Friday, July 29, 2011

Of Mice and Cats (an American Classic)

By Rocky Williams

I'm currently serving time at the Fleabag Prison with two other feline felons, so I thought it might be fun to tell you a story from my ‘Verminator’ days. They’re just a memory for me now, because I'm under house arrest for ankle biting, toe nibbling, counter surfing and other unmentionable crimes. Hence, I have nothing but time to tell a little cat-and-mouse tale. Steinbeck, eat your heart out!

Once upon a time, I had a job as Chief Verminator of Rodent Valley, California. It was a wonderful place for felines, but not so much for humans since the mice, rats and gophers outnumbered them by the thousands. Catching a rodent was a daily event for me, but not because I took my job seriously. I mean really…what else did I have to do all day?

So one day I caught a rat and promptly took him inside so the Warden could see what a good job I was doing as Chief Verminator. I hoped she would reward me with some of that yummy FELIDAE kibble I’m crazy for, but when I dropped him at her feet she screamed “Rocky, get that THING out of here!” Her lack of appreciation for my wonderful gift was appalling. I proceeded to play two-paw soccer with my rat, which I'd named Ben, but after awhile I lost interest in this little game and looked away.

Unfortunately, Ben seized the opportunity to make a run for it, and he got away from me! The Warden saw Ben scamper behind the stove. I pretended that I didn't see anything. Rat? What rat? Hmmm…I didn’t see a rat, did you?  I nonchalantly licked my paws and sauntered away.

The warden, mouth agape, stared at my backside as I ambled out of the room. I think I heard her calling after me. She might have said something like, “Rocky, come back here and get that THING out from behind the stove.” But if she had said that, what did she expect me to do? The space Ben crawled under is one inch at best, and I'm a big lad. I couldn't fit under there even I'd wanted to go after him, which I didn't.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dog Health: Preventing and Treating Calluses

By Linda Cole

If your dog is anything like mine, he probably prefers snoozing on the couch or on a comfy chair rather than on the floor. I don't mind sharing the couch with my dogs, because the softer padding helps protect them from developing calluses. Dogs can get calluses on their elbows and other areas of the body, just like we get them on our feet or hands. They aren't life threatening and usually don't bother the dog, but they can become a problem if they turn into sores. If you see gray, bare spots on your dog's elbow, those are calluses. These can be prevented and treated.

Calluses form on a dog's elbows, hips, and other areas of the body when the dog sleeps on hard surfaces – basically any place on their body where they are resting on a bony area. Calluses are sometimes called pressure sores and can turn into an abscess or an ulcer. Larger dogs are more susceptible to developing calluses, but any dog that spends too much time sleeping or laying on a hard surface can get them.

Summer is a prime time for dogs to develop calluses because they seek out the coolest area they can find to take a snooze. Cement located under a shade tree is a favorite resting spot because the cool surface feels good to them. Shaded decks and tile blocks are also great places to lie on during the summer. Dogs that pick hard surfaces to sleep on should have their elbows, hips and legs inspected regularly.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ten Important Phone Numbers for Pet Parents

By Julia Williams

When it comes to responsible pet ownership, there’s no such thing as being too prepared, or having too much information. We all know how important it is to keep the telephone number for our pet's veterinarian close at hand. We also need to have the number and location of the nearest emergency vet hospital in case our pet gets sick or injured on weekends or after hours. In addition to those two essential telephone numbers, there are many others a pet owner might need at one time or another.

In an emergency, it’s much better to be prepared and know who to call than to be frantically searching for a phone number. The one thing you do NOT want to do in an emergency is search the internet for phone numbers. This is likely a waste of time because, as I discovered while doing research for this article, much of the information is outdated and the numbers are disconnected. I’ve only included numbers here that I could verify. Some are toll free numbers, but others may incur long distance charges depending upon your phone service. Also note that some may only be staffed Monday through Friday during regular business.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1 888 426 4435
If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can call this poison control center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The cost for a poison-related emergency consultation with a veterinarian or toxicologist is $65, which can be billed to your credit card.

Pet Poison Helpline: 1 800 213 6680
This 24-hour animal poison control service for the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean charges a $35 per incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.

