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Australian Shepherd: From the Farm to the Family Room

Australian Shepherd: From the Farm to the Family Room 0

Beloved both as a family pet and a working dog, Australian Shepherds (affectionately known as Aussies) are a popular breed. Their merle coats and gorgeous eyes make them stand out at first look. However, the Australian Shepherd Club of America has always focused on the breed's personality and abilities over appearances. Intelligent and loyal, they make great companions and working dogs—as long as you can keep up with them!

Keep reading for all you need to know about aussies, plus some fun facts!

History and Background

Despite its name, the Australian Shepherd hails from the USA, not Australian. According to the lore, this breed descends from herding dogs that traveled from New Zealand to the US with Merino sheep herds. Some believe that the Australian Shepherd's ancestors go even further back to the Basque region of Europe! It's easy to see why others think Aussies came from a collie mix, especially when you're talking about a fluffier dog. 

Regardless of the breed's origins, Australian Shepherds have quickly become a popular breed in the United States—17th according to the AKC—and across the world! That's impressive when you consider Aussies have only been recognized by the AKC relatively recently (1993).

Physical Characteristics

Aussies might be the perfect breed with its medium size and coat. They measure 20 (female) to 22 (male) inches tall and have a weight range between 40 and 65. 

Every Australian Shepherd has a coat as unique as its personality. Aussies come in red merle, red, blue merle, black, red, and blue, each of which may include tan and/or white. Their splotchy coats, which feather out from their legs and frame their faces with a mane, are one of their most identifiable features. 

That distinct coloring also extends to their eyes, which can have any combination of blue, brown, hazel, amber or green. Each eye can have split or swirled colors, too. Aussies are one of the few dog breeds that commonly have two different colored eyes, which is called heterochromia.  Put it together with their naturally floppy ears, and it's hard not to fall in love with Australian Shepherds. 

You may also love the look of Aussies but prefer a smaller option. In that case, you can always consider the Miniature Australian Shepherd, which grows between 13 (female) and 18 (male) inches and weighs 40 pounds maximum. The Toy Australian Shepherd is even smaller—they've got a full size of just 14 inches! But that small stature still fits all the friendliness and intelligence over the larger breed.

Personality and Temperament

Perhaps Australian Shepherds are popular because the breed is a great compromise. These dogs have enough energy to join you and your family on your adventures, become working dogs, or learn commands. Still, their personalities are surprisingly chill despite their independent and bold natures. 

Homeowners love Australian Shepherds because they're not as likely to dig as other breeds, and their social tendencies make them great family dogs. These pups are loyal to their owners, albeit a bit wary of strangers. Still, this makes the breed a good protector, as is often the case with herding breeds.

If you're looking for a dog that will be part of your family, you almost can't go wrong with an Australian Shepherd. They love kids and get along well with other pets. They're playful and not known for being aggressive. Best of all, this breed has a lifespan between 10 and 12 years on average, so you'll have plenty of time to spend with your dog.

Caring For Your Aussie

Not every home is the right for an Australian Shepherd. They're too energetic to be comfortable in an apartment and can become hyperactive or even destructive if they do not receive enough attention or exercise. They do best with a large enclosed yard or space to roam free in the country. 

Nutrition

A diet with moderate fat content ensures the Aussie double coat remains healthy, while a high-protein diet keeps muscles strong. Aussies need more calories than less active breeds.

Exercise

Herding dogs like Aussies need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Working dogs naturally burn off steam, and family pets can join walks/hikes and runs, tussle in the backyard, or play Frisbee. You can also consider agility and obedience activities, which intelligent Aussies love!

Training

If you cannot train your Australian Shepherd and assert dominance, it can become unruly. That's the risk when any intelligent breed becomes bored, and the Aussie is undoubtedly clever. However, if you're dedicated, you can tap into your Aussie's natural intelligence and strengthen your bond through training.

Start by socializing your Aussie pup starting around 8 weeks old. Crate training your Aussie helps with sleep and when you're not home. Start with basic commands such as "Sit" or "Shake" before moving onto more complex commands that are broken up into smaller parts.

