Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unique Pet Names and What They Mean

By Linda Cole

Naming a pet takes time. You want to see what their personality is like so you can pick just the right name, but it's not always easy. You want a name that says something about your pet. A name that's unique yet easy for your pet to learn. When naming a pet, one or two syllables work the best. With the myriad of names available, it's impossible to list them all, so here's a brief list of unique pet names and what they mean.

Unique pet names: A through H

Ani - pronounced ah-nee, this is a female name with origins in Hawaii. It means wave, blow softly or beckon.
Audie - an English name meaning noble strength. It’s a female name; however, Audie Murphy was a famous male soldier who became the most decorated American of WW II and a celebrated movie star after the war.
Beamer - comes from the English and is a male name meaning trumpeter.
Burel - a male name from the French that means reddish brown haired.
Codi - English female name meaning cushion or helpful.
Cormic - Irish male name meaning charioteer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Find Pet Friendly Rentals

By Julia Williams

It can be a challenge to find pet-friendly rentals in any city. Many landlords have a firm “no pets” policy, while others only accept some animals. They may allow cats but not dogs or vice versa, or they may only allow small dogs. Sometimes, a landlord’s reluctance to accept pets is a result of a bad experience. Unfortunately, those who aren’t responsible pet owners muddy the water for those who are.

That being said, animal lovers can find a pet-friendly rental. It might require a little more effort, but it’s not an impossible feat. Be sure to give yourself enough time – you need to start looking for a pet-friendly rental at least 6-8 weeks before your current lease expires.

How to Sell Yourself

Don’t waste your time trying to convince anti-pet landlords to rent to you, because they typically won’t, no matter how stellar a tenant you might be. For landlords who are unsure about allowing pets or for rentals listed as “pets negotiable,” there are a few things you can do to sway them in your favor.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can You Register Mixed Breed Dogs?

By Linda Cole

For decades, only purebred dogs could be registered. Now, kennel clubs around the country are opening up their doors to mutts, giving every dog his chance to shine and show off. A mixed breed dog may not have papers, but he can still run, jump, sit and run a trail with the best of them. Is there an advantage to registering a dog with mixed lineage, and what are the benefits to the dog and its owner?

Every dog lover who shares their home with a mixed breed can picture their furry friend standing in the winner's circle at a dog competition. However, the purebred dogs strutting their stuff are well trained dogs, and their trainers spent hours working with them. You can also have a well trained dog, and that's one of the benefits to registering your mixed breed dog. In order to join in on the fun, your dog has to mind his manners and it's up to you to make sure he's properly trained. All of the organizations promote responsible dog ownership to help teach owners how unique and special their mutt is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Stop Your Dog’s Excessive Barking

By Suzanne Alicie

You love your dog, and you love knowing when there is danger or something lurking on your property; what you don’t love is when your dog barks excessively or for unknown reasons. Excessive barking is something that can be trained away. The secret is to make your dog understand that there is a time when they need to bark, and a time when they should be quiet. Keep in mind that your dog cannot read your mind, so it is your job as a responsible pet owner to teach him how you expect him to behave.

The sooner you get started on curtailing this excessive barking problem, the easier it will be to train your dog to stop the barking habit. The best way to begin is to dedicate yourself to consistently teaching your dog two basic commands: “speak” and “quiet.” It may be quite frustrating for you to break your dog’s excessive barking habit, but by remaining consistent and not allowing the dog to bark continuously for no reason you are slowly teaching him that barking is a method of communication and shouldn’t be used unless there is something important to “say.” For more on consistent dog training, be sure to read Linda Cole’s article, “Dog Training with Consistency and Patience.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saluki, the Royal Dog of Egypt

By Ruthie Bently

The Saluki is one of the oldest known dog breeds in the world, named for the ancient southern Arabian city of Saluq, which no longer exists. The breed is known as the “Royal Dog of Egypt,” since the nobility were the only people allowed to own them. Their mummified remains have been found in the tombs of pharaohs as well as many tombs of the Upper Nile, and there are several carvings of King Tutankhamen with his favored Salukis. Some Saluki likenesses have been dated back to 2100 B.C. More recently excavated tombs dating between 7000 and 6000 B.C. Sumaria also contain Saluki carvings. The Saluki is known by other names as well: the Arabian Hound, Persian Sighthound, Gazelle Hound, Persian Greyhound, and the Tanji.

