Friday, July 31, 2009

CANIDAE and The Pongo Fund Help Portland's Homeless

Two years ago Larry Chusid of Portland, Oregon saw some homeless men together with their dogs. Larry had just lost his dog, Pongo, and decided to donate some food and supplies to these men so they could take care of their pets. Since then, Larry's efforts have evolved into a complete charitable organization (non-profit status pending) dedicated to helping Portland's homeless and low-income people feed quality food to their pets.

Our own Jon Tingle, Sales Manager for CANIDAE in the Pacific Northwest, met with Larry recently to discuss how CANIDAE could help. "Larry called me one day and explained he was looking for some food and why. We met for a cup of coffee, and I put faith in his heart. We love helping him."

When Larry was asked what others can do to help, he replied, "Buy a bag of CANIDAE, because without them none of this would be possible!"

The Oregonian newspaper sent a reporter out to interview Larry and Jon while Larry distributed free food to those in need. For the complete article please visit The Oregonian website.

Visit The Pongo Fund website for donation information.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Breed Profile: Labrador Retriever


By Ruthie Bently

Labrador Retrievers are a special breed, as anyone that has owned one or been involved with one can tell you. I didn’t grow up with a Lab, but one of my favorite books was “The Dog In My Life” by Kurt Unkelbach. It was about a young lady named Cary and her dog Thumper of Walden, and the adventures they had on and off the dog show circuit. Another of my favorite books was “The Incredible Journey” about a Labrador, a Bull Terrier and a Siamese cat and the journey they undertake when their owner leaves them with a friend for safekeeping.

The Labrador Retriever is a member of the Sporting Group and was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1917. Their outgoing personality and versatility makes them ideal as either a family pet or a sporting dog. They excel in tracking, agility, obedience and service work. It is because of their trainability that they are used for rescue work as well as guide dogs. The height for a male should be between 22-1/2 inches to 24-1/2 inches at the shoulder, and his weight should be between 65 to 80 pounds. A female’s height should be between 21-1/2 inches to 23-1/2 inches and her weight should be between 55 and 70 pounds. There are three colors that are acceptable for showing: yellow, black and chocolate. Additionally, in Britain a Labrador needs to have a working certificate or it cannot become a bench show champion.

The Labrador actually originated in Newfoundland not Labrador. The original Labrador breed died out in Newfoundland, due to a heavy dog tax and the restrictions on importing the breed into England. The original Labrador breed traces its history back to a dog known as the St. John’s Water Dog, which came from a cross between small water dogs and Newfoundlands. The Duke of Malmesbury was the one credited with naming the breed, after he admitted that he had always called his dogs Labradors. Accurate pedigrees of the Labradors of today can be traced back as far as 1878, to two dogs “Peter of Faskally” and “Flappe.”

Labradors were used by fishermen in Newfoundland to help pull in nets and catch escaping fish that got away from the fishing lines. A Labrador Retriever has a dense short coat that is weather resistant. Their tail is known as an “otter” tail and they should have eyes that are friendly and “kind.” They should have a good temperament and be intelligent, and since they are primarily bred as a working gun dog, their soundness and structure are very important. Because they are a “working” dog, Labs need a job so they do not get bored. I used to tell my customers that a Labrador needed the equivalent of a five mile walk every day. If you choose a Lab make sure you have the time to spend with them so they get the exercise or workout they need. They are also a dog that uses their mouth, and they tend to chew more than some of other breeds.

My personal experience with Labrador Retrievers is that they are very intelligent, loving, family oriented dogs. My brother-in-law has a lab mix, though she looks more like a Lab to me than the other half. Her name is Wings, and she gets into all sorts of things; she has even followed my boyfriend Steve home from my brother-in-law’s house and will sit in our yard at night guarding it from what she perceives as danger. Once you own a Lab, they will own you. They really want to please and in turn, they wiggle their way into your heart.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CANIDAE is Now on Facebook – Join Us!


By Linda Cole

Facebook is a social networking site that helps users connect with family, friends and like-minded people who want a place where they can share their stories and photos with one another.

CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods is excited to announce the creation of their own Facebook page for people just like you – people who love animals as much as they do. If you don't have a Facebook page yet, go to Facebook.com and sign in. Create your profile, send invitations to family and friends, play games and send out interesting challenges to others to ponder and enjoy. Have fun with quizzes that test your brain power or find out which dog species you are most like. Facebook has something for everyone and new friends to meet and interact with.

The CANIDAE Facebook page is the perfect place to learn about proper pet care, CANIDAE product updates, and important information on their product line. It’s also a place to meet other pet owners who are as passionate about the care and well being of their pets as you are. You can even find and connect with other pet owners in your area.

The folks at CANIDAE would love to see photos of your pets and read your stories and comments. Feel free to post to their wall as much as you like. Please post any special videos, photos or links that help show how people have embraced responsible pet ownership.

Join the many fans who use the CANIDAE Facebook page for pet lovers, to read their ideas and share your stories about how we all can give our pets the best care possible. Learn how premium, all natural pet food from CANIDAE can help your pet live a long and healthy life.

Their Facebook page is the perfect place to communicate on a more personal level with CANIDAE. It gives you an opportunity to meet and interact with one of the most experienced and dedicated staff around – people like you and me who want to make sure our pets get what they need to stay healthy and happy.

Become a fan and follow Rocco the dog's progress as he recovers from his life on the street, lost and hungry. Because of the generosity of a stranger, this little dog now has a new home and plenty of healthy food to help him along. The folks at CANIDAE are helping to care for Rocco by donating food to his adopted mom. You can visit their Facebook page for updates to this heartwarming story of the little dog who needed (and got) a helping hand.

You can also find updates and uplifting stories on how CANIDAE supports green energy in a new state-of- the-art plant in Oklahoma that has created badly needed jobs for Americans, and is environmentally friendly in its design.

Responsible pet ownership starts with love. Add in a dash of respect and a spoonful of kindness sprinkled with lots of attention for each of your pets. Come join the CANIDAE team today on Facebook to learn more about the joys and benefits you receive from your pet by being a responsible pet owner.

fb.canidae.com

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Getting Started in Dock Diving


Are you looking for a dog sport that your entire family, canine included, can enjoy? Dock diving may be just what you're looking for! In this sport, dogs jump from a dock that is usually 40 feet long into a pool set up with distance markers that is also 40 feet long. Dogs run down the dock and into the pool to retrieve a toy that was tossed by the dog's handler.

Both dogs and people can enjoy dock diving without a lengthy training regimen. Some teams – handler and dog – have become accomplished jumpers after just a few attempts at their first event. In dock diving, success is not measured by the distance jumped but by how much fun you and your dog had. Dogs have as much fun jumping 3 feet as they do jumping 23 feet.

Participants at these events are often asked by spectators how to get started in dock diving. First, you need a dog that is not afraid of the water. The more they love to swim the better. Your dog needs to be leash controlled in an unfamiliar environment and non-aggressive to other dogs at the event. Another important factor is "toy drive," and the greater the drive in the dog, the easier it will be to overcome any hurdles they may encounter.

Remember, you are asking your dog to do something that most dogs are not familiar with – to run down an open dock and jump into a pool of clear water that is probably located somewhere the dog has never been before. The dock diving platform usually consists of a 6 foot high scaffolding/trailer dock that they must climb up stairs to access. It may be located in the parking lot of a sports store, or in the middle of your local state fair. It may be complete with spectators surrounding the sides of the pool and the hum of the upbeat music and pulsing voice of the announcer that stirs the crowd (and some teams) into excitement. Sounds intimidating, but most dogs overcome these distractions within minutes as they place their trust in their handler.

If you find yourself and your canine companion at a dock diving event without the benefit of practicing at a local lake or pool, there are a few things to remember. First always make it a positive experience with your dog. Remember, having fun with your dog is paramount, even if he does not jump. There will be many other handlers at the event that were once in your shoes, so use them as a tool to help you and your dog. They will be more than willing. At every step praise your dog and remember it's his first time too so he will be just as nervous as you.

The next thing is often the hardest for handlers to do – leave your ego in the car. It is not important for a first time dog to jump a great distance. What is important is that the dog has a positive experience and they figure out what you want them to do. As you walk them up the stairs to the dock, remember to praise and assure them. They trust you. Familiarize them with the dock and lead them up and down the dock a couple of times. Confidence is building with every step and it is that confidence that will allow your dog to improve with every jump.

