Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

They're baaaack! Fleas are once again climbing from their hiding cracks and crevasses and mounting an invading army with your pet as the target. Many pet owners wrestle with the same question every summer. Do I stick with the usual control that uses chemicals to kill the fleas, or is it time to try a natural control?

For animals who have had allergic reactions or other medical and sometimes life threatening reactions to over-the-counter flea control, the answer is simple. More and more owners are taking a look at natural flea control to avoid harsh chemicals found in many of the topical medications that are on the market. However, when it comes to battling an obnoxious pest that can also do bodily harm to your pet, some kind of flea control is essential. If you’re looking for alternative solutions, the news is good – with natural ways to combat the mighty flea.

As with any flea control, you have to be consistent and dedicated to stay ahead of flea infestations. Most natural control can take up to a month before you start to see results. Don't be discouraged. Find what works best for you and your pet, and implement several of the natural flea control solutions.

Apple Cider Vinegar makes the skin taste acidic to fleas, so don't substitute any other vinegar. Depending on the size of your water bowl, add one tablespoon per cup of water. Don't stop if your pet gives you “that look.” Animals adapt. If they refuse to drink the water, you can mix a 50/50 solution in a spray bottle and put it directly on your pet.

Brewers Yeast with Garlic is a favorite of mine because it can be used as a treat or put directly on their food. Not all pets like it, but those who do will wolf it down. Brewers yeast can be purchased in tablets or powder. It contains B vitamins, biotin, proteins and zinc, and can help improve your pet's blood, skin and immune system. Like apple cider vinegar, it works from the inside by giving the pet's skin an odor and taste not appreciated by fleas. If your pet won't eat brewers yeast, mix up 1/4 cup powered yeast in a quart of water and pour into a squirt bottle. Spray on your pet and work the yeast and water into their coat as you spray. You can also use powered yeast as a flea powder. Shake it over their coat, working it in as you dust.

Rosemary: To make a dip with rosemary, use two cups fresh herb to one gallon of warm water. If your dog is super-sized, you will have to adjust the amount for size. Steep the rosemary for 30 minutes in boiling water. Pour into a gallon of warm water and allow it to cool slightly. You want your mix to be warm, not hot. Pour over your pet and let them air dry for best results.

Lavender Essential Oil has been used in the past to treat anxiety in cats; however, I don't recommend this for cats as a natural flea control because it can build up and become toxic to them. For your dog, simply place a couple of drops at the base of their tail and the back of their neck after bathing them.

Lemon: Take two or three lemons and slice them rind and all. Drop into a quart of boiling water and let it set overnight. Strain out any pulp before using. Use this solution to sponge over your pet or put in a spray bottle. Let them air dry. Lemon can also help condition your pet's skin as well as repel fleas.

Raw Garlic should be used with care, as some animals tolerate it better than others. Never give raw garlic to your cat or dog unless you have checked with your vet first. Too much can make your cat anemic, and the jury is still out for dogs. Talk with your vet for specific dosage and any health concerns you need to be aware of before starting your pet on garlic. Fleas are nasty critters for your pet, but too much raw garlic can be equally damaging for your pet.

Keep in mind that natural flea control does not kill fleas or their eggs, it only repels them. When using any natural control, administer outside where the fleas can vacate your pet away from the cracks and crevices of your home.

As with any flea control, your pet's environment also needs to be kept clean. A thorough daily vacuuming will help keep fleas in check as well as remove any eggs. Make sure to vacuum the furniture too, and wash your pet's bedding regularly.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Monday, June 29, 2009

Litter Box Training Do’s and Don’ts

By Julia Williams

Cats are fastidious and intelligent creatures that instinctively cover their waste, which makes litter box training a kitten so much easier than house training a puppy. Score one for kitties in the “cats versus dogs” debate!

If you adopt a new kitten that was raised indoors with its Mama, it will most likely already be trained to use the litter box. However, if you are fostering young kittens for a shelter, raising a litter of kittens, or adopting one that isn’t using a cat box yet for some reason, you will need to do some training.

If you’re lucky, your litter box training might involve little more than placing the kitten in the box a few times. As I said, cats are smart (okay, maybe I am biased just a little) and they generally use their litter box right away. Nonetheless, there are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind. Establishing good litter box habits at an early age is the key to avoiding problems in the future.

Litter Box Do’s

* Choose an appropriate box. My friend adopted a kitten recently, and I went with her to pick it up. When we arrived at her house with kitten in hand, she showed me the litter box she’d bought. It was a splendid covered cat box with a flap door, just like the one I use for my cats. Unfortunately, the entrance is a good 8” from the floor – which is fine for an adult cat but definitely not a tiny six-week-old kitten! We both had a good laugh, and then we went out to get a kitten-sized litter box with low sides that her new little fur-baby could easily climb over.

* Choose the right cat litter. Kittens often taste their litter, and there is concern among some cat lovers that the clumping clay litter can harm their digestive systems. I don’t know anyone who’s experienced that, but if you want to err on the side of caution, there are several natural alternatives you can try. My favorite natural cat litter is made from finely ground corn; others include wheat, sawdust and pine pellets.

*Location, location, location. As in real estate, the location of your cat’s litter box is very important. It should be placed in an easily accessible area that’s relatively quiet and offers some privacy. Make sure the cat box is not located near appliances that make startling or loud noises, such as washing machines or refrigerators. If you have toddlers or dogs, put the litter box in an area that you can make off limits to them with a baby gate. This is to make sure kitty doesn’t get ambushed while doing his business, and also to keep curious hands and mouths out of the cat litter.

* Provide more than one litter box if you have several cats, or have multiple stories in your home that the kitten will have access to.

* Confine a young kitten to a small area until you know they are consistently using the litter box, particularly at night while you’re asleep.

* Take your kitten to the litter box throughout the day, particularly if you see it sniffing around as though looking for a spot to “go.” The first few times, you can very gently scratch the litter with the kitten’s paws to simulate the digging, although it’s not really necessary. When your kitten uses the litter box, it’s a good idea to praise and pet them, to let them know they did a good thing and you’re happy with them.

Litter Box Don’ts

* Accidents may happen. Never, ever punish your kitten by spanking or rubbing his nose in the mess. This only creates fear, distrust, and a cat that will grow up not wanting to be in your company. Be sure to clean the area they soiled with a product containing enzymes which remove the scent.

* Don’t change the type of litter if your kitten seems to like the one you have. If you do decide to try a new cat litter, mix it into the old litter gradually if the type of litter is compatible. For instance, when I switched from clumping clay to corn-based litter which is also a clumping type, I added a little of the new along with the old for several weeks.

* Don’t forget to clean the box regularly. For some cats, that may mean daily scooping.

* Don’t move the litter box to a new location suddenly. If you want to change the location, leave the old box where it is and place a second box in the new spot until your kitten is using it regularly.

* Don’t tempt fate by leaving a large potted plant at floor level. The dirt is attractive to kittens, and they might use it as a toilet or just have some fun digging in it.

Your litter box training should be a breeze if you remember three simple things: start early, stay consistent and provide a suitable environment for your “feline loo.”

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to Give Your Dog a Bath

By Anna Lee

Humans need to bathe to remove grime, dirt and dust from our skin. Dogs need to be bathed to remove the dirt and grime from their coats. Dogs do have a natural “doggie smell” which a bath will help improve. It is part of a regimen that is important for the health of your dog. Bath time is also an opportunity for you to check for anything unusual on your dog’s body such as a lump, a scratch, or a tick, as well as a great bonding experience.

A dog does not need a bath as often as a human does. It is not recommended that you give your dog a bath more than once a week. You will judge when your dog is in need of one. I know when my dog needs a bath as she gets that “doggie” odor!

Supplies You Will Need

Dog shampoo is formulated for dogs and is the only shampoo you should use. Do not use the shampoo you use for your hair, or baby shampoo, or your bath soap. These products will dry out your dog’s coat. There are a variety of specialized dog shampoos such as whitening shampoo to be used on white dogs to eliminate the touch of yellow they sometimes get. There is odor control shampoo which is good for dogs that spend a lot of time outside, dog shampoo for sensitive or dry skin, and medicated shampoo. Choose the one that is right for your particular dog’s needs.

Towels are a must! I purchased a micro bath towel for my dog, which absorbs a lot of water. It’s important to get your dog as dry as possible. If you don’t have a micro towel, a large towel of any type will work. Old beach towels make excellent dog towels.