The Saluki is native to eastern Turkestan to Turkey, though due to the nomadic existence of their owners they ranged from the Caspian Sea to the Sahara desert. Historians believe they are related to the Afghan Hound and date back to Alexander the Great’s invasion of India in 329 B.C. Considered a sacred gift from Allah, they were only offered as gifts and never sold. Bedouin tribes regarded a Saluki with a white forehead patch as special, and it was believed that they wore “the kiss of Allah.”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to Trim Your Cat’s Claws

By Julia Williams

Trimming a cat’s nails regularly is an important aspect of responsible pet ownership, because it can keep them from injuring themselves, other pets and you. Trimmed nails are also much kinder to your furniture, curtains and carpeting. Left untrimmed, a cat’s razor-sharp talons are capable of inflicting serious damage, both intended and accidental. Trimming your cat’s claws is not terribly difficult, but there are things I’ve learned that can make it easier, especially if your cat doesn’t like to be messed with.   

Tools for Trimming a Cat’s Claws

There are several different styles of trimmers available, so check them out at your local pet store. Some people find that regular human nail clippers work too. I have a pair of small scissor-shaped trimmers with a sliding “guillotine” blade. I prefer them to nail clippers because they’re easier to hold and don’t slip out of my hand if my cat squirms.

You’ll also need a nail file for smoothing jagged edges, and styptic powder in case you accidentally cut into the quick (more on that later). An optional accessory that’s good for feisty cats is the Klaw Kontrol Bag. It’s basically a kitty straight jacket that keeps everything except the paw you’re working on tucked inside a zippered bag. You can also burrito-wrap your cat in a towel or blanket, leaving one leg out. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Is Your Puppy or Dog Chewing Out of Control?

By Linda Cole

Puppies are so cute, you can't help picking one up and giving it a big hug. But they aren't nearly as cute when you find them chewing their way through your home. Even an older dog is capable of destroying your shoes or that heirloom quilt passed down from your great grandma.

A puppy or dog chewing on your things or furniture isn't doing it to make you mad. They're just doing what's natural for them. Since dogs can't pick things up and see them like we can, they use their mouths to investigate what they find. Sometimes an interesting smell on something causes them to chew. Others chew because they don't know what else to do. A bored dog can dismantle a chair in a single afternoon. I know because I had a really comfy chair that fell prey to a bored dog one day. She completely destroyed my favorite chair.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Install a Pet Door

By Tamara L. Waters

If you have a dog or cat that is inside but enjoys going outside, you might get tired of going to the door to let them out or back in. Installing a pet door can make it easier for you, and is a great DIY project.

Choose a pet door that is appropriately sized for your dog or cat. Check the size recommendations on the pet door packaging.

To begin the installation, you will need to do some measuring. Start by measuring the height of your pet's chest from the ground. You don't want to position the door too high or too low. If the floor inside is at a higher or lower elevation than the ground outside, you will need to average the measurements to settle on a height that is comfortable for your pet. Use masking tape to mark the elevation on the house door. This will be the mark for the bottom of the pet door.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Online Resources for Responsible Pet Owners

By Julia Williams

Like many people, I use the internet daily, and sometimes I wonder how I ever survived without it. The internet is extremely useful for information gathering – whatever you need to know can be found in seconds. We have a wealth of helpful information at our fingertips on proper pet care, training, health issues, behavior, nutrition and many other things that can help us be responsible pet owners. In fact, this blog is a great place to find those very things! I may be biased, but I highly recommend it for advice on how to keep your pet healthy, happy and safe. Here are some other online resources for responsible pet owners.

Information Sites

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is our nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization. Their site offers pet adoption resources, helpful tips and comprehensive, well-written articles on a wide variety of pet care issues. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Training a Sensitive Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs have different personalities just like we do. Each one is an individual who does show us how they feel, as long as we pay attention. Dogs can be confident, laid back and eager to please their owner. Others show a more sensitive side. It can take a little more prodding to train a sensitive dog, because you first have to gain his trust. If your dog seems hesitant, he may be sensitive.

We've been taking care of a friend's dog since late winter. Dozer is a gentle and loving dog who acts like he wants to do what we ask, but he's sensitive. Because he belongs to a friend, we were hesitate to get too involved with training him, but he needs to know basic commands whether he's here or with his owner. We began a normal training program with him and failed miserably. Since conventional methods weren't working, we needed to change tactics to gain his trust and help him find his confidence.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Working Dogs on the Farm

By Suzanne Alicie

Dogs are known as man’s (or woman’s) best friend, and they are excellent pets and companions. However, many dogs are also hard working family members who more than earn their room and board. Farm dogs are one of the many working dogs that have a lot more to do than be a playmate. 

Originally, most all dog breeds were trained and bred for a purpose other than being pets. There were guard dogs, hunting dogs, herding dogs, and dogs that pretty much did it all. Farm dogs fall into the last category, as they often have several jobs they are responsible for.

There are many working farms still around today which utilize these special dog breeds to herd, to protect, and to perform other important tasks. These working dogs have the natural instincts bred into them over the centuries, and go through extensive training to become trustworthy farm dogs.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Canine Liver Disease: Causes and Symptoms

By Ruthie Bently

Canine liver disease is the fifth leading cause of death for dogs, and it’s estimated that three percent of all diseases veterinarians see are connected to the liver.

