

If your dog doesn’t like the tap water, try filtered water, bottled water, small amounts of distilled water, or chilled water instead.

Praise your dog for drinking

Dogs are highly motivated by attention and praise. They want to make you, their human pack leader, happy and proud of them.

In fact, positive reinforcement is such a simple trick that many pet owners overlook it.

Every time your dog drinks some water, make a fuss of them. Congratulate your dog out loud, and give your dog a hug or a rub.

Make sure your dog knows how happy you are with the behavior and your dog will naturally do more of it.

Wet your dog’s food

Photo of dry dog kibble in a ceramic bowl

If you feed your dog wet food, they’re already getting some liquid in at mealtimes. A dog that eats wet food will naturally drink less water from their water bowl, to compensate for the moisture in the wet food.

If you don’t feed wet food, you can start soaking your dog’s kibble to increase their water intake (and HERE are many good reasons why you should soak kibble regardless).

Another option is to give your dog treats that have a high moisture content, such as dog-friendly vegetables and small amounts of dog-friendly fruits. Some good options are pumpkin, carrots, and green beans.

Just don’t go overboard on the treats or your dog will get full and not eat their food.

Have many water bowls

The more water bowls you have around the house, the more likely your dog will be close to one at all times. You can put water bowls near the crate, near your bed, in the kitchen, and anywhere else your dog spends a lot of time.

If your dog’s a bit of a messy drinker, here’s a list of things to stop your dog from tipping the water bowl and making a mess.

Keeping a full bowl or two outside is also a good idea, especially if your dog spends a lot of time out there. Just be sure to keep insects and bees away from the water bowl (a nasty sting will definitely scare your pup away from water for a while).

Be sure to clean all the bowls and change the water daily. 

Keep the water cool

Hot water is never fun to drink, especially when you’re hot. And your dog probably feels the same way.

If it’s spring or summer where you are and the temperatures are rising, you can try keeping the water in your dog’s water bowl as cool as possible, for as long as possible.

This is such a ‘hot’ topic that I covered all the ways to keep a dog’s water bowl cool in this article <- click the blue text to read it.

Signs of dehydration in dogs

Dehydration in dogs is a serious matter. In severe cases, it can lead to serious illness, long-term damage, or even death. If your dog isn’t drinking enough, takes steps to fix the problem right away.

Here are some symptoms of dehydration in dogs:

  • Dry nose
  • Thick, slimy saliva
  • Dry gums
  • Dry or sunken eyes
  • Heavy panting, especially when relaxing or in a cool environment
  • Laziness or lethargy
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dry heaving

Adapted, with thanks, to the American Kennel Club and other sources

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, check for underlying causes but try not to panic. Dogs will often pant heavily after they’ve been running or playing hard, and vomiting may mean they’ve eaten something that upset their stomach.

Still, if you notice these symptoms or more than one symptom at the same time, it’s best to watch your dog closely or call your veterinarian for advice.

How long can a dog go without water?

Dogs can go without water for up to three days, at most. Just because a dog can survive for three days without water doesn’t mean they should. Not drinking enough water can have serious effects on a dog’s body, such as kidney damage or failure.

If your dog refuses to drink any water, no matter what you offer, there’s a serious problem and you need to get help from a veterinarian.

Don’t force your dog to take in liquids. Dogs can suffer from dehydration and overhydration – taking in too much liquid.

Drinking too much water can be just as dangerous as not taking in enough, and cause serious damage to a dog’s health or kill them. Overhydration may happen, for example, when a dog swims and drinks a lot of water in a short time.

Final thoughts

Dehydration in dogs is a serious problem, and dogs that don’t drink enough may be suffering from underlying health conditions or just be fussy.

There are many things to try to increase your dog’s water intake, and a little praise and experimentation can go a long way in keeping your pet happy and healthy.

Should You Feed Your Dog Before Or After A Walk? The Real Risks

Should You Feed Your Dog Before Or After A Walk? The Real Risks

My dogs love two things very much: eating and walking. They’d do both all day if I let them. But I’ve heard mixed messages about the safety of feeding and walking around the same time, so I decided to look into it.

It turns out that:

It’s best to feed a dog after a walk, but wait 30 minutes to 1 hour after exercise to feed your dog. If you do it the other way around, feed your dog first and then wait 1-2 hours before going for the walk. If you must walk your dog closer to mealtime, walk slowly and feed only a small amount to reduce the risk of your dog getting bloat.