Grooming

That medium coat allows Aussies to be equally comfortable in both hot and cold climates, and it requires only a moderate amount of grooming for most of the year. As long as you brush your dog weekly and prepare for seasonal blowouts, you won't need to deal with matted fur. Nevertheless, potential owners who cannot dedicate the time to weekly brushing (and more as the seasons change) may want to look at a different breed.

Health Concerns

Aussies are generally healthy dogs. However, like any breed, they can develop certain health issues. Common problems include hip and elbow dysplasia, heart disease, deafness, allergies, epilepsy, osteochondritis dissecans, sensitivity to drugs, and eye problems. The breed can also become infected by Collie nose, a type of immune reaction.

Fun Facts About the Australian Shepherd Dog

  • Some Aussies still happily herd on ranches!
  • Aussies have participated in rodeos in the past.
  • This breed has earned the nickname Bob-Tails because of its naturally short tail.
  • Aussies were once nicknamed "ghost eye" because of its unique eye color combinations.

Famous Aussies

Hyper Hank gained fame in the 1970s for his frisbee skills.

Australian Shepherds to Follow

For those who love the breed but may not have room in their hearts or homes, you can get your doggie fix online. Several Aussies have become "Instagram famous!"

Oliver the Aussie hails from Portland, and his family snaps beautiful photos of him, often surrounded by nature.

Nova Mae loves to swim as much as she loves to pose for photos, which show off her stunning blue and brown eyes!

An Aussie named Secret (and her owner Mary) may have more followers than any other Australian Shepherd on Instagram. With the dog's golden eyes and owner's bold red hair, it's easy to see why they have so many fans!

What to Expect When Owning An Aussie

Whether you want a dog that can herd, keep up with your active lifestyle, or complete your family, Australian Shepherds are a great choice. They'll keep you on your toes, but if you keep them stimulated, they're a great addition to any home! Nevertheless, if you've never owned a dog before, you may want to consider a more relaxed breed. 

Why Fish Oil for Dogs Is Critical for A Healthy Dog Diet

Why Fish Oil for Dogs Is Critical for A Healthy Dog Diet 0

Loaded with omega fatty acids, fish oil is one of the best supplements to add to your dog’s diet. Fish oil for dogs often contain oils from multiple species of cold-water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and anchovies to name a few. It is incredibly important for supporting your dog’s everyday health. 

Like humans, dogs can’t make these essential fatty acids internally. Therefore, they must come from food. One of the best sources for omega fatty acids is wild-caught salmon, which has a high concentration of omega fatty acids and has a favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

When taken regularly, salmon oil for dogs can play a crucial role in supporting a healthy heart and coat while improving joint, skin, and immune system health. 

While you should always consult your veterinarian before adding new supplements to your dog's diet, there is some useful information you should know about salmon oil and what it can do for your pet's health and happiness.

Why Are Omega Fatty Acids Important for Dogs?

Salmon oil contains large amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Of course, fat has earned a poor reputation in the human world, so why would you want to give it to your dog?

In reality, there are four types of fat: trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Omega fatty acids exist within polyunsaturated fats and, when digested, they help the body produce hormones that regulate inflammation and blood flow. 

The reason why supplementing your dog's diet with omega fatty acids is so important is that the body can't produce them on its own. Omega-3 supplements are often called salmon oil supplements because cold-water fish, like salmon, are primary dietary sources of omega fatty acids for both dogs and humans. While humans may get their omegas from plant oils, nut oils, and flaxseed, your dog can't digest many of those things.

Types of Omega Fatty Acids

Just as not all fat types are equal as there are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. The two most important kinds for your dog are EPA and DHA.

EPA

Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, plays a critical role in many physiological functions, including reducing inflammation within the body. Inflammation has links to almost every type of disease, including joint problems and heart disease. Of all cold-water fish, salmon contains one of the highest concentrations of EPA. 

DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is critical to skin and eye health. In humans, we often fortify infant formula with DHA because it's that essential. When taken regularly, DHA can improve mental sharpness and help ward off various conditions, including heart problems, certain cancers, and joint issues — including canine arthritis. So, supplementing your dog's diet with DHA will keep them healthier all the way around.