Canine liver disease has many causes, such as physiological, physical and chemical. It can be called “prior” or “after” liver disease. An example of “prior” liver disease would be a cancer; an example of “after” liver disease is a blocked bile duct.

The liver is the second largest organ in a dog’s body (after the skin) and is the workhorse of their body. It’s a specialized manufacturing and pollution control center, and is what makes the body function properly. The liver processes food eaten, manufactures the necessary building blocks, detoxifies and recycles the blood, and gets rid of the waste created. Since the liver is connected so intricately to the biochemistry of an organism, it can make diagnosing canine liver disease difficult. Liver disease can affect many body functions and in turn the liver can be affected by many other organs and systems of the body.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cats and String – a Dangerous Duo

By Julia Williams

We’ve all seen the classic image of a cute kitten playing with a ball of yarn. I’m not sure why, but most cats seem to really enjoy chasing string as its being dragged across the floor by their human playmate. Mine love a simple piece of string more than any fancy store-bought cat toy. Mickey is a couch-potato kitty, and if I can’t get him off his duff to play with the cat toys, all I have to do is dangle a string in front of his face and he’s off and running.

A piece of string or yarn is a cheap cat toy, and they can be great fun as well as good exercise for felines. However, what many owners don’t realize is that string can also be quite dangerous for their cat, and can even result in death. If the string is left out for the cat to find between playtime sessions, many kitties will start eating the string. Unfortunately, once they start swallowing the string, they can’t stop – they can only swallow more.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Can Dogs and Cats Live Together in Peace?

By Linda Cole

We've all heard the old saying, “Fighting like cats and dogs,” but is it true? In all the years I've lived with both, I've never had any serious incidents with dogs and cats living under the same roof. Sure, they've had their little turf wars when one of the dogs wants a spot on the couch and the cat won't move. Dogs and cats can live in peace, but you do need to be mindful of certain dog breeds that may not be as accepting of cats, and proper introductions need to take place before they can become house mates who won't demolish your home while you're gone.

Dogs and cats are both territorial, and we have to be respectful and understanding of their right to protect what they feel is theirs. In your pet's mind, a newcomer is trespassing, and even a cat will defend her space, toys, bed and human. A new dog or cat may also be dominant, which is why you need to take charge and defuse any confrontations from the start.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eight Great Dog-Friendly Cities in America

By Tamara L. Waters

Whether you are planning a permanent move or a vacation, knowing which cities are friendly and welcoming toward your pooch can make things easier for you and Fido. Before you go, it pays to do a little research, and the site has made it easier for you. They've  compiled a list of cities in America that are the most dog-friendly, which you can read here

When you’re looking for a city or town that is dog-friendly, you hope to find a number of businesses and attractions that will welcome not only you but also your pet. Whether the businesses allow you to bring your pet shopping or visiting with you, or they simply provide kennels or other amenities to your four-legged friend, being dog-friendly comes in many forms.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Help a Senior Pet Age Gracefully

By Julia Williams

September is Senior Pet Health month, so I thought now would be a good time to discuss how responsible pet owners can help their aging animals live longer and be healthier. Early recognition of problems that occur naturally with age is crucial, as is making a few lifestyle changes to accommodate a senior pet. Like humans, advanced age can lead to arthritis, decreased mobility and decreased organ functions in senior pets. The following tips can help a senior pet age gracefully and enjoy their “Golden Years.”

Provide regular exercise. The pace of your daily walk with Fido may be slower, and they may take longer to retrieve their ball in a game of fetch. Cats may not jump as high or chase after their toy as quickly as they once did. Nevertheless, senior pets need sufficient exercise to avoid obesity, keep their muscles strong and their aging joints limber. Read “Games to Play with Pets” for some fun and creative calorie-burning activities. Just be sure to carefully monitor your pet during exercise to make sure they don’t overdo it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can Dogs Be Trained to Sniff Out Insects?

By Ruthie Bently

Dogs are used for many things these days that assist us. Dogs are featured on the news apprehending criminals, sniffing for bombs and contraband at airports, and searching for people after disasters. Now those impressive nasal powers are being put to a new use.

Some search and rescue (SAR) dogs are augmenting their careers in a new direction. They are being trained to sniff out household pests such as bedbugs and termites, and detrimental insects on crops.

We humans are nasally challenged when compared with our canine companions. Dogs have approximately two hundred million scent receptors to a human’s mere five million. Not to mention those cute wrinkles around a dog’s face and head that enable them to pull in the scents they smell by catching them on the wind as they pass by. A dog’s nose is sensitive enough to pull in a scent as small as a few parts per billion. Imagine how many odors must assault your dog’s nose every time they take a walk. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why Do Dogs Lick Everything?

