Sunday, October 31, 2010

What Causes Sterility in Dogs?

By Ruthie Bently

Not every dog is capable of creating progeny to leave behind. Either the male or female can be sterile. What causes a dog to be sterile or to become sterile? Canine sterility can be caused by a myriad of things. Some causes of canine infertility can happen to either sex, and some are gender specific.

A female dog comes into heat twice a year for approximately three weeks. A first heat can occur between the age of six weeks and fifteen months, depending on the dog’s breed. Normal heat cycles occur at six month intervals, but can occur from five to eight months apart. If there is more than one female dog in a household, one is dominant and their heat cycle can control the cycles of the other females in the household. Many professionals suggest waiting until a female is over two or has had several heats, as she may not be able to carry the puppies to term. A male dog doesn’t come into “season” like a female, but if he is sexually mature he is capable of fathering puppies.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Black Cats and Halloween

By Julia Williams

The jubilant holiday known as Halloween is a great time to be a kid – or a fun-loving adult. Halloween is not, however, a particularly good time to be a black cat. Like ghosts, bats, jack-o’ lanterns, skeletons and witches, black cats are a classic Halloween symbol. The difference is that black cats are also living beings. This opens the door to all sorts of problems for the black cat, ranging from teenage mischief to outright cruelty, to people using real black cats as part of their “spooky” Halloween décor.

It can be hard for responsible pet owners to fathom how such things could occur, because we’d never dream of doing them ourselves. It’s not hard for your local animal shelter to imagine, though, because many of them have seen it firsthand. The threat of danger to black cats on Halloween became so prevalent that a decade or so ago, many shelters instituted a policy that still stands today: no black cat adoptions during the entire month of October.

Before the ban, many shelters saw an increase in black cat adoptions just before Halloween. They also noted that many of those same black cats were returned to the shelter after the holiday, often with vague excuses. One can reasonably assume that these thoughtless humans simply wanted a “cool” Halloween decoration for their house or their witch’s costume. These types typically regard pets as property rather than living beings that would be traumatized by being adopted for a few weeks and given up once the holiday was over.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Desensitize a Scared Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs can show a fear of storms, fireworks or loud voices. Their fear can be mild to severe and when a storm is on the horizon, your dog may disappear or hunker down until the storm has passed. Fear of storms or loud noise adds stress to their life and yours. Sometimes it's hard to understand dog behavior, but once we do, we can set up a program to desensitize a scared dog and teach him there's nothing to fear from thunder or loud noises.

Fear of loud noises is only one type of fear dogs can show. Some become anxious around strangers or other dogs. I had a dog who didn't like to be around men. Some dogs are scared of objects like vacuum cleaners or grooming combs, and some dogs don't want their paws touched for any reason. Since dogs can't tell us why something scared them, the only thing we can do is pay attention to our dogs during stressful times to figure out what is scaring them. Desensitization is one way to help change a dog's behavior and help him get rid of his fear.

The last thing you should do when your dog is scared is tell him everything is alright, because you're telling him it's okay to be fearful. By ignoring his reaction to thunder or loud noises, he sees you remaining calm and nothing bad happened to you, so it must be okay.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Live Animal Sports Team Mascots

By Suzanne Alicie

There are many animals that are known for their jobs, including the famous Bud Light “spokesdog” Spuds Mackenzie, the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the Geico gecko. These are popular advertising animals that are easily recognizable. For sports fans, there are some animals that are even more recognizable. Those are the live animal sports team mascots that are known and loved by fans across the country.

A sports team mascot often travels with the team and spends time with the players, coaches, cheerleaders and sports fans. Some of the most well known real live sports mascots are beloved by college teams such as the University of Georgia Bulldogs. The bulldogs are represented by Uga, an American bulldog. There are several college teams that use live animals as their sports team mascots. Dogs, alligators, mules and bears are all out there representing their teams, interacting with fans and boosting morale and spirit for their teams.

When it comes to working animals, being a sports team mascot sounds like a pretty good deal. These animals have trainers, and caretakers who look after their nutrition, exercise and health care, as well as handling travel arrangements and appearances for the mascots. Special care is given to these mascots because they are live animals, and they deserve to be treated well – even sports teams can be responsible pet owners. Animal mascots are respected and well cared for by all who are involved.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Could Your Dog Ace the “Canine Good Citizen” test?