If you trim your dog’s nails yourself, have the nail timer handy too. You might as well use the dog toothbrush and toothpaste as the final part of the job. Finish up by rewarding your dog with a CANIDAE® dog treat or two.

The Bath Process

In order to keep your dog relaxed, continually talk to your dog during the bath. Your voice will be a calming influence and it will take his mind off of what you are doing if he isn’t one who enjoys a bath. The best way to shampoo a large dog would be outside with the garden hose. First you should thoroughly wet the dog’s coat. Apply a liberal amount of shampoo to the dog and rub it in. Use your hands to make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. While doing that, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to check for lumps, scratches or anything out of the ordinary. Once well lathered, give the dog a thorough rinse. It is not necessary to lather the dog twice unless there had been a run in with a skunk! If you have a small dog and have a utility sink, that would be the perfect spot for a bath.

Ears and Nails

Once the dog is almost dry, this is a good time to check the ears for wax. Labs are prone to wax building up because they have very close set ears which does not allow for good air flow. Since you have the dog’s attention it is a good opportunity to check the nails. If you brush your dog’s teeth this is a good opportunity to take care of that.


By this point the dog is most likely getting a little bored with the bath game, and you are probably ready to put on dry shoes. Now it’s reward time! Take a few minutes to praise the dog for enduring the bath, throw his favorite toy or ball for him a few times and give him a dog biscuit as a reward. He will learn to associate bath time as a good thing.

A bath is necessary for the overall good health of your four legged pooch. If you follow the simple process outlined above, your dog will look good and smell nice – and be healthier, too. If, after all of this, you find it impossible to bathe your dog yourself, then go ahead and take him for a professional grooming. Check with your vet for a recommendation. The vet I use also has a groomer on staff for a reasonable price.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Does “Responsible Pet Ownership” Really Mean?

By Ruthie Bently

From time to time, CANIDAE puts “freebies” in their bags of food. The first bag of their food I bought had a magnetic calendar in it; the next bag I got had a bracelet in it. On one side it says “CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods” and on the other side it says “RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP.” I don’t need to be reminded what that means, however I wear it every day so it is always in my focus. But what does responsible pet ownership really mean?

It means doing everything you can to make sure that the pet you choose (or the pet that chooses you) has the best life you can provide for them. If you pick a puppy, it means regular vet visits for the first year with booster shots, having your puppy neutered or spayed if you're not a breeder, teething and everything else that owning a puppy entails. It means getting into a puppy class for training and socialization so you have a well-behaved dog. High quality food and fresh water daily are on the list too, and should be at the top. You need to provide proper teething and chewing toys for your pet, as well as toys for regular exercise. You may even want to consider giving your dog a job to do, as they thrive on variety in their lives.

Responsible Pet Ownership means dealing with ticks, fleas, heartworms, kennel cough and all the other parasites and diseases that may come along. It means regular grooming, bathing and toenail clipping. It could also include picking burrs and weed seeds out of paw pads and coats, so they do not imbed themselves and cause an infection or a matt in the fur. Responsible Pet Ownership means having a safe place for your pet to play outside, with proper shade and confinement, as well as fresh water.

If you adopt a “special needs” pet, it could mean dealing with daily medications, healing salves, physical rehabilitation, monthly vet visits, even sizing changes for a cart if that is what your dog needs to move around. Responsible Pet Ownership means being vigilant every hour of every day to keep your pet safe from environmental dangers that may be in your home and on your property that you may not even realize exist.

It means living with a sentient creature that loves you just because you are. They don’t care how long you spend away from home and dance around when you get back. They don’t care if you have had a bad day at work, they are just glad you are home. They snuggle with you when you are sick, and cuddle with you on cold winter nights. They will hog the blankets and the bed (if you let them). They get you to exercise and spend more time outside in the sun, the rain, the snow and everything in between. They give unconditional love, are non-judgmental and expect nothing in return. They make us better humans, because they can.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of an animal you choose to spend your life with. Just like us, they have quirks or oddities; whichever word you choose will suffice. That’s not important to them, as they just want to be with us. As a species, we are truly blessed if we have an animal or two (or more) in our lives. They make us better humans.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Friday, June 26, 2009

Understanding Dog Pack Hierarchy, and Why it Matters

By Linda Cole

Dogs are social animals with a well defined pack hierarchy. Like the wolf pack, each individual in the pack has its own place in that social order. Without a leader and parameters, a dog pack is confused, unstable and in constant conflict. Whether you are a pack of one dog or multiple canines, it's important to understand the structure of the pack in order to maintain your role as leader.

As pack leader, it's up to you to set rules and limitations for your dog. They are looking to their human alpha leader for consistent guidance and behavior you deem appropriate. A stable relationship is created when your dog understands what you expect from them.

A wolf pack hierarchy is made up of one alpha male and an alpha female. Next in line is the beta, and the omega is the lowest member of the pack. The other pack members fall in between the alpha and omega. The alpha male is the only one who leads and makes all the decisions that the entire pack follows, such as when and where to hunt, and when the rest of the pack can eat. He takes the best sleeping spots and is the only one allowed to mate with the alpha female. Any individual member who fails to obey the rules will be dealt with in a swift and appropriate manner. Those who refuse to follow pack laws are sometimes driven out in order to maintain stability.

Our dogs operate under the same hierarchy. They are born with an instinctive sense of pack mentality. Observe any litter of pups as they grow and mature. Dominate and submissive personalities begin to show as they play and interact with their litter mates. Mom keeps them in line with little nudges and nips around their neck and ears. These gentle reminders and punishments learned as pups will remain with them throughout their lives.

To establish yourself as top dog in the pack hierarchy, you have to first know which animal in your pack is the alpha. A female can be recognized by the pack as their alpha leader. Observe your dogs to see which one shows dominate behavior over the other dogs or yourself. Dominate behavior will include bumping, blocking, moving in between you and other dogs, standing alert with their tail held high (a sign of confidence), low growling whenever another dog comes near or making eye contact and holding it. Control the alpha, and you control the rest of the pack.

Never yell, hit, kick or spank any dog. It is not something they understand and will only create a more aggressive or fearful dog in the long run. You will certainly not gain any respect or trust. Respect can't be forced; you have to earn it by controlling your pack on their terms. You become the alpha by making all the decisions for the pack. You eat first, go through a doorway first, determine which dog gets attention and when it's given, win the tug of war game, sit and sleep in the prime spots, “move” a pack member out of your way instead of walking around or stepping over them. In other words, you establish yourself in the pack hierarchy as the alpha by controlling their basic needs and desires.

Dogs want to please us and be our protectors and companions. We create and allow unwanted behavior each time a member of our pack is allowed to misbehave with no consequences from the boss. A true alpha leader in the social order of the pack hierarchy would never allow misdeeds to go unpunished. This causes confusion and a breakdown in their social order which in turn creates an unstable pack.

The best way to show our pets just how much they mean to us is to treat them as rightful members in the pack hierarchy. Each one knows their place in the pack and you, as their alpha leader, have set the parameters and rules they will abide by. Stay calm, cool and assertive when you need to remind a rule breaker who the top dog is by administering appropriate and fair discipline. By learning how to lead, you are creating stable dogs who know their place and obey the wishes of the one who controls the pack.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Transport Dogs Safely in Pickup Trucks

By Julia Williams

The other day I was traveling on the freeway when I noticed the pickup truck in front of me had a beautiful chocolate lab bouncing from one side of the truck bed to the other. I was appalled to see that the dog was not tethered in the back of the truck! I’ll never forget the terrified look on the dog’s face as he struggled to maintain his balance and keep from flying out of the truck.

Transporting your dog untethered in the open bed of a pickup truck is an accident waiting to happen. When you let your dog ride loose in the back of your pickup, you endanger both your dog and other motorists. One quick turn, abrupt stop or unexpected bump in the road, and your dog can be catapulted into traffic. This can result in painful broken bones, bruises and road rash, and even death. If they do manage to survive the fall and oncoming traffic, it can cost thousands of dollars in veterinary bills to fix them up.

Letting your dog ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck is not only unsafe and potentially deadly for dogs, it’s illegal in some states. Most states that don’t yet have legislation in place to protect dogs from this dangerous practice, are working on it. Regardless of the law, responsible pet owners have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of their companion animals, both at home and on the road.

