Tuesday, April 30, 2013

CANIDAE Life Stages: New Look, Same Great Food!

New Packaging Highlights HealthPLUS Solutions™ – a Powerful Trio of Nutrition that CANIDAE Applies to Every Kibble After Cooking

The next time you purchase CANIDAE Life Stages dog food, you will notice something different. CANIDAE is introducing exciting, redesigned bags for its line of Life Stages dog food, and very soon the fresh new packaging will hit retail shelves. While the outside of the bag may be different, rest assured that what’s inside remains 100% the same. These snappy new bags are still full of the same carefully selected natural ingredients, the same trio of micronutrients applied on every piece of kibble, and the same formulations. And of course these foods continue to come with the same commitment to quality that has always gone into every product CANIDAE Natural Pet Foods makes.

HealthPLUS Solutions in Every Bite™

Part of this packaging change is to make pet owners aware of the powerful trio of nutrition that CANIDAE applies on every piece of kibble after it is cooked. CANIDAE has always added these micronutrients but has only now given this unique process a name – HealthPLUS Solutions.

This precise trio includes Probiotic ForLife Cultures to support healthy digestion, Powerful Antioxidants to help maintain a healthy immune system, and Omega 6 & 3 Fatty Acids to help provide a beautiful skin and coat.

Since that's a lot of healthy benefits in every bite, you can see why CANIDAE chose to give all three micronutrients a simple, easy to remember name!

Because all of these healthy nutrients are applied to every piece of kibble only after cooking, your pet gets healthy benefits in every single bite. It’s all part of the CANIDAE commitment to A Healthier Today for a Longer Tomorrow™.

Monday, April 29, 2013

How to Tell if You're a Hopeless Pet Lover

By Linda Cole

I don't remember a time when I didn't have a pet around. Not even when I went to college. Yep, I snuck my kitten in to be my dorm roommate. I admit to being a hopeless pet lover; it’s a label I'm happy to wear since I can’t seem to get all of the dog and cat hair brushed off my clothes. When a pet has captured our heart, the only thing we can do is look for those telltale signs that show how hopeless of a pet lover we've become. Take this fun quiz to see just how hopeless!

1. The color coded pie chart you made for household expenses (red), entertainment (blue), food (yellow) and pet expenses (green)...
A. Has way more green on it than any other color.
B. Was eaten by the dog, who mistook it for homework.
C. Has become the cat's favorite place to sit since you canceled the newspaper to cut back on household expenses.

2. After you've met the new neighbors, you...
A. Can remember the names of their pets, but not the names of their kids.
B. Joke after they leave about their dog's fancy collar and coat while adjusting your dog's biker vest and Doggles.
C. Wonder if their pie chart looks like yours.

3. People know you have a dog just by looking inside your vehicle because...
A. All of the windows are “decorated” with nose prints and paw prints.
B. Chew toys, tennis balls, dog treats, leashes, water bowls and “dog doody pick up bags” litter the backseat.
C. You have to remove the blanket covering the passenger seat before allowing someone to sit there.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cats in Commercials

By Julia Williams

It used to be that the only time you’d ever see a cat in a TV commercial was when they were advertising some cat food or other. One finicky cat even became a household name as a result of those ads, but felines doing things on cue besides eating? That was rare back in the day.

Dogs on the other hand, were seen in television ads a lot more frequently. I’m guessing this was partly because dogs are typically easier to train than cats and therefore easier to “direct” in the commercials, and also to portray the “man’s best friend” motto.

Nowadays, cats in commercials are just as prevalent as dogs. Yay for the kitties! It’s about time cats got equal ad time on the boob tube.

Here are a few of my favorite TV commercials featuring cats.

Cats in TV Commercials 

The Cat’s Pride Fresh and Light kitty litter commercial elicits a giggle every time I watch the “kitty masseuse” karate chop the girl’s back, and when they both relax after the massage with cucumber slices over their eyes, I just lose it.

Fresh and Light also has another hilarious commercial featuring a cat who keels over from the smell of the litter box. A feline friend administers CPR, and all ends well in kitty litter land.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Adventures in Aging: Living with a Senior Dog


By Suzanne Alicie

The past year has opened my eyes to the joys (?) of living with an aging/elderly dog. Bear is almost 11, and she is showing her age.

