How to protect your dog against ticks and fleas

Although it is impossible to completely keep ticks and fleas at bay, there are some steps you can take to help minimise their contact with your pet.


There are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of your pet getting fleas:

  • Frontline – You can use this treatment from Frontline to prevent and treat your pets against fleas. They recommend treating cats every 5 weeks and dogs every two months.
  • Vacuum – One of the most overlooked areas is just vacuuming your house on a regular basis. This will reduce the number of flea eggs and larvae that are present.
  • Flea shampoo – You can use flea shampoo as both a preventative measure and a cure. Bathing your pets with flea shampoo can significantly reduce the chances of infection and can go a long way to curing them of it. However, make sure you don’t do this too much as it can dry out your pets skin.
  • Wash your pets bedding – It’s important to ensure all bedding, blankets or collars that your pet wears are regularly cleaned.
  • Consult your veterinarian – When it comes to any treatment for your pets, always consult your vet. This will help you to understand what fleas are, what treatments are suitable for your pets and what to do in the event that your pet gets fleas.


Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.

To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:

  • Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
  • If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
  • Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about tickborne diseases in your area.
  • Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.


Use a flea and tick control product

Despite your best efforts to reduce your dog's contact with ticks and fleas, you should still take measures to help protect them. Treat all dogs and cats in the household with a flea and tick control product. One untreated pet can lead to a flea infestation in the household. Flea and tick control products can help protect your dog from unexpected flea and tick sources by killing adult fleas, eggs and larvae, and all stages of ticks.

Once-a-month topical insecticides are the most commonly used flea prevention products on the market. They are applied to a small area on your pet's back, are probably the easiest product to use, and generally last the longest. Some kill fleas and ticks, and others just kill fleas, so check the label carefully. Ingredients generally include permethrin, fipronil, imidacloprid, pyriproxyfen, spinosad, metaflumizone, and selamectin.

This is the method we use with Baxter, applying the dose to an area of skin at the back of his neck, where he is unlikely to reach it should he feel the need to scratch an itch.

Consistency is key to maintaining adequate protection. Even one missed dose of your dog's monthly flea and tick control can set the stage for a flea infestation that takes months to resolve, or put your pet at greater risk of exposure to a tick borne disease. So it is important that you treat your pet and continue monthly applications throughout the rest of the year or as directed by your vet.


How to help your dog through firework season

Baxter, like most dogs, finds this time of year a period of intense emotional stress brought about by the flashes and loud noises associated with fireworks.

So, we would like to share with you some of the excellent advice we received on a recent visit to the vet.


Minimizing the effect of fireworks

Up until recently, the only way of medically trying to help dogs was by the use of sedatives. However, our vet tells us that sedatives provide little if any benefit and may actually compound what is an already stressful situation.

In order to minimize the effect of fireworks on your pet, try the following advice.

  1. Avoid exercising your dog after dark, as this is the peak activity for fireworks.
  2. Ensure all curtains in the area where your pet stays are pulled shut in order to block out the flashes from fireworks.
  3. Turn on the radio in the room playing music at an appropriate volume so as to reduce the impact of the explosions from fireworks.
  4. Try no to offer sympathy to your pet. This is very hard to do, but offer sympathy may be interpreted by your dog as legitimizing their phobia.
  5. Do not scold or punish your dog if it shows signs of fear or anxiety.
  6. Provide a 'sanctuary' for your pet - a designated area where you can follow steps 2 & 3, preferably an area where your pet prefers to hide when stressed. Feed the pet in this area. The pet will recognize this area as a place of reassurance and comfort where they are less stressed by the fireworks.
Pheromone Diffusers

Our vet also suggests using a pheromone diffuser in the 'sanctuary' area. A pheromone diffuser is a plug-in diffuser similar to the room deodorants commonly used in the home. It releases into the atmosphere of the room a tiny amount of the product similar to a natural chemical produced by the bitch while feeding her pups. This has been shown to reduce anxiety, to change the way pets perceive unfamiliar environmental stimuli and to enhance social interaction.

The diffuser should be plugged in at the same height at the pet and should not be positioned behind furniture. Ideally, it should be plugged in 2 weeks in advance of the event. It should be left plugged in 24 hours a day and never unplugged, even for part of the day.