By Julia Williams

Having a well-trained feline is not something most cat owners care about. Not because cats can’t be trained – they certainly can – but it’s really not necessary for everyday life. Dog owners, on the other hand, do need to make sure their canine buddy is well trained and well behaved. Trained dogs make better companions, and the training process helps you build a stronger bond with your dog.

Many pet owners use the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) certification program as the first step in training their dogs. Passing the 10-step CGC test ensures that your dog has good manners both at home and out in the world. Having a well behaved dog makes you a better neighbor, and makes it more likely that your dog is welcomed in your community.

What is the Canine Good Citizen program?

The American Kennel Club started the CGC program in 1989 as a way to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs. A dog and his owner (or handler) must take a short behavioral evaluation consisting of ten objectives. Dogs who pass earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate from the AKC, which some owners use after the dog's name, e.g., “Rover, CGC.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Responsible Pet Care is a Lifetime Commitment

By Linda Cole

So many pets find their way to shelters for one reason or another. Sometimes an owner decides that they can’t or don’t want to take care of their pet any longer. For most responsible pet owners, every single day spent with our pet gives us an unconditional love that's hard to beat. Deciding to bring a pet into your life is a commitment that should never be done lightly, and if you do decide to offer a pet a home, it's should be for the pet's lifetime. Responsible pet ownership means promising to take care of the pet through sickness and health – in good times and bad – for the life of the pet.

When you decide you are ready to share your home with a pet, it's important to make sure the pet is the right match for your lifestyle. But the first thing you need to consider is if you are ready for a lifetime commitment of responsible pet care. Adopting a dog or cat means you have considered the expense for a lifetime of quality pet food, veterinary care, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, toys, beds, leashes, collars and any other expense that may be associated with your pet. Taking care of a pet isn't cheap, but every dollar spent is well worth the investment because they will give you a lifetime of love, loyalty and companionship no matter where you live, who you hang out with, what your income level is, or how nice (or clunky) your car is. A pet will stick with you through thick and thin, and it's only fair we do the same for them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Humor: How to Make Your Cat Do What You Want

By Tamara L. Waters

If you have a cat, you already know that making it do anything is next to impossible. Can it be done though? Let's find out. Here are a few tips on just that— try them if you dare!

Exert Your Authority

One of the first steps in making your cat do what you want it to do is to exert your authority. Make sure your cat knows you are the boss. You must make this clear from the very beginning and never allow your kitty to forget that you are in charge.

Remember, most cats don't go along with this step willingly. They will allow you to think you are in charge, but the reality is that you really aren't. Your cat will go along with this fantasy as the mood suits him or her in an effort to raise your self-esteem. Rest assured though, when kitty allows you think you're in charge, you will feel like the king of the world!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

By Ruthie Bently

The immune system is one of the most important functions of any organism, including dogs. An immune system is a multi-faceted defense system against sickness. It enables a dog’s body to differentiate between germs, foreign substances and itself. When functioning properly, the immune system fights fungal infections, bacterial infections and illnesses, offers parasite protection, helps eliminate toxins from the body, and kills viruses. There are several ways to boost your dog’s immune system to help keep them healthy.

The immune system is adept at recognizing threats, and uses many layers to fight any infection that may present itself. The immune system is comprised of multiple cellular warriors, capable of recognizing pathogens that may attack. The immune system recognizes these pathogens by the proteins and chemicals they release. As a pathogen is recognized it is attacked, killed and consumed by the cells of the immune system. The immune system is capable of creating a memory of the pathogen to thwart a reinfection attempt.

Friday, October 22, 2010

An Introduction to United Kennel Club

By Sara Chisnell-Voigt

Established in 1898, the United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. More than 60 percent of its 13,000 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. UKC prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events. The UKC has supported the “Total Dog” philosophy through its events and programs for over a century. As a departure from registries that place emphasis on a dog’s looks, UKC events are designed for dogs that look and perform equally well.

“Total Dog” Award   

The “Total Dog” Award is just one of many things that makes UKC so special, and illustrates that function is just as important as form. In order to win a “Total Dog” award, a dog must obtain a competition win in conformation, and must also earn a qualifying leg in a performance event (agility, obedience, weight pull, or a licensed hunt) at the same event. This rewards dogs that not only shine in the show ring, but are superb athletes as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just How Smart is a Border Collie?

By Linda Cole

Border Collies are considered one of the smartest dog breeds around. They excel at herding sheep and can learn voice commands, follow directions from a whistle or hand signals, and can understand more words than most dogs. Border Collies are smart, but just how smart are they?