As a fairly large dog, she is experiencing some arthritis and hip dysplasia symptoms. We’ve had to get her a thick comfy therapeutic bed, which she loves. The hard part is convincing her that she is too old and stiff to still go under our bed. It’s always been her favorite place. When she gets under there, I find myself having to pick up the bed enough for her to stand up and limp out.

When her hip locks up on her, I sit in the floor and massage her leg while she whimpers. This is a very emotional thing for me, because I can’t stand when she cries. Fortunately this is not a daily thing, and if I can keep her from going under the bed or jumping around and acting like a much younger dog, then she doesn’t hurt too much. So far we’ve been pretty lucky that Bear hasn’t developed more health problems like the ones Ruthie Bently discussed in Common Health Issues for Older Dogs.

With her old age, Bear has begun to be quite moody. If you’ve read some of my other posts about Bear you know that she is not a very social dog. She loves her family and is tolerant of our guests, but lately she makes it clear that she doesn’t like people visiting. When someone comes to the door she has always barked until we let them in. Once she saw us let them in and she was able to sniff them she’d be quiet and go lay down somewhere. These days when anyone comes over she barks and barks. They go into another room and she quiets down until she hears one of them laugh or talk and she barks some more. It’s almost like she forgets someone is here until she hears their voice, then she has to warn them that it’s her house.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fascinating Dog Facts


By Linda Cole

Dogs are such interesting creatures. We’ve had an association with them for centuries, but scientists have only recently begun to understand how unique and special they are. Because of selective breeding over the years, we've been able to tame the wild beast, so to speak, but there are still mysteries we need to unravel. Most of our modern day breeds were created just a short time ago in relation to how long man and dogs have been working together as a team. We are still discovering interesting dog facts about our canine friends dog lovers may not know.

Research has shown that children who grow up with pets in the home have 31% fewer respiratory tract infections and 44% fewer ear infections, and are 29% less likely to need antibiotics. A dog in the home can even help protect kids from the common cold and reduce the chance of your child developing asthma.

The Norwegian Lundehund, native to Norway, has some rather unique characteristics not found in any other dog breed. The dog has six toes on each foot, erect ears that can be folded closed at will – forwards or backwards – and they can bend their head backwards so far it touches their backbone. The breed is also called the Norwegian Puffin Dog; Lunde means puffin, and hund means dog.

Greyhounds can reach a top speed of 45 mph, making them the fastest dog on earth, but the Siberian Husky has endurance to outlast most other breeds. A team of Huskies can travel 100 or more miles per day at an average speed of 11 mph.

We know dogs were the first animals domesticated by us, but it's still not known exactly when that took place. The belief by researchers is that domestication took place around 15,000 years ago, but a 50,000 year old cave painting in Spain shows what experts believe is a dog-like figure in the painting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The PATSY Awards for Animal Actors

By Langley Cornwell

Actors who give an especially great performance in a movie or television series are usually awarded with an Oscar or an Emmy. That's all well and good, but what about those actors from the animal world? Animal actors are just as deserving of awards for exceptional performance so in 1939, the PATSY Awards were created to do just that.

What are the PATSY Awards?

Created by the Hollywood office of the American Humane Association, PATSY was originally an acronym for Picture Animal Top Star of the Year. In 1958, the PATSY Awards were expanded to include television performers and the acronym Performing Animal Television Star of the Year was added.

The PATSY Awards were originally created with the intent to honor animal performers after a horse was killed during the filming of the movie “Jessie James,” starring Tyrone Powers.

The first actual recipient of a PATSY came in 1951 when Francis the Talking Mule was honored. Who presented Francis with the first PATSY? None other than Ronald Reagan himself, the actor-turned-President who was known for his work with a chimpanzee in the Bonzo movies.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Do Small Dogs Pick Fights with Big Dogs?

