What Is The Best Dog Agility Contact Surface

pampered paws rubber_surface_kitDog agility is a living breathing sport that continues to grow and change in many ways.  Handlers find better ways of training their dogs, dogs become faster and stronger athletes and competitors demand safer and better equipment and course designs.

We have come such a long way from the older style of submersion training where the dogs are lured over obstacles as many times as it takes for them to become comfortable with the obstacle.  Then the dogs were encouraged to go faster and jump higher with little concern for form and technique.  It is more common place now to see shaping techniques for training where the dog is taught form and technique, muscle groups built up and muscle memory made before the dog even looks at the equipment.

Due to this change in training and better handling, the dogs have become faster and more accurate in their runs.  Running contacts, fast entries into the weaves and onto the table and teeter are more common place making older equipment unsafe.  The angle of the A-frame has been lowered, the tire is being changed from a solid obstacle to a breakaway design, tunnel straps have been made wider and contact surfaces are being changed from plain or sand to rubberized.

All these changes are in effort to keep the sport safe for all dogs, big and small, fast and not so fast.  We want to keep our sport fun for everyone and especially our dogs who cannot speak for themselves and ask for these improvements to their course equipment.  That is why we at www.affordableagility.com have introduced Pampered-Paws coating kits to our long list of equipment designed with your dog’s safety in mind.

So what makes Pampered-Paws different, and better, than all other coating systems you may be asking?  Pampered-Paws kits have been specially developed to a perfect blend of glue and rubber, along with a proven application method that have been tested and tried until perfected.  You get the detailed directions so you will be ensured of the same quality of application.

Unlike ‘skins’ and ‘wet pour methods’, which can be as rough and hard as a sanded surface, Pampered-Paws is softer and plush.  And unlike ‘sprinkle methods’ of application, which can be patchy and wear quickly, Pampered-Paws is beautifully uniform in appearance and lasts much longer!  Plus, Pampered Paws Rubber Coating does not add much weight to the obstacle, unlike wet pour and skins.  Here are the approximate weights added by application of Pampered Paws.

Pause Table = 6.75
Rocker Board = 5
A-Frame = 40.5
Mini A-Frame = 16
Contact Trainer = 14
Competition Dog Walk = 27
TDAA Dog Walk = 15.75
TDAA Teeter = 5.25
Mini Travel Teeter = 5.25
Competition Teeter = 9

The color-infused rubber chips will adhere to ANY surface, whether vinyl, plastic, metal, fiberglass, or wood so you will be able to fully cover all contact areas of all your dog agility equipment.  Be sure to stop by our website and get started on the process of converting all your dog agility contact equipment to rubberized surfaces to increase both the safety of your equipment and increase your dog’s traction and speed.

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Posted in Dog Agility Equipment

How to Avoid Heat Stroke for You and Your Dog

heat stroke in dogsThough very similar, heat stroke has different symptoms than heat exhaustion and unfortunately can be deadly if not caught in the early stages.  Even less severe bouts of heat stroke can cause your dog to become a victim of DIC, an often deadly condition where the dog’s blood coagulates throughout the body and can occur hours or even days after the heatstroke episode.  Heat stroke in people can be deadly as well with an individual going into seizures or even a coma.  So you can see this is a serious matter that you should be well informed on especially because we are involved in a high demand sport with our dogs.

While prevention is the best medicine, mistakes and misjudgements happen so you MUST be familiar with the symptoms of the onset of heat stroke in both handler and dog.  Heat stroke in humans is preceded by heat exhaustion, the symptoms of which are pale skin, fatigue, weakness, dizzy or nauseous, sweating profusely, rapid pulse, fast & shallow breathing, muscle weakness or cramps. It is imperative at the onset of any of these symptoms a person takes immediate action to cool down and drink plenty of water or other fluids containing sugar and salt (electrolytes).  If left unattended it can quickly switch to heat stroke.  You should seek help immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms; skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty; confusion or loss of consciousness; throbbing headache; frequent vomiting; shortness of breath or trouble breathing or elevated temperature.  These are all symptoms of the heat stroke.

In dogs you may observe excessive panting; hyperventilation; increased salivation; dry gums that become pale, grayish and tacky; rapid or erratic pulse; weakness; confusion; inattention; vomiting; diarrhea; and possible rectal bleeding.  If the dog continues to overheat, breathing efforts become slowed or absent, and finally, seizures or coma can occur.  If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog you need to take their temperature immediately.  A dog’s normal resting temperature is between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  At 105 the dog begins to experience the effects of heatstroke and at 106 – 108 degrees, the dog will suffer irreversible damage to the kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, heart and brain.  If you cannot get their temp or after you have obtained it, you need to take immediate action in getting your dog cooled down.  Once you get the dog’s temp to start dropping, take them to a veterinarian immediately.  They will need to test the dog, even in less severe cases, to be sure there is no damage done to the liver or kidneys.  A dog that has suffered even a mild case of heat stroke can fall prey to DIC up to 72hrs after the incident.

So what are the best ways to avoid heat stroke?  Take special care when the heat index is 90 degrees F or above.  Drink plenty of fluids staying away from caffeine and alcohol, both of which will cause increased dehydration.  When exerting yourself outdoors you should take in 1 cup of fluids every 10-20 minutes starting 2 hours before the activity with 2 cups of fluids.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty to take in liquids, by then you are already dehydrated.  And don’t forget to keep taking in fluids after the activity is over.  Take frequent breaks inside or in the shade. Wear loose, light weight, light colored clothing, a wide brim hat and sunblock.  Try to do all strenuous work in the early morning or late evening avoiding the mid-day heat.  Don’t be a weekend warrior in the heat.  You really need a week to ten days to acclimate your body to working in the heat.  Take extra precautions if you have to work during the heat of the day and are not acclimated.  Listen to your body and pay close attention to the warning signs.