The Border Collie sits at the top of the list of most intelligent dog breeds, and some people believe they are the smartest dog in the world. This is a dog who will keep his owner on their toes, especially if they don't research the breed before getting one. Border Collies require a lot of exercise, and need to do a job to stay out of trouble. A bored Border Collie is capable of almost anything, because he will find something to do to entertain himself.

This is a dog breed that never stops thinking and has the ability to stay one step ahead of his owner. You can practically see the wheels turning in his head as he searches his environment and notices everything going on around him. If you take the time, this dog can learn almost anything you want to teach him and he thrives on learning. A Border Collie needs plenty of mental stimulation and physical exercise to keep his mind and body in good shape. Just be careful what you do teach him, because he won't easily forget and he may use his intelligence to teach himself things you don't want him to learn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nine Ways to Make Your Pet Happy

By Julia Williams

Many people adore their pets (really, how could you NOT adore them?) and some even treat them “like children.” As a self-described Cat Lady myself, I see nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I live for my cats, or even that I live for their happiness – and yet, I wouldn’t dream of having them in my life if I couldn’t do things that brought them joy. They may not grin wide enough to eat a banana sideways, but they have a pretty good life. Here are some ways you can make your pet happy.

Feed Them a High Quality Food

Good food is the cornerstone of great health, and a healthy pet is a happy pet. Like us, our pets are energetic and in high spirits when they’re healthy. “We are what we eat” may be a cliché, but it’s the truth. Junk food is just that! Premium quality pet food like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, on the other hand, provides your four-legged friend with all of the nutrients they need for optimum health.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall Pet Care Tips for Dog Owners

By Suzanne Alicie

As cooler weather moves in, there are certain things that responsible pet owners should take care of before winter hits. Autumn is the ideal time to do several basic pet maintenance tasks to ensure that your dog has a warm and comfortable winter.

Bath and Treatments - I always give my dog a good end-of summer-bath, followed by all the basic grooming and treatment applications. Fall seems to be a time when dogs experience some itching and allergic reactions that affect their skin. Finding and treating itchy hot spots, applying flea and tick prevention medication, cleaning ears, and clipping nails are all part of fall bath time around my house.

Check Equipment - Fall is a good time to do an end-of-season check of all collars, leashes, harnesses, fences, leads and runs. You don’t want to end up chasing your dog through the cold of the winter weather when he escapes from a broken fence or when his leash breaks. That is definitely not on my to-do list; I prefer to hibernate in the winter. Making sure these items are all in good condition before the snow flies is a good way to prevent having to wander the streets calling for Fido in cold temperatures.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Stress Free on Halloween

By Linda Cole

Halloween isn't a very pet friendly holiday. I had a dog who was scared to death of Halloween masks. Even though she knew it was me underneath the mask, she would become aggressive and vocal. My cat Milo also had one of his nine lives scared out of him by a rather large rubber rat one Halloween, and it took him a long time to recover from his fright. He checked under the covers every night for almost a month before he'd even think about crawling in bed with me.

We don't always stop to realize how certain holidays are seen by our pets, and Halloween is one that does give some pets a fright. Because of that large rubber rat and an audio tape of Halloween noises, Milo freaked out when the rat accidentally fell off the table. Unknown to us at the time, the evil laughs, creaking doors and screams on the tape had put him on edge. The falling rat sent Milo racing to take refuge in the bathroom. When I found him, his eyes were huge, his heart was racing and he was quivering from his frightful encounter.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Can Dogs Get Distemper if They’ve Been Vaccinated?

By Ruthie Bently

Pet owners are required to get their cats and dogs vaccinated against the rabies disease, and there are other vaccinations our pets get depending on their owner’s preference and veterinarian’s recommendations. The distemper vaccination is not a required vaccination in the United States, but it is strongly advised by veterinarians because distemper can be fatal in certain cases.

A dog can contract distemper from a vaccination and this is known as vaccinial distemper; it is exceedingly rare but is possible. I spoke with my vet, and in his 32 years of practice he has never seen a dog contract distemper from a vaccination. If a dog contracts distemper from an inoculation, it is a situation where the dog’s immune system has already been severely compromised by something else.