Spay/USA Helpline: 1 800 248 7729
This national spay/neuter referral service can help you find a low cost clinic in your area. Their mission is to reduce pet overpopulation by making spay/neuter services affordable to everyone who has a cat or a dog. Phone counselors are available M-F from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

World Record Pets

Hercules
By Suzanne Alicie

Do you believe your pet has what it takes to break a world record? Oh sure, we all think our pets are award winners, because we love them. But people and their pets have set world records for many years, and these records aren’t easily broken. Take a gander at these incredible animals and how they found their way into the books.

Got a big dog or cat on your hands? To break the record, your dog needs to outsize Hercules, a friendly English Mastiff, weighing in at 282 pounds. A gentle dog with a 38-inch neck, Hercules barreled into the record books after the passing of yet another English Mastiff who weighed 296 pounds. The distinction for the tallest dog goes to Giant George, a blue Great Dane standing at 43 inches.
Stewie

There have been some pretty big kitties too! The longest cat award is currently held by Stewie of Nevada, a 48.5 inch long Maine Coon. The largest cat on record weighed in at over 46 pounds: dearly departed Himmey, with a 15 inch neck, a 33 inch waist, and 38 inches from nose to tail.

If you have a tiny pet, they have big shoes to fill to break a world record too. Lengthwise, the tiniest dog on record is a Chihuahua named Heaven Sent Brandy who measures a staggering 6 inches from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail tip. The lightest dog record is yet another Chihuahua named Ducky, weighing in at 1.4 pounds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Turn an Empty Dog Food Bag into a Tote

By Karen P., CANIDAE Customer

Editor's Note: CANIDAE recently posted the photo for these cool repurposed dog food bags on their Facebook page. Many people asked for instructions on how to make them, so we asked Karen to share that here on the blog.


Supplies:

  • CANIDAE dog food bag (dimensions are from a 30 lb bag)
  • Duct tape
  • Clear packing tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue or newspaper (for making a template)
  • Permanent marker


Instructions:   

1. Cut dog food bag open, lay it flat, and wipe the inside with a damp cloth. See the image at left to know where to cut. (Click here for a larger version.)

2. Using tissue or newspaper, measure and cut out a template, much like making a pattern for a dress. You're basically making a rectangle, but with notched-out corners. Your rectangle should be 19 1/2" wide, by 17 1/2" tall. Then, notch out a 3" by 3" corner on the bottom left and bottom right, like in the drawing.

3. Place your new template over the clean food bag. You need to make two identical cut-outs with your template. One will become the front of your repurposed bag, the other the back. Draw lines at edge of template with your marker. Then move the template and trace the second cut-out.

4. Use your scissors to cut the bag to match the templates you traced. You should have identically sized pieces after cutting.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Handicapped Kitty “Willow” Gets a Miracle

By Julia Williams

Facebook has done it again. I’m all teary-eyed because of an incredibly heartwarming story I happened upon. I won’t say “by accident” because I believe there are no such things. I’m convinced that everything and everyone has a purpose, and that every pet was put here on earth for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what that reason is; other times, it’s crystal clear. In the case of a special kitten named Willow, I think her purpose is to help people see that every pet is precious – even those who some might call “imperfect.” Willow’s motto could be summed up as, “Play the hand that life dealt you, but never stop hoping for a miracle.”

Willow’s touching story began with her birth last December. Her back legs were badly deformed, and her people said she was born that way. They didn’t even bother to name her – they just called her “Cripple.” Although her siblings all found homes, no one wanted the tiny kitten with a deformity.

That is, until fate intervened and a kindhearted woman named Wendy answered an ad for a free crippled kitten. Wendy felt an immediate bond with the little kitty. She didn’t see a kitten whose deformed legs made it extremely difficult for her to walk. She saw a sweet, cute and loving soul who deserved a chance to have a wonderful life despite her handicap. Wendy took her home and named her Willow, because “a beautiful girl deserves a beautiful name.” As the days turned to months, Wendy’s love for Willow grew, and she came to see her as “the most perfect angel in all the earth.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pet Health Facts: Omega Fatty Acids

By the Drs4pets Team

Fat is the primary source of energy for your pet. The fats in food are made up of omega fatty acids, important nutrients in your pet’s diet. Not only are certain fatty acids essential for life, they also play critical roles in optimal health and vitality.