Some people believe that taking the dog with them is better than leaving them home alone. But consider this: having a lonely dog waiting for you when you get home is a million times better than having one get killed or injured from falling out of a pickup truck bed.

If you simply must take your dog with you in the back of your pickup truck, there are several different options for keeping your beloved canine companion safe. The safest is to buy a topper for the truck bed so your dog can ride in an enclosed area, protected from the road and wind hazards.

A large, sturdy dog crate (such as those required for airline transportation) is also a good option, provided that the crate is securely tied down to prevent it from sliding around the truck bed floor. Although these cost less than a truck bed topper, they can still run several hundred dollars or more depending on the size and type of crate you buy.

Another option is to secure the dog directly behind the truck’s cab by cross tethering. This is accomplished by securing a rope to each side of the truck, with a short leash attached in the middle for the dog. Be aware, however, that if the leash is too long, the dog could fall from the truck's rear and be dragged along the street.

Cross tethers designed specifically for restraining dogs in the backs of pickups can be found at most pet stores as well as online. A properly installed cross tether secures the animal to the truck in such a way that it can't go over the bed or choke itself. The safest (and most comfortable) way to cross tether your dog is with the addition of a padded harness. This prevents entanglement and limits the dog’s range of motion to ensure that he won’t choke.

The German Shepherd in the photo above is using the Kurgo K9 Truck Tether along with the Kurgo Smart Harness which is made from automotive seatbelt webbing. This tether and harness will fit all pickup trucks, and can also be fitted to the vehicle's seats to allow your dog to ride inside during inclement weather. Both of these together cost less than $50. That’s such a small price to pay to keep “man’s best friend” safe and sound while riding in the back of a pickup truck.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dealing with the Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia

By Anna Lee

Hip dysplasia is a common problem among large breed dogs; however, the diagnosis is no longer something to fear or shy away from. With the proper medication, weight control and exercise your dog can lead a normal and fun-filled life. I know because I have an 11-1/2 year old yellow lab that swims, runs, and enjoys life while living with hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that affects a dog’s hip joints. Obese dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia. Pet owners need to make sure they feed their dogs a high-quality food and treats to ensure proper nutrition and weight. It is common to find hip dysplasia in large dogs such as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

The hip joints, known as ball and socket joints, are what attach the dog’s hind legs to its body. Those joints need to rotate freely in order for the dog to walk normally. A dog’s hip joints are similar to those in humans. The most common way hip dysplasia is diagnosed is when the dog has a noticeable limp and is taken to the vet.

My lab, Abby, was diagnosed quite accidentally with severe hip dysplasia in 2001, when she was just shy of two years old. She had winced in pain while running through the woods. She hit the ground and stayed there for a while. When she stood up we knew she was in pain, as she was limping and whimpering. We took her to the vet, who told us she had ruptured the cruciate ligament in the left knee, which is a common knee injury. She was overweight by about 20 pounds at that time. The vet said to schedule surgery in a week and told us to put her on a diet. He wanted her to lose weight to help take some pressure off of her knee and help in her recovery.

We put her on a diet and a week later took her in for surgery. The vet told us they would take x-rays, operate on the knee and call us when she was in recovery. The doctor called me within an hour to tell me that the x-ray showed she also had extreme hip dysplasia in both hips and would probably not live to be 5 years old. This was not at all what I had expected to hear. Needless to say I was at my wits end. I don’t know how I got through until the next day when we picked her up.

Her recuperation from the knee surgery was excellent. I was told she would not put weight on the knee for a week. He didn’t know Abby very well, as she put weight on it two days later and was walking with just a slight limp after a few weeks. We also learned when a dog blows out one knee the second knee will follow suit.

A few months after the knee surgery we moved 700 miles to Tennessee. Three months later she blew out the other knee. We took her to a vet who was recommended as an expert in knee injuries. At least by then she had lost over 20 pounds and was in much better condition. I told the new vet about her previous knee surgery and also about the hip dysplasia. He said he would take x-rays and review her hips.

When we picked her up after surgery the vet said she did very well. We could see that, as she was walking out with him using all four legs! His procedure was much different from the first vet. Her scar is half the size and she was able to walk without a limp within a week. He also gave us the good news that her hips were not as bad as we had been told and we should just take it day by day.

Five years later she when she was about 7, the hip dysplasia started to rear its ugly head. She refused to get in the back of our SUV, which was the first clue. We took immediate action and drove her directly to the vet. We were living in a different area of Tennessee, therefore, a different vet yet again. This time we had a female vet and she said x-rays were needed but she was sure it was the hips giving her problems. We left her there for the x-rays, and when we picked her up later that day the vet showed us the film. We could clearly see how different her hip joints looked compared to what a normal joint looks like.

I was prepared for the worst, but the good news was that she did not need hip surgery. We discussed two medications and chose the one that fit her needs better. She gets 50 mgs once a day in a chewable tablet. Does she still have problems? Yes, and she always will. Her big problem areas are steep steps, sitting down and getting up. She walks fine and she runs like the wind. She can run around the pool at full speed, jump in for her Frisbee, swim to the steps and climb out. She can do that for hours on end. Without her meds she would not be able to be that active without a noticeable limp.

In 2001 we were told she would not be with us longer than 5 more years. Well, it’s 8 plus years later and she is living proof that with the right vet and the right medications, hip dysplasia is not the end of the world. The bottom line is this: get a second opinion or a third if necessary. Do your own research and then find a vet you can trust with your dog’s life. Don’t panic when you hear the diagnosis of hip dysplasia. With love, proper nutrition and medication, your dog can live a long and active life!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is Premium Dog Food Worth the Cost?

By Lexiann Grant

When looking at what it costs to feed your dog, it's important to understand that not all dog foods are created equal. Quality kibble can make your dog healthier and probably doesn't cost as much as some might think.

In the 1970s when I adopted my first puppy, I knew very little about dogs and dog food. I just purchased an inexpensive brand from the grocery store while shopping for my own food. I thought buying special flavors in appetizing packages equated being good to my dog.

Wrong. My first dog – a finicky eater – was excessively thin in body and coat, not good for an Afghan Hound. She also had digestive problems.

With my second dog I decided to try a different kibble. The one I chose was a bit better and cost a little more, but I was still clueless about what constituted a healthy product. This dog had ear infections, dry itchy skin and allergies her entire life. She was the only Afghan I knew who couldn’t run without tiring easily.

I had heard from some of my friends how expensive the premium dog foods were compared to the grocery store dog foods I was buying and was reluctant to spend what seemed like more money for the same number of pounds of dog food.

So I kept feeding the same kibble to the next four dogs my husband and I adopted. Every few weeks, one of the dogs was at the veterinarian’s for flaky skin, minor skin cysts, dirty ears, heavy shedding, mild respiratory infections or low energy. All the dogs had thin, dull coats and were generally lackluster. Despite my personal inclination to healthy, balanced eating, I just assumed the dogs’ food was nutritionally sound enough, and never really made the connection. Even though these conditions can have many different causes, I eventually decided that trying better foods was the easiest solution.

Before making the switch to better food, we were told repeatedly at dog shows that our Elkhound was “out of coat.” We kept waiting for him to grow the full adult coat as he aged. Extra portions, vitamins, oils, herbs, and unusual supplements added to his inexpensive food did not make that happen.

Finally another handler asked what we fed, and suggested trying a premium food. I started researching ingredients, pet food standards and labeling practices. I realized that if you compared a premium dog food pound for pound to things we all buy in the grocery store, it's really not that expensive. Here's an example. At Walgreens a 14 ounce box of Cheerios costs $4.50, so 30 pounds of Cheerios would be about $150! Cheerios is mostly grains, corn starch and sugar. A 30 pound bag of super-premium pet food like CANIDAE costs about $34 where I live so it costs just a little more than a dollar a pound. A typical dog eats less than a pound a day, so feeding a premium food can easily cost less than a dollar a day.

After I figured all this out for myself, I picked CANIDAE as the dog food to try. It was affordable, and it also finally improved my Elkhound's fur! At the shows, we received compliments on how great our dog’s coat looked, and were asked what food we fed. My husband’s reply: “CANIDAE. It’ll grow hair on a bowling ball.”

Long before I became a CANIDAE Responsible Pet Ownership blogger, I fed CANIDAE because diet is everything; it is the foundation for good health.