Believe it or not, some common drugs will put you at a higher risk such as allergy, cough and cold medicines, thyroid, water and even some diet pills.  So if you are on medications be sure to talk to your doctor about your current medications and if they will raise your risk of heat stroke.

For your dogs, keep in mind they do not sweat.  They must cool themselves through respiration, so if the outside air is excessively hot and humid the dog’s body will be unable to cool down quick enough.  Help your dog stay cool with wader pools of cool water they can stand in.  They also cool themselves through the pads of their feet and inner thighs.  Be sure they have plenty of cool, clean water available to them at all times.  You can help them stay cool from the inside out with homemade frozen treats, fruits and vegetables.  See our previous post for more details Keep Your Agility Dogs Cool From The Inside Out.

If you suspect your dog is over heating you need to get them cooled down as soon as possible, but not too quickly.  You will need to use cool running water when available and apply it to the foot pads and inner thighs allowing evaporation to aid in the cooling process.  Using ice or submerging your dog could cause them to cool too quickly and actually cause other complications such as cardiac arrest and bloating.  It will also actually slow the cooling process as it causes blood vessels to constrict and slows the movement of the heat removing blood.  Be sure the dog has plenty of air movement to aid in evaporation and keep the blood moving by keeping the dog standing or walking.  Do not allow your dog to take in large quantities of water.  This can cause vomiting and bloat.  Get your dog to a vet as soon as you get their temperature to start dropping.

If you or your pet experiences heat exhaustion or stroke you will be more sensitive to another episode for about a week.  Give yourself and your dog plenty of time to recover.  And remember, heat stroke is an equal opportunity employer.  It affects even athletes in the right conditions.  No one is immune.

Sources:  William Grant, DVM, a veterinarian for 20 years and former president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association and www.news-medical.net

Posted in Dog Agility Training

Keep Your Agility Dogs Cool From the Inside Out

frozen treats for dogsMy dogs would do anything for a piece of ice…anytime of the year!  So why give them anything else during the hot summer months?  Because, it is fun to give them special treats while the rest of the family is enjoying their summer time treats.  What else can you do for them?  Well, here are some great ideas to keep your dog happy, healthy and cool throughout the heat of summer.

  1. Ice Cubes are the easiest and quickest.  Be sure to put them in their water buckets outside as well as a wader pool.
  2. Low Fat Yogurt either straight up from the cup or mixed half and half with water for dogs that need less dairy and freeze in ice cube tray or mini muffin tins.
  3. Vegetables & Fruit like green beans, squash and sweet potato make great treats as well as bananas, strawberries and apples.
  4. Baby Foods make great frozen snacks, but be sure they do not contain onion powder as that is highly toxic to most dogs. Use organic fruit or vegetable blends for added flavor and freeze in mini muffin tins.
  5. Low Sugar Fruit Juices should be given sparingly or mix half and half with water due to high sugar/low fiber or as a part of recipe and frozen in ice cube trays.
  6. Organic Low Sodium Broth straight up or as a base for other mixes and you can add peanut butter or meats.  You can puree the meats or leave in chucks and freeze in mini muffin tins.
  7. Chicken or Beef Liver cut into small bite sized pieces can be frozen on a cookie sheet on parchment paper.  You will only feed 2 or 3 pieces a day unless your dog is on a raw food diet, then you can feed a regular daily amount.
  8. Raw Eggs put in a blender, including the shell, until smooth can be frozen in an ice cube tray filling tubes just half way.  Only feed one a day to be sure the nutrients are absorbed properly.
  9. Tuna is always a crowd pleaser and you can either freeze in small mounds, bite size pieces or even blend with other ingredients.
  10. Cheese and Hot Dog bites can be cut into strips not chunks to avoid choking if your dog tries to swallow them whole.  You can freeze them alone or mix with broth or water.

Helpful Pointers:

When using ice cube trays for your doggie treats it is a good idea to buy a set just for them.  Broth favored cubes may taste good to your dog, but most people don’t like it added to their tea.  You can also freeze treats and then store them in freezer baggies so you can remove the trays from the freezer.

If you use cupcake liners for the “stiffer” mixes you just fill, freeze and then set on the counter for a few minutes when ready to treat so you can tear off the liner.  You can store them with or without the liner in a freezer bag.  Just be sure the liner is removed before giving to your dog.

Frozen dog treats will last about two months in your freezer so be sure to put dates on your bags so you use the older treats first.

If you want to get even more industrious, here here is a base for making your dog his own “ice cream” that is safe, healthy and yummy for your dog.

Doggie Ice Cream Base

Ingredients:

2 6oz containers of plain yogurt (low or non fat)
1 Tbsp. Honey
1/3 C special ingredients (carobs, tuna, chopped fruit/veggies, etc)

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.
Spoon into an ice cube tray or cupcake liners.
Freeze until solid (it will take several hours)

To make peanut butter flavor start with 32 oz plain yogurt and mix in 1 cup of natural creamy peanut butter.  You can then add 1/2 of other ingredients like carob chips.

Hope you got some good ideas on how to have fun keeping your dog cool this summer and if you have your own “special recipe” that your dogs go crazy over, feel free to share it in the comments area so others can try it too.

 

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