All foods contain omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, and is considered an essential nutrient. One of the key roles this fatty acid plays is to maintain the proper moisture balance in the skin’s surface. This is critical for maintaining a barrier between the outside world and the inner workings of the body.

Omega-3 fatty acids come from ingredients such as marine sources (fish oil or fish meal) and also from vegetable or plant sources (flaxseed or algae). While alpha-linolenic acid is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is truly considered to be an essential nutrient, it is likely that others in this important group will make the list soon. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), have been found to be critical for good health. DHA is important for the proper development of cognitive function and vision in young animals, and EPA has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids can diminish inflammation in the joints, skin and digestive system and may even help fight or prevent cancer.

It is important to feed a pet food that contains a blend of omega fatty acids to support optimal skin and coat condition, proper immune function and to control inflammation throughout the body. Looking at the label for sources of these critical nutrients, as well as checking the Guaranteed Analysis for the guaranteed levels, will help ensure that your pet’s diet contains omega fatty acids for optimal health.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cat Versus Dog: Which One Makes the Best Pet?

By Julia Williams

Pet owners often engage in friendly – and sometimes not-so-friendly – discussions on whether cats make better pets than dogs, or vice versa. While there are quite a few pet owners who love both cats and dogs equally, others are adamant in their stance that one species is better than the other. Where we stand in the great ‘cat versus dog debate’ is often a result of which pet we had growing up, or a particular experience we had with one, either positive or negative. Sometimes a preference emerges for no apparent reason; it just is, and it’s how we’ve always felt.

Over the years I’ve been a pet mom to a dozen cats. I like dogs too but have only shared my home with one, so my experience with them is more limited. However, just because my BFF’s have always been cats doesn’t automatically mean I think cats make better pets than dogs. The relationships are different, not necessarily better. Nonetheless, for the sake of the debate I’ve come up with a few reasons why one might want a cat instead of a dog. Don’t think I’m bashing dogs though, because I’m really not. Rather, this is just my attempt at humor.

The Cleanliness Factor

Dogs need to be bathed regularly and even then, many breeds have a distinct ‘eau de dog’ shortly after getting squeaky clean. Cats win this category paws down because they are remarkably self cleaning. My cats wash themselves after every FELIDAE feeding frenzy, in between mealtimes, and pretty much every waking hour. Bathing a cat is rarely necessary, which is a good thing because it’s not exactly easy to do without getting shredded.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Vacation Tips for Traveling with Dogs

By Suzanne Alicie

The warm weather of summer often has us humans making vacation plans and heading out of town. For those of us who want our canine pals to have a summer vacation with the rest of the family, we have some choices and preparations to make to ensure that it’ll be a safe and fun trip for everyone.

Road Trips

Taking your dog with you on a long road trip can be enjoyable or traumatic, depending upon the dog. For dogs who like to ride and don’t get carsick, it’s a fun thing to go on a road trip. For dogs who don’t like to ride or get carsick, it can be a miserable experience for everyone involved. Be sure to take along a bowl for food and water, a fresh bottle of water and some dry dog food. Also pack paper towels and check with your vet for an anti-nausea remedy. Don’t forget the leash for rest stops and a comfy place for Fido to curl up when he’s tired of looking out the window. Read “What to Pack for a Road Trip with Your Dog” for more tips.

Vacation Rentals

Nearly all places that offer vacation rentals have at least a few properties that are dog friendly. You may have to pay an extra deposit and ensure that your dog has a crate for when you have to leave him at the strange house all alone if you and the family go out. Be sure to bring along his favorite CANIDAE treats to reward him for being such a good dog, and his favorite blankie or bed so that he feels safe and comfy in the vacation home.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rescued Dogs Become Search and Rescue Heroes

By Linda Cole

Sometimes you have to look deeper inside a pet to see the real spirit lurking below the surface, waiting for the right person to set it free. Some people think shelter animals aren't worthy of their attention and don't consider adopting them. However, many great shelter dogs and cats turn out to be a pet that saves the life of their owner. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is a nonprofit and non-government organization that provides firefighters, who are first responders, with rescued shelter dogs that have been trained for Search and Rescue (SAR) work. Even a scruffy shelter dog has the potential of becoming a hero who might one day save your life or someone you love.