The distemper virus is related to measles in humans, and in days gone by they used human measles vaccine to immunize puppies. A dog contracts distemper by coming in contact with an infected dog’s bodily secretions such as drool, discharge from a sneeze or cough, even urine; it is introduced to the body through the mouth or nose. In places of the world where vaccines are not commonly used, distemper can affect any age dog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tips for Solving Litter Box Problems

By Julia Williams

In the “bathroom habits” category of the Cats Versus Dogs debate, fastidious kitties win paws down over canines. House training a puppy can be a lengthy process fraught with accidents; house training a kitten, on the other hand, usually involves placing them gently in a litter box once or twice and calling it a day.

A cat’s natural instinct to bury their waste typically means that litter box problems are few and far between. However, there are exceptions, and solving litter box problems requires being a bit of a “pet detective.” There’s always a reason why a cat stops using its litter box, and to get them back on track (or in the box), you have to figure out what it is. Litter box problems can be the result of a medical issue, or they can occur when your cat develops an aversion to the litter box for many different reasons.

Possible Causes of Litter Box Problems

1. Medical problems should be ruled out first. A urinary tract infection, blockage, or crystals in their urine can make elimination painful. It’s assumed that cats associate the litter box with the pain, and begin to avoid it. You may also see them spending a long time in the box but producing very little or no urine, and/or frequently licking their genitals. Urinary tract problems occur more often in male cats, although females have them too. It can be life threatening, so take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect this to be the cause of your litter box problem.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spay or Neuter Pets to Prevent Health Problems

By Linda Cole

Getting a puppy or kitten is so much fun. Watching them learn, investigate new things and grow is exciting, but they soon reach the age where they're mature enough to reproduce. It's best to have them spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and this safe procedure can help prevent health issues too.

Responsible breeders take great care to make sure the dogs or cats they use in their breeding programs are healthy. They go to extensive lengths to try and eliminate as many genetic defects as they can through responsible breeding. For the rest of us, our duty as responsible pet owners is to spay and neuter our family pets before they are old enough to reproduce.

Some vets recommend spaying and neutering as young as 6-14 weeks, whereas others prefer to wait until the pet is closer to 6-7 months of age. Those in favor of altering as young as possible say it's the best way to prevent accidental pregnancies. Vets who do early age spaying and neutering believe the pet heals more quickly from the operation and has less discomfort than those who are altered at an older age. However, many pet owners are concerned about putting their 8 week old puppy or kitten through an operation that requires anesthesia. Having your pet altered is a simple and safe operation any qualified vet can perform, whether it's at an early age or when the pet is older. The important thing is to have them altered to give them a better quality life.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Enjoy Those Eight Stages of Puppyhood

By Tamara L. Waters

They're cute and adorable, and who can resist a sweet face (or my weakness – those squeal-inducing bellies)? Why, they're puppies of course, and if you have a new pup or are thinking of adding one to your family, you might be interested in learning about the eight stages of puppyhood. These stages are categorized according to an article titled "Stages of Canine Development" originally published in Weimaraner Magazine.

The eight stages of puppyhood are divided according to days after birth, and run into adulthood. Knowing about the stages of your puppy's development can help you become a knowledgeable and responsible pet owner, which will help you give your pet the best care possible.

Puppy Stage One: Neonatal Period - Birth to 13 days
This is the most helpless stage of puppyhood, as the pup cannot regulate its own body temperature and requires food and warmth from mama or a surrogate. During this stage, human interaction should start. Puppies should be handled gently by their humans beginning in this stage of development.

Puppy Stage Two: Transition Period - 13 to 21 days
This next stage of puppyhood will see the pup’s eyes and ears opening up. Yep, that means the puppy will start to hear, and his sense of taste and smell will develop. More human handling is on the agenda during this stage, and this is also the perfect time to start introducing your puppy to your kitties, if you have them. Just make sure they are friendly kitties!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fun Fall Activities for Your Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

You know how much you enjoy it when the days begin to cool down after a hot summer? Well your dog enjoys that as well. With cooler temperatures, your dog will have more energy and more stamina for being outdoors and enjoying fun fall activities. There are a few activities that are specific to the fall season that your dog will love.

Football - Your dog probably won’t do well with a regular football, but you can use a foam football or even a doggie sized football to take your dog out and play a great game of catch, fetch and tackle (be careful tackling, of course). Larger dogs especially enjoy the rough and tumble fun and exercise of a fall game of football.