Take your dog to the pool end of the dock and let them take a look at the pool and its surroundings. Let the dog examine the two foot drop into the water. This is one of the biggest hurdles. Have your dog's favorite toy (floatable & non-edible) ready and get your dog enthused about fetching it for you. Return to the edge of the dock and toss the toy 7-10 feet out onto the surface of the water. No closer as it becomes a downward dive when you want the dog to jump out. Too far and the dog realizes they cannot get that far, causing some dogs to try to run outside of the pool to get it.

Remember when you took your first dive in a swimming pool? You did not do it from the 20 meter board but rather from the side of the pool. Take your dog 5-10 feet back on the dock allowing the dog to maintain eyesight with the toy. Encourage your dog to retrieve their toy then take them off lead and let them go, all the time encouraging and praising. First time dogs will usually take a couple of strides, hesitate, then jump. If the dog jumps you are on your way!

Don't be afraid of getting wet; give them an affectionate hug as they exit the pool, praising them on what an outstanding job they just did. Do this immediately – don't wait until you get out of the staging area. If the dog does not jump, reset the dog and try again while keeping the positive reinforcement flowing. If he stops the second time, go to the edge of the dock and encourage him from there. If you feel your dog is not going to jump, allow them to go down the exit ramp into the pool and swim out to retrieve the toy. This helps ensure a positive experience for the dog.

Remember, you must take small steps before you take larger ones. With your help and encouragement your dog will build confidence and you will both succeed. Again, the unwritten law for all dock diving participants is “keep it fun.”

By Dan Jacobs of Team Missy
Sponsored by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fear of Cats: Ailurophobia Symptoms, Causes and Cures


By Julia Williams

It’s been said that when it comes to cats, people either love them or hate them. But there is actually a third feeling many people have for felines: they fear them. The clinical name for Fear of Cats is Ailurophobia. Although it’s difficult for most cat lovers to understand why anyone would be afraid of cats, Ailurophobia is very real, and can be a genuine problem for people who suffer from it.

A phobia is defined as an extreme, irrational and persistent fear of a particular object, activity or situation. Phobias are considered to be a type of anxiety disorder, wherein exposure to the feared stimulus can cause sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, loss of breath, dry mouth, the inability to think or speak clearly, and even a full blown panic attack. Ailurophobia then, is not simply a strong dislike of cats; it’s an intense feeling of fear at the sight of one – even if it’s just on TV.

Sometimes, just the thought of coming into contact with a cat is enough to get an Ailurophobics heart racing. They may understand intellectually that a cat poses no real danger to them, but it doesn’t change their involuntary reaction. Ailurophobics may fear physical contact with a cat, such as bites and scratches, or they might fear the perceived supernatural nature of cats. Ailurophobics often associate cats with black magic, witchcraft, sadism and evil–especially black cats, thanks to Halloween legends, superstitions and countless literary works.

What Causes Ailurophobia?

Like all fears and phobias, Ailurophobia is a protective mechanism created by the unconscious mind. Quite often, the phobic individual can't even tell you exactly what they fear about cats, or where their fear might have originated. Sometimes all they know is that they've been afraid of cats for as long as they can remember.

They might have had a frightening experience with a cat as a baby or young child, but have forgotten it. Toddlers often aren’t taught how to properly pick up cats and may also prod, poke or pet them roughly. This could result in children getting scratched, bitten, and emotionally traumatized. Ailurophobia could also be caused by seeing someone else have a negative experience with a cat. Further, parents can sometimes transfer their own fear of cats on to their children.

Treatments for Ailurophobia

With professional help, the fear of cats can usually be overcome. Of course, for any phobia treatment plan to succeed, the person must first have a desire to overcome the fear. Ailurophobics often avoid seeking treatment because they’re embarrassed about fearing an animal that is generally regarded as cute, cuddly and harmless. It doesn’t help matters if they get teased after confessing their fear of cats to people who don’t understand phobias.

There are many different treatments for Ailurophobia. Like other phobias, Ailurophobia responds well to cognitive-behavior therapy (a form of psychotherapy which stipulates that the way we think about things affects how we feel emotionally). Cognitive therapy focuses on problem solving and present thinking rather than on past experiences, and often includes a desensitization component.

The Ailurophobic individual is taught to use relaxation and visualization techniques when experiencing anxiety about cats. Gradual exposure to cats is introduced in a systematic, structured way while the person concentrates on remaining calm. This might include looking at photos of cats, watching videos about cats, seeing a cat through a window, and eventually, being in the same room with a cat or kitten.

Hypnotherapy is another form of treatment for Ailurophobia. Hypnotherapy helps to reprogram the subconscious thoughts that may be linked to the phobia. When the subconscious is reprogrammed, the phobia symptoms are often minimized.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how individuals create their reality. From the NLP viewpoint, phobias are the result of faulty “programs” that a person has created. With NLP, these programs are revealed and "re-programmed" so that the phobia is minimized or eliminated. Energy Psychology is similar to acupuncture, except that no needles are used. Energy Psychology is emerging as a safe and effective and way to change phobic behaviors and thought patterns.

I am eternally grateful that I don’t have a fear of cats. After writing this, I’m ready to engage in some serious snuggling with my three feline friends, Annabelle, Rocky and Mickey.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What Does a Dog Need?


By Ruthie Bently

According to noted dog trainer Tamar Geller, every dog has seven basic needs. It doesn’t matter if you have a Yorkie, a Chihuahua, an AmStaff or a Labrador retriever. Their needs are all the same. She goes on to define a need as something a dog cannot do without, and misbehavior can happen from only one of their seven needs being neglected. Sounds like several people I know.

A dog’s seven basic needs are: a sense of security, companionship, understanding the hierarchy, surprise/excitement, food and exercise, mental stimulation, and love and connection. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Dogs need to know that their human companion will be there to give them a toy, treat, hug or some love when they do what we want them to do. Just as we need structure and a certainty of how our lives are going to progress, so do our dogs.

Dogs are pack animals and need to be social; only in this way and by using cooperation with others can any canine (wild or domesticated) hope to survive. It doesn’t matter whether I am inside or outside the house with my dog, she won’t be too many feet from me. And if she walks away she will be back within a few minutes after she has gone potty or checked out something that she feels the need to investigate.

Dogs also need to know who the pack leader is. You need to be the alpha dog and make sure that your dog knows it as well. The alpha dog gets the best parts of the kill, the best sleeping spot. Everything comes to the alpha dog first, and your dog needs to know that is you. If this is not done, you could find yourself fighting with your dog for your rightful place in your own bed. It’s OK for your dog to sleep with you, they just have to know that it is by your invitation only, and it can be rescinded at any time.

Dogs need stimulation and change in their lives, so surprises and excitement will help keep your dog from getting bored. A surprise could be a trip in the car, a day at the beach, a walk or even a simple game of catch the ball. Skye loves to go for rides in my truck; she never knows when I am going to travel but she loves to go when I invite her. Ms. Geller suggests giving your dog at least one surprise a day. Put yourself in your dog’s shoes – wouldn’t you love a surprise every day from your significant other?

Every living creature needs food and water to survive. Exercise is a great way to let your dog blow off steam and get rid of excess energy that could be used in a more destructive manner if not dealt with. I can’t tell you how much destructive chewing I helped my customers cure, just by giving their dogs a different focus for their energy. I try to get Skye to exercise with me at least fifteen minutes every day. It may not sound like much, but it does her a world of good, even if I do have to call a halt in this summer weather to keep her from overheating.

The next item on the list of a dog’s seven needs is mental stimulation. Every time Skye is in the truck with me, her nose goes right to the air vents. It makes me wonder what exotic things she smells that I can’t even begin to decipher. I actually taught Nimber to fetch my “Gremlin” slippers (a huge pair of stuffed slippers with a “gremlin” head and big ears). I used to tell him to go get my “Mogwais” and he knew what I was talking about. I even made a game where I would hide them in different places (instead of my closet floor where they were kept). Nimber never chewed them up, but he had a blast trying to find out where I put them. Games help keep your dog stimulated and help keep them from getting bored. Teaching them words can help stimulate them as well. Like us, dogs are capable of learning until the day they pass on.

Last but not least is love and connection. Your dog needs to know he is loved and has a connection to you as the alpha member of your pack. I remember moving vehicles in the driveway where I used to live when I owned Nimber. I parked my car, got out and went into the garage. Nimber had jumped into my friend’s truck and when my friend started backing his truck down the driveway prior to parking it, Nimber almost went through the windshield to get out of the truck. He thought he was being taken away from me. We loved each other and were lucky enough to have a connection to each other as well. I would take him visiting with me and if I went into the bathroom, it was a sure bet I would trip over Nimber when I came out. Skye is the same way and I am blessed, though her devotion is sometimes a bit overwhelming.