If you have any concerns about your pet during firework season, please contact your vet.

How to take professional-looking pet portraits

We all like to photograph our pets and taking professional-looking portraits does not need to be as complicated as we think. Although it does take time and patience, it does not necessarily need a lot of expensive equipment.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a series of lessons on how to photograph pets. Each one will look at a different aspect of pet photography. Here's an idea of what's to come:

Part 1: Photographic Equipment - selecting a camera; using auto and manual focus; lighting and accessories.

Part 2: Animal Behaviour - understanding animal behaviour; personal space/fear circle of pets; techniques to use and avoid during a photographic session.

Part 3: Natural Portraits - controlling natural light using fill-flash and reflectors.

Part 4: Studio Portraits - selecting suitable backgrounds; basic lighting set-ups; importance of eye contact.

Part 5: Action Portraits - photographing animals in motion; shutter speeds; background details.

Part 6: Digital Imaging Editing and Printing - basic image editing; printing your images.

I will also be posting some photographic exercises for you to try yourself.

The art of any form of portrait photography is to capture the character and personality of your subject. So you will need to encourage your pet to relax and behave naturally in front of the camera. Sessions should be kept short, because animals get bored quickly and once that happens you will have to put the camera away until another day. Also, as you cannot ask your pet to say 'cheese', you will have to resort to other ways and means to encourage them to 'smile' for the camera. But, above all, whatever approach you adopt when photographing your pet remember their safety and welfare must always come first.

The aim of this series is to give you, as a pet owner, the inspiration and knowledge to take stunning photographs of your pet, however inexperienced a photographer you are.

How to prepare your dog for a new baby

There’s so much to think about when you’re getting ready for a baby, but if you have a dog it’s worthwhile preparing early to ensure a safe and happy start to the relationship between your pet and your new baby.

Solve existing behavioural issues

Finding the time to do behavioural training might be difficult after baby comes, as you won’t want to be dealing with tough behaviour issues with your dog while also trying to look after a new baby. Behaviour that seems harmless now, such as your dog jumping up on you, may become dangerous if you are heavily pregnant or holding a brand new baby in your arms. If your dog has serious behaviour issues such as aggression, you may need to consult a professional dog behaviourist to help solve these issues before the arrival of your new baby.

Safe Walks

Ensure your dog walks well on a lead, without pulling, tugging you or lunging unexpectedly. This will make it easier for you to keep taking your dog out on walks if you have a pram to manage as well. So, why not try some practice walks with the pram before baby arrives, to help your dog get used to it.


Begin socialising your dog with babies and young children, and rewarding it for any positive interactions with them. If your dog hasn’t been socialised with children much, you will need to be very cautious when you get started and keep your dog on a lead. You may also need to put a muzzle on your dog if necessary.

Baby Sounds

Desensitise your dog to baby noises beforehand so they are unfazed by the real thing when it comes along. Play recordings of babies crying, laughing and screaming to your dog on a regular basis at all times of the day. Start at a low volume, then increase the volume slowly in small increments only when your dog is acting calmly and not stressed. Reward your dog for calm behaviour while these sounds play.

Baby's sleeping space

It is important that you make the nursery off-limits to your dog. Through careful and consistent training, you should be able to condition your dog into understand this is a place they are not allowed go without you. Once your dog understands the rules, you can let them to enter the room. But, it is important to maintain enough control to send your dog out of the room when you need to. If you find it difficult to maintain this flexibility then it’s best to keep it fully off limits.

Introducing your dog to baby

To encourage a safe and peaceful introduction, try these tips:

  • Have someone bring home something that smells of your baby (such as a wrap it has been wearing), so your dog can become familiar with the scent before meeting her.
  • Help your dog relax by ensuring it’s taken for a long walk and has used up some energy before the introduction.
  • On arriving home from hospital, greet your dog first before introducing the baby. Remember, your dog will have missed you and will be excited to see you, so doing this will help create a calm environment.
  • Make sure your dog is calm before it is allowed to come near the baby. While holding your baby, gently call your dog over and allow it to sniff baby. If there is more than one dog in the household, do this with only one dog at a time.
  • Reward your dog for its calm behaviour when meeting the baby. You should do this for their first few interactions to help build a positive association.