In this brutal economy, it’s necessary to save money. But cutting corners on pet food won’t net any savings. That’s because less expensive products use lower quality ingredients. Pennies saved on kibble can turn into big bucks spent at the vet’s.

“Premium” in dog food means a higher standard in nutrition and quality of ingredients. Pound for pound, the price of premium food is higher. But each serving contains more nutrients that are more nutritionally available than in a cheaper food, making premium kibble the better buy. With more nutrients in every bite, dogs do not need to eat as much premium food as they would a brand containing fillers and by-products.

Want help including premium kibble in your budget? Check out the handy new calculator that figures the daily cost of feeding CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods based on your dog’s weight. Go to www.canidae.com/cost-to-feed-canidae/. From the pull-down menus, answer the four questions about which formula and size bag you feed (or would like to try), your dog’s weight and the amount your pet supply store charges for the selected product. Then click the “calculate” button to see how affordable premium dog food really is.

Although no single dog food is right for every dog, premium foods like CANIDAE make a positive difference. Remember, you get what you pay for: high quality food can equal better health.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dogs Never Stop Chewing

By Ruthie Bently

I recently bought Skye a sterilized natural bone, and she was in her yard chewing on it when a friend came over. He asked me how old Skye was and I replied that she would be four this summer. That surprised him, because she was still chewing. After all she had all her permanent teeth, so he wanted to know why she was still chewing. As he had never owned a dog and wanted to understand, I explained that it doesn’t matter how old a dog is; they never stop chewing.

Dogs never stop chewing. Sounds funny doesn’t it? But the truth is that while dogs stop teething, they never stop chewing. This should come as no surprise to anyone who owns any dog that is used for hunting or retrieving, as they are very oral by nature. Most Retriever and Terrier owners I know have a good supply of nylon bones or chewies to keep their four legged kids busy.

Dogs’ teeth are not visible when they are born, and 28 puppy teeth begin coming in between three to six weeks of age. This is when a puppy begins to chew. They start losing their puppy teeth by the age of thirteen weeks. Dogs’ adult teeth (they have 42) begin coming in between the age of two and seven months. So you could see some heavy duty chewing between the ages of three weeks to seven months. The chewing will slow down as they get older, but it never stops completely.

Dogs can’t pick up things with their paws the way we do with our hands, so they use their mouths to taste and test the things they pick up. They are curious, so it doesn’t matter if it is the TV remote, a cell phone, glasses or a shoe on the floor; they have to check it out. Chewing helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and is a good addition to brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. So if you have a good supply of nylon bones, sterilized natural bones and other chewies you can keep your dog (and yourself) happy, as they won’t be looking for things that they shouldn’t be chewing and that could be dangerous for them.

I have observed that dogs will work out frustrations when they are chewing. When Skye can’t find a favorite chew toy, she will go after a “non-approved” dog toy. That usually means a plastic drink bottle or cottage cheese container; though it has included wood logs and shoes. She takes the plastic out of the recycle bin and the wood out of the wood box because she can reach them. I would rather that she picked a dog toy, but she just wants something in her mouth and is too lazy to go looking for a real toy. She has a toy box outside and one inside as well, so it isn’t like she can’t find anything to suit her. Skye knows that it’s not a dog approved item, so she could be doing it for the attention factor as well. All I know is that Skye needs to chew.

One way to help your own canine chewer is to have duplicate chewing toys around the house in different rooms, as well as some toys that are designated outside chewing toys. An outside chewing toy would be one that you would not want leaving grease on your leather sofa, or that may get sticky during chewing and leave gooey bits around the house that are difficult to clean up.

Remember, our dogs are like children in that they should not be left alone with any toy no matter how safe you think they might be. You should always supervise your dog with any toy that you choose to allow them to have. By carefully supervising the toys your dog chews, you shouldn’t have the same issues that we have had with Skye and hopefully you can learn from our mistakes. As they say: “forewarned is forearmed.”

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Saturday, June 20, 2009

How to Keep an Indoor Cat Happy

By Julia Williams

Until recently, I didn’t believe an indoor cat could be happy. I thought that “depriving” a cat of the outdoors would surely make them depressed, lethargic and overweight. I saw how much my own country kitties enjoyed climbing trees, fences and trellises, lounging in the garden, and hunting the ever-prolific gophers on our five acre field.

Then we moved back to the small town of my childhood, and my cats became primarily indoor cats. They were scared at first, and hid in the bedroom closet for a week. I wasn’t going to let them go out for at least a month anyway. When they finally did come out of the closet, my California born-and-raised cats took one sniff of the cool Montana air and must’ve decided then and there that being indoors suited them just fine. And when the snow came, it pretty much sealed the deal.

I worried that they’d hate being inside and cease to be the joyful kitties I knew and loved, but soon realized that my concerns were unwarranted. In fact, to my surprise they now show little interest in going outside, even when offered the opportunity. I did make some adjustments to their indoor environment however, to make it as kitty-hospitable as possible. The key to keeping an indoor cat happy, it seems, is providing them with plenty of stimulation and attention, along with an enriched environment.

So what does that entail, exactly? I keep my indoor kitties stimulated by having lots of different cat toys for them to play with. I bring home a huge bag of Christmas clearance cat toys from my local pet store every January, and rarely spend more than $10. Some of those toys have a holiday theme of course, but the cats don’t know the difference or care, and neither do I.

The important thing to remember about cat toys is that every kitty is different; for example, mine go crazy for furry mice but get bored with balls in a nanosecond. If I buy assortments that have balls in them I give those to my sister, whose cats love to bat balls. Soon enough you’ll discover which types of toys your cat likes best, and you can get more of those.

Another other thing to keep in mind is that you need to rotate your cat toys frequently. Once a week I swap out all the toys with others that I keep in the “cat toy drawer.” In a feline’s world, this is like getting brand new toys to play with every week.

I also buy them toys that require human participation – like mice-on-a-stick, lasers, and cat “fishing” poles – which accomplishes both the stimulation and attention aspect. I also try to give each of my three cats my undivided attention every day, no matter how busy I am. I brought these cats into my family because I wanted to give them love and a good home, and I owe it to them to pay attention to them. Now that they’re primarily indoor cats, they are a bit needier and they crave more attention than they did before, so I adjusted to accommodate them.

Besides playing with them, you can also give your cats attention by having petting sessions, lap time, and grooming time. As with the toys, you need to discover what your cat likes the most, and do more of that. Annabelle loves to be brushed and combed (that’s an understatement), so this is what I do for her time. Mickey loves to sit on my lap, so I let him, even if it means I have to sit two feet away from my keyboard. Rocky prefers plain vanilla petting, so he gets that.

The third aspect to keeping an indoor kitty content is an enriched environment. In other words, you need to provide things besides toys that make them happy. My cats like to lie on the back of the sofa and watch the birds, so I placed a comfy sheepskin kitty mat there to contain the cat hair. You can also buy window perches that accomplish the same thing. You might want to get them a cozy cat bed or cat “donut” to sleep in, too. If your kitty likes to nibble on grass, it’s easy to grow special cat greens for them.

Cat towers and cat condos are a great way to provide your cat with a place to nap, scratch, climb, play and perch, all in one day! It’s also a good idea to provide your indoor cat with various scratching surfaces— I have several styles of corrugated cardboard scratchers, as well as a carpeted scratching post. I’ve learned that when it comes to cats, you really can’t have too many scratching posts!

My cats are probably not as happy indoors as they were outdoors, but they are happy enough. Given that indoor cats live longer and are typically healthier, that is good enough for me.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Friday, June 19, 2009

Body Language of Dogs

By Linda Cole

As pack leader of multiple dogs, it's our responsibility to keep our animals stable and free from aggression by other members of our pack. We can hear a bark, growl or whimper which can signal a change in a dog's temperament. Body language will also give us a clue something is wrong that has upset or frightened a member of our pack. Just as we display happiness, anger, fear and even aggression in our face and body language, a dog will also have visible signs showing how they are feeling.

Dogs communicate and interact with each other through body language. They use this knowledge with us, as well. My pack understands when it's time to go outside because of certain movements and actions I take. That's the signal they are watching for and they respond with no spoken words from me.