Dogs end up in shelters for a number of reasons: their owner didn't understand how to handle behavioral problems, picked the wrong dog for their lifestyle or grew tired of the dog, or the dog became lost or was dumped. Hollywood dog trainers have known for decades that animal shelters are a great place to find pets that are smart, loyal and eager to work. The pet just needed a person who saw their potential and was willing to make a commitment to work with the dog to develop his hidden abilities.

Organizations looking for Search and Rescue dogs have also discovered that animal shelters are full of untrained dogs that only need a steady and compassionate hand to teach them the art of locating people who become lost or buried under rubble after a natural disaster. Not every canine is up to the task of being a SAR dog, but many are and you only have to go as far as the local shelter to find them.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How Pets See the World

By Julia Williams

I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at one of my cats lounging around without a care in the world and thought longingly, “Oh Cat, if only I could trade places with you. How awesome that would be!” Our pets are so blissfully unaware of all the struggles we face just being human, not to mention making sure we are responsible pet owners. Pets don’t know a lick about mortgages, utility bills or credit card debt. They don’t ever have to shop for groceries, do the laundry, clean the house or cook a meal. For the lucky ones with doting owners, their whole life is about joy, love and contentment. They only really worry about two things: “Where should I take my next nap?” and “Is it time for me to eat yet?”

I admit, I’m quite jealous of my cats. I want to be the one who gets to sleep all day and have food magically appear in a bowl (although I don’t really want that bowl to be on the floor, thank you very much!). Life is infinitely simpler for our pets, and it just doesn’t seem fair. Why should my kitties get the cushy life while I slave over a hot computer, slinging words together just so I can buy them the meowvelous FELIDAE cat food they love? That settles it – in my next life, I want to be a feline!

So, while contemplating what it would be like to be a cat, I started to think about how our pets see the world around them. I tried to imagine what they might think or feel when they see us doing things that are commonplace to us, but oh-so-alien to them. I began to wonder…Is the life of a cat or dog as carefree as I imagine it to be? In actuality, there are some things that scare the bejeebies out of my cats. Such as:

1.  The vacuum, aka the “Suck Monster.” I don’t even have to turn this noisy thing on to give my cats a fright. The second they hear me getting it out, they run for their safe spot under the bed. Their little cat brains can’t comprehend the Suck Monster’s purpose, and I wonder if they think I turn it on just to terrorize them? Gosh, I hope not!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Does Your Dog Bark to Get Attention?

By Linda Cole

One reason a dog might end up in a shelter is because their owner didn't understand why they did certain things, such as bark excessively. Dogs bark when they're playing, bored, alerting us to danger or because they want attention. Separation anxiety and barking for attention are two different things, but both need to be dealt with before the barking gets out of hand.

There are a variety of reasons why a dog might develop separation anxiety, which I explained in my article “Is it Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?” Barking to get attention is more like the child who keeps tugging on his mom's arm while she's talking to someone else. If Mom stops talking and pays attention to the child, an onlooker might say the child is spoiled. Dogs that bark to get attention are also classified as being spoiled. I agree that you can't allow your dog to try and manipulate your attention by constantly barking. However, referring to a dog or child as being spoiled links behavioral problems to a word that can be offensive to some and often is not true about either the child or the dog.