By being willing to meet our dogs’ seven basic needs, we can have a wonderful life with a loving, fun companion for many years to come. I will see you soon – Skye and I are going outside and test out her new glow-in-the-dark ball.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Best Dogs for Allergic People


By Anna Lee

A lot of focus was placed on hypoallergenic dog breeds when President elect Obama promised his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that a new puppy would be moving into the White House with them. The cause of so much attention on their choice of dog (which ended up being a Portuguese Water Dog) was due to the fact that young Malia is allergic to dogs.

Many families face a similar problem as more and more people develop allergies but still want the responsibility (and the joy) of becoming dog owners. Here are some breeds that are considered good for families with allergies.

Schnauzers: the Miniature Schnauzer is an adorable little dog that loves kids, but requires discipline and socializing with other dogs. This little guy doesn’t think he is small and will try to take on larger dogs. Schnauzers tend to bark a lot, and make good guard dogs because of this. They weigh anywhere from 10-15 pounds and have a 15 year life expectancy.

If you want a larger dog, the Giant Schnauzer is a good choice. They are quick to learn but need discipline as they will try to take over. They can weigh up to 80 pounds and require exercise to release some energy. Life expectancy is 12-15 years.

Bichon Frise: If you want a small hypoallergenic dog, try the Bichon. They are adorable little dogs, requiring grooming every 4 weeks. They are small enough to carry around with you! Bichons are extremely intelligent and have a happy temperament. They prefer to be with people and are great with kids. Housebreaking might take a little longer than usual with this breed. They weigh from 7 to 12 pounds; life expectancy is about 15 years.

Designer Dogs: Cockapoo, Labradoodle and Schnoodle

These hypoallergenic Designer Dogs (i.e., a cross between two purebred dogs) take on the traits of each breed.

* The Cockapoo is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Sizes range from teacup weighing less than 6 pounds to maxi at 19 pounds. They are playful dogs and they love everyone. If you want a small, fun-loving dog that would fit well into any lifestyle, this is a perfect choice. They are fast learners, and you need to stay one step ahead of them.

* The Labradoodle is a mixture of a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. A yellow Labradoodle looks like a Yellow Lab with a soft perm! A Lab mixed with just about any breed with result in a wonderful, loving dog. It is the ‘poodle’ part of the mix that makes the designer Labradoodle hypoallergenic. Depending upon the breeder, the dog can have smooth hair like a Lab, or wavy hair.

* The Schnoodle is a Schnauzer Poodle mix, and they are a great family dog. Because both breeds are hypoallergenic, this dog is very allergy friendly. They are loyal, affectionate, obedient and loving, and have lots of personality. Whether you live in an apartment or a farm, they will fit in fine as long as they are with people. They love to ride in the car, so plan your family vacations with them in mind.

The Portuguese Water Dog is classified as a gun dog by the United Kennel Club. Its original job was to herd fish into nets and to retrieve broken nets and lost tackle. They have a wavy coat and do not shed. These are not low maintenance dogs, as they require a lot of grooming. Although basically a quiet breed, they do have a loud bark. They have strong wills so discipline and obedience training is necessary. If you’ve seen any news segments on the “First Dog,” you may have noticed he is extremely playful! Life expectancy is 10-14 years.

More hypoallergenic breeds to consider: most Terriers, the Chinese Hairless, Irish Water Spaniel and Spanish Water Dog.

You can be a dog owner even if you or your family members have allergies. Get a dog from the above list and enjoy responsible pet ownership! It is suggested that once you decide on a particular breed, you spend some time with one in order to properly determine that you are not allergic to it. A small investment of time will pay off big time in the end.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is My Old Dog Still Breathing?


By Lexiann Grant

The weather turns warm. Or humid. Wylie pants, laboring to draw a deep breath of cool air. It scares me the way his sides quiver when he inhales. At night, when it’s finally cooler, I often find him awake, lying down, but with his head up, his breathing rapid. There is nothing I can do that settles him or eases his shallow respirations. In the morning, if he is down, I rush to check – is he still breathing?

Wylie is an old dog, ambling slowly around the bend of 14 into 15. He was a wild puppy, one of those dogs who probably thought his name was, “no,” “stop,” “don’t,” or “enough.” We couldn’t wait for him to mature and settle down. But several years into the senior range, Wylie still chased cats, ate toilet paper and stole food from the counter. (Yes, we did take him to obedience, each of us...twice.)

One winter night he came inside, from barking and chasing a creature invisible to me. Suddenly he staggered, his back end sinking, legs lurching like a drunk’s. His eyes rolled to me, wide with panic, and down he went. No seizure, but Wylie was obviously ill. As I was about to take him to the emergency vet, he just as suddenly regained use of his legs. Within a few seconds he ran to the kitchen, wagging his tail and barking for dinner. Back to normal, back to wild.

That was three-and-a-half years ago. According to medical literature, Wylie should have been dead less than 12 months after the first appearance of his symptoms. There is no definitive diagnosis. Maybe he has atypical seizures, maybe degenerative myelopathy, or possibly laryngeal paralysis, also a degenerative neurological disease of the entire body despite its particular name.

Wylie’s personality changed with the collapse, and what used to intrigue him now stressed him to the point of danger. Although I would have gladly spent the money for specialty treatment, Wylie couldn’t be tested. The stress and discomfort of the tests necessary for a diagnosis could aggravate his symptoms, accelerating the disease. And even with an answer, there was – is – no cure.

Now my wild child sleeps his days away. Cats that used to scatter at his appearance, sniff his ears and step over his outstretched legs, legs that quiver and paddle as he dreams. But when dark falls, sleep slips into the shadows as Wylie worries through the nights, his stress magnified by hearing that has faded. Bewilderment is plain on his face as he agonizes over intruders he may miss if he rests.

Some days his symptoms are worse. He cannot arise without help. His feet turn in of their own accord, toes and nails drag, or he turns in circles and walks in diagonal lines on some unmappable path. Or he forgets how to get from the yard to the door that brings him back to food and his bed. The once proudly curled tail hangs unfurled, and he no longer lifts his leg to mark the world as his own.

And yet I keep this old dog near to my heart and bedside, even though he doesn’t smell so good anymore. Just as I worry that tomorrow will be the awful moment when I must decide to let him go painlessly, he revives himself and makes it through another day, not in discomfort or anxiety, but in that joyously simple state natural to dogs. He barks for breakfast, plays with his treat cube and runs, not so fast or gracefully, to see the deer pass through the woods.

So I breathe a sigh of relief and wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Will Wylie be there – lost? wild? staggering? happy? I’ve learned to love the new form of crazy, the new-old Wylie. One day, his bed and bowl, they’ll both be empty (and his bed will still smell like him). Today he’s here, breathing, and that’s enough.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Protect Your Dog From Ticks


By Ruthie Bently

The different seasons come with different challenges for our pets. Here in Minnesota during spring and summer we have to deal with ticks. We're told they are heaviest in the months of May, June and July, but we have seen them later and earlier in the year depending on the weather. It is funny that I can watch a gory monster movie, but I get absolutely creeped out by ticks.

Ticks are a member of the arachnid family and, like spiders, have eight legs when they are adults. Ticks are an external parasite that lives on the blood of their host. They are usually found on birds and mammals, though there are reports of them appearing on amphibians and reptiles. There are many varieties of ticks, but the three that should concern you if you live in the United States are the deer tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick.

While ticks can neither fly nor hop, they can drop on their host from a tree or just crawl up a leg or tail. They are abundant near water sources where animals might come to drink. The pets most at risk are the ones that are ill, senior citizens or weak, though any pet can be assaulted by a tick. Ticks can be found in most forests or areas where there are woodlands. They tend to frequent trails and paths that have been made by either humans or animals. They’re usually found more in taller meadow grass that will have shrubs and trees rather than clipped grass. It has even been hypothesized that ticks can respond to scents animals leave behind, and that is why they are found around trails and paths. Ticks are also able to sense the heat and carbon dioxide emissions from a potential host.

Deer ticks are especially dangerous, as they can be carriers of Lyme disease. This debilitating disease can strike down humans and their pets alike. The western variety of deer tick can transmit Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to their host. A deer tick is about the size of the head of a straight pin.