People, especially children, can be injured when they don't understand what the dog is trying to say to them. Children can and should be taught how to determine a dog's state of mind by observing its body language. Watch your dogs closely when any children, including your own, are playing with or simply petting them. Not all dogs like to be petted, especially around the head and ears. Some feel intimidated with a hug, being laid on or wrestled with. Bites can be stopped before they happen when you and the child recognize and understand when the dog is saying, “I've had enough and it's time to back off.”

A dog who rolls over on its back with the tail tucked between his legs is in a submissive position. Lip-licking helps reduce stress and show others they are being compliant. Crouching down with their butt in the air says “I want to play.” Eye contact, especially if it's intense or an actual stare, can indicate this dog is ready to rumble. A dominate dog is always ready to challenge authority in the pack, but they will respect and honor commands as long as your body language indicates you are leader of the pack.

A confident dog holds his tail erect with a gentle slow wag. He stands or sits tall and erect, head held high. You can see his ears are pricked up as he listens and the eyes are relaxed looking with no “whites” showing. The body language of this dog says “Everything is cool and I feel good.”

An aggressive dog stiffens in his body and legs. His tail will be lower and held out straight. He may or may not signal his displeasure with a growl. Ears are flattened against his head and the head will be lowered. His hackles, the hair on his back, rump and around the shoulders, will be raised. Angry eyes stare intently and become narrowed. The lips may be curled into a snarl.

The fearful animal may be hard to predict. Fear in any species can make that individual unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A fearful dog has its tail tucked between their legs or it may hang straight down with a wag that is fast and uncertain. The back is arched and his head and rear are lower. The legs are slightly bent. He may turn his head away and look out of the corner of his eyes showing the whites of the eye while trying to avoid looking at what's causing the concern or fear.

A strong pack leader understands members of the pack need to be allowed to settle small differences on their own. However, when a dog's body language indicates a fight could be brewing, it's time to step in and remove the offending dog for a brief cooling off period. It’s a refocusing of the mind, if you will.

Dogs are only concerned with what's going on right now. An aggressive or fearful dog can return to a confident and feeling good pet in a matter of seconds. Dogs will respect a pack leader who stays cool under pressure and responds to the needs and safety of the group by being assertive, consistent and fair to all members of the pack. Understanding body language of dogs allows you to step in and stop problems before they arise. Maintaining a healthy, happy pack is as simple as watching what your dog is trying to tell you.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Great Ways to Pamper Your Pet

By Julia Williams

My mother once informed me that my three cats were spoiled rotten. At first her comment irked me, but then I realized it was true. I also realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling them! People who love their pets want to treat them in a way that makes the animal happy and enriches its life. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a pet? Besides, no amount of pampering could ever equal the amount of love and joy they add to my life.

Then too, what one person sees as pampering might seem like a necessity to another. In my frugal mother’s eyes, feeding my cats a premium food like FELIDAE® is a waste of money. However, I know that this high-quality, all natural food is worth every penny because it improves my cats’ health and extends their lives. So while she may think I “spoil” them with cat food that costs more than the cheap supermarket fare, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Besides feeding your dog or cat good food, there are countless other ways to pamper your pet. Here are just a few:

1. Give them your undivided attention by petting and grooming them, talking to them and hugging them. While some people insist that cats are too independent to want or need attention, I have to disagree. I’ve had many different feline companions over the years, and not one of them was aloof or indifferent to my doting ways. It’s true that every cat has a distinct personality, and some enjoy the attention more than others, but they all enjoy it nonetheless.

The best thing about pampering your pet with attention is that it’s free. Dogs and cats that are petted and loved on a daily basis will be happier and better behaved. A gentle brushing of their fur is something almost every pet loves. Once a week, you could give your pet a soothing body massage, too. Don’t laugh – massaging your pet increases circulation and makes their coat shine – and most dogs and cats really seem to love it!

2. Pamper your dog or cat with a nice cozy pet bed. Since they spend the better part of their day sleeping (or at the very least, relaxing in a half-awake state), providing them with a comfy bed is really not so much pampering as it is a necessity. An added bonus for you is that a bed of their own keeps the pet hair contained to one primary spot. A heated pet bed is great if you have an older, arthritic dog or cat. They're safe to use, and the gentle heat will soothe their joints.

3. Dog sweaters and coats may seem silly and superfluous to some people, but many short-haired breeds do get chilly going outdoors in winter. For these dogs, a sweater or coat is not a fashion statement – it’s a practical way to keep them warm and dry.

4. Treats can be a great way to pamper your pet, provided you don’t overdo it. A fat pet is not a healthy pet, so give them treats only once in awhile, and make sure to factor the treat into their daily food allotment. Bits of plain cooked chicken or turkey, or freeze-dried liver, chicken and fish treats that have no additives or preservatives are the healthiest treats you can give your pet.

Homemade dog biscuits and cat treats are also healthy ways to pamper your pets, and they’re easy to make. I have two “pet recipe” books that I use, and there are some good recipes on the internet as well. If you'd rather buy your dog treats, try the SNAP-BISCUITS® made by CANIDAE®.

5. Toys are an inexpensive way to pamper your pet, and they can help them get some exercise, too. The nice thing about both dogs and cats is that they’re pretty easy to please when it comes to toys. In general, anything that keeps them safely amused instead of looking around for trouble, is a good toy to get.

The main thing to keep in mind is that pampering your pet should be all about what your pet likes, rather than what you want. And you don’t need to be able to speak "dog" or “cat” to tell the difference! Pamper your pooch or spoil your kitty with the things that make them happy, and you'll be rewarded with a lifetime of unconditional love and joy. In my eyes, that’s a pretty darn good trade.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to Find Pet Friendly Rental Cabins and Vacation Homes

By Anna Lee

Are you anxious to take a vacation in the mountains and stay at a beautiful, authentic log home? Perhaps you are a beach person and would love a carefree condo steps from the water? Or is a week at the lake where you can relax, read a book or do some fishing something you would like to try? You want to take the dog with you no matter which vacation home you choose. How do you find a vacation rental to suit all your needs, including being pet friendly? That’s no longer a problem, as there are thousands of pet friendly mountain rental cabins, lake cottages and vacation homes across the United States. You just need to know how to search for them.

I recently made reservations for lodging in Beaufort, SC. I found a great house with a private dock close to all the action in town. It has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a full kitchen, dining area and living room. But what were the words that attracted me to the ad for that home? Pet friendly!! I found it on VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner), a site I have been using for many years. It’s very easy to use, and I know you will find what you are looking for.

Start by going to VRBO.com, where the first page has a map of the United States. Click on the state you are interested in, which takes you to a map of that state with various areas noted. Example: when I clicked on South Carolina the next screen had choices such as Charleston or Beaufort. I clicked on Beaufort. Click on the area’s name and the next page will start the list of available rentals. Not all of the rentals on VRBO are pet friendly. If the unit is pet friendly, you will see a blue pet friendly symbol (dog’s paw) on the right hand side. Skim down the list and read the descriptions such as 3BR/2BA with dock, 2BR/1BA Oceanside cottage, or an A-frame on the lake with row boat included. They also give a price range of each particular rental.

When you spot one that sounds interesting, just click on it and the next page is a storehouse of information. There will be photos of the property, usually inside and outside shots, so you get a good idea of what the place will look like. That’s important information in our case. If a home has very steep steps, or a lot of steps, then it’s not right for us. There will be a complete description of the location and all the amenities. As you venture down the page you will find more photos, more pricing information and local activities. You will know if they have a washer and dryer, how many TV’s and what size beds in each bedroom. If you have questions, you can send an e-mail to the owner. I have never had to wait longer than 24 hours to get a response from an owner. There is also a ‘comment’ section so you can read what the previous guests thought about the rental.

Vacation Rentals By Owner is just what the title implies. The vacation rentals are owned by individuals who rent the property themselves, using VRBO to advertise them. They pay a fee to VRBO for the service. Most of the pet friendly property owners are pet owners themselves, and understand the need for pet friendly lodging.

In past years we rented a small cottage in Andrew, North Carolina for a 4-day stay. I found a rental cottage on Coosaw Island, SC. We liked it so much we went there two years in a row. I found a rental in Pleasure Bluff, GA where we had access to a huge double story dock and a golf cart. All of those rentals had very friendly owners who made a point to stop by and say hello and make sure we had everything we needed. The owners of the Pleasure Bluff home gave us several pounds of shrimp our first day there. It was a Sunday and the fish market was not open, and we were craving shrimp for dinner. Many of the rentals will give you a discount if you return the following year.