Dogs learn what we teach them, and we teach them a lot even when we don't know it. Small dogs can easily become attention-getting barkers because they are small and it's easy to pick up your small dog when he's standing with his paws on your leg or lap and barks to get your attention. He learns the way to get your attention is to jump up and bark and you will pick him up. Some dogs bark when they are outside and can't see their owner. The difference between barking for attention and separation anxiety can be seen in their body language and in the sound of their bark.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Keep Your Dog Safe at Summer Gatherings

By Bear (Canine Guest Blogger)

I just love summer, don’t you? There’s swimming and running around, playing ball and of course, lots of cookouts and people to play with. Yep, it’s a dog’s life that’s for sure! Today I’m taking a break from the social whirl to talk to everyone about some safety rules to keep us doggies healthy and happy through the summer. Summer get-togethers can be dangerous for dogs, so we count on our people to keep us safe.

Small Children

I’m a good dog; I love the kids at our house and I like to play with them because they don’t get too rough and don’t treat me like I’m a pony. I may be a little on the heavy side but I’m definitely not a horse! My mommy knows that I don’t have a lot of patience and may get snappy if a little kid pulls my hair or climbs on me, so she makes sure to let everyone who has small children know that I’m off limits. If there are going to be a lot of little kids around, my mom will put me on a run in my own area or keep me in the house so I can get a little peace! My mom definitely doesn’t want me to bite someone’s child, so she makes sure that I’m kept at a safe distance from small children who probably don’t want to hurt me, but might by accident. You might also want to read our article “Teaching Kids How to Approach an Unfamiliar Dog.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

CANIDAE Helps Pets Affected by New Mexico Wildfire

By Julia Williams

The wildfire season is really heating up. Wildfires wreak havoc on the land, on people’s homes and businesses, and their pets too. According to U.S. Fire Administration statistics, wildfires torch 4 to 9 million acres every year, forcing all living things in their path to flee for their lives. Residents must evacuate not knowing if they will have a home to come back to when the fire danger has passed.

Although our first thought might not be about the pets of wildfire evacuees, the devastation affects not only them but the area’s animal shelters, rescue groups and pet food stores. Shelters scramble to find enough space for the influx of newly homeless pets that need a safe place to stay until the evacuees can return to their homes. The shelters also scramble to find enough food to feed these pets, since many of their owners are facing loss of property or business income and are unable to help with the cost of caring for their pets during this difficult time.

Thankfully, compassionate pet food companies like CANIDAE exist, companies who quickly answer the call for help and get huge pallets of food delivered where it’s needed most. Last week, it was needed in northern New Mexico, where the Las Conchas Fire started on June 26 near Los Alamos. This wildfire is New Mexico’s largest to date; it’s scorched nearly 150,000 acres thus far, and is still burning today. So far, more than 400 homes were threatened by the fire, and 63 homes were destroyed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Keep Pets Safe by Practicing for an Emergency

By Linda Cole

I live in Tornado Alley, and when I bought my home one of the most important considerations was a basement. I wanted a secure area where I could leave my pets when it was stormy and I was at work. Emergencies can happen at any time, day or night, but too many families don't consider what might happen until a disaster is at their front door.

Practicing how you will handle certain kinds of emergencies can make a difference. Practice makes perfect, and when you know what to do and where to go, panic doesn't take over your mind. Practice gives you knowledge, and knowledge gives you the power and strength to move quickly in an emergency.

Having a plan is one of the best ways to keep yourself, your family and your pets safe in an emergency. Teaching kids what to do when they're home alone may not ease fears in an emergency, but it can help to keep them calmer so they can follow a plan instead of racing around trying to think what they should do and frantically searching for pets that may be hiding or forgetting about them altogether.

Pets have certain places in their home where they feel the most comfortable and safe. Some prefer a secluded place like under the bed or tucked away in a closet. It's important for everyone to know your pet’s favorite places because most likely, that's where you'll find them if they're hiding. Cats and dogs are pros at picking up how we are feeling and if we have anxiety and are frightened, they understand it. So it's important to know all of the possible hiding places your pet could go if they're scared. You can’t count on them answering you if they're frightened. Pets can freeze up with fear just like people can do.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary

By Julia Williams

It can be difficult for adult cats in animal shelters to find their forever home, since many people prefer to adopt a cute playful kitten instead. For cats with special needs, the chance of being adopted is almost nil. Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary (BCRS) was started in 2005 to provide a safe home for blind cats that are deemed unadoptable by regular shelters. This lifetime care facility for blind cats is located in St. Pauls, North Carolina on a 24-acre farm that’s also home to numerous horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys.