How to Supplement with Salmon Oil

Depending on the concentration, every product will present a label to help you estimate how much of the supplement your dog requires, usually based on their weight. In general, the suggested dose for salmon oil ranges from 75 mg up to 100 mg for each kilogram (2.2 lbs) of body weight.

Giving too much salmon oil to your dog may cause an upset stomach and lead to "fishy" breath. If you have questions, you can always consult your vet regarding how often you should supplement your dog and for how long. A professional can guide you on the ideal dosage and the best meal plans to boost the effects of salmon oil.

The Benefits of Salmon Oil Supplement

The benefits of salmon oil supplementation are plentiful. For many dogs, regular supplementation leads to a noticeable change in their health due to its ability to help with the following.

Balances Other Fats

Most dog foods contain meat from corn-fed animals along with sources of refined oil, both of which are high in omega-6. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in balancing out the omega-6 fatty acids, which is important because your dog needs both.

Supports Healthy Development

For puppies, in particular, a salmon oil supplement supports healthy brain and eye development. It can also aid and prevent cognitive disfunction in older dogs.

Promotes A Healthy Heart

The omega fatty acids in salmon oil have incredible cardioprotective benefits. They combat abnormal heart rhythms, and help to regulate inflammation and blood circulation.

Improves Skin & Coat Health

Fish oil improves skin and coat health, reducing itchy and flaky skin and encouraging a shinier, silkier coat. Not only will your dog look better, they'll feel better, too!

Acts As An Anti-Inflammatory

Regular supplementation supports heart health and overall wellness with the help of anti-inflammatory properties. Those same properties support healthy joints and prevent arthritis while reducing the risk of internal inflammatory diseases, like chronic kidney disease.

Immune-Boosting Properties

Salmon oil can help relieve allergies by strengthening the skin to provide a barrier against allergens while promoting a stronger immune system.

Reduces The Risk of Cancer

Maintaining healthy supplementation of DHA and EPA in your dog's diet will reduce the risk of canine cancer, according to the American Kennel Club.

What to Look for in Your Dog's Salmon Oil Supplement

Whenever you're looking to add something new to your dog's diet, be it a supplement, treat, or different food type, it's crucial that you do your research. You want to feel confident that your dog is getting a product that's good for them and for the world at large. 

When it comes to choosing a salmon oil supplement, it is important to always look for products that contain wild-caught and sustainably sourced salmon. 

Wild-caught salmon is far superior to farm raised salmon. Farmed salmon have a completely different diet and environment than wild salmon. Because of its natural diet and environment, wild-caught salmon not only has a more ideal omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, but it also is higher in minerals, like potassium, zinc and iron.

Additionally, farm raised salmon have higher concentrations of antibiotics and harmful contaminants, like polychlorinated biphenyls and several chlorinated pesticides. 

As for sustainability, look for a manufacturer that sources its salmon oil under the guidelines presented by the Marine Stewardship Council. For twenty years, the MSC has devoted itself to upholding exacting standards to ensure sustainable fishing practices. They continue to help guide the production of sustainable salmon oil supplements for people and their precious pets.

While it may take a little research, once you find the perfect salmon oil for dogs, you'll be able to feed them with confidence by knowing that they're getting the essential fatty acids they need for a healthier lifestyle.

Why Omega 3 for Dogs is Important for Heart Health

Why Omega 3 for Dogs is Important for Heart Health 0

As Valentine’s Day approaches, you might be thinking of some unique ways to show your loved ones your appreciation for them this month. If one of them happens to be furry and plays fetch, the best thing you can do to show your love is to keep him or her healthy. 

In February, not only do we celebrate Valentine’s Day, but we also celebrate American Heart Month. That makes this the perfect time to learn more about the danger of heart disease in dogs—and how to prevent it. Here’s what to know if you want to improve your dog’s heart health.

What are the Symptoms of a Dog with Heart Problems?