There are other ways to search for pet friendly rentals. All you need to do is Google “pet friendly vacation rentals in Beaufort, SC,” for example, and you will get a list of homes. However, in my years of doing this I found that VRBO is the only site I need to use for vacation planning.

When you are ready to plan your vacation get-a-way, turn to VRBO.com – it is the best and easiest way to locate a pet friendly vacation home. You have my paw print on that!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summertime, Fleas and Seasonal Allergies: Be Prepared

Spring is turning into summer, and nipping at its heels are the nasty fleas and seasonal allergies that warm weather can bring. While feeding an all natural, holistic dog food like CANIDAE helps maintain the health of our pets from the inside, it is important that we do our part to help fight fleas and seasonal allergens from the outside. So, if you're scratching your head wondering how to keep your pet from scratching this year, keep reading.

Pets scratch themselves because their skin is irritated. This irritation is almost always from allergies. By far, the most common two allergies dogs and cats suffer from are allergies to flea bites and allergies to particles they inhale, especially in spring and summertime.

About Flea Allergies

Let's look at flea allergies first, as this is the most common type of pet allergy. Keeping up with flea control is critical to protect pets from flea allergy dermatitis. Starting treatment early is the best way to keep the problem under control. Just because a diagnosis of flea allergy is made does not mean that the pet is infested with fleas yet. Flea allergies tend to be very strong, and a dog or cat can become very itchy even after being bitten by a single flea.

The pattern of itchiness is typically the back of the neck and the base of the tail for both cats and dogs. If pets have a flea infestation, they will be itchy everywhere because of the fleas themselves and the reaction to the bites. A serum test or skin test will confirm a diagnosis of flea allergy. In many climates, year round flea prevention is necessary. In areas with hard freezes that last through the winter months, prevention may be stopped and started again when the thaw begins (get advice from your veterinarian).

It is easy to control flea allergy dermatitis by using a product like a medicated shampoo, one of the popular topical treatments, a monthly oral flea control medicine or even all natural flea controls that avoid the use of chemicals which may further irritate sensitive pets. In any case, when choosing a flea control product for your pet, always start with your veterinarian’s recommendation.

About Inhaled Allergies

The other common pet allergy, inhaled allergens of many different types, will cause your pet to be very itchy and often have watery eyes or sneeze frequently. These allergies are often seasonal, but can be year round in the case, for example, of dust mites, food storage mites, and carpet fibers. Just as with humans, many inhaled allergies are seasonal, especially with molds and pollens.

Other offenders that can also be seasonal are the chemicals we use in our own yards and gardens. Even though we all read the labels to make sure the products are safe for use around our pets, some animals may be too sensitive to tolerate even small amounts of garden sprays. Seasonal allergies are best diagnosed by serum or skin tests. They can be managed with allergy shots or oral medications, just like for people with seasonal allergies. Allergy medication alone usually doesn't eliminate all the symptoms of seasonal allergies, but it helps. Vacuuming your carpets frequently and keeping windows closed can reduce the levels of allergens in your home. Some pet owners even buy expensive air filtration systems to rid their home of allergens.

Other Allergies

Some people think of food when trying to find the cause of pet allergies. It's actually the least likely cause, with veterinarians reporting food as the cause of skin allergies only about 5% of the time. If your vet has ruled out the likely causes of fleas or seasonal allergens, then consider that dogs can develop allergies to other insects, specific people, perfumes or soaps, cats, or even other dogs. Remember, allergies generally only occur after repeated exposure to the allergen. If your dog or cat has a new allergy, it is probably a reaction to something they have been exposed to for a long time.

Knowledge is Power

Whatever treatment you decide, it is important to know first what is causing your pet's allergies. This will help you and your veterinarian decide how best to combat the problem and find some lasting relief for your pet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog

By Linda Cole

Most dog owners have faced a begging dog sitting at our feet as we eat a meal or snack. Even though we know our food isn't particularly healthy for them, we still toss a choice tidbit every now and then. If you are among the many who can't resist those begging eyes staring up at you, keep in mind there are certain foods you should never feed your dog under any circumstances. Food that is safe for us can be deadly for your pet.

Chocolate tops the list of foods you should never feed your dog. The darker it is, the more deadly for your pet. Chocolate affects your dog's nervous system and heart, and can cause seizures and death. Depending on a dog's size and weight and how dark the chocolate is, a small amount won't hurt them, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that so far is unknown and can cause kidney failure. Just a few grapes or raisins can be deadly for your pet.

Onions and garlic, whether raw, powdered or cooked, can cause anemia by destroying red blood cells. Some people swear garlic helps control fleas, but great caution needs to be taken if you have or are now using garlic as a flea control. It's not as toxic as onions, but can cause anemia over a prolonged period of time.

Macadamia nuts and walnuts, like grapes and raisins, are foods you should not feed your pet. They are high in phosphorous which can lead to bladder stones. They can also cause muscle tremors and even paralysis. Organic peanut butter is fine to give to your dog if they like the taste of nuts. Most dogs love peanut butter. Stick with organic, however, to avoid overloading your pet with sugar and pesticides found in regular peanut butter.

Cooked bones of any kind, especially fish bones, can splinter easily and get lodged in your pet's throat or digestive system. Raw bones like the round stew bones that can be found at the grocery store are fine, but watch to make sure your dog doesn't swallow one whole. Once it begins to crack or splinter, throw it away.

Fruit with pits, like peaches or apples, are okay for your pet to eat, but the pit or seeds have cyanide in them. Do not let your pet chew on any fruit pits or seeds. Seeds from apples or cherries can lodge in your dog's intestines and cause severe damage quickly.

Raw eggs are a great source for salmonella. They can also manifest skin problems created by an enzyme, avidin, that is present in the raw egg. This enzyme slows absorption of a B vitamin called biotin. Vitamins are essential for healthy skin and coat and help build strong muscles and aid in growth.

Other foods you should not feed your dog: tomato leaves and stems, potato leaves and stems, avocados, nutmeg, salt, persimmons, mushrooms (except for shitaki, maitake or reishi) and sugar – not even organic. Honey and molasses in small amounts are fine. Avoid raw red meat high in fat. Cut out excess fat before feeding to your pet. Raw red meat is fantastic for cats and dogs. No raw fish or chicken.

Our dogs are notorious beggars. If in doubt about a certain food, just don't give it to them. Make sure your pet doesn't root through the garbage can inside or out while you are away. It's our job to know which foods we should never feed our dogs. They don't know and will more than likely eat just about anything we offer them or nab what they can dig out of the garbage can.

If your dog does manage to eat something you know they should not have eaten, call your vet immediately. It can make the difference between a healthy pet and a seriously ill pet in a life threatening emergency.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Grain Free Cat Food - New From CANIDAE

By Ruthie Bently

I am thrilled to be able to impart this news to my readers. CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods is introducing two new formulas to their FELIDAE® line of cat foods, and they are both grain free. FELIDAE Grain Free Cat and Kitten is made with chicken, turkey and fish meals, and fresh lamb. The other formula is FELIDAE Grain Free Salmon and the salmon is wild-caught from the Pacific Ocean.

Like the CANIDAE Grain Free ALS for dogs, both formulas are grain free and the protein comes from 80% meats and 20% fruits and vegetables. Not only that, they also include essential antioxidant vitamins and amino acid chelated minerals. The formulas contain carefully balanced Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids with a 5 to 1 ratio for optimal nutrition, and guaranteed viable micro-organisms and cranberries for urinary tract health. These formulas are a win-win for any cat that eats them.

I have been associated with the pet industry since 1976, and am very happy to be working with a company that pays attention to the needs and requests of its customers and their pets. Jason Castillo from CANIDAE recently commented on the new formulas, “Cat owners have been asking for all natural grain free diets. Since cats generally require a higher level of protein than dogs, we feel grain free makes a lot of sense for felines. So, we’re very proud to once again deliver what our customers have asked for by offering two new wholesome and nutritious high quality cat foods that are completely grain free.”

I can personally attest to the palatability of the new FELIDAE formulas. I was lucky enough to be able to try the new formulas on my own cats. When I first put my AmStaff Skye on the CANIDAE Grain Free ALS, I couldn’t keep the cats out of her dish. I had to feed Skye in her crate, so I was delighted when I got small bags of the FELIDAE Grain Free formulas to try on the cats. The cats knew that what the delivery man dropped off was for them, and I could not keep them away from the boxes containing the new food before they were even opened.