By Linda Cole

Dog behavior can be hard to figure out. Some dogs spend their days licking everything in sight. Why do dogs lick walls, floors, the carpet, a toy, us, themselves and even cats?

Most dog licking isn't anything to be concerned about, as long as it isn't excessive and the dog isn't ingesting bad things along with his licking. Dogs use their tongue and mouth to investigate and determine what things are. They're always exploring their world, tasting what they find. The problem with allowing a dog to constantly lick surfaces like carpet, furniture or floors is they can ingest hair, fibers, string, toxic products or other small objects, and these could end up blocking their intestinal tract.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What Are Sebaceous Tumors, and is Your Dog at Risk?

By Suzanne Alicie

If you have dogs, you’ve probably heard what sounds like a terribly frightening name for a condition that is common in dogs. Sebaceous tumors are known by a few different names: sebaceous gland cysts, sebaceous cysts, benign sebaceous cysts and gland tumors.

The word tumor strikes fear into the heart of a responsible pet owner, especially if you have never dealt with this condition and aren’t aware of what you are dealing with. These tumors or tumor-like conditions that affect the sebaceous glands are quite common in dogs.  In the veterinary world, and also in human medicine, a classification system is in place that names all benign sebaceous gland tumors as sebaceomas. Yes, humans can develop these tumors as well. The word benign generally means that the tumor is non-cancerous and not likely to spread to another part of the body.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Feline Agility: a Fun New Sport for Cats

By Julia Williams

Nearly everyone is aware of dog agility, an exciting sport where sure-footed canines race through an obstacle course comprised of tunnels, weave poles, hoops, hurdles, teeter totters and more. It’s entertaining to watch as they maneuver up, over, through and around the obstacles with lightning fast speed and “dogged” determination. Can you imagine cats being trained to run such a course?

Many people can’t, because they think cats are haughty creatures who would never do anything on command, let along jump through hoops or over barriers. I can picture it though, because I’ve seen entire troupes of cats perform all sorts of tricks at cat shows, on television and in youtube videos. I’ve also looked into training cats and have written about it for this blog. Knowing what I know, that cats are definitely trainable, feline agility competitions are not nearly as farfetched as they might seem.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How to Deal with Food Aggression in Pets

By Linda Cole

You may have a loving pet who would never do anything to hurt a family member – as long as no one touches his food. A food aggressive dog or cat is more apt to be given to a shelter or put down because their owner didn't know how to deal with the problem. Food aggression doesn't mean you can't live with the pet; it simply means you need to change their behavior to one that's acceptable to you. Here are some tips on what to do (and what not to do) when dealing with food aggression in pets.

Food aggression in dogs is a serious and potentially dangerous issue that needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand. When a dog growls at other pets or people while he eats, or even when his bowl is empty, he's showing food aggression. It's never cute, and a puppy who shows signs of food aggression needs his behavior changed before he grows into an adult.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Great Pet-Related Books for Kids

By Tamara L. Waters

It's a known fact: kids and animals go hand-in-paw, and fiction books that feature pets are great fun. Children's books that include animal characters are always a hit with kids. Here are a few favorites that my own kids love and enjoy.

The Bunnicula books, written by James Howe in collaboration with other authors features a pet vampire rabbit named Bunnicula, a mystery-solving cat named Chester and a lovable sheepdog named Harold, along with various other animal characters. The adventures of these precocious pets are played out in several short chapter books that are great read-alone books or read-together choices, starting with the first – Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lure Coursing: a Fascinating and Fun Dog Sport

By Ruthie Bently

Do you live with a sight hound breed? You might consider the sport of lure coursing to relieve them of their excess energy. Lure coursing is a continuous loop on a pulley system that utilizes a plastic lure to simulate hunting for sight hounds.

Some breeds allowed to compete in lure coursing events include Afghan Hounds, Basenjis, Borzoi, Greyhounds, Ibizan Hounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Pharaoh Hounds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Salukis, Scottish Deerhounds, Thai Ridgebacks and Whippets. There are several provisional or limited breeds allowed to participate, including the Galgo Espanol, Magyar Agar, Peruvian Inca Orchid, Portuguese Podengo and Silken Windhound.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ten Great Reasons to Have a Pet

By Julia Williams

This morning I was sitting at my desk when my dear sweet Belle came in to ask for some love. Of my three cats, she’s the one who most enjoys having hugs and kisses lavished upon her, and I was happy to comply. As I held her close, I told her that I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. It’s the truth.

There are so many great reasons to have a pet, I knew I could easily come up with ten. Naturally, this list barely scratches the surface of all the many reasons people love their pets.