Blind Cat Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that gives a second chance at life to kitties that have been certified by a veterinarian as being blind. Cats with 20% or less sight are accepted as blind. Most of the cats that come to the sanctuary will stay for the remainder of their life, although they could potentially be adopted out if the right family came along.

As often happens in life, Blind Cat Rescue’s inception came about through a twist of fate. In 2000, the organization’s founder, Alana Miller, was volunteering at a local rescue group with her daughter Stephanie. At an adoption event, a man brought in a tiny kitten he’d found; its eyes were crusted shut due to a severe eye infection. The rescue group didn’t have the resources to accept the kitten, and when the man said he was going to abandon it in the parking lot, Alana made a split-second decision to take it herself. From that day on, the Millers seemed to be a magnet for blind cats in need of a safe haven. When Alana realized they had become the go-to resource shelters would call when they had a blind cat, she decided to fully commit to the mission. Now, Blind Cat Rescue offers a safe, clean, climate-controlled home for approximately 40 special needs felines.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Right Way to Greet a Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs are naturally curious when someone new comes to visit. Some dogs will react positively to a stranger with a friendly approach, but may feel threatened as soon as the person reaches down to try and pet them. There are rules to keep in mind when greeting a dog, and knowing what they are can be the difference between a friendly encounter or one that becomes tense. Meeting new people can be exciting for some dogs, while others take longer to warm up to someone. Understanding the “Body Language of Dogs” can make a meeting smoother and safer when you know how to interpret what a dog is saying. You can then take that information and use it in your favor.

A dog can appear friendly, until you get too close; then he may feel intimidated. He may back off, cower or give you a low warning growl. It's just like when a person stands too close while talking to you and it gives you an uncomfortable feeling. The person may not realize their close proximity creates tension if they don't notice your body language. When greeting a dog, regardless of whether he knows you or not, ignore him when you first walk into someone's home. No eye contact, don't talk to him and don't try to pet him. From the dog's point of view it's not being rude, it's being polite. He's more likely to stay calm when you don't acknowledge him until the human greetings are done.

If the dog jumps up on you, turn your side or back to him each time he jumps up. If he continues, walk away from him without looking at or speaking to him. Avoid pushing him down with your hands because dogs use their front paws in play and when you push him away using your hands, he thinks you're trying to play with him. Fold your arms or put your hands in your pocket if the dog tries to get your attention by nudging your hand. Pet a dog only when he's calm and has all four feet on the ground.

Sudden moves can startle a dog. If you try to suddenly pet a dog from above with your hand moving down towards his head or if you move too quickly towards him, a timid dog can feel threatened and may snap or growl. Watch the dog's body language which will tell you if you need to back off and leave him alone. A shy dog is more likely to approach you if you aren't paying him attention. A handful of CANIDAE TidNips™ treats can help make friends after the initial greetings; just be sure to ask his owner first.

Sit down on the couch or in a chair, or kneel down on the floor making sure to avoid eye contact with the dog. Hold some treats in your hand and offer them to the dog. If he won't take the treat from your hand, put it on the floor. Give him space while he gets to know you. His body language will tell you when he's ready for you to pet him. A dog can become excited just because someone came to visit, even when they know who the visitor is. When you consistently greet a dog the right way, it teaches him to be polite and helps to keep him calm.

Anytime you greet a dog, ask for permission before petting him. The owner knows their dog best and some dogs would rather you left them alone. If a dog looks tense or scared, he probably is. Don't try to pet a dog who is giving you an intense stare, especially if he's standing stiff and motionless, looking at you out of the corner of his eye or licking his lips. This is a sign he's agitated. Give him space and allow him to greet you on his terms when he's ready.

When greeting a dog, what you want to see in his body language is his tail wagging or hanging down in a relaxed manner. This is a friendly dog. Never force yourself on a dog. Not all dogs like being hugged, especially from someone they don't know. Not all dogs like being petted on the head either. It's best to pet him with your hand coming up to meet his head rather than coming down. Understanding how to greet a dog can make life easier for you and the dog.