Hiking - Once the days cool down, taking a hike with your dog is a lot less challenging for him than it is during the heat of summer. Choose a hiking trail where you and your dog can wander for a few hours and you’ll see just how much he enjoys all that sniffing and exploring, when it is cool enough to do so comfortably. Be sure to bring along your favorite snack, some bottled water, and a few CANIDAE Snap-Bits™ treats for your pooch. For more information on fall hikes, check out The Benefits of Hiking with Your Dog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How to Get Your Dog an Acting Career

By Linda Cole

Where do they find all those cute dogs we see in movies, on TV shows and in commercials? A lot of dogs and cats are found in animal shelters by trainers, but not all. Sometimes a casting call goes out from a studio to find the next dog star for a movie or TV commercial. It is possible to get your dog an acting career when you know how to start. If your dog likes to show off when company is around and is well mannered, with a little luck there’s a chance they could end up in the movies or on TV with their own acting career.

A dog who is well socialized, friendly and has a good temperament is what Hollywood executives are looking for in the next dog star. Your dog will need to impress people with his charm if he wants to be considered for any role. There's a lot of hustle and bustle around a movie set with interaction between the cast and film crew. In order to pass a casting company's demands, the friendlier your dog is, the better his chances will be. He can't be shy or afraid of new things, and he needs to stay focused on you or his trainer to present his best qualities to the people who are in the position to make your dog a star.

The next step in getting your dog an acting career is training. Not only does your dog need to be well trained, but any tricks he can perform could give him a paw up on the competition. The dog should be able to follow hand signals as well as silent commands. If you're serious about trying to get your dog in the movies, search for a specialized obedience school who trains dogs for work in the movie industry.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Guide Dog “Quinn” Helps Blind Hiker Scale Mountains

By Julia Williams

When I first learned of Randy Pierce and his extraordinary Seeing Eye dog known as “the Mighty Quinn,” I was reminded of the old proverb which states, “Faith can move mountains.” In this case, Randy relies on Quinn not to move mountains, but to guide him up them, one precarious, craggy step at a time. Moreover, Randy’s faith in Quinn’s ability to lead him up one of the “Four Thousand Footers” of the White Mountains in New Hampshire led to another lofty goal – the pair would attempt to climb all 48 of those rugged 4000 foot peaks in just five years time!

Climbing the White Mountains Four Thousand Footers is a tall order even for hikers who can see the loose rocks, low-hanging branches, tree roots and other obstacles on the trail. Randy not only depends on the Mighty Quinn to guide him safely around these dangers, but has complete confidence in the dog’s ability to do so. Then again, Quinn, a five-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, is definitely not your average trail guide!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Help a Cat with Feline Arthritis

By Ruthie Bently

As cats age they may get feline osteoarthritis, also known as feline or cat arthritis. A cat that is overweight can develop osteoarthritis. Feline osteoarthritis can be difficult to diagnose as a cat’s instinct leads them to attempt to hide their infirmity. (Any signs of weakness can lead to a lion’s place in a pride being compromised.) Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage and soft tissue around the joints. Cartilage is the natural shock absorber of an organism, and is made of protein. It’s like an airbag for your joints. Arthritis causes cartilage to deteriorate from around the joints. If left untreated, the bones can begin to rub against each other, and bone thickening or bone spurs may result. The symptoms are varied and may not be something you might associate to arthritis. While feline arthritis is not curable, it is manageable and you may be able to prevent it in your cat.

Some cats slow down as they age. If your cat isn’t one of those but they are exhibiting some strange behaviors and you are concerned there may be something wrong, here are some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis. A cat may sleep more often and pick lower places to sleep. They may not cover leavings in the litter box, and if the box is too tall for them to easily climb into they may have an accident outside the litter box. Your cat may not want to jump up to high vantage points like they used to. Their leg muscles may look thinner or less filled out than they used to; this is called muscle wasting.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Three Types of Dog Intelligence

By Linda Cole

Most dog owners have some idea how smart their dog is. Every dog can learn basic commands as long as we make the commitment to teach them. Most dogs also know at least one trick you can show off to guests. However, some dogs take a little longer to learn, which can try an owner's patience. And sometimes, a dog just doesn't seem to get what an owner is trying to teach. Scientists and animal behaviorists have been studying dogs for many years, and have come up with three types of dog intelligence. One type of learning is a specific kind each dog breed has that helps them learn according to who they are and what their breed characteristics are.