1.  Pets make wonderful, loving companions for people of all ages. They don’t criticize our faults, our looks, or the things we lack. Pets are good listeners, and they’re always happy to see us and greet us when we come home. Single people with pets can live by themselves without feeling lonely or alone. Everyone benefits from the special unconditional love of a pet, but teenagers, the elderly, the anti-social, and people with disabilities are especially helped through difficult times when they have a pet by their side.

2. Pets amuse us with their silly antics. Pets are natural born comedians, and they make us laugh every day. They provide countless hours of entertainment, and alleviate boredom like no video game or TV program ever could.

3. Pets protect us and our home from intruders. Dogs are good low-tech home security systems, but cats can be too. My current felines alert me to visitors by making a mad dash into the bedroom. Many years ago, my cat Binky sat on my dresser facing the window and growled nonstop. When I looked outside, I saw the Peeping Tom who’d been annoying the neighborhood.

I feel a bit smug when I hear about people with “rodent” problems, because homes with cats don’t have them. That is, unless you have a cat like my Rocky, who once brought in a rat and turned his back, whereupon it scampered behind my stove. This did require human intervention, but still – cats are great for dispatching rodents. 

4. A pet might save your life one day. Stories abound of pets that wake their owners to alert them of a fire in the house. I’ve also read about a cat that saved its human family from carbon monoxide poisoning, and a dog who performed a canine version of the Heimlich maneuver on his choking owner. An accidental discovery of a dog that could “smell” cancer on his owners leg has led to scientists training them to detect various types of cancer cells, with remarkable accuracy. 

5. Having a pet can improve both your mental and physical health. Pets help people overcome depression, anxiety, pessimism, melancholy, mood swings, shyness, rebelliousness and loneliness. These amazing animal healers can lower our blood pressure and pulse rate, calm frazzled nerves, reduce the effects of stress on our bodies, and help us live longer, healthier lives.

6. Pets make great lap warmers and bed warmers on cold winter nights. Who needs an electric blanket when you have a furry form heating up your bed naturally?

7. Pets can help you find friends and partners. You might meet “Mr. Right” at the dog park, in the vet’s waiting room, or on your daily walk around the neighborhood. While Fido plays with his four-legged friends at the dog park, you can socialize with other owners.

8. Pets are great workout partners. Walking or running with a dog, and playing games with our pets provides the beneficial exercise we all need. With the hectic lifestyle so many of us lead, it makes sense to incorporate the family pet into our workout regime. Besides the daily walk, there are many things you can do to get fit with Fido. For starters, you can take a Doga class together, which is basically yoga for dogs and their owners, and read this article for other fun ways your pooch can help you lose your paunch.

9. Caring for pets can teach children valuable life skills like patience, consistency, goal setting, perseverance, leadership and communication. Encouraging children to take an active role in the care of their pet helps them learn about responsible pet ownership too.

10. Pets can inspire us be better human beings. Like Jack Nicholson said to Helen Hunt in the movie As Good as It Gets, “You make me want to be a better man,” pets can encourage important qualities such as compassion, playfulness, nurturing and kindness.

Readers, now it’s your turn – are there other special reasons why you love having a pet? Tell me why having a pet brings you great joy!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good Dog Health Includes Healthy Feet

By Linda Cole

We don't always realize how important our feet are until something causes them pain. A dog's feet are equally important for them. Their paw pads and feet are pretty special and without healthy feet, a dog would have trouble getting from one place to another. It's important to pay attention to a dog's feet to make sure they stay sound. Healthy feet can make a big difference to a dog's wellbeing.

Dogs don't walk on the soles of their feet like we do. They walk on their toes, which is one reason why it’s important to keep their nails trimmed to maintain healthy feet. Their feet act like shock absorbers and give them the traction they need to do all kinds of things. The rough paw pads are extra shock absorbers that help dogs make quick turns, leap for Frisbees and run or sprint with enough endurance to finish their task. Each foot has four pads, and each pad makes contact with the ground.

Toenails that are left untrimmed can cause the dog to slide back on his paws more, putting more strain on his legs. When they don't set their feet properly because of long toenails, it interferes with how they walk and their gait will be off. Toenail biting generally means the nails are too long and need to be trimmed (for detailed instructions, see How to Give Your Pooch a Pedicure. Nails should also be inspected to make sure there are no injuries to the toe that might have caused an infection. It's possible for dogs to break a toe or a bone in their foot. We can accidentally break a dog's toe if we step on their foot.

A dog's healthy feet need attention from us to help keep them in good shape. Dogs that do a lot of hiking, running and activities where they make sharp turns or jumps can damage their paw pads. Cuts, sharp rocks, rough terrain, rock salt, cracked pads, slivers of glass, splinters, burrs, fleas, insect bites, bee stings, scrapes or tiny rocks that get caught between the pads or toes can all turn a dog's healthy feet into painful ones. Even a slow walk around the neighborhood gives dogs a chance to step on something that can cut their paw pads. Regular inspection of their feet will catch most pesky injuries before they can become infected and cause problems.