It’s important to plan your dog’s feeding and exercise times. In this article I’ll share with you what I found in my research and my own experience with my dogs when it comes to the best times to feed your dog and exercise them. I’ll also chat about bloat, how best to avoid it, and some of the symptoms to look out for in your dog.

Why walking a dog right before / after a meal is dangerous

Photo of a dog on a leash

There are a few reasons to give our dog enough time between meals and exercise. If you don’t wait long enough …

Your dog could get bloat

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, also known as GDV or bloat, is a serious condition that can kill a dog within an hour. Experts still don’t know the real cause of bloat, but it usually happens when a dog eats or drinks quickly and is active afterwards.

You can’t 100% prevent bloat in your dog, but by understanding GDV you can take steps to minimize your dog’s risk of getting bloat, especially if you have a deep-chested dog that’s prone to getting it.

What Is GDV?

When a dog has GDV, their stomach fills with gas and food. Sometimes this is all that happens.

But sometimes the dog’s stomach gets very bloated and turns over on itself, so nothing can get in or out of it. This twist also cuts off the blood supply, and the dog goes into shock.

This is a life-threatening medical emergency and requires surgery.

Why does the timing of a walk affect GDV?

Bloat usually happens within two hours after eating, which is why it’s so important not to walk your dog right after a meal. You need to let the food settle and any gassy bloat to go down before your dog walks, runs, or does any type of vigorous activity.

You also don’t want to feed your dog immediately after a walk because your dog will be hungry, thirsty, out of breath, and panting. When you get home, your dog will probably gulp down the food and a lot of water quickly, along with a lot of air while catching their breath.

Eating a big meal too fast, drinking a lot of water quickly, and taking in a lot of air at the same time are all things known to cause bloat in dogs.

Do you have a dog that could get GDV?

All dogs can develop GDV, but some breeds are more vulnerable to it than others.

Large-breed dogs with deep chests seem to be at higher risk than most other dogs. The three most vulnerable breeds are:

  • Great Danes
  • Saint Bernards
  • Weimaraners

Other dogs at high risk for bloat include:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Boxers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Gordon and Irish Setters
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Standard Poodles

Your dog could vomit or regurgitate their food

Another reason why you shouldn’t feed your dog immediately before or after a walk is less serious than GDV, but it’s still unpleasant. Dogs who eat too much and then go out for a run, walk, or exercise are more likely to overheat and throw up everything they’ve eaten.

Dogs who come in from exercising and eat before they’ve recovered from the exercise are prone to overeating and eating too quickly. They also often regurgitate or vomit up their food because they put too much into their empty stomach too quickly.

Your dog won’t want to walk

This one doesn’t affect all dogs, but it usually has the biggest impact on puppies and older dogs. After a meal, younger and older dogs tend to get sleepy and want a nap, not a walk!

If you take your dog out for a walk too soon after they’ve eaten, they may get lazy on you and refuse to walk. And taking them for a walk when they’re hungry, before they’ve eaten, can also lead to stubbornness and a lack of energy on a walk.

How to prevent bloat from exercise

Because of the seriousness of bloat, it is important to stress here that you shouldn’t feed your dog immediately before or after a meal, if at all possible.

If you must, here are a few things you can do to minimize your dog’s risk for getting bloat:

Limit the amount of food

Don’t feed your dog the entire day’s food or a large meal. The smaller the meal, the better.

You can also remove your dog’s water bowl and simply soak the kibble in warm water, which will make your dog eat less and give your dog liquid at the same time.

Make sure your dog eats and drinks slowly

Photo of puzzle feeder for dogs

If you have a dog that gulps down their food and water, do whatever it takes to slow them down. Eating quickly is dangerous for dogs.

You could try:

  • Using a slow-feeding bowl. There are plenty of cost-effective options for slow-feeding bowls that slow your dog down when eating. Click here to read my full article on why dogs should use slow feeders.
  • Buying a snuffle mat. A snuffle mat, such as this cute mat from Amazon, is an excellent way to get your dog to slow down and use their ‘hunting’ instinct at the same time. Many people use a snuffle mat only for treats, but I find it works well for feeding my dogs regular kibble as well when I want to give them a change and a fun challenge.
  • Putting a large rock in the food and water bowls. A cheap way to slow down your dog is to put a large rock in the center of their water and food bowls. Your dog will have to eat and drink around the rock, which slows them down a lot.

Keep walks to a calm, slow pace

Walking a dog after a meal

Finally, if you must walk your dog immediately before or after feeding them, make your walk calm and slow. Don’t let your dog run around, fetch things, or play with other dogs.