By Linda Cole

I wasn't expecting to adopt another dog until one day my neighbor came over with a tiny puppy tucked under her arm. As she explained why she was there, the pup stared at me, her bright eyes sparkling with personality that would have melted any dog lover's heart. Before I knew it, the pup was nestled in my arms, giving me kisses. Riley is a Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, and she's the smallest one in my pack of much larger dogs, but her attitude is definitely “Don't mess with me.” One would think a small dog would show a little respect to a dog towering over her, but that would be ignoring the tenacity of most little dogs. So why do some small dogs pick fights with larger dogs?

One theory posed by vets is that a lot of small dogs tend to spend more time in their owners arms, giving them a higher position where they can view a larger dog from above. We have a tendency to be more protective of a small dog, especially if there are larger dogs in the family. To prevent small dog syndrome, I treat Riley just like my other dogs, and I don’t let her get away with doing things I wouldn't allow the bigger dogs to do. We don't pick her up and carry her around, and we let the dogs resolve minor disagreements themselves. The alpha dog in a pack isn't always the biggest dog; sometimes it is the smallest one.

Like larger dog breeds, small breeds were bred to do a specific job. Some were developed to be companion dogs, happy to lounge away their days in the lap of the one they love. But most small breeds were created to hunt vermin or prey. These little canines had to be feisty, tenacious, brave and independent. They needed a fierce attitude to stand up to sometimes larger prey, with an equal amount of attitude. As far as the little dog goes, his size has nothing to do with it. It's his super sized willingness to fight that's important.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Can Dogs and Cats Cry?

By Julia Williams

Have you ever seen your pet cry? And by “cry,” I mean actual tears from their eyes as an emotional response. Most people would say no; the general consensus is that animals lack the capacity for such a thing. We know that animals can “tear up” as a result of allergies, dust, upper respiratory infections, pollutants and such, but crying as an emotional response is believed impossible by most.

I don’t really like that word “impossible,” though. It would imply that we humans think we know everything there is to know about the emotional lives of animals. But how can we? Unless we are a dog, we can’t know what is in a dog’s mind or heart. We can form an opinion based on science and personal experience, but I think it would be arrogant for any human to say they know with certainty what emotions a dog or cat is capable of feeling.

Many scientists definitely have their own rigid thinking about the emotional capacity of animals. They base their opinion on carefully controlled research rather than the one-on-one bonding that takes place between people and their beloved pets. But here’s the thing:  a recent study proved that people could tell what emotion a dog was experiencing by looking at photographs of the dog’s face. The photos were taken after introducing stimuli designed to elicit a specific reaction from the dog.

Happiness was correctly identified by 88% of the study participants; anger was correctly identified by 70%. So if we can tell by a dog’s face whether he is happy, angry, sad, surprised or afraid, is it farfetched to believe we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the emotional capacity of animals? I don’t think so.

Jeffrey Masson, author of the bestselling book When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, believes that animals do lead complex emotional lives. To support his theory, Masson found hundreds of anecdotes from the published works and field studies of noted behaviorists, including Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Cynthia Moss.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top 10 Poison Dangers for Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

It’s that time again. Spring is upon us, and my neighbors are fertilizing their lawns and spraying all kinds of insecticides to kill bugs. It always makes me nervous when they’re poisoning up their adjacent yard; I’m sure some of the toxic chemicals migrate over into our space. To educate myself, I consulted the Pet Poison Helpline and saw that they have an updated list of potential poisons in our homes and yards.

The Pet Poison Helpline is a valuable resource for pet people. They log every call they get, and each year they examine their records to determine what type of poisons garnered the most calls. So even though we’ve written other articles here on the CANIDAE RPO blog about the plants, foods or chemicals that can be hazardous to your pet, as a responsible pet owner it’s good to stay updated on the subject. With that in mind, here are the most common dangers for dogs, listed in order of the frequency of calls into the helpline. Interestingly, the list starts with food items because food accounted for the highest number of poisoning calls.

1.  Foods, especially xylitol, chocolate and grapes/raisins

Xylitol is getting a lot of attention lately because of claims that tout its health benefits, including reducing the risk of tooth decay. Many sugarless gums and candies now contain xylitol, and this sweetener is dangerous to dogs. Even a small amount ingested by your pup can result in a potentially fatal drop in blood sugar or even liver failure.