Matted hair can bother dogs, especially ones who have long hair between their paw pads. Small rocks, frozen snow or ice, rock salt and other foreign objects can become caught in the hair. The long hair also makes it harder for the dog to get good traction. As a responsible pet owner, you can help by keeping the hair trimmed even with their paw pads.

Minor foot injuries are simple to take care of at home with over the counter medications made for dogs that can clear up minor cuts and infections. However, any time you find a wound on your dog that's become infected and is warm to the touch, swollen or painful, it needs to be taken care of by a veterinarian. Prescription medication or ointments may be needed.

A dog's paw pads are pretty tough, but even healthy feet are no match for asphalt or cement on a hot day. Since we usually have on shoes, it's easy for us to not even notice how hot asphalt or cement is. A dog's pads can be burned if they walk on these hot surfaces. Keep your dog in the grass on hot summer days to help protect their pads. Metal on a hot day can also be dangerous for a dog's feet, and can burn their pads.

If your dog is limping, refusing to walk, licking at his feet or chewing, or if you see redness or blisters, part of a pad missing or the pads look darker than they should, these can be signs your dog has burned pads. It's always a good idea to have a vet evaluate burned pads to make sure they don't require antibiotics or other medications. If the burn is deep, infection can set in.

Winter snow and ice can cause injuries to a dog's paw pads too. Read Winter Paw Care for Dogs for information on how to take care of your dog's feet during the winter months.

Good dog health includes healthy feet. Limping, whining, chewing or signs of swelling indicate something is wrong with your dog's foot. Careful inspection can usually tell you what's bothering your dog. Quick and responsible action is needed to keep a simple cut or minor infection from becoming a problem. It’s important to pay attention to your dog's feet to help keep them (and him!) in tip top shape.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book Review: Careers for Your Cat

By Ruthie Bently

Do you think your feline friend needs to get a job and pull their own weight for their cat food, toys, treats and kitty litter? Well, author Ann Dziemianowicz has the solution for you! This self-proclaimed feline career counselor who assists cats in landing their dream jobs, has written Careers For Your Cat. The premise of this light-hearted look at feline careers is to enable owners to “sit back, relax, and take a well-earned cat nap.”

In the early 1990s as her bank account took a down turn, the author decided to acquaint her beloved feline companions with the hard reality of want ads, resumes and interviews. She felt her fifteen-plus years of experience as a career counselor and career coach gave her an insight into what her own feline family needed to be looking at.

After developing her unique methods, she has applied this expertise to thousands of now satisfied feline 9 to 5ers, which get up every morning to face the day and the “rat race” we all know in some form or another. She interviews owners and their felines, and after specific testing is able to point the previously wayward house cats to a life of fulfillment in their given professions.

She developed the “Meowers-Briggs Career/Personality Test” that is comprised of two parts. The test should be given after a meal in an area free of distractions to give your cat the opportunity to answer the questions to the best of their ability. It is suggested that the cat pick the answer most like themselves, but it is permissible to give as many as two answers to each question.

Part one has sixteen questions that ask a cat questions like: What is your favorite activity? Where do you prefer to sleep? What do you enjoy playing with? It finds out about a cat’s dining preferences, what they do when they see a mouse and what happens when they are greeted by a dog. These questions are designed to find out a cat’s career type. You can find out if your cat has traits that are creative, labor-intensive, intellectual or an inert introvert.

Part two of the “Meowers-Briggs Career/Personality Test” determines a cat’s personality type and is comprised of two sub-parts. By answering true or false to the options listed you are able to determine your cat’s personality. Depending on your cat’s answers to this part you are able to determine if your cat is an introvert or extravert. After your cat completes the test you can view career options for each of the seven career/personality combinations available. 

There are seven categories your cat may fit into and thirty-four total careers listed for them. For example, if your cat is an intellectual introvert, they are defined as abstract thinkers with high IQs, they value loyalty and quiet, spend hours in silent reflection and prefer to work behind the scenes for effective results. Careers available for them include librarian, marine biologist, psychotherapist and private investigator. To further define if this career would be a good fit for your cat there is a list of traits which define each career opportunity. Last but not least there are tips included for your cat to ace their interview.

Careers for Your Cat is an easy read for anyone who loves felines. At only 96 pages, it is short enough to retain any young person’s attention, and they will love the illustrations. Adults will love the wry sense of humor the author utilizes when describing the varied careers for cats. 

Before writing this book, Ann Dziemianowicz was an Advertising Manager at Simon and Schuster, and more recently she was the Assistant Director of Publications and a Senior Writer at Stevens Institute. Her own cats have had various careers. Her cat Milton is a cabaret singer, Fella is a restaurant pastry cook, and Bibsy is a private detective.