Keep your dog on a leash, and walk in a relaxed, calm stroll.

Try not to let your dog get overly excited by anything, like a stray cat. Stress and excitement can cause bloat in a dog. And you don’t want your dog pulling against their leash and collar, and then standing up to jump around on their back legs.

Symptoms of bloat

Recognizing bloat early is the best chance your dog has to survive. Here are some of the most common symptoms of bloat:

  • Restless pacing, whining, and groaning
  • Swollen stomach that’s painful when you touch it
  • Excessive drooling
  • Dry heaving, but unable to vomit
  • Excessive stretching, particularly with their back ends in the air
  • Straining to poop but not pooping
  • Trouble breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Collapsing

Some of these symptoms, such as pacing, can indicate other less serious conditions, so don’t panic every time your dog whines or groans. But if your dog shows a few of these symptoms at the same time, get them to a vet right away.

Final thoughts

GDV is very serious, and the best cure for it is prevention. One way of preventing bloat is to leave enough time between feeding times and walking times. The best time to walk your dog is 30 minutes to one hour before a meal, or at least one to two hours after feeding them.

Try to never feed your dog immediately before or after a walk, but if you have to do this, take precautions by giving your dog a small meal and making sure they eat slowly.   

Will Your Puppy Ever Stop Biting? What’s Normal And What’s Not

Will Your Puppy Ever Stop Biting? What’s Normal And What’s Not

If you have a puppy in your life, you may also have bite marks on your arms and legs. Puppies are sweet, lovable, and adorable, but they’re also biters. Many new pet owners wonder why their puppies are so keen on biting, whether it’s normal behavior, and if they’ll ever stop.

Puppies grow out of biting on their own, usually by the seven-month mark when their adult teeth have grown in. They normally bite when they’re teething or playing. Puppies may also chew and nibble on things as part of normal puppy behavior when they’re bored, frustrated, afraid, or overexcited.

In this article, I’ll share when puppies usually start and stop biting, the 6 most common reasons why puppies bite, and how to teach puppies to stop biting. I’ll also cover some signs of abnormal or aggressive puppy biting, and give you tips on how to soothe a teething puppy and keep your pup from biting things around your home.

When puppies start and stop biting

Puppies and dogs can bite at any age.

Puppies as young as six weeks old are known for nipping and mouthing, but this is usually more like gnawing than proper biting. Two months old is when puppies usually start biting for real.

Puppies usually start teething at around three months of age, and most puppies have a complete set of adult teeth by the time they’re seven months old.

The time between two to seven months is when most puppy biting happens. It’s also the period when you need to work on teaching your puppy how hard to bite and when not to bite.

Infographic showing the puppy teething timeline

This doesn’t mean a puppy won’t bite after seven months of age. Some puppies, especially bigger breeds, take longer to mature and grow out of puppy biting than others.

And if you don’t teach your puppy not to bite, your puppy-turned-adult dog could go on biting forever, even with full-grown adult teeth (ouch!).

Why puppies bite

There are all kinds of reasons why puppies bite, nip, and chew on things. Some of these reasons are innocent, ‘puppies-just-being-puppies’ reasons. Others are more serious and need attention.

Let’s cover a few of the most common causes of puppy biting.

Puppies often bite because…

They want to play

Puppies bite because they’re puppies – they’re learning to play and socialize.

When left with their littermates, puppies scrabble all over each other, bite each other’s ears, and paw at one another. When another puppy cries, bites back, or mommy tells a puppy off, the puppy learns what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t.

When you bring a puppy home, you become their new ‘littermate,’ and all the playing they do happens with you.

Biting comes naturally to puppies, and they have no idea they aren’t supposed to do it until taught otherwise. That’s why it’s your job to teach them not to bite or to bite using only gentle pressure.

They’re teething

Photo of a labrador puppy eating a wooden cane

Puppies teethe just like human babies, and their mouths tend to hurt when this happens. Puppies will do just about anything to try to soothe their aching gums and help the new teeth break through, which is why your puppy chews on things like your furniture or favorite pair of shoes.

If a puppy is constantly gnawing on you and puppy toys instead of sharply biting, it’s probably because they’re teething and this is normal. If your pup often swallows things that aren’t food, your pup could have a condition called pica.

They’re bored

When puppies don’t have enough mental stimulation, exercise, attention, or playtime, they often get bored or stressed and become destructive. If you’ve ever seen a photo of a young dog standing in the middle of a destroyed room, it was probably taken after the puppy was left alone for some time.