Photo by Ben Radlinski

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Four Prosthetic Paws Lets “Bionic Dog” Naki’o Run Again

By Julia Williams

The ability to make prosthetics for pets has existed for some time now. About ten years ago in California, an Orthotist/Prosthetist I knew made the local papers after he fitted a dog with an artificial leg. Since then, I’ve read many other stories of dogs and cats getting prosthetic legs. You may also remember seeing the touching video of a miniature horse named Midnite that was born without most of his right rear leg. The horse was fitted with an artificial leg in the hope he’d be able to walk, but surprised everyone when he galloped off after only his second fitting.

Today I wanted to share the inspiring story of Naki’o, the world’s first dog to be fitted with a complete set of four prosthetic paws! The Red Heeler cattle dog was just a tiny pup when he and his littermates were abandoned in Nebraska by a family fleeing their foreclosed home. Naki’o suffered severe frostbite on all four of his paws after stepping in a frozen puddle. It’s believed he was too malnourished and weak to move from the spot for some time. At just five weeks old, the pup was rescued and taken to a shelter. A vet removed the dead tissue of his paws and Naki’o was left with just rounded stumps.

Veterinary technician Christie Tomlinson was looking for a playmate for her dog when she came across Naki’o. She decided to adopt him despite his deformity. Tomlinson said she’s always had a soft spot for animals with problems. “I knew I had the skills and knowledge to be able to take care of him properly. I took him to work with me every day and was able to x-ray his legs regularly to see how they were developing,” she said.

For awhile, Naki'o could hold himself up on his stumps without too much difficulty. As he grew and gained weight though, walking became too painful and Naki'o resorted to crawling along on his tummy. “I had to take him for walks in a stroller and carry him around. He couldn't be a normal dog, he couldn't lead the life he wanted,” said Tomlinson.

When Tomlinson heard about a Colorado company called Orthopets, she organized a fundraiser for Naki’o so she could have his two back legs fitted with prosthetics. Naki’o accepted the two prosthetic legs so enthusiastically that Orthopets decided to complete the process free of charge. Naki’o is thought to be the first dog ever to be fitted with a complete set of bionic legs. The prosthetics were designed and fitted in a pioneering procedure by Martin Kaufmann, the founder of Orthopets. They’re built to mimic the muscle and bone of canine limbs which allows the dog to use them as naturally as possible.

Walking with four prosthetic legs was challenging for Naki’o at first, but he adapted quickly and is now able to run, jump and play like other dogs can, and he can even swim! Tomlinson is amazed at her pet’s enthusiasm for life. “He was always a happy dog, but now he's much more confident,” she said. “It's great to see him interact with other dogs at the park and play without a care. Naki’o can now not only chase after a ball with other dogs, but he can beat them to the catch!”

You can watch a short video of Naki’o on YouTube, which shows him chasing after a toy. His gait is rather ungainly, but he looks happy just to be able to run at all. Isn’t modern technology grand? Though his life story had a tragic beginning, things are really looking up for Naki'o. Thanks to OrthoPets and Christie Tomlinson, Naki’o is now free to run and play, like any dog should be able to do.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Questions to Ask Your Vet

By Suzanne Alicie

As a responsible pet owner, you know that you should take your dog or cat to the vet for regular checkups or if they show signs of being sick, but there’s more to it than just taking the animal in. You should also ask your vet questions and pay close attention to the answers, because it could save your pet’s life. It could also save you a lot of sorrow and expense.

Question #1

No matter what kind of dog or cat you have, you should always ask your vet if there are any breed specific conditions or illnesses to watch out for and attempt to prevent. This may include hip dysplasia, skin conditions and other dangerous or even fatal problems that you should keep in mind as you raise your pet.

Question #2

How much exercise should my pet get? This may seem like an easy question if you have a dog – you know your dog needs to play and go for regular walks, but how can you make sure your cat is getting enough exercise? Some people do walk their cats (see How to Leash Train Your Cat for pointers); others just make an effort to play with them daily. Your vet can also give you tips to help ensure that your pet is not only getting the right amount of exercise, but also the right type of exercise.