Catching a heart issue early is very helpful for improving or managing the condition. It’s important to pay attention to some common signs that there could be a problem with your dog’s heart. Some of the main symptoms to watch for include the following:

  • Coughing that gets worse at night or after exercise
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fainting spells
  • Depression
  • Pale gums
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Swollen abdomen

If you notice your dog displaying some of these symptoms, you should set up an appointment with the vet. It may turn out that your dog just has allergies or a minor illness, but it’s definitely better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your dog’s heart!

What to Know About Heart Disease in Dogs

Now,  you know the symptoms of dog heart disease. But what exactly is heart disease, and how can you get it diagnosed and treated? To start, it’s important to know that heart disease can fall into two categories.

One is congenital heart disease, which means the dog was born with the condition. The other is acquired heart disease, meaning the dog got the condition at some point during his or her lifetime. 

Some of the most common types of heart disease that affect dogs include the following:

  • Congenital heart defects, such as pulmonic stenosis, ventricular septal defect, and tricuspid valve dysplasia.
  • Cardiomyopathy, which is a disease of the heart muscle that can lead to congestive heart failure in dogs.
  • Pericardial effusion, in which fluid builds up in the heart sac.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias, which are abnormal heart rhythms—whether too fast or too slow.
  • Chronic degenerative valve disease, where the heart valves change and start leaking as a result.

You should also note that certain dog breeds are higher risk for heart problems than others. For instance, Boxers and Doberman Pinschers are at risk of an irregular heartbeat that can result in fainting, weight loss, or even death. Miniature and toy Poodles are at risk of developing a heart murmur, while Dachshunds have a risk of a leaky heart valve. Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, and Bulldogs are some examples of breeds that are susceptible to heart problems, as well. This means knowing the symptoms of heart disease in your dog--and trying to prevent it--is especially important.

To find out if the symptoms your dog has indicate heart problems, you should take him or her to the vet for an exam. If it turns out your dog has heart disease, the next step will be choosing a treatment. In most cases, the vet prescribes medication for the dog. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to treat heart disease. And sometimes, the vet will recommend supplements to slow down the progression of the heart problem.

Best Supplements for Dog Heart Health

Omega 3 fatty acids are one of the most important and essential nutrients for heart health in both dogs and humans. Omega 3 benefits dogs in many ways. improve heart health and reduce the chance of heart failure in the future by reducing cytokines in the body, which are proteins that cause inflammation. Additionally, these essential fatty acids help to reduce muscle loss, improve the appetite, lower blood pressure, and suppress abnormal heart rhythms, helping your dog stay as healthy as possible even after being diagnosed with heart disease. Plus, omega 3 for dogs can boost the health of the brain and immune system overall. 

Just like humans, dogs are unable to produce omega-3 fatty acids, and therefore, must get them from their diet. To ensure your dog is getting enough omega 3s, it’s a great idea to add omega 3 supplements, such as Omega Soft Chews, to improve your dog's health while you await the next vet visit. Additionally, salmon oil for dogs and fish oil for dogs are a great way to supplement omegas in your dog’s diet.

Treatment for your dog’s heart condition might also include more exercise and a better diet, such as a low-sodium eating plan. In general, the right treatment will depend on the type of heart condition your dog has, as well as his or her age and overall health. So be sure to set up a vet appointment for your dog to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.

How to Protect Your Dog's Heart

As with any condition, it’s better to take steps to prevent heart problems than have to treat them after the fact. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce the odds of your dog having heart problems. Here are a few tips for protecting your dog’s heart:

  • Regular vet exams, at least once per year.
  • Good dental care, since infections in the mouth can affect heart health.
  • Frequent cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, running, hiking, or swimming.
  • A balanced diet made up of high-quality dog food.
  • Supplements that support heart health, such as.

Basically, if you want to pay a little extra attention to your dog’s heart health this month, you can start by taking him or her to the park for a fun game of fetch! Then follow up that regular exercise by ensuring your dog eats the right foods, takes quality supplements, and sees the vet for preventative care. Surprising your pet with a fun doggie present for Valentine’s Day wouldn’t hurt, either!