Most of us know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The chemical in chocolate that makes it dangerous for dogs is theobromine, which is a relative of caffeine. The darker, bitter chocolates are the most dangerous. The fact that raisins and grapes are toxic foods for dogs isn’t as widely known. Be cautious; if a dog eats raisins or grapes it can result in kidney failure.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Give Your “Fur Baby” a Hug for National Pet Month

By Linda Cole

National Pet Month is a perfect time to celebrate how special our furry best friends are! This month dedicated to pets was started twenty years ago in England as a way to promote the love of pets with five specific goals.

1. Responsible Pet Ownership

Bringing a pet into your home is a serious decision. Pets aren't bookends or accessories, and it's important to get a pet for the right reasons, as well as to find one that fits your lifestyle. There are many considerations to think about before adopting a pet, because you are making a commitment to be a responsible pet owner for their lifetime.

We want to make sure our pets are up to date on their vaccinations, get enough exercise, have a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night, and eat nutritious food like CANIDAE All Life Stages dog food or FELIDAE cat food to help them maintain a proper weight and stay healthy. It's our job to worry about our furry friends and make sure we have a plan in place for emergencies and a pet first aid kit for unexpected needs.

2. Benefits of Owning a Pet

Children who grow up in homes with a pet are less likely to develop allergies, and being exposed to a pet in the first year of their life may have a positive impact on their developing immune system. Studies have shown that pets help kids with social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, and help teach a child responsibility and empathy. Having a pet at home helps us recover faster from an illness or surgery and they help lower stress levels, which reduces the heart rate and blood pressure.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Choosing the Right Toys for Your Dog

By Lisa Mason

Your dog will become bored playing with the same old toy day after day. The toy will lay there untouched and he will look at you mournfully. This means he has lost interest in that toy and needs another one. Multiple toys of different shapes, materials and textures will allow your dog to choose the right toy for his mood.

Every Dog Needs a Chew Toy

Chew toys are a must for your dog. Sometimes a dog just wants to chew, and if he doesn’t have a toy, your furniture and shoes may be in trouble. Chew toys will satisfy the need to chew, and it will also exercise your dog’s jaws and help clean his teeth.

Make sure to pick a chew toy that is appropriate for your dog’s size. If the chew toy is too large for your dog to get a good grip on, he will get frustrated and find something else to chew on. If the chew toy is small, a large dog could choke on it.

Other Great Choices for Dog Toys

Balls and Frisbees should be next on your dog’s toy list. Even a small dog will enjoy chasing a ball or a Frisbee, and its great exercise for them. Small dogs that don’t play outside a lot will enjoy rolling the ball around the house and trying to capture it. Give the dog several balls in varying sizes. A ball should just barely fit in the dog’s mouth for him to carry it, or it should be larger for rolling games. Never let a large dog play with a tiny ball as he may choke on it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Common Misconceptions about Dog Behavior

By Linda Cole

The dictionary defines a misconception as “A false or mistaken view, opinion or attitude.” When someone believes something about dog behavior that isn't true, it can put the dog at risk, and possibly damage a relationship with a pet. Unfounded misconceptions can even jeopardize the life of some dog breeds. Dog behavior isn't always easy to figure out, though, and misconceptions are common. Here are six of them:

1. Aggression runs in some breeds 

Dog breeds were developed to do specific jobs for us. For some breeds, toughness, determination and a fighting spirit was essential for them to do their jobs. Dalmatians, for example, were used for centuries as guard dogs, war dogs, border security and sentinels. They ran with horse drawn carriages, protecting wealthy riders from robbers. When necessary, a Dalmatian can stand up to a foe with a determined defiance. Nevertherless, a well socialized and trained Dalmatian is a wonderful family pet and has a unique ability to calm horses.

At one time, Pit Bulls were used to bait bulls. When that was outlawed, irresponsible owners threw them into illegal dog fighting rings. Pit Bulls were once “America's Nanny Dog.” In the care of a responsible pet owner who understands the needs of a particular breed and the importance of proper training, socializing and respect, no breed is more aggressive than others. However, there are harder to control breeds that should never be in the hands of someone who isn't an expert in the breed and doesn't know how to take the lead role. Dog experts harp about finding the right dog for your lifestyle for a good reason.