Dogs are pack animals and live in groups in the wild. So dogs, especially young ones, like the safety and security they get from being with others. Being left alone, especially for a long period of time, is very stressful for them.

If your puppy spends a lot of time alone, crated, or entertaining themselves, you’re very likely to see biting and chewing issues.

They’re scared, frustrated, or hurt

If your puppy isn’t prone to gnawing on you but suddenly bites you with the intent to hurt you, there’s probably a more direct cause for this behavior. Either something (or someone) has scared the pup, the puppy is tired, or they’re frustrated or in pain.

If you woke up a sleeping puppy (and puppies sure do need a lot of sleep) suddenly with a fright, the dog’s natural instinct is to see you as a potential threat and bite.

If a puppy meets a new person, the puppy could be spooked and bite.

If a puppy’s given you signs that they want to be left alone and for you to stop petting them but you don’t stop, the puppy can become frustrated and nip.

Finally, if your puppy is sick or in pain, biting is a natural response. Puppies cannot tell you that there’s something wrong or where they’re hurting. If your puppy is sick, has pain in a certain area, or if you hurt the pup – even accidentally – your puppy may snap at you when you touch the painful area or when the dog sees you as a threat.

They’re overexcited

Photo of Labrador puppy biting a sofa

Overexcited puppies behave in all kinds of unpredictable ways. If your puppy gets too excited about something, their most common response will probably be to pee on the spot as they wiggle their bum.

Another typical response to overexcitement is biting.

This is highly likely if you’re in the middle of playing a fun, overstimulating game with your puppy. The puppy gets caught up in the moment, forgets themselves, and bites you. This isn’t meant to hurt you: your pup’s just super pumped, and since puppies can’t speak to tell you about it, they nip you as part of the game instead.

They’re tired or need to potty

Puppies sometimes give a little bite to communicate with people, especially if their humans don’t understand what they’re asking for. These are less common reasons for biting, but occasionally puppies will give a little nip or gentle bite to let you know they’re tired, need to potty, or ask for help with something.

For example, if your puppy’s tired and you keep trying to play with them, the pup may give you a little bite as a way to get you to stop.

How to help a teething puppy

There are three things you can do to help a teething puppy:

Frozen items all work similarly – the cold helps numb your puppy’s mouth, and can soothe a puppy’s aching gums.

Puppy toys are designed with teething puppies in mind, so they’re literally made for the job. Giving your puppy something to sink their teeth into can relieve any frustration that your pup might be feeling and help the new teeth break through the gums sooner.

You don’t want to give your pup anything that can be broken into small pieces and swallowed, as this could be a choking hazard. I prefer tried and tested brands, like this popular teething chew toy on Amazon.

As a side note… Don’t leave your puppy alone with things you don’t want to be destroyed. You can always put your pup behind a baby gate if you can’t keep an eye on them for a while. This protects your home and it protects your puppy from getting hurt or sick from chewing or swallowing things.

Signs that puppy biting is a problem

Photo of a puppy growling and showing its teeth
This puppy is growling and showing signs of aggression.

The best way to know if your puppy’s biting is aggressive or problematic instead of ‘normal’ is to watch the dog’s body language.

If the biting comes with loves, snuggles, cuddles, and during playtime, it’s probably harmless, even though it may hurt. This is normal and you can simply teach your pup not to bite or how hard is too hard.

But if your puppy’s biting comes with raised fur on the back or angry growls, you may be looking at problematic behavior. Here are some of the most obvious signs that your puppy’s biting may be cause for concern:

  • Growling
  • Raised fur
  • Snarling
  • Lunging
  • Repeated sharp, painful bites (nipping) as opposed to constant gnawing or chewing
  • Aggressive barking
  • Lip curling
  • Eye-to-eye deadlock staring
  • Food or toy aggression

If you notice any of these behaviors in your puppy, get advice from a trainer, a canine behaviorist, or your veterinarian to correct the behavior as soon as possible.

How to teach a puppy to stop biting

As long as your puppy’s biting isn’t due to aggressive or problematic behavior, getting a puppy to stop biting isn’t that hard.

First establish the root cause of the biting. If it’s boredom or teething, the solutions are simple: Give your puppy plenty of toys and things to chew to ease the teething pain, and make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise and attention to avoid boredom.

Take sick puppies to the vet. If biting is a side effect of pain or sickness, it should stop once the puppy is well again.