Dog intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, think and problem solve. It's easy to come up with a list of the smartest dogs, but in order to determine a dog's intelligence, how quickly they learn is just one part of the equation. A specific breed’s characteristics and what they were bred to do plays a large role in their intelligence, and understanding this makes training a dog easier. Intelligence shouldn't be confused with stubbornness though, and hard-to-train dogs need a consistent owner with plenty of patience and understanding along with a firm, yet gentle hand.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Talented Poodles Make Great Performers

By Suzanne Alicie

Many people assume that poodles are nothing but yappy little dogs to be carried around in handbags. In fact, poodles come in different sizes and many different colors (some natural, some not) and are very intelligent dogs. The stereotype people have of poodles was one that I held until about 9 years ago.

I had always had larger dogs and had no use for a dog that had to be fluffed and clipped all the time, or that was timid and nervous around people. Yet, my husband and children decided I needed a poodle for Mother’s Day. So there I was, the brand new and somewhat skeptical owner of a tiny white ball of curls that was quickly named Noodle because his curls looked like ramen noodles. Although I don’t recommend giving pets as surprise gifts, Noodle the Poodle quickly stole my heart. Noodle was a toy poodle. The sizes that poodles come in include standard, miniature, toy and teacup.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fire Prevention and Safety Tips for Pet Owners

By Julia Williams

October is National Fire Prevention Month, so I thought now would be a good time to brush up on some things we, as responsible pet owners, can do to keep our furry friends safe. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) estimates that 500,000 pets are affected by home fires each year. However, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association, pets accidentally start nearly 1,000 of those house fires themselves!

Below are some tips to keep your pet from starting a fire, as well as some ways you can help keep them safe should a house fire occur. Simple fire safety measures can mean the difference between life and death for our beloved pets. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Prevent your pet from starting fires

•  Do a thorough walk through of your home to look for places where a pet might inadvertently start a fire. These potential fire hazards include, but are by no means limited to, loose wires, frayed cords and stove knobs.

•  The kitchen stove is the number one way that pets accidentally start fires. Pets have also been known to unintentionally fill the house with gas fumes by turning the burners. The easiest way to prevent both of these things from happening is to put childproof covers on the stove knobs. Some people remove the knobs when they’re going to be away, but you have to remember to do it every day. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tips for Living with a Blind Dog

By Ruthie Bently

When a person loses their sight, there are many avenues of assistance. But what do you do when it is your dog? Making some simple changes to your house can help your blind dog adjust easier. Experts suggest not moving furniture or rugs, as it can make it more difficult for your blind dog to maneuver around the home. Evaluate each room from your dog’s height and sight level for hidden dangers. Are there any cords dangling in the way that could trip up your dog? Check for sharp corners or objects at a level your dog may run into, and move or pad them to lessen the effect of an accident. To help a blind dog acclimate faster, walk them around the house and re-introduce them to their favorite rooms, areas for sleeping and eating, and anywhere else they will spend time.

When approaching your blind dog, talk to them softly so they don’t get startled. Do not approach your dog if they are sleeping or from behind, as this may frighten them. You can provide encouragement to your dog by talking to them often. If your blind dog has obedience training, a consistent use of their regular basic commands gives them normality.

Using textured floor runners for a path through the rooms your blind dog spends the most time in can help them find their way using their feet. For example, if they sleep in the kitchen, use a floor runner to go from their crate or bed to the outside door they use most often. Don’t change where you feed or water them, and don’t carry them to their food or up stairs, as this can confuse them. If you have stairs, think about installing a gate at the top to prevent tumbles. Try to keep the floors clear of any obstacles that may hinder your blind dog’s movement through the rooms.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What Does an Animal Behaviorist Do?

By Linda Cole

Trying to train a dog that has behavior issues can be frustrating. For some owners, a qualified trainer can help dogs work through minor issues they may have. But serious behavioral problems need a professional eye to help a dog or cat owner deal with specific issues. What does an animal behaviorist do, and how do they help your pet? When you need to consult with an expert, what can you expect from them?

Animal behaviorists are people who love animals and study them to learn and understand animal behavior – why they do things and act in certain ways. They look at the animal's environment and try to find what caused the behavior. One mistaken belief some pet owners have is that a good dog trainer is also an animal behaviorist and vice versa. That may be true for some trainers and animal behaviorists, but not usually.