The American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, is found mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. They have also been found in parts of Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. They prefer dogs as their host and can be found on a dog as an adult tick. The dog tick is about an eighth of an inch long as an adult. These ticks winter in the soil and can be active between mid-April to early September, depending on your particular climate. The dog tick is primarily known for passing on Rocky Mountain spotted fever to its host, though it can also pass on the vector of tularemia, which can cause canine tick paralysis.

The brown dog tick is an oddity in that it can live its entire life indoors. This means you can have an infestation in your house, since this tick does not have to develop outside. They are found throughout the world, primarily in warmer climates. They are about the size of the American dog tick. They can be found on pets, inside houses, kennels, and sometimes on wildlife.

Grooming your dog frequently can help you find a tick and prevent an infestation in your house. A tick can cause itchiness around the site of the bite, infection and sometimes even paralysis and death. Often, a tick can be removed fairly easily, by using a tweezers and grasping the head of the tick and pulling gently. Don’t try to remove the tick with your bare hands; if the tick you are removing is infected, you could transfer it to yourself. You don’t want to leave the mouth parts in the wound, as they can cause a secondary infection.

If you are not experienced at proper tick removal, consult with your veterinarian first to learn how to remove them properly and safely. Your vet can also offer various tick treatments and preventative choices that are appropriate for your dog.

One method some vets recommend is to take a swab with rubbing alcohol on it and dab it on the tick to try and get it to let go. Make sure after removing a tick from your dog to bathe the area well with an antiseptic wash. Keep an eye on the area in case there are further complications, and contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes at the site of the bite.

It isn’t hard to be aware and check your dog each time you come in the house. By being diligent you can safeguard your pets, your family and yourself. Your dog will love the extra attention even if they don’t know why they’re getting it.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Training Dogs with Kindness


By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with a saying “You can get more flies with honey than vinegar.” Did you know that you can train a dog with kindness and compassion and get better results than when you try to browbeat them? I got my first American Staffordshire Terrier as a Christmas present on December 27th, 1981. He was a great dog and he is gone now, but he taught me several valuable lessons. One of them was to go with my own instincts as to how I trained my dog.

Growing up, I was familiar with dogs and choke chains. I was bothered with the “choking” factor, but it was an accepted way to train dogs in the 1960s and 1970s. With Nimber I learned that AmStaffs, though stubborn as a donkey (this is the polite word), were also capable of being sensitive. Sounds funny doesn’t it? I never knew the dog I got could be a prima donna.

Nimber and I got through his puppy training class and he was pretty well behaved when I gave him commands, so I wasn’t sure about continuing on with training classes. I wanted a companion who paid attention to what I told him and did what I asked him to do. Nimber did about 75% of the time, and I wasn’t really looking forward to going back to class. Nimber didn’t really like school and I couldn’t blame him; I hated school when I was young, why should he be any different.

Nimber and I were going along fine, and I found I needed to go out of town and couldn’t take him with me. OK, not a big deal; I had a great kennel. They would feed his regular food, supplements and give him biscuits for being good. When I scheduled his stay, I was asked if I wanted training time. They explained that it would be a refresher course for Nimber and wouldn’t cost extra. So I said “Sure, why not?” What a jerk I was. The owner of the kennel was a trainer, but unfortunately not Nimber’s trainer. Her husband who was used to dealing with police canine units was Nimber’s trainer. That was my mistake.

I went to pick Nimber up when I got home, and interrupted a training session. My four-legged child, who knew my vehicle by its sight and sound, my smell and all the canine triggers a dog has at their disposal, knew I was there before he could see me, and he reacted. So did the trainer, he grabbed Nimber’s ear and pinched it between his finger and the chain of the choke collar Nimber was wearing for the training session. I was out of the car by this point and saw Nimber yelping, blood beginning to seep from his ear, and a masochist trainer still holding Nimber’s ear in a pinch. I very politely went over to him and got my dog before he could do any more damage to my dog’s body or spirit. I paid my bill, took my poor dog home and never went back.

What this taught me was to check into whose care I am putting my beloved pets, no matter how well I think I know them. It also made me look for alternative forms of training for subsequent dogs. I have read numerous books on training since then and have used the techniques I found within. Through this process, I also learned that you don’t have to bully a dog into doing what you want them to do. When you treat them with kindness and respect, they will give you back the moon.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fact or Fallacy: Most Cats Are Aloof


By Julia Williams

The biggest misconception about cats, in my opinion, is that most of them are aloof. The feline is thought to be a haughty creature that doesn’t show any outward signs of love for their owners. Many people also believe that cats abhor human companionship, and only tolerate us because it’s the easiest way to get food. Some even say cats think they’re superior to humans, and that if we don’t cater to their every whim, the cat will promptly pee on something to remind us who is in charge.

My experience with cats, on the other hand, has proven otherwise. In fact, after many decades of living with, loving, and being loved by dozens of cats, I’m convinced that only aloof people have aloof cats. Cats are highly social animals, and many aloof cats were simply taught to be that way. Quite often, the typical “aloof” cat is one who was raised by people who weren’t home very much, and when they were, they paid little attention to the cat. Any pet raised this way – including dogs, bunnies, horses and hamsters – would come to regard humans as largely food providers and not much else.

My cats have never been aloof, and yours don’t need to be either. I’m not some sort of miracle cat whisperer; I just understand cats, and I know how to raise them to be trusting, friendly, happy and affectionate creatures.

The most important thing I’ve learned about cats is that you have to respect their individuality. When you stop buying into the labels and treat cats as the unique creatures they are, a meaningful relationship can unfold. Also, you can’t expect a cat to be as outwardly demonstrative of their feelings as a dog. The cat isn’t being aloof – it’s simply not in a feline’s nature to jump all over you and feverishly lick you to pieces when you come home. But my cats DO meet me at the door, and they meow and purr, and prance around me looking for attention.

The other major aspect of raising a non-aloof cat is that you have to respect its likes and dislikes. For example, my cat Mickey doesn’t really like to be held. If I try to hold him for very long he will squirm and kick to let me know he wants no part of this. He will also turn his face away if I try to kiss him. But Mickey absolutely loves to sit on my lap, and will let me pet him and brush him for hours; he generally only jumps down when I need to get up for something. So if a person’s definition of aloof requires the cat to let them hold him or kiss him, then Mickey would be aloof in their eyes. When you give him affection in a way that he is comfortable with, he can’t get enough of it.

By contrast, Annabelle and Rocky love being hugged and kissed but won’t sit on my lap for more than a few minutes. Are they being aloof? No, they’re simply being animals who have very clearly defined likes and dislikes, and they’re not about to let humans force them into doing something they find objectionable. People are no different, by the way. When you respect them and accept their individual preferences (which might differ from your own), they’re much more likely to want to be around you.

Further, cats that are raised by people who make no attempt to understand their nature and/or show them affection, will take a long time to let their guard down. They will be “aloof” because their survival instincts demand it. Even so, most of these felines can eventually learn to love. The key is patiently demonstrating that you can be trusted and that you respect their individuality.

My cats almost always come when I call them, and they generally want to be in whatever room I am in. I remember one night I wasn’t feeling well and was tossing and turning in bed. The cats were lying next to me, and their warmth and proximity (which I normally love) added to my discomfort. Frustrated, I grabbed my pillow and went to lie down on the couch by myself. It wasn’t more than five minutes before all three cats had come into the living room to lie down beside me on the couch. I just had to laugh. My cats are definitely not aloof – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Excess Calcium Isn’t Good for Dogs


By Lexiann Grant

When you think of essential minerals your dog requires in his diet, calcium probably comes to mind first.

Because bones and teeth are formed and maintained with calcium, the body requires this nutrient in greater quantity than any other dietary mineral. Calcium is also critical in nerve impulse transmission, contraction of muscles and heart rhythm regulation.

Excess calcium causes numerous health problems, including kidney disease and some urinary stones. Parathyroid hormones influenced by dietary calcium levels, can disrupt dynamics in the gastrointestinal tract.

Feeding insufficient calcium also undermines health. Puppies may have poor bone growth and inadequate dental development. Bones in deficient adults can soften or fracture, and tooth loss or accelerated tooth decay occur.

Because of this, some owners feel their dog or puppy – particularly if he is a large breed – should be given extra calcium. But too much calcium can have the opposite effect: excess calcium can slow bone and cartilage development, even stunt growth.

One Cornell University study found an increased incidence of skeletal problems including hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), osteochondritis dissecans or osteochondrosis (OCD) and hip dysplasia when dietary calcium was excessive.