Watch your pet’s body language. If your puppy’s tired or agitated, don’t keep trying to force attention on them. You don’t want to be touched and moved around when you’re not feeling well, so it makes sense to respect a dog’s space as you would another person’s.

Final thoughts

All puppies bite. It comes with the territory and can be managed with the right tools and understanding.

When your puppy starts biting, firmly tell the dog no, and give them something else to play with or chew. Teaching your puppy about bite pressure is also crucial. If you don’t mind your dog nibbling when playing, then teach your dog to bite gently.

Biting is a normal stage of puppy development. It’s usually nothing to be concerned about, but it can’t be left unchecked either. With a little attention and training, your puppy will grow into a happy, healthy dog.

It takes some work, but it’s worth it in the end.

Soaking Dog Kibble: 10 Excellent Reasons Why You Should Do It

Soaking Dog Kibble: 10 Excellent Reasons Why You Should Do It

Twice a day, like clockwork, my dogs get kibble and cooked chicken soaked in a tasty warm liquid to eat. They love it. Even my fussy eater gets herself out of bed so she doesn’t miss the feast. But I’ve always wondered if I should be soaking kibble and what the benefits are, so I did some research and found out that:

You should soak dog kibble in a tasty liquid, like broth, to get a picky eater to eat. Soaking kibble can also be good for dogs who: don’t drink enough water, have sensitive stomachs, or have bad teeth and cannot chew on hard kibble. Wet kibble can also help overweight dogs lose weight.

Some say you shouldn’t soak a dog’s dry food because hard kibble removes plaque and reduces the chance of dental disease. While there’s a small argument to be made for the abrasiveness of dry kibble scraping plaque off a dog’s teeth, the truth isn’t so cut and dry.

The most effective way to clean your dog’s teeth is to actually clean your dog’s teeth. To do this, you can give your dog dental chews or toys (such as these favorites from Amazon), or brush your dog’s teeth.

The benefits of soaking your dog’s kibble far outweigh the minor effect dry kibble has on the teeth, which is exactly what this article covers. Here are ten great reasons why you should soak kibble for your dog…

Makes the food more appealing

Photo of dry dog kibble in a ceramic bowl

While you may be thinking about all the health benefits that soaking your dog’s kibble could bring, your dog just wants food that tastes good. Luckily, more flavorful food is one of the benefits of soaking kibble.

Most people soak their dogs’ kibble in homemade chicken/beef broth or plain water. I like to use bone broth like this from Amazon as a treat sometimes, or I keep the water after making chicken or rice for my dogs and use this instead.

Whatever you use to soak your dog’s kibble, make sure there’s no salt or additives in there.

Heating up the liquid before soaking kibble warms the fats in the food, which makes the kibble smell better. And something that smells better always tastes better.

Helps with sensitive stomachs or digestive issues

If your dog is prone to vomiting, diarrhea, or other digestive issues, soaking their kibble can help cut down on many of these tummy issues.

Liquid softens the food, which makes it easier to swallow and easier to digest. If you do this, your dog’s digestive enzymes don’t have to do nearly as much to digest the food.

Gets your dog to drink more water

Some dogs just don’t like drinking water. Maybe the water in the bowl gets too warm (here’s how to keep it cool), or the outside water bowl is full of bees (here’s how to keep bees away), or perhaps your dog just doesn’t realize they’re thirsty.

Whatever it is, your dog needs to drink enough water, and soaking kibble is one way to help your dog to take in enough liquids.

A dog needs to take in 1 ounce of water per day for every pound of dog weight. This can be from drinking water, from wet dog food, or from the liquid used to soak kibble. If you soak your dog’s kibble, your dog will naturally drink less water from the water bowl as they are getting liquid from their food every day. 

Improves a dog’s urinary health

If a dog doesn’t drink enough water, they can suffer from kidney infections or urinary tract infections. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for a dog to take in enough liquid every day.

Here’s a table showing how much water your dog needs to drink each day based on body weight:

Weight in lbHow much water a dog should consume per day in ozWeight in kgHow much water a dog should consume per day in ml
1 – 10 lbs1 – 10 oz1 – 4.5 kg30 – 300 ml
11 – 20 lbs11 – 20 oz4.6 – 9 kg300 – 600 ml
21 – 30 lbs21 – 30 oz19.1 – 13.5 kg600 – 900 ml
31 – 40 lbs31 – 40 oz13.6 – 18 kg900 – 1,200 ml
41 – 50 lbs41 – 50 oz18.1 – 22.5 kg1,200 – 1,500 ml
51 – 60 lbs51 – 60 oz22.6 – 27 kg1,500 – 1,800 ml
61 – 70 lbs61 – 70 oz27.1 – 32 kg1,800 – 2,100 ml
71+ lbs71+ oz (1 oz for each lb of body weight)33+ kg2,100+ ml (30 ml for each 0.5 kg body weight)
© Ayo Pets

Soaking kibble in warm water can help a dog that’s prone to these types of infections not to get them anymore, and soaked kibble can help a dog avoid these types of infections altogether.