The illustrator, Ann Boyajian, has several previously published books to her credit. She lives and works with her husband and cats near Boston. She credits her four-footed feline models for the inspiration of her sophisticated, elegant graphics which reveal her wry wit.

So pour yourself a beverage, curl up in your favorite reading spot and take a look at career seeking felines who aren’t afraid to assist their human companions by pulling their own weight.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Friday, September 3, 2010

What is a Martingale Collar?

By Linda Cole

I was searching for a new collar for one of my dogs awhile back and ran across an odd looking one I’d never seen before. I had no idea how it even went on the dog, so I hung it back up and continued my search. Recently, I learned what it was – a Martingale collar – and why it's one I need to consider. What is a Martingale collar, and what makes it better than some of the other choices we've had in the past?

What threw me when I saw the Martingale collar was the little loop on the back that appeared to have no function that I could see. However, that loop is what makes the collar a more humane one over the chain choke collar I've been using on my dogs.

I had a female Siberian Husky who kept escaping from her buckle collar. After so many times of chasing her down the street and screaming her name in vain as she raced away, I decided I needed a collar she couldn't wiggle out of. She always came back, but that's beside the point. I sure could have used a Martingale collar back then, but at that time, my only choice was a chain choke collar.

Choke collars are controversial for good reason. They were made for training purposes and aren't supposed to be used as a regular collar for a dog. However, many owners find them useful in controlling their dog or as a collar for dogs like mine who wiggle out of a buckle collar. They should be used with extreme care though. If used incorrectly or by an overly aggressive owner, a choke chain can be very harmful to dogs.

A choke chain does exactly what the name implies. It can also damage the dog's soft muscle tissues and  trachea, and can cause injuries to a dog's spine, especially if the collar is put on wrong. The skin can easily be pulled through the metal ring of the collar or pinch the skin. Worn incorrectly, the choke chain won't function properly during training sessions and the dog becomes confused as to what's expected of him. He did what was asked, but if the chain doesn't release its tension, the dog thinks he's still being corrected. This type of collar should never be used on any small breed dog or on puppies.

A Martingale collar works in a similar way as the choke collar, but it can't be pulled so tight it chokes the dog or causes injury to the neck. It tightens just enough to get the dog's attention and releases the tension when the leash is relaxed.

This collar was originally designed for dogs with heads smaller than their necks, mainly the sight hounds like the Greyhound or Saluki. However, this is a good collar for any dog owner who has a wiggly dog who can escape a buckle collar or a larger breed that's harder to handle and likes to pull on his leash. When the dog pulls on his leash, the Martingale collar will tighten just enough to keep the dog from backing out of it. Once the dog relaxes and stops pulling, the collar loosens on his neck. It's also called a limited slip collar or Greyhound collar.

The proper fit of a Martingale collar is gauged by the two metal rings on the back of the collar holding the little loop that's attached to a leash. When the collar tightens, the two rings should never meet. If they do, the collar is too big and the dog will be able to back out of or wiggle out of this collar. The purpose of the rings is to allow the collar to tighten just enough to keep the dog secure. Once you have the correct fit, it can be taken on and off the dog without having to readjust it.

A Martingale collar is not a half-check collar. It looks similar, but the Martingale is made entirely of nylon which reduces the chance of the dog's hair or skin getting caught in chain. They're sold in narrow or wider widths for better control. You can find Martingale collars with the little loop made out of chain.

It can be used as your dog's regular collar, but the small loop can get caught on things, so it's highly recommended to remove the Martingale collar anytime the dog is left unattended or allowed to wander on his own, especially while hiking. Put a regular buckle collar on your dog as his main collar and use the Martingale when he's on a leash for safer control for you and him.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How Big Will My Puppy Get?

By Ruthie Bently

When people decide to adopt a puppy, they usually want to know how big it will be when full grown. Interestingly enough, the genes that determine a puppy’s adult size come from both the sire and the dam, not just one parent. They each contribute three alleles of size to their offspring and the combination of these determines how large your puppy will be. However, without knowing which alleles for size each parent is providing, it can be difficult to determine the puppy’s adult size.

If you get a puppy from a reputable breeder and are getting an AKC recognized breed, ask the breeder if both parents are on the property and if you can see them. By looking at the sire and dam of your chosen puppy, you can get an idea of how large it will be as an adult. An alternative is to check your local library for the American Kennel Club’s latest edition of The Complete Dog Book. It contains the breed standards of dogs currently recognized by the AKC. It can provide you with the adult size and weight that your puppy should be when  full grown.