I tried to gradually introduce the new formulas one at a time by mixing them in with the regular FELIDAE Cat & Kitten that my cats were eating. They decided that they wanted the new formulas rather than what they were eating, and started picking out the new formula, even though it was mixed in with their regular food. I do not free feed my cats and they get a bowl of food in the morning and one in the evening, and the queue at the feeding dish would have been an unbelievable sight if I hadn’t known what had been the cause.

So if you get the chance the next time you are in your local independent retailer of CANIDAE, stop in and pick up a bag of the new FELIDAE Grain Free Cat & Kitten food; I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Friday, June 12, 2009

Proper Veterinarian Care – Lady Bird

First and foremost I would like to thank those of you who offered your prayers and best wishes for Lady Bird. I thought I should share with you how she is doing.

I can’t stress enough the importance of working with a highly qualified veterinarian who cares about your pet almost as much as you do. If it weren’t for VCA All-Care Animal Referral Center in Fountain Valley, California, I can’t say what the outcome would have been. Even though it’s an hour drive each way, they have highly qualified specialists on staff as well as a state of the art facility that made it all well worth it.

Lady Bird spent 48 hours in intensive care and in an oxygen tank. She was on intensive medications to remove the fluid buildup around her heart and lungs. It was touch and go the whole time but the caring staff never gave up and offered her the proper treatment she needed. All-Care allows visits even after hours so I went down to visit her. As I was waiting to go in the back room I heard Lady Bird's little familiar bark, I think she knew I was there. The nice vet tech brought me in the back to where Lady was in the recovery room. Lady lit up when she saw me and was wagging her tail. The vet tech laid out a mat on the floor so I could sit down and spend some quality time with Lady. She was aware but very weak and fragile. I spent over an hour just being with her as I knew it could possibly be the last time. The hardest thing was to say goodbye and leave her behind. I laid awake all night fearing the dreaded call that she had passed, thank God it never came.

I called first thing in the morning and they informed me that she had made it through the night and if everything went well she could come home that night. What a feeling of relief! I was able to go down that night and get her. They gave her the following medications that I am to give her twice per day: Spironolactone, Pimobendin, Enalapril, Furosemide, Clavamox, and Maxiguard oral gel. It was quite challenging in the beginning due to the fact her appetite was off due to all she had been through. She was very weak for a week or so and then started to show signs of improvement. She has been back to the vet twice to monitor her blood work to make sure her kidneys can handle the medications. She just got back and the vet was amazed at her progress. She couldn’t believe how well Lady looked and how good she is doing. Lady is back going to work with me every day and sharing sleeping duties on the staff's laps. She is energetic, happy and doing well! I spend as much time with her as I can and cherish every moment I have with her.

by Scott Whipple – CANIDAE Pet Foods

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What to Pack for a Road Trip with Your Dog

By Anna Lee

You made your reservations at a pet friendly lodging. You feel confident that the room you reserved will be comfortable and safe for you and your pet. Before you close the trunk and hit the road, you should make sure you have everything you need for yourself and your dog. I won’t be so bold as to tell you what you need for yourself, but I do have some suggestions for things to pack for your dog!

* Food - This would include dry or canned dog food, whatever you normally use. If you plan to be gone a week, make sure to take a week’s worth of food. You do not want to run out of your favorite brand like CANIDAE®, and not be able to locate it in a strange town.

* Treats – If your dog is accustomed to getting treats at certain times of the day or for certain actions, make sure you continue that practice on vacation. Dogs are creatures of habit.

* Leash – Most places have leash laws. Don’t let your dog out of the vehicle until the leash is firmly attached. A few seconds of safety can save your dog’s life.

* Medications – Again, whatever meds your dog is taking, make sure to pack a sufficient supply for the trip. I purchased one of those 7 day pill containers for myself and realized that it would be perfect for the dog’s pills. For her pills I bought the large size container. Make sure to buy a different color container so you don’t get the two mixed up!

* Water and bowl – I always have a bowl and a container of water in the car. Having those with me means I don’t have to hunt around for a water supply at a rest area or gas station.

* Bedding – Take your dog’s bed, blanket or whatever it is he normally sleeps on. It will give him a secure feeling while in the vehicle as well as at your destination. If your dog rides on the backseat, then put the bedding there. If your pooch travels behind the back seat in an SUV, put it here for him. My dog always rides behind the back seat in our SUV where she is safe.

* If your dog normally sleeps in a crate and you have a portable one, be sure to take it.

* Proof of Rabies vaccination – This is the one most important document to have in case something untoward happens. Also make sure your dog’s rabies tag is attached to his collar.

* Micro Chip – If your dog has a micro chip make sure he is wearing the tag. I had Abby micro chipped several years ago since we travel a lot.

* Flea and Tick protection – I recommend putting flea and tick protection on prior to leaving for a trip. I usually apply it two days before the trip.

Note: If I plan to be gone for 7 days I usually take enough food and medications for two extra days. You never know when an emergency weather situation may extend a trip, or I may decide to stay another day or two.

Taking your dog on a road trip or vacation can be a rewarding experience for all involved. Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, so make sure to keep the feeding times the same. Try to take the dog for a walk as close as you can to its normal time. Feel free to use this list as a guide and modify it to your dog’s particular needs. Save and happy travels!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Digital TV: Better Viewing for Dogs?

By Lexiann Grant

Do dogs watch television? If so, can they really see images on the screen? And, do they enjoy it? If they don’t now, HDTV, or the June 13th, 2009, switch to digital signal might turn more dogs into regular viewers. Move over Nielsen!

Although a dog's eye is somewhat similar to a human's, canine vision is quite different. Dogs see in dim light and detect motion better than people. According to Dr. Mike Richards, DVM, and host of VetInfo.com, dogs also see flickering light better, which may cause them to view "television as a series of moving frames rather than as a continuous scene."

Dogs do see something when they look at television, but what they perceive is – and probably shall always remain -- a mystery. "There is little doubt that dogs see the images. The real question is how they process the information and what it means to them," said Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, VMD, a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Owners say their dogs watch other dogs, wolves or animals like horses, large cats, birds and deer on television, often running behind the TV set to see if the animals are back there. Some people note that their dogs like shows with "lots of motion," such as westerns and sports. Other people say their dogs dislike commercials or talk shows, responding to these broadcasts by growling, and even head-butting or biting the screen.

How shows are broadcast also makes a difference to canine viewers. HDTV, which has higher-resolution pictures and clearer images linked with smoother motion, should be more easily seen by dogs. "HDTV could enhance dogs' viewing pleasure," said Paul Noble, co-author of 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You To Know."

Dr. Susan McLaughlin, DVM, a veterinary ophthalmologist at Purdue University, said her own dog "responds noticeably" to other animals on television. “I don’t think dogs look at TV all that differently than looking out a window at the world,” she explained, “It's my observation that dogs act like they can see TV, but not everything interests them -- they are rather discerning viewers."

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Basic First Aid Supplies For Your Dog

By Linda Cole

If you have dogs, there are some basic first aid supplies you should keep on hand for minor accidents. Just like humans, our pets sometimes need a “band aid” for a minor wound. By keeping supplies on hand to treat your pet, you can save yourself an expensive trip to the vet. Products already sitting in your medicine chest or kitchen cupboard can be used to treat the majority of minor ailments your pet may encounter.

Most medicine cabinets contain over the counter creams and salves we use for minor wounds. Some of these products can also be used on your pets. Always monitor your pet after using any kind of medication for adverse effects, whether you use human medication or medicine made especially for animals.

Triple antibiotic is fine to use on minor cuts and scrapes your dog may get. As with any topical ointment, follow package instructions for use. Follow the same precautions you would if you were treating your child or yourself. If swelling, tenderness or redness occurs, discontinue use and seek medical attention with your vet.

A cream especially for cats and dogs that I keep on hand is a product called Biocaine. It's an antiseptic first aid lotion for cats and dogs that helps prevent infection, reduce pain, swelling and licking. It's also non-staining, so if your little buddy jumps up on the couch, it won't leave a greasy smudge.