Question #3

What types of plants should I avoid in my yard and home to make sure my pet is safe? There are many plants that are toxic to animals, and there are some that are beneficial to pets. Catnip is a plant that many cat owners keep a small patch of to entertain their felines, and daisies are known to keep fleas away so having them in your yard is a good thing.

Question #4

What is a healthy diet for my pet? What type of food should I be feeding my pet? How much should I feed my pet? What are the signs of a food allergy? All of these questions should be presented to your vet in order to make sure your pet is getting the right nutrition and to avoid allergies and stomach or digestive problems. CANIDAE offers ten different formulas for dogs including four grain free options and a new Single Grain Protein Plus formula; FELIDAE has five different formulas for cats, including two grain free varieties.

Question #5

What vaccinations should I consider for my pet? Does my pet need vitamins or supplements? Both of these questions are important. Some vaccines aren’t mandatory and most supplements aren’t mandatory but may help prevent illnesses and conditions such as heartworm, corona virus and Lyme disease.

Because you love your pet and want them to be happy and healthy, you will want to discuss their health with your veterinarian each time you take them in. Conditions and illnesses can arise quickly, and your vet is the most reliable and trustworthy source of information on your pet’s health.

All of us at the Responsible Pet Ownership blog love our pets and can offer some advice and tips for pet care, but any decision you make concerning your pet’s health should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Photo by Ubon

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wildlife Detection Dogs

By Linda Cole

We are constantly finding new ways to use a dog's nose and their ability to control other animals in ways that are ecologically friendly and effective. Wildlife detection dogs are used at airports to keep runways free of pesky wild birds that can pose a danger to pilots, and at golf courses to control birds and other wildlife. Dogs are also being trained to help wildlife groups track and manage wildlife populations.

If you've ever taken your dog on a hike through the woods or along your favorite trail, you can tell their nose is in full gear pulling in all of the enticing scents they find on the ground and in the air. A pile of dung along the trail means nothing to us, as long as we don't step in it, but to a dog it's a very interesting prize to find. A nonprofit organization was created in 2000 called Working Dogs for Conservation. This organization trains and provides scat-detection dogs to help biologists find, manage and research wildlife populations.

For wildlife biologists, animal droppings can give them valuable information about the animal that left it. Biologists can determine how healthy the animal is by what it's been eating, what their range is, what their reproductive status is, and if their immune system is working properly. They can also learn if there are toxins in the environment from what they find in an animal's scat. This is important because it can alert biologists to any potential problems with a toxin that could affect people as well. Endangered animals can be tracked to determine if they are recovering or if they need more protection.

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Best Friends All Wear Fur

By Julia Williams

I think if I were to write a book about my relationship with cats, that title would be “purrfect.” I have never been a social butterfly or a people person. Although I have family and good friends that I love dearly, and acquaintances whose company I enjoy, these relationships are judiciously chosen. There are only a handful of humans that I trust explicitly and feel deeply connected to. Animals are a different matter altogether. I’ve felt a strong connection to animals since childhood, and as each year passes my feelings of love toward these amazing creatures grows deeper. All of my best friends DO wear fur, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I know there are people who consider that quite sad – hence all the jokes about Crazy Cat Ladies – but it’s not sad to me in the slightest.

We all experience life in different ways, and sometimes we don’t even really know why certain things appeal to us more than others; they just do. I like who I am and who I love, or I would do something to change it. I may live with cats instead of other humans, but I’m never lonely. I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, when to clean or what I should eat, and I like it that way. Um, wait…that’s not exactly true. My cat Rocky often tells me I shouldn’t eat that chicken breast or piece of fish and should give it to him instead. I just laugh, pour him a bowl of FELIDAE kibble and tell him to get over it.  

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about my pets, about how much they mean to me and how thankful I am that they’re sharing this journey with me. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at my cats and smile, or laugh at their crazy antics. Every day I get to experience the feeling of a heart that is full of love, and I feel blessed to have such wonderful companions. That they happen to wear fur coats is inconsequential, really. Love comes in many forms, and if we have an abundance of it in our life, then we are fortunate indeed.

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