If you are adopting a mixed breed puppy, it can be a bit more difficult to determine its adult size. Not everyone owns both the sire and the dam of a mixed breed puppy. Many times the female will come into season and become pregnant before her owner knows what has happened, and they don’t always know the male or males responsible. If you are adopting a puppy from a shelter, they may not know the breed of either parent or the age of the puppy. If you can see both of the parents, you can get an idea of the size the puppy will be when full grown. If both the parents are seventy pounds, chances are your puppy will be close to that size full grown. Likewise, if you have two ten pound parents your puppy will be a smaller adult.

I read an article which stated that with two dogs of differing sizes, the puppy’s size will come more from the mother. I disagree with that; I personally know of several dogs whose father was larger than the mother and the puppy is a large adult. One dog I know is a fifty pound cockapoo/terrier mix whose mother was a cockapoo that weighed ten pounds and whose father was a terrier mix that was over sixty pounds.

There are several other ways to help you determine the size that your adorable puppy will grow to. Look at their paws – if they have large paws it is a safe bet they will be a large dog when they are full grown. How loose is their skin? If they aren’t a Shar Pei it is another indicator that they will be growing into that extra skin and could be a large dog.

You can also document the puppy’s weight and height as it grows, and by keeping track of this on a growth chart you might be able to estimate how large your puppy will be as an adult. If the age of the puppy is unknown you could have your vet examine their teeth to help determine their age. The growth plates of a puppy’s long bones (found in their legs) fuse closed between the age of eight to eleven months old, but their weight continues until they are adults. A large breed puppy like a Saint Bernard or Great Dane will not be fully grown before the age of two.

An easy way to predict your puppy’s adult height is that it will reach approximately 75% of its adult height at about six months old. A non-scientific method is called the “double it” formula. You take the puppy’s weight at fourteen weeks and by doubling this you can get the estimated weight it will be as an adult. Since many of the larger breeds are not adults until the age of two, this formula won’t work for them.

Whichever method you choose, make sure before you get a new puppy that they will be a welcome addition to your family. A dog can bring great joy, unconditional love and plenty of laughter to your household, but you need to remember they will be with you for a long time. So now that you know how big your puppy will be, how big of a puppy do you want?

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do Our Pets Love Us?

Photo by Noël Zia Lee
By Julia Williams

Amazingly, there are people in this world who still believe animals are incapable of having or showing emotions. Among the doubters are scientists, non-pet people, and those who have pets but view them more as a fun accessory rather than sentient beings. It can be hard for people who’ve formed strong bonds with animals to comprehend this way of thinking, because our experiences tell a different story.

Part of the problem could be that there is no concrete way to measure love, no real “proof” of this emotion that’s one of the strongest human motivators. We can clearly see (and to an extent measure) other emotions, such as fear and anger. Love is impossible to see with the naked eye, unless you take into account the many ways we can “show” others that we love them.

Humans can say “I Love You” out loud to others, but we also express love by our actions. This might be a gentle caress of a lover’s cheek, a kiss on a child’s skinned knee, or lending a helping hand to a friend in need. Our pets can tell us they love us in nonverbal ways too. When I go to bed, Belle comes and nestles under my chin, so very close to my heart. One might say, “Well, she’s just trying to stay warm.” But she does this year round, even on hot summer nights when the room has yet to cool. 

My lap cat Mickey’s customary way to say he loves me is by giving me a little lick on my nose every so often. Rocky shows his love by giving me kitty head-butts – when I reach down to pet him, he moves his head up to meet my hand halfway. Belle also gives me kitty head-butts on my face when I’m brushing her. Does she know it pleases me greatly? Hard to say, but when I ask her for them, she nearly always complies.

When people love us, they want to be near us, and our pets are no different. I smile whenever I think about the night I was ill and couldn’t fall asleep with three cats on the bed. I would put them on the floor hoping they’d go find another place to sleep but they’d come right back up. Eventually I grabbed my pillow and a blanket, and moved to the couch to get away from them. In less than five minutes all three cats were lying next to me on the couch.

Animals also show love for humans by what they do after becoming separated from their families. Cats and dogs have traveled thousands of miles to reunite with those they love. If they were simply interested in getting fed, why not just sit down on the doorstep of the nearest house? And what of legendary dogs like Hachiko and Greyfriar’s Bobby, who showed their love and devotion long after their owners had died? Hachiko waited for his companion at the train station every night for nine years, and Greyfriar’s Bobby sat by his master’s grave for fourteen years. If that’s not love, what is it?

You can see love quite clearly in a person’s eyes when you look at them, and you can see it in your pet’s eyes too. All you have to do is look for it, and believe that what you see is real. Because it is – of this I have no doubt. I do not need to hear those three little words to know that my cats love me. Far better to see it is their eyes and in their actions, which as we all know, speak infinitely louder.

Anyone who needs to ponder the question “Do our pets love us?” for longer than a minute or two, has sadly not experienced what I see as one of life’s great joys. To love and be loved by a pet is a blessing. Tell me, how does your pet show their love for you?

Read more articles by Julia Williams
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