Liquid vitamin E does wonders for calming hot spots. Simply pour a small amount over the affected area and rub into the skin. A little dab is all you need. Vitamin E in liquid form is oily, however, so you will want to confine your pet when using this product. It's worth the effort because if your pet suffers from mild hot spots, you know most over the counter products contain a certain amount of alcohol. Your pet will appreciate the cooling sensation of a vitamin E rub with no alcohol. The oil will also smother any fleas that haplessly wander into the area.

Boric acid works great for minor eye infections. I mix up a weak solution in a small covered plastic container to treat dog and cat eyes. Mix 1/4 teaspoon or less in 1/3 cup warm water and stir until the water is clear and the boric acid is completely dissolved. You can store it at room temperature and is good for up to a week. If your pet prefers a warm wash, simply place the container in a bowl of hot water until the solution is lukewarm. Dab a cotton ball in the solution and gently wipe around and over the infected eye. Squeeze the cotton ball as you wipe the eye so some of the solution runs into it. No double dipping. Re-soaking a contaminated cotton ball will compromise your boric acid solution.

Aspirin: a huge red flag concerning aspirin for cat owners. Never under any circumstances give aspirin to your cat. It is toxic for them. Dogs, on the other hand, can have aspirin. For minor aches and pains, a regular dose of aspirin can help them get through their day. If using aspirin manufactured especially for dogs, follow dosage recommendations on the bottle. You can also use baby and regular aspirin you already have in your cupboard. Ask your vet for advice on dosage.

Vaseline or Bag Balm: use this to treat dry, cracked pads on your dog's feet. Bag Balm is also good for cuts, scratches and minor skin irritations and burns.

Other first aid supplies include gauze rolls, gauze pads, sports tape, ace bandage, Q-tips, tweezers, Pepto Bismol, any over the counter antihistamine and white tape.

If in doubt about how much medication to administer to your pet, consult your vet. The rule of thumb is to treat your pet like a small baby as far as dosage goes. As with any medication for people or pets, watch for any adverse or allergic reactions. Discontinue use if any occur and consult with your vet.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Monday, June 8, 2009

Animals Can Warn of Danger

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever wondered how your dog or cat knew there was a storm coming? How animals sensed the approach of the Indonesian Tsunami? Or how pets in California know when there is an earthquake coming? Living in Minnesota, I am very glad that I live with animals. You see, Minnesota is on the northeast corner of what is known as “Tornado Alley,” and when we get severe weather here everyone knows about it. Our house is in a valley upon a slight rise in the land; there is a meadow to the east of the house and a river just beyond that. The river seems to attract a certain amount of lightning and we get some spectacular thunderstorms here. I am happy to say that I can usually tell if they are going to be bad or not depending on how the animals on the property behave.

I can feel changes in the weather coming when it is turning cold and damp and have read that some people can tell when it is about to thunder because they feel strange, but I wondered how my animals knew there were changes coming. When there is a bad storm coming the animals all go to ground. The wild birds and animals retreat to their hiding places and get very still and quiet. The chickens that don’t usually go into the hen house until around dusk, go in several hours early and won’t come back out. Skye and the cats will go to the open door, give a sniff and turn around and retreat back into the house.

I even remember seeing a story on the local news after the tsunami in Indonesia several years ago, that mentioned a little girl who was saved by an elephant, as he took her to higher ground with him. So how do they do it? How do animals know the weather is changing, that California is in for another trembler or that an earthquake on the ocean bottom created a tsunami? I was discussing it with a friend of mine one day and he said that our animals actually sense the changes in atmospheric pressure. Because they can also sense changes in the temperature and humidity levels they are aware that a storm is coming and go take cover. I was reading about animals and weather recently and learned that they can smell changes in the ozone levels and as ozone levels change during storms, they would be even more alert to the bad weather coming.

According to scientists, because animals have such physiologically highly developed senses they are able to feel changes in magnetic fields, electrostatic and chemical changes as well as touch, vibrations and sounds that may be too low for our human range of hearing. Because a dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours, it is possible for them to smell the chemical changes in the air before an earthquake. However, there are several opinions about how animals tell that an earthquake is coming. As most of the evidence is anecdotal and hard to duplicate in a laboratory, the scientific results are inconclusive, so this will probably be an ongoing project.

However you look at it, our pets are more connected to our world and more aware of changes than we are. It makes sense to me; they are connected to the earth through their feet at the very least. I am very glad that I have such a well functioning animal early warning system here where I live.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gardening with Your Pets in Mind

By Ruthie Bently

Now that the snow has theoretically left Minnesota it is time to get our garden started. I have been told it has actually snowed somewhere in Minnesota every month of the year, which is a statement I can well understand after living here for over 10 years. We have a garden every year, but with all the animals we have to be careful how and when we use machinery, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

So how do you have a garden and animals at the same time? It is relatively easy; it just takes a bit of planning. Skye has a dog yard that is fenced in so she can go outside and enjoy the sunshine while we are outside to watch her. We don’t use commercial pesticides or insecticides on our plants, as the animals are in and out of our garden all day. They may not always be as careful as we are to walk between the rows. If we were to use pesticides or insecticides they could get whatever was sprayed on their feet. Both Skye and the cats are cleaning themselves all the time and they could ingest the chemicals they might walk through, which would make them sick. Some chemicals used on lawns have been linked to canine cancer, and I had a client in Illinois who lost a German Shepard for just that reason.

We are lucky to have chickens, which make great walking insecticides. You don’t need a rooster for hens to lay eggs, so if your city allows you to have chickens, you may want to consider investing in a few. They are relatively easy to take care of and you get fresh eggs too. If chickens aren’t your thing, look into companion planting. Certain plants will drive away bugs; marigolds or chrysanthemums for example, which is where natural pyrethrums come from. While we didn’t use this method last year, we have used it in the past with rousing success.

One of my favorite pastimes is weeding, which relieves my stress and makes my garden look better. My favorite time is right after a good rain because then the weeds are easier to pull. I even have one of those rotary human powered tools with discs on it to help cut up the weeds. After that, out comes the rototiller to get rid of weeds that are too stubborn to pull or dig up. Did you know that the definition of a weed is a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to?

I am happy to say that the cats avoid anything in our yard that makes noise (i.e., the rototiller, lawnmower, weed whacker). When we have to mow Skye’s dog yard she stays in the house, unless she has to go potty and we have a separate gate so she can’t get into the larger part of the dog yard. I unfortunately have personal experience with a dog and a lawn mower, and am very careful that Skye will not have an issue like that.

For fertilizer we use aged chicken manure. In the spring we clean out the chicken house and put all the pine shavings from the floor into a compost bin. We also compost whatever kitchen scraps and weeds cannot be fed to the chickens, as well as the weeds we pull. You can buy organic fertilizer at most home garden stores, just make sure it is aged, as fresh manure is too strong to put right on the plants. Last year was the first year we used chicken manure, and we put up about 60 quarts of tomatoes from just half a dozen plants.

Watering is easy too, as I have barrels and tubs around the house under all the downspouts to catch the overflow that the gutters cannot handle. If you decide to collect rain water, make sure you keep your water mosquito free by using “Mosquito Dunks®” or something like them. They are made from a larvicide that won’t hurt birds, fish or any other animals that drink the water. They short circuit the life cycle of the larva, and the larva die. They have been on the market for over 15 years and have been used in many applications. There are also other insecticide products made with beneficial nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) that will kill almost all pests. They are a worm-like parasite that prey on and eat other bugs in the soil of your yard. They can be used in most applications, and are not harmful to earthworms, pets, people or plants.

For dealing with the flies in the yard we use a wonderful dome-shaped fly trap that you put attractant in and toss when it is full. We have used these for many years, and have re-used them for more than one season, though you have to bring them inside after they have been emptied for the year. This year I was stung by a wasp and as my dad is very allergic I could become that way too. So we began to use a wasp trap. While I am normally a “live and let live” kind of gal, this bothers me a bit. Since the wasps are primarily in the vicinity of where we sit in the yard and exercise Skye, the safety of my pets and my family are more important. The wasp traps also use an attractant (the one we have uses 3) to attract the wasps to the trap; they go in and can’t get back out.

Some of the things we do may seem time consuming to you, but we feel the need to make sure that all the animals and people we love are able to live a safe and happy life together, and this system seems to be working well for us. My last American Staffordshire Terrier, Smokey Bear, was almost 20 when he died of old age. This is just one more way to live as peacefully as we can without making any big changes that may do more harm than good.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently
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