Warning signs

Learn to read your dog’s body language for any indication that it’s not happy or comfortable in a situation. If your dog growls, has its hackles raised or bares its teeth remove the child from the situation immediately. If your dog is stressed out or fearful, this is also a warning sign. Look for things such as panting, tense body language, the dog’s tail between its legs, trembling, or the dog trying to hide or escape a situation. Pay attention to these signs and remove the child if you ever see any of them.

Finally, it is important to remember that you must always supervise all interactions between a dog and a baby or young child. Even if your dog is extremely friendly and docile, babies and young children can do unexpected things and any dog can react in a negative way if it feels scared or threatened.

If your dog gives any indication that it is frightened of or aggressive to a child, immediately separate the two and consult a qualified animal behaviourist to help resolve any issues your dog may have with the situation.

How to protect your dog from heat stroke

As the warm summer weather approaches, it's important to remember that dogs are vulnerable to heat related injuries, the most dangerous of which is heat stroke, which can often prove fatal.

Heat stoke and heat exhaustion are dangerous conditions for any dog and should be avoided at all costs. Heat stroke occurs when the dog's normal body mechanisms are unable to keep body temperature within a safe range. A dog's normal body temperature is 100-102.5 degrees. A body temperature over 106 degrees is deadly.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion, the early stages of heat stroke, occurs when the dog begins overheating. To remedy the effects of heat exhaustion, you must take immediate action to reduce the dog's body temperate and prevent the danger of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, rapid panting, and the skin inside the ears reddening. Should you notice any of these symptoms and suspect your dog might be suffering from heat exhaustion, take immediate action by bringing your dog indoors to a cooler environment immediately, near a fan if you have one, offer some fresh water, and dampen the dampen the skin with lukewarm water and allow it to air-dry.

Heat Stroke

Signs of heat stroke include rapid panting, a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, and thick, sticky saliva. The dog may also show signs of weakness, dizziness and vomiting.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, remove them from the hot enviroment immediately. Wet them thoroughly with room-temperature water (do not use not ice or very cold water, as it will trigger other life-threatening conditions), and increase the flow of cool air around them with a fan.

Five Ways to Prevent Heat Stoke

So, here are five things to remember when the temperature gets high in the summer months:

  1. Don’t let your dog linger on hot surfaces like asphalt and cement. Being so close to the ground can heat their body quickly and can also lead to burns on sensitive paw pads. Keep walks to a minimum.
  2. Provide access to fresh water at all times. Make sure an outside dog has access to shade and plenty of cool water.
  3. Restrict exercise when temperatures soar, and do not muzzle the dog because it inhibits their ability to pant.
  4. Many dogs enjoy a swim, splashing in a pool, or running through a sprinkler in warmer weather can help bring body temperatures down.
  5. Never leave your pet in a parked car, not even if you park in the shade or plan to be gone for only a few minutes. The temperature inside of a car can reach oven-like temperatures in just minutes, often in excess of 140 degrees. That quick errand to the shops can very quickly turn into a disaster and could be fatal for your pet.

The last point is particularly important to remember. The number of times I have seen a dog left alone in a parked car at the supermarket during the warmer summer months is horrifying. If you know you have to stop by the supermarket to pick up a few groceries, please leave your dog at home. Your dog will thank you for it!

Remember: Any dog that cannot cool itself off is at risk from heat stroke!


DSPCA promote responsible dog ownership

Simon Harris TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) today, signed an agreement with the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) underpinning responsible dog ownership and guidelines at National Historic Properties in the greater Dublin area.

The Office of Public Works is responsible for thirty three historic properties countrywide and its role is to protect, manage and present these important buildings and landscapes for current and future generations. These sites welcome over 15 million visitors a year. The OPW also recognises, along with the DSPCA, that people benefit from companionship and assistance provided by dogs. However, there are specific areas and seasons when exclusions or restrictions may apply for allowing dogs on sites.

The Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) was established in 1840 and is Ireland's largest animal welfare organisation.