Makes food easier to eat

If your dog has problems with their teeth or has lost their teeth for whatever reason, soaking their kibble makes eating easier, especially on the gums which can get raw and painful.

Helps overweight dogs lose weight

Adding water to your dog’s kibble can help your dog lose weight. Obesity can cause severe problems for a dog, so if you want your furry best friend to live their best life, you need to keep them at a healthy weight.

Adding water to a dog’s dry kibble introduces more water into their diet. This, in turn, helps the dog feel fuller quicker and stop eating. When your dog eats less, your dog takes in fewer calories and should slowly start losing weight as a result.

This is a simple way to put your dog on a diet without them actually feeling like they’re on a diet.

Makes switching foods easier

If you’re switching from one brand or type of dog food to another, you should make the switch over the course of a week or two – don’t ever suddenly change your dog’s food.

Click here to get my easy 1-week step-by-step food transition plan to follow, which is summarized in this table:

infographic of 1-week pan to change adult dog food

Adding water or a tasty liquid when mixing dog foods should make the switch much easier for your dog.

This is because the liquid will make the mixed food taste better, so your dog keeps on eating. It also makes the food easier on the dog’s digestive system, which can cause all sorts of problems when changing dog food.

Good for puppies being weaned

How much is too much sleeping for puppies

A weaning puppy is a puppy that’s moving from drinking its mother’s milk to eating solid food. A puppy starts weaning naturally when it’s about 3-4 weeks old. Soaking kibble for weaning puppies can make this transition easier for the puppy.

Trying to transition puppies directly from their mother’s milk to dry kibble is a hard transition to make: Dry kibble can be hard for a puppy to eat, and it’s tough on their tiny tummies.

If you go straight from one to the other, you’ll probably be dealing with some nasty tummy issues for days.

Try soaking dry food to make the switch smoother. You can use this trick again when it’s time to move your puppy over to adult dog food.

Note: You may still see a few digestive issues, including diarrhea or constipation. One or two unusual bowel movements is nothing to fear when changing a dog’s food. But if your puppy has more than that, starts throwing up, or becomes dehydrated, see a veterinarian immediately as these could be symptoms of a more serious problem.

Good for dogs who eat too quickly

Dogs who eat too quickly are prone to digestive issues and vomiting because they often swallow their food whole instead of chewing it. That’s why you sometimes see entire food pellets in dog vomit.

If your dog is a fast eater, click here to find out what to do about it and why you need to do something.

Adding liquid to your dog’s kibble makes the food softer, so it breaks down more easily and there aren’t any hard pellets for your dog to swallow. Plus, some dogs physically slow down and ‘search’ for their food as it floats in the water, which slows down their eating time – my dogs play this game with their food.

May reduce the risk of bloat

I wasn’t sure if I should include this benefit or not as it’s not scientifically proven to be true.

In fact, some people think adding water to food may increase the risk of bloat. But many pet owners and veterinarians agree that adding water to food is actually good for dogs that are prone to bloat.

After some research, it seems that eating and drinking quickly and going for a walk right before or after is actually the leading cause of bloat.

When dogs have water in their food, they’re less likely to eat a lot of food at a time and then turn around and drink mouthfuls of water on top of it, which is something veterinarians believe might be a cause of bloating in dogs.

Just be sure to take a long peaceful break after mealtimes, and that your dog doesn’t run around or jump a lot before the food has had time to settle.

As I said, there’s no science to back this up, but if you have a deep-chested dog breed that’s prone to bloat, it may be worth talking to your veterinarian for advice.  

photo of a great dane showing the chest area
Deep-chested dogs are prone to bloat.

Final thoughts

While not everyone agrees that water or other liquids should be added to dry kibble, I’m a firm believer in it. There are too many benefits to doing it and very few disadvantages.

Adding liquid to kibble can help puppies, senior dogs, overweight dogs, and dogs with dental or digestive issues. It can potentially even reduce the risk of bloat. As a dog owner myself, I plan to continue soaking my dog’s kibble for as long as I have dogs (which will be forever 😊).