In HOD part of the bone over-grows causing pain, fever, enlarged joints, and possibly hunched spine or bowed legs. With OCD, fluid accumulates in affected joints or connective tissue separates resulting in inflammation and pain. By the time symptoms of lameness, pain, or swelling are present, the damage is done.

Young pups fed certain commercial foods, and dogs eating homemade diets, may not be getting enough calcium. Table foods naturally high in calcium, such as broccoli or dairy products, can increase levels.

Balanced dog foods like CANIDAE® All Life Stages supply the correct amount of calcium without guessing. This amount is based on AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) and National Research Council guidelines. Formulas are tested to assure nutritional adequacy.

The minimum requirement is 1.0% and the maximum is 2.5% for a dry product basis. Growth formulas average 1.6% with maintenance formulas around 1.4%.

Calcium must also be balanced against phosphorous intake. The ideal range recommended by AAFCO is between 1-to-1 and 2-to-1 parts calcium to phosphorous. With improper ratios, phosphorous and zinc levels may become deficient.

Check with the manufacturer for calcium levels and ratios in your dog’s food. Nutritional information is usually available online as well. Your veterinarian can advise you if your dog or puppy requires extra calcium, but healthy dogs on a balanced, premium food shouldn’t need supplementation.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Skin Disorders in Dogs: “Ringworm”


By Anna Lee

You have probably heard of ringworm, and you most likely associate it with kids. I always did too, until recently. Contrary to what its name implies, ringworm is not caused by a worm. It’s caused by a type of microscopic fungi that live and spread on the top layer of the skin and on the hair. They prefer to live in warm, moist areas such as swimming pools and in skin folds. Athlete’s foot is a form of ringworm; between the toes is warm and moist skin where the fungus grows.

You may not know this, but it’s not uncommon for a dog to get ringworm. This fungal organism attacks the skin, then invades the hair shaft and feeds on the protein in the hair and skin. It will initially show up as dry flaky skin, broken hair and bald patches, typically on the ears and front legs. Abby had a few on her front leg, several around her neck and more down her back. According to my vet, cats do not show signs of ringworm, but they are carriers. Here is how I learned about ringworm.

Not long ago I noticed Abby had a large spot where hair was missing and it happened overnight. The skin was not raw or red, rather it was dry and was a perfect round circle. My first and immediate thought was another hot spot. I got out the container of formula that I used during the hot spot episode last summer. I kept her out of the pool, which was heartbreaking for her! After a few days the spots started to multiply. Naturally the worst of it happened over the weekend as more and more areas became hairless.

First thing Monday morning I called the vet for an appointment for that afternoon. I remained calm until we got there, assuming she just had a rather bad case of hot spots. After he examined Abby he said there were not hot spots, but ringworm. He then explained the causes, symptoms, and treatment for ringworm.

We were instructed to:
1. Cut away the hair from each area to allow air to get to the spots.
2. Bath her twice the first week with a special medicated shampoo made especially for ringworm (the vet sells the shampoo).
3. Give her one anti-fungal pill a day for 7 days. This is the same compound used for ringworm in humans.
4. Return to the vet in a week for further evaluation.

We decided to get her first bath at their facility the following morning. They shaved the spots, bathed her and dried her thoroughly; it was well worth the $15 charge.

The vet explained that when these round areas begin to heal they do so from the inside out. That causes a “ring” to form, thus the name ringworm. Two days later the rings started to form and I felt like we were making good progress. The next step was for us to give her the second bath at home.

We bathed her according to instructions: wet her down, lathered her up well, left the lather on for 10 minutes then rinsed well and repeated all steps. The next step is important: dry the dog thoroughly.

We returned to the vet in a week, and he said she was healing nicely. He also said that since ringworm is slow to get started, it is also slow to get rid of. He ordered more pills for us, a month’s worth this time. But the good news is that she could swim, as this will not hurt her or slow the healing. We were told to continue with the baths twice a week and to return in three weeks.

The vet’s assistant called us three days later to let us know that the hair sample taken previously proved it was officially ringworm. We were glad to know our vet was right with his diagnosis. Unfortunately, new rings have formed since that visit. After speaking with the vet on the phone we increased the baths to every other day. She was also put back on her allergy meds to help keep the skin calm. The original spots look like they are healing. The newest spots do not appear as severe as the original spots were when they started. We don’t have a clipper but I did manage to cut the hair away from the spots so that the air can get to them.

The vet reiterated that this is a long process and we have to be diligent. We are maintaining the bath schedule and making sure she gets her meds. Other than that her life hasn’t changed much. She is still a happy-go- lucky lab despite her outward appearance! She’s also not lost her appetite for CANIDAE® Snap-Biscuits dog treats. Our next appointment isn’t for a few weeks, and hopefully by then the worst will be behind us.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Friday, July 17, 2009

"I Knew it was Going to Work Wonders for Poor Rocco"

This special letter was sent recently to the CANIDAE Customer Support department. It's about a very lucky dog named "Rocco." We hope you enjoy it.

In late June, my neighbor found a small dog hiding behind a dumpster and barely alive. The first picture shows how malnourished he was. My neighbor rescued this little guy and took him to the vet. He had a very high fever, was far too thin, and was infested with ants. It didn't look good.

I told my neighbor I would foster him until a home could be found. With two other big dogs that are a huge part of my life, and because I had just started a new business, I didn't think I needed another dog. Shortly after bringing him home though I knew the fostering idea had gone out the window. By his second day with me I had already named him "Rocco."

A few days after bringing him home, Rocco and I were lucky enough to have a CANIDAE employee come into my place of work. As soon as I found out she worked for CANIDAE, I told her Rocco’s story and the condition he was in. After hearing our story, she told me CANIDAE would give me free food to help bring him back to health and that they had the perfect formula to feed him.

CANIDAE sent me some of their new Grain Free Salmon formula and told me about its benefits. After hearing about all of the healthy ingredients I gladly accepted their offer. I knew it was going to work wonders for poor Rocco.

About a week later I could tell Rocco was looking and feeling better. The second picture shows how he had already started to gain some weight back!

The people at CANIDAE were a huge part of nurturing Rocco back to being the playful lovable dog he was meant to be. I've been feeding him the Grain Free Salmon formula, which he can't get enough of, for almost a month now. In the first week and half he went from 9 to 14 pounds and he is just about back to the weight the vet says he should be. I am so happy!

The third picture was taken a few days ago. See how great he looks! His energy level has increased, making him the perfect playmate for my Retriever and other Boxer. Rocco and I want to thank that people at CANIDAE for all they have done. They truly care about the well being of your animal and I can't thank them enough for helping to save my Rocco.

from Peggy M., Norco, CA

We've created a special page on our website so we can share stories of Rocco's continued progress. Rocco's page at canidae.com.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Adult Dog?


By Ruthie Bently

You have decided to get a dog and a question comes up: which is better, a puppy or an adult dog? To find the answer, you should ask yourself some questions. What is your lifestyle like? What kind of sports and hobby activities do you like to participate in? Do you have the time to train a puppy? Remember that puppies require housebreaking, teething, vet visits, training and socializing. Would you rather have a companion that is grown up, theoretically better behaved, and possibly calmer?

Both puppies and adult dogs will need to be exercised every day; you need to make time in your schedule for at least 15 minutes of daily exercise along with at least two potty breaks for an adult dog and about six for a puppy.

Usually a puppy will have a higher activity level than an adult dog, but you will find certain breeds of dogs can have a high energy level even as adults (i.e., terriers, herding or working dogs). Adult dogs are usually easier to settle into a daily routine. As puppies grow their needs change, and they will be teething, which an adult dog is usually through with by the age of one. Though an adult dog is done teething, they are never done chewing, so you will have to purchase chewing toys to help keep them occupied when you aren’t able to play with them.

A puppy is a pliable being that you can train, so they learn the rules and regulations of your house as they grow. An adult dog may have habits you might need to change: for example counter surfing or tipping over the garbage container. You should realize that even a puppy can develop bad habits. If you have other pets in the household, either a puppy or adult dog can be integrated with a little patience and love. Nimber slept with one of the cats he lived with, and Skye had to learn to live with cats, chickens and geese, which she had never had any contact with. I have had two litters of kittens born on my bed, right under Skye’s nose, and their mothers consider Skye a 59-pound babysitter.

I have raised two puppies and had two adult dogs in my life. I adopted Katie as a puppy and she was not socialized enough, so she didn’t like any dog other than an American Staffordshire Terrier. Nimber was also raised as a puppy, and he was a phenomenal dog who bonded to me like glue. He loved everyone and later in life when he had to spend time at the vet’s during my work day, they would take him out and play with him because he was so friendly.