The joint agreement outlines various principles such as acknowledging the importance of the amenities for all users; ensuring clear and consistent information at all sites and the promotion of responsible dog ownership through activities and education.

Speaking at today's event in St. Stephen's Green Park, Minister Harris commented "We all know that owning and walking dogs is an activity that benefits the physical and mental well-being of dogs and their owners. My Office, the Office of Public Works, is particularly keen on welcoming all visitors to our wonderful sites and ensuring that there is clear and consistent information on areas and facilities that are well-suited to the needs of dogs and their owners. We also recognise that other visitors may not be as comfortable around dogs and certain restrictions such as on-lead rules or exclusions will apply in those instances".

Brian Gillen, Chief Executive of the DSPCA also said “We very much welcome this collaboration with OPW in encouraging responsible dog ownership on their sites. DSPCA appreciate that access to public amenities is important for dog owners. We look forward to working with the OPW to improve onsite facilities and to provide a positive framework for engagement with owners. Our ‘King of paws’ academy will provide training classes to help dog owners and dogs enjoy the access to the OPW sites.”

Minister Harris added "I welcome the agreement and joint promotion of these principles with the DSPCA and I look forward to the many initiatives organised with them such as the DSPCA’s 'King of Paws' event in Arbour Hill on Saturday 7 March. I have no doubt that this joint partnership approach will lead to a greater reciprocal understanding by our visitors when enjoying the wonderful parks and gardens in the months ahead".

Guide Dogs are permitted in all areas.

Details of the sites covered by these Guidelines are as follows:

  • St Stephen's Green
  • Iveagh Gardens
  • National War Memorial Gardens
  • Grangegorman Military Cemetery
  • Arbour Hill Cemetery
  • Phoenix Park
  • Royal Hospital Kilmainham
  • National Botanic Gardens
  • St Enda's Park
  • Rathfarnham Castle
  • Garden of Remembrance
  • Castletown House

The Code of Conduct for Dog Owners at National Historic Properties in the Dublin region can be found at and

Meet the dog lover behind Dublin's Cheeky Dog Bakery

Recently at a DSPCA Doggie Day Out in St Enda's Park in Rathfarnham, Baxter and I came across a yummy new service just for dogs. Though we all know that cakes and sweets are not healthy for our dogs, it is great to see a new way of providing tasty treats for pooches.

Cheeky Dog Bakery began two years ago after dog lover Jenny McCarthy struggled to find a birthday cake to celebrate her dachshund Oscar's first birthday. Unable to find one, she decided to make her own. Much to Oscar's delight!

Inspired by her own attempt a baking a birthday cake for Oscar, she spent a year researching and testing recipes and acquiring all the necessary skills to set up her own dog bakery.


Jenny runs the successful Cheeky Dog Bakery online, selling everything from donuts to birthday cakes for dogs.

All her dog treats are hand made with dog friendly ingredients using only natural human grade organic ingredients, including carob, as dogs should never eat chocolate.

Jenny’s dog treats include a Birthday gift box, which contains a large two-tier cake cookie, a large Happy Birthday bone with paw and heart detail, two gift cookies with bow detail, 12 peanut butter Mini Bites and two delicious Puppermint Donuts in vanilla and carob - all for €20.

If you would like to order any cakes, have a special request or special doggy dietary requirements, Jenny can also tailor make special goodies with a little help from Oscar of course!

You can check out all her canine goodies at

Welcome to Petfriendly Ireland

"My Ma and Da spend all their time on their laptops, so I thought I'd get in on the act and set up my own blog.

I'm Baxter the border collie, I'm 4 years old, and I live in Dublin with Nessa & Peter. Before I met them, I lived with a whole lot of other pals in the DSPCA pound in Rathfarnham. That was great craic, but I missed my comforts and the long stretches up and down the mountains. So when Peter and Nessa invited me home, I decided to try them out.

Three years later, here I am on the internet! I'll be telling you about the sort of things I get up to, the fancy places I've stayed and the great walks I've found. But don't be surprised if Nessa and Peter put their paws in ... I have to fight them for a go on the keyboard!

See you later, Baxter."