Animal behaviorists typically have a specialized field of study in specific animals like birds, livestock, fish, reptiles, wild animals, or pets. It's common to find a behaviorist whose expertise is in certain kinds of behavior, e.g., how animals mate, how they raise their young, how they defend themselves and their food and how they hunt. When you need to consult with an expert for a dog or cat with behavior issues, you need to make sure the person works with household pets and has experience in the area your pet needs help with.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Facility Therapy Dog Dexter Goes Back to School!

By Tamara L. Waters

Mary's little lamb might have followed her to school – and that was against the rules – but if you visit the Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter, Michigan, you'll find that rule is not necessarily steadfast. Mill Creek Middle School is where you'll find Dexter the certified Facility Therapy Dog encouraging kids to read, helping students who are feeling stressed or afraid, and greeting kids when they arrive on the morning school buses.

If you've had a pet, you know how they can calm and soothe when you’re anxious or afraid. Kids who have special needs will find comfort in Dexter's presence as he does what dogs do best – give love and doggy affection.

Dexter is a 22-month-old Labrador Retriever, and he is now a part of the staff at Mill Creek Middle School where he is already a big hit with staff and students. Imagine being nervous about reading out loud because you're worried about the reaction of others. With Dexter, students will get nothing but a tail wag, a friendly lick and a furry snuggle to spur them along and encourage them to do their best.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dispelling Common Cat Myths and Misconceptions

By Julia Williams

There are a lot of mistakenly held beliefs about cats that have no basis in fact. Now, I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about cats (not even close, actually) but over the years I have learned a thing or two. Here are some of the most common myths about cats.

Cat Myth #1: Cats should drink cow’s milk every day

We’ve all seen the cute image of a kitten lapping milk from a dish. Most cats do love the taste of dairy, but they certainly don’t need it to be healthy. Moreover, many cats are lactose intolerant, and giving them milk, cream or ice cream can result in gastric upset. Feed them a high quality natural cat food like FELIDAE Grain Free Salmon formula instead (it’s a favorite at my house).

Cat Myth #2:  Cats always land on their feet

Because cats have a flexible musculoskeletal system and a “righting reflex” that allows them to twist their bodies in the air, most cats who fall from high places are able to orient themselves to land on their feet. Shorter-distance falls, however, have a lower survival rate. Although this may seem contradictory, two possible reasons have been given.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Canine Rescue Groups

By Suzanne Alicie

As a responsible pet owner, it breaks my heart to see dogs that need to be rescued. There are foundations that put up heartbreaking ads on television, and shelter animals for adoption at local pet stores. For someone like me who recently lost a dog to cancer, it can really cause the tears to flow to think of those poor dogs having no homes and no one to love. The love of a dog is a truly unconditional love. A dog is never too tired to play, they never want you to leave them alone, and even when they are sick and in pain they want you nearby. When it comes to comfort, there is nothing like the soft eyes of a dog as she nudges your hand to let you know she is there.

We are all aware of animal shelters, or that other term “the pound,” and although they provide a beneficial service to the community, it’s difficult to accept that not all of them can be “no kill” shelters. When it comes to saving dogs and keeping them alive, placing them with foster families for socialization, and making needy dogs available for adoption, canine rescue groups are considered the cream of the crop. There are breed specific rescue groups, rescue groups for different areas of the country, and rescue groups for specific disasters such as Hurricane Katrina which left thousands of animals without homes.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Causes a Dog to Snore?

By Ruthie Bently

Do you live with a snorer? No, I’m not talking about the two legged variety that may live with you, but that adorable four-legged furry version. Did you know that an estimated 21% of all dogs snore? (By contrast, only 7% of our feline friends snore). Since many of us have at some time let our dogs sleep with us, we’ve had to deal with this snoring problem or banish them from our bedroom. What causes a dog to snore – and how do you stop it?

There are several reasons that might cause your dog to snore, including environmental and physical. Some dogs are born with excess tissue around their neck and throat; this tissue can interfere with a dog’s breathing under certain circumstances. If your dog is overweight, they may also be carrying extra skin and body tissue around their neck. This extra body weight can cause the upper airway to close. Congestion in a dog’s nasal passages can also cause snoring.

Congestion can be caused by allergies, a cold, pneumonia, or environmental factors like secondhand smoke or smog. Even household cleaners and air fresheners may cause allergies. Secondhand smoke is an irritant to a dog’s respiratory system and can lead to snoring problems. If your dog has or is prone to allergies, some allergens can cause the air passages to narrow, which results in snoring. Anything that causes a dog’s airway to constrict or can obstruct it can lead to snoring.

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