Smokey Bear was an adult when I adopted him and he was so laid back, I could sit him on my lap on his back and rub his tummy. He had no issues with people or other dogs and loved everybody; he even had a cat of his own, Munchkin, who would follow him around on the property and sleep on top of him when she needed a nap. Skye is my other adult dog adoptee, and she is constantly thinking up new games and things to get into because she is so smart, so I am constantly on my toes to try and outthink her.

Whichever you choose, puppy or adult dog, do your research and homework. This way you can seamlessly add a new canine companion to your household. Don’t forget to check your local shelter – there are many wonderful dogs waiting for homes there!

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How to Keep Pets Safe When You Move


By Julia Williams

Moving is one of the most stressful things we humans have to endure. Whether it’s just across town or thousands of miles, moving is no picnic. Oh sure, it can be exciting and fun after the move, when you’re finally settled into your new home. But the actual move, with all the packing, hauling and unpacking? Ugh.

When you add pets into the mix, moving can get downright chaotic. Just like humans, pets get stressed out from the process of moving too. However, there are some things you can do to lessen the tension for all involved, and keep your pets safe during this traumatic time.

Before the Move

Planning ahead is the most important thing you can do to help make this transition go as smoothly as possible. As soon as you know that a move is coming, start making arrangements for your belongings and your pets – and write everything down so you don’t forget something important. If possible, pack up your things a little at a time so your pet’s routine can be kept as normal as possible until moving day arrives.

All cats (and some dogs) will need to be safely confined in a sturdy pet carrier on the day of your move, so buy one beforehand if you don’t already have one. If you have multiple cats, you may need a carrier for each of them. I assumed my two cats, a brother and sister who got along great in my home, would be fine sharing a pet carrier. When I tried to take them to the vet in one carrier, I found out just how wrong I was! Luckily I discovered this before my cross-country move, and thus had separate pet carriers on hand for each of my three cats.

Purchase a new pet ID tag as soon as you know your new address. If you don’t know your new phone number yet, put your cell phone number on it instead. If your pet is micro-chipped, get the information changed before you move.

If you're traveling by car and will need lodging along the way, plan ahead to be sure there is a pet-friendly hotel or motel room waiting for you. You can find pet-friendly lodging online at a site such as Petswelcome.com, but should also confirm it with your motel directly when you make your reservation.

If your pet doesn't travel well by car, consult your vet about medication that might help. My friends gave their cat a veterinary-prescribed sedative during and after their move. Although it’s not something I personally would do, your vet can advise you if it’s something you are considering. Your vet can also inform you of any vaccinations or health certificates your pet may need before the move.

Air travel with pets is a little more difficult. Not all airlines accept pets, either in the cabin or cargo hold; those that do have their own pet transportation policies. Contact your airline directly when making travel plans for your pets. Also, the Air Transport Association has comprehensive information online that is a must-read for anyone traveling by air with pets.

During the Move

On moving day, your front door will be open a lot, and people will be constantly coming and going. The safest and least stressful place for your pet during all of this chaos is somewhere off-site. Consider having your pet stay with a trusted friend, the vet or a kennel. They won’t be underfoot, and they won’t get lost outdoors should they slip out unnoticed. Not having them there on moving day is one less thing for you to worry about as well.

If taking your pet off-site is not an option, it’s imperative to confine them to a safe place, such as the bathroom. Place a DO NOT ENTER sign on the door, and be sure friends and movers know that the room is off-limits.

Make your car trip safe for both people and pets. Cats should never be allowed to ride loose in the car – that is just an accident waiting to happen. Cats should always be transported in a sturdy and well-ventilated pet carrier. If your dog will be riding in your car, consider getting them a harness that secures them to the seat. Never let your dog ride loose in the open bed of a pickup truck. Put them in a sturdy crate that’s securely tied down, or on a properly installed cross tether.

After the Move

Take with you (rather than pack in a box) everything your pet will need in your new home: food, water, leash, medications, pet bed, litter box, dishes, and health records. Also, carry a recent photo of your pet in your wallet, in case your pet becomes lost.

You’ll want to get a recommendation from someone you trust for a new veterinarian; in the meantime, know the location of the closest vet and after-hours animal hospital in case of an emergency.

When you get to your new home, it’s best to put your pet in a quiet room with the door closed until everything’s been moved inside. Besides the chaos of moving, your pet now has the stress of being in a strange new place with no familiar smells. Cats especially need to be safely confined indoors for several weeks (more is better), to ensure that they don’t become lost or injured outdoors.

I hope these tips will help keep your four-legged friend safe and sound on your next move.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Which Dog Toys are the Best?


By Linda Cole

Pet toys dangle from prominent displays in pet stores, supermarkets and drugstores in every city. There are balls of different sizes and colors; some that light up when they bounce, and some that are florescent and glow in the dark. There are stuffed chew toys to delight and entertain even persistent and aggressive chewers, and tough rubber “treat” toys to keep your dog from becoming bored and attacking the couch while you are away. With the multitude of different types and sizes of dog toys available today, how do you choose the best ones for your pet? Trial and error, mostly.

My first dog was a polite American Eskimo named Jack. He never got on the furniture or bed and turned his nose up at every toy I gave him. He wanted to wrestle and didn't have time for some stupid toy. He would fetch a ball if he was in the mood, but that game only lasted for a couple of throws.

Thinking he would like some pals to play with while I was at work, I made a decision to adopt Bear and Mindy, a brother and sister Irish Setter/Collie/Great Dane mix. I quickly discovered they loved playing with dog toys. As it turned out, their favorite toy was the throw pillows on my couch. I came home from work shortly after they came to live with us, and walked into pillow stuffing covering the living room floor with the pillow carcasses buried in the middle of the mess. Jack wandered out of the kitchen and gave me a disgusted look. Bear and Mindy scampered out of the bedroom, through the pillow debris with smiling faces and eager eyes. All I could do was laugh as a vision of pillow stuffing flying through the air filled my head. It became obvious I needed some dog toys, and I needed them now.

My dogs like tug-of-war type toys and “treat” toys that bounce erratically when they toss them in the air. Not only do they get the fun of cleaning out the peanut butter treat on the inside, they can attack the odd shaped rubber toy afterwards. Balls are always a favorite as are Frisbees, but some dogs do have to be taught how to play with these.

A collection of brightly colored stuffed dog toys have come and gone over the years. Most of them were ignored and I finally gave up buying the cute little squeaker toys. My dogs are a lively group and the ones not ignored were quickly destroyed as they dismantled the poor thing to find that annoying little squeaker hidden inside.

Dogs are a bit like kids when it comes to toys – sometimes it's the packaging that's the most fun! An empty plastic pop bottle can give dogs hours of enjoyment. Just make sure to remove the cap, the ring around the top and the label before letting your dog play with an empty bottle. However, if your dog wants to eat it, don't let them play with a bottle.

Some dogs love playing with dog toys and balls and haul them around like security blankets, while others scoff at the notion of playing fetch. One reaction I've gotten is a look that says, “You threw it, you go get it.”

Chew bones and tough rubber toys serve a need that allows your dog a way to satisfy his need to chew without destroying the couch or table leg. Dog toys also give your pet a way to entertain themselves or find comfort when home alone. Finding the right toy may take some time, but it's worth the effort if it can save even one couch pillow from going to that great pillow factory in the sky.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Best Dogs for Less Active Families


By Anna Lee

If you and your family are not very active, but you want to get a dog, you need a breed that will work well with your particular lifestyle. If your family is more laid back and easygoing, you probably shouldn't get a high energy dog that needs a lot of exercise, such as a Springer Spaniel, Golden Retriever or German Shepherd.

Perhaps you have a physical limitation when it comes to taking a walk. You would still like to walk your dog, so what kind of dog would be best? Do you prefer to sit inside on the weekends and cozy up on the sofa with a good book? You want a dog that would not mind being right there on the sofa with you. You can have some popcorn while your dog enjoys some CANIDAE® treats!

In cases such as those what is not needed is a dog breed that requires action, like a Border Collie, or the aforementioned Springer Spaniel. One thing I noticed in doing research is that most of the dogs requiring less exercise are the small breeds. Although some breeds require a less-than-normal amount of exercise, they still require some exercise. A daily walk and some play time will keep them happy. The politically correct term for this group of dogs is “lower exercise demand dogs.” Here are some of my picks for this category.

Bichon Frise: the Bichon is happy to be with you and stay by your side. They do not require a yard but do need a daily walk and a little play inside. The Bichon is a gentle dog that is easy to train. The Bichon loves everyone, from children to adults. At 7 to 12 pounds, this breed is the perfect size to sit on your lap for hours!

English Bulldog: His appearance makes us fearful of him, but he is one of the gentlest dogs and is excellent with children. The Bulldog will get along fine with other family dogs, but have been known to be a little scrappy with unfamiliar dogs. They tend to snore quite loudly but if your spouse’s snoring doesn’t bother you, the bulldogs won’t either! They are physically inactive and great for someone who wants company in the house instead of company running a marathon. Weight averages 51 pounds for females and 55 pounds for males.

Dachshund: these little guys are clowns, and I have personal knowledge of that. A few years back we entered our lab in a dog contest sponsored by the Mandrel Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN. The first year Abby won first prize. The category? The Loudest! She out-barked several other large dogs. The second year we ran into some heavy competition and she lost to a Dachshund. It was a little embarrassing for poor Abby! The new champion had been trained to put on quite a show which included the loudest and shrillest bark I’ve ever heard. Dachshunds prefer families with older children and they require at least a daily walk. If you have a fenced yard they enjoying running free. The standard size hits about 11 pounds top weight.

Pekingese are small dogs that are very affectionate with their owners. They will try to dominate you. Therefore, you must show them that you are the boss. A daily walk is all the exercise they require. The smallest variety is 6 pounds for a ‘sleeve’ Pekingese. Average weight for the regular Pekingese is 10 pounds.

Toy Poodles are happy-go-lucky dogs, although they have a tendency to bark too much. They will play and run outdoors, but are happy to return back to the comforts of home! If you have a fenced yard you can let them play until they tire out. The Toy Poodle hits 9 pounds top weight.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What Causes Dog Flatulence?


By Ruthie Bently

Has this ever happened to you? You’re watching a movie on TV and a horrible odor assails your nose. You know it wasn’t you or your spouse, and it couldn’t be the dog could it? When Skye came to live with me, she was on a premium brand of adult dog kibble (with corn) and she had a problem with flatulence (aka breaking wind, passing gas, farting). It doesn’t matter what you call it, she could float the house off its foundation. A green fog would settle in the room and you were afraid to light a match.

But what causes that toxic green fog? It is basically a buildup of gas in the gastrointestinal tract. In a human it can be as simple as drinking too many cans of soda, and can be caused by the carbon dioxide that is used to make your soda fizzy. For Skye, gas is usually caused by something she has eaten, that isn’t her regular dog food. For Skye it could be the cat food that she loves or any other food she has found while counter surfing that her stomach isn’t used to digesting.

Flatulence can also be caused by your dog eating their food too quickly, which can cause them to swallow air. It can also be caused by a poor quality dog food or eating table scraps that are unsuitable for your dog. Now I am assuming here, but I would also think it can be caused by any food that normally gives a human gas issues. I have given Skye cucumbers from our garden but we grow the “burpless” kind, so no gas there. But if you are feeding foods to your dog that you normally eat and they cause you to be gassy, then it is a good assumption that your dog will be gassy too.

I had not yet found the CANIDAE® Grain Free ALS dog food for Skye, as this was a few years ago, so I used an old trick I learned. We used to feed our Boxers charcoal biscuits when I was growing up. The charcoal helped filter out some of the odors of the dog’s flatulence, they passed gas less and their feces didn’t smell as bad. I got Skye some charcoal biscuits and the gas did occur less often and was not as potent. But I didn’t like that there was corn in Skye’s food and didn’t know if that particular food was on the recall list in 2007. I just knew I didn’t want to feed it to her, so I went looking for something new.

As soon as I put Skye on the CANIDAE Grain Free ALS the gaseous intervals ceased completely, and she doesn’t chase us or our company out of a room anymore. Other benefits with the CANIDAE food are that Skye’s stools are nicely formed, don’t smell, and are easy to pick up. She will still get into something outside that she shouldn’t and then we have to deal with the “green fog” issue. (I wonder what Skye’s methane output is in a year.) However, I am happy to say I have never had that issue feeding her the CANIDAE Grain Free ALS.

Bless you CANIDAE for your wonderful food; you make my life with my dog that much sweeter. That includes our air too.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Adopting a Dog from an Animal Shelter


By Ruthie Bently

I am asked a lot about what kind of dog someone should get. My answer is “the dog you get should be the right one for you.” Did you know that animal shelters are a great place to find a dog? You can find a puppy or an adult dog, a pedigreed dog or a mutt. Not only that, you are saving a life.

Dogs end up in shelters for many reasons: their owners may have passed away, their owners may not be able to care for them anymore, or the dog may have simply gotten lost and not been reclaimed. Whatever the reason, your new friend could be waiting on the other side of the shelter door.

When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you are asked to abide by their rules. These can include taking the dog back to the shelter if you are unable to keep or care for the dog. Shelters will not adopt animals to minors, so children under 18 years of age need to have their parents come with them when looking for a new four-legged friend to adopt.

Every dog from a shelter comes with an adoption fee. This fee usually covers the spaying or neutering of the dog you choose, and can also cover vaccination fees and any other fees the dog may have incurred while at the shelter. In some shelters, the adoption fee is based on the size of the dog.

Many shelters also do temperament tests on the dogs they have in their care. This can include taking food, toys or bedding away from the dog. They may also be tested to see how well they get along with other dogs. After my AmStaff Katie passed on, I wanted to get another companion for Smokey Bear. I called the shelter to make sure it was OK to bring him in to meet the dog I was interested in adopting. They said it was, and we made an appointment. This is very important if you are looking for a second dog, or a companion for one that was used to living with another dog. You can find out if your dog will get along with your choice and also see how well they play together.

When Smokey Bear and I went to meet his tentative new friend, the shelter personnel took us into a room with a training ring and then went to get the dog we had come to see. Smokey and the little girl we met got along great; unfortunately she had been adopted during the time we spent on the road to get to the shelter. The shelter tried to convince us to take another dog home with us, but the one they chose was a ball of energy as it was still a puppy. Poor Smokey didn’t know what to do and came back over to me so I could “protect” him. Needless to say, I went home with just Smokey Bear that day, and he got to be an “only child” until the day he passed on.

I have adopted several dogs and cats from shelters in my lifetime. I even worked as a volunteer for a cageless shelter after I saved a pregnant cat, and ended up adopting my charge and her kittens, but that is another story for another time. I have heard it said that animals in the shelter are more loving than other animals. I have found it to be true, and have been blessed by each animal I have adopted. Maybe it’s because they know where they are; they are sentient creatures after all, they just can’t speak a human language.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Friday, July 10, 2009

Jealousy and Possessive Behavior in Dogs


By Linda Cole

Possessive behavior in dogs is actually quite common. We often see them guarding their favorite toy or sleeping spot, or making sure other pets in the house stay away from their feeding bowl or treat “cookie jar.” In a way, it's hard to blame them for protecting what they believe belongs to them, and that includes their human. After all, we display the same tendencies toward other people. Being possessive of a toy or favorite resting area is one thing, but if your dog is jealous, that's another ballgame that can quickly get out of control.

Jealousy in dogs is not cute, and we unknowingly encourage bad behavior each time the dog is allowed to display this emotion with no correction from us. Jealousy can occur when you bring in a new pet, start a new relationship, have a baby or when there is any other change in your life which takes your attention away from your dog. In his mind, he has stood by you through thick and thin, and given unconditional love— and now you are giving your attention to someone else. How rude.

Kelly is my alpha female. She’s an adorable 14 year old terrier/mix who has eyes only for me. As far as she is concerned, I belong to her and it's her duty to protect me. I didn't realize she had taken on the role as my protector until the day she actually nipped at a friend who took one step too close to me. With my eyes opened, I began to notice it wasn't just my friend. Kelly was also protecting me from the other dogs and cats in my pack. The change in our household was a job that required a lot of overtime. I also was caring for my father who had fallen and was recovering from a broken hip. They did not get along; his walker scared her, and he was afraid of her. I had to confine Kelly when I was at work, and her little heart was broken.

Jealousy and possessive behavior in dogs can be a serious behavior problem. Some dogs will exhibit signs of depression or a loss of appetite. They may be withdrawn or show signs of aggression that you've never seen before. Kelly would lie beside me on the couch, and if another dog or cat came too close, she would leap at them with a high pitched warning bark. She was like a rattlesnake lashing out. This stressed out not only her, but the other pets and me as well.

So how do you deal with jealousy and possessive behavior in dogs? The solution isn't as difficult as it may seem, but it requires consistent dedication and a calm steady hand. Whether you know it or not, before your dog became jealous, the two of you had a daily routine. Perhaps it was a morning walk before going to work, playing ball after work, or a relaxing ear scratching session while watching TV. To a dog, routine is important because he sees any change as him losing his place by your side and in your heart.

Reassure him with extra attention and maintain a daily schedule of walking, feeding, talking to and playing with him. Encourage positive interaction between him and any new member of the pack, whether it is human or another pet.

Reestablish basic training ground rules. Your dog may need to be reminded who the boss is. A jealous or possessive dog needs to be watched and as the pack leader, you need to step in and control any signs of aggression or negative behavior before they get out of control. Make sure to reward desired behavior with a yummy treat (like CANIDAE® Snap-Bits™) or extra back scratching time. Your dog is just looking for reassurance that you still value him.

Kelly is still jealous of the other pets, but she has realized her role in the pack has not changed. I started a new routine: walks with other members of the pack, special time set aside just for her which included head scratching and girl talk, along with appropriate pack leader discipline from me when needed.

Dealing with jealousy and possessive behavior in dogs is ongoing. It's worth the effort to maintain peace in the family for their well being as well as our own. Besides, our dogs think we are the most wonderful creatures around and want to please us. The least we can do is be responsible pack leaders and set rules that are consistent and clear. In doing so, our dogs will understand their place in the pack and know what we expect from them.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Breed Profile: Portuguese Water Dog


By Ruthie Bently

The Obama family recently got a new puppy, and Sasha and Malia named him “Bo.” This breed was picked because the Portuguese Water Dog is purported to be better for people with allergies. Bo is a black and white Portuguese Water Dog, and was six months old when he went to live at the White House. In light of that, I thought I would do this month’s breed profile on the Portuguese Water Dog.

The Portuguese Water Dog was first recognized by the AKC in 1981, so they are a relatively new breed to the AKC. They are a member of the working group and the size standard for the breed is a height of between 17 to 21 inches at the withers for females and 20 to 23 inches for males, with a weight of 35 to 50 pounds for females and between 42 and 60 pounds for males. The reason for the diverse size ranges are due to the fact that smaller dogs were better suited to smaller ships, and large dogs were better suited for larger ships. Their lifespan is between ten and fourteen years of age.

In their native country of Portugal, they are known by three names. Cao de Agua, which means “dog of water,” is the main name they are known by. The two other names are Cao de Ague de Pelo Encaradolado, which is the name given to the curly coated variety, and Cao de Agua de Pelo Ondulado, the name given to the long-haired variety of water dog. Their duties included being a courier between ship and shore and from ship to ship, as well as retrieving lost nets or tackle, and herding fish into nets. They were even used by the Portuguese in the frigid waters of Iceland when the fleets sailed there to bring saltwater codfish back to Portugal.

According to the AKC, the Portuguese Water Dog was originally bred to be “a calm, intelligent breed of fine temperament, rugged and robust, with a profuse non-allergenic, non-shedding, waterproof coat, and webbed feet; he is an ideal outdoor dog, capable of limitless work.” They come in many colors including black, brown, white, black and white, brown and white, black and silver, brown black and white, and brown brindle. There are several theories that Portuguese Water Dogs and Poodles come from the same genetic lineage. The Portuguese Water Dog is shown in two clips: the lion clip and the working-retriever clip, and there are fans of both.

By the early 20th century, the numbers of the Portuguese Water Dog had dwindled and the breed was on the verge of extinction. This was due to advances in fishing and getting away from the fishing traditions that had been in place for many years. Thanks to the efforts of Vasco Bensuade, a wealthy Portuguese shipping magnate with a fondness for dogs, the breed was saved. Because of his efforts a breed standard was written. Bensuade’s first dog Leao, (which means lion) became the founding sire of a kennel that Bensuade set up. After his death, Algarbiorum Kennel was acquired by Conchita Branco, who was a former lady bullfighter.

However, despite Bensuade’s best efforts the Portuguese Water Dog was again on the verge of extinction in the 1960’s, as there were only about 50 dogs in existence in the world. Fate stepped in again, in the form of Deyanne and Herbert Miller, Jr. Due to the persistence of the Millers, the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was formed in 1972 with fourteen other breeders. The breed was admitted to the AKC in June of 1981 under the miscellaneous category, and in 1983 they were admitted to the working group.

Today I am happy to report that there are over 5000 Portuguese Water Dogs, so it doesn’t seem like it will be going away soon. If you want an active dog that loves to work and swim, this may be the breed for you.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Ancient and Exotic Abyssinian


By Julia Williams

All of my cats have been the garden variety kind (i.e., free). But if I ever did decide to get a pedigreed cat, the Abyssinian is high on my list. The beautiful Aby has been one of the most popular short hair breeds for quite some time, and it’s easy to see why. This regal feline is highly intelligent, loyal, loving, extroverted and active. Abyssinians also possess an unusual ticked coat, a delightful “purrsonality,” and an intriguing history. What more could any cat fancier want?

Abyssinian History

Although the Aby is one of the oldest known cat breeds, its origins are still something of a mystery. While many different stories and theories exist as to where the Abyssinian came from, the truth is that no one really knows for sure. Some believe they originated in Egypt, largely because they resemble the paintings and sculptures of ancient Egyptian cats, typically depicted with an arched neck, a svelte body, well-cupped ears, long legs and almond-shaped eyes.

Another Egyptian theory claims that the Abyssinian originated from a female kitten called Zula, who was taken from Alexandria to England by a British soldier. However, this theory is unsubstantiated. There are also stories that wild Abyssinians live in parts of North Africa today. This likely stems from the fact that today’s Aby still has that exotic “jungle look” of the African wildcat (felis silvestris lybica), generally believed to be the ancestor of all domestic cats.

The earliest identifiable Abyssinian cat resides in a taxidermy exhibit in a Holland museum, labeled as "Patrie, domestica India." From this, some theorize that the breed may have been introduced into England from India by colonists or merchants who frequently travelled between the two areas.

Abyssinian Temperament

Although the Aby is a very people-oriented cat that relishes human company and attention, they are the opposite of a lap cat. The Abyssinian is far too preoccupied with playing and exploring every inch of its “habitat” to sit still for long. They’re fond of climbing and may appear to defy gravity at times because no summit is too high for them to scale. Obviously, Abyssinian cats have no fear of heights. Given their love of high places, Abyssinians make good use of towering cat trees, multi-level cat condos and the like.

Abyssinians have an insatiable curiosity, and when their interest in piqued (which is pretty much 24/7) they tend to be captivated by whatever is happening. A window perch that looks out into a yard frequented by birds and squirrels will hold the Abys attention indefinitely.

In the Abyssinian Breeders International "Kitten Buyer's Guide," Carolyn Osier describes the Aby as "... a cat that likes to be with people, a cat that wants to know what you are doing - that wants to help. There is probably no breed anywhere more loyal than the Aby. Once you have acquired an Aby as a companion, you will never be able to complain that no one understands you."

Abyssinian Physical Characteristics

The Abyssinian’s head is broad and somewhat wedge-shaped, with eyes that can be gold or green. They have rather large ears that are cupped at the base and pointed at the tips, where tufts of hair are commonly seen. Some Abys have an M-shaped marking on their forehead. The Abyssinian's lithe body is medium length, with well-developed muscles, slender legs and small paws. They have a fairly long tail which is broad at the base and tapers to a point.

The defining feature that sets the Abyssinian apart from other cat breeds, however, is the richly colored “ticked” tabby coat. Each hair is ticked with four to six bands of color, dark at the tip, lighter at the roots, alternating dark and light. This iridescent ticked coat adds to the Aby’s wild appearance, and seems to make them shine.

Abyssinian Colors and Markings

There are four Abyssinian colors recognized by the Cat Fanciers’ Association, which is the world’s largest registry of pedigreed felines. The original Abyssinian coat color is known as Ruddy. The coat has a warm reddish-brown base; the darker bands of color are dark sepia to black and the lighter bands are bright orange, which gives the impression of a burnt sienna iridescent cat. Red has chocolate brown in the darker bands of color, giving the impression of a red iridescent cat. The Blue Abyssinian has slate blue darker bands of color alternating with warm beige. Fawn has light cocoa darker bands and rose-beige lighter ticking. Abyssinian kittens are all born with dark coats that get progressively lighter as they mature. It can actually take several months for the final coat color to be established.

Read more articles by Julia Williams
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