2. You can't fix an aggressive or anti-social dog

Many dogs rescued from dog fighting operations have been successfully rehabilitated and placed in new homes, including ones with kids. Dogs live in the now, leave the past behind, and don't hold grudges. Any bad behavior can be corrected, but it takes time, commitment, patience, understanding and leadership. Depending on the type of aggression, a professional may be needed. Aggression could be indicating an underlying medical issue, and pain can cause a dog to be aggressive. It's important to recognize and take immediate steps to change unwanted behavior.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Paintings of Animal Heroes


By Sue Hains

In the winter of 2009 - 2010, I was commissioned to paint a picture of Freddy, an FBI dog who had been killed in service. In preparation for working on the portrait, I was sent a photo of Freddy but required other pictures of Belgian Malinois, Freddy’s breed, since some details in his photo were unclear. Searching online, I began to learn about service animals and discovered that Belgian Malinois are often chosen to become Military Working Dogs and police dogs. As I painted, I received emails about Freddy’s life, death and memorial service, and thought more and more about the life of this heroic animal.

Freddy was born in 2007, and served with the FBI from September 8, 2008 to October 28, 2009. The FBI had raided a warehouse being used as a mosque in Dearborn, Michigan, looking for several of its members who were wanted for a number of crimes. The Imam, who had a criminal record and refused to surrender, shot the FBI dog, Freddy, before the Imam himself was fatally shot by agents. Freddy was helicoptered to a veterinary hospital in Detroit, and although the doctors did everything they could to save his life, the wounds were fatal.

At his memorial service in Virginia, local police motorcycle officers escorted Freddy’s flag-draped casket to the FBI Academy, where the FBI Chaplain gave a moving invocation and where K-9 Police Officers and their dogs stood at attention behind a large crowd which included the veterinarians who tried to save his life. Other speakers followed and it was said that Freddy not only fit in with his team but also saw the humans as his pack!

The brass plaque added to the portrait I painted of Freddy reads:


February 17, 2007 - October 28, 2009
Then I heard the voice of the Lord
saying, "Whom shall I send?  And
who will go for us?"  And I said,
"Here am I.  Send me!"
Isaiah 6:8

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Winning Pet Adoption Tales!


We had a great time reading all the wonderful submissions for our Pet Adoption Tales Contest. It was so difficult to pick the four winners, because all of the stories were so heartwarming.

The truth is, every single one of the adoption tales we received is a winner, because they celebrate pets finding their furever homes. The stories spoke of the love between people and their pet(s), and it was clear that adopting them was the best thing for both the humans and the animals.

Nevertheless, we had to pick our favorites to award the awesome prizes – CANIDAE dog food and FELIDAE cat food. We thought you’d enjoy reading the winning tales too, so here they are:

Best DOG Adoption Tale:  Kara Michalec 

This starts a little sad because my 3 dogs had passed away within 2 weeks time. Milton (an American Bulldog/Pit mix), passed away January 31st, then Ale Capone (American Bully Pitbull) and Bedtime (retired Greyhound) passed away February 13th. I was completely LOST and devastated. I also lost my 9 year old retired Greyhound, Marla, in November. My pups have been my therapy and kept me from falling into depression these past 4½ years since I have become disabled and lost my career as a Fire Fighter/EMT of 12 years.

The night I walked into the Chicago Wolves game on Saturday February 16th, I was unaware it was an adopt-a-dog night. As soon as I saw the dogs, my eyes welled up with tears and I advised my niece that we had to "run" through the area and not to stop and look at any of the dogs. She understood and as we made our way through, I felt a nudge at my feet and it was Rocky.

Yes, I stopped and as I squatted down near the floor; the dog leaned on me, put his head on my chest and I started bawling... the man who was holding Rocky asked me if I was ok and I explained my story to him. He was heartbroken.

My niece and I went to our seats and I couldn't stop thinking about Rocky and how he more or less "stopped" me. When the 1st period started, I couldn't wait and risk someone else adopting him, I went to fill out paperwork and made him my "Rock!" The man who was holding Rocky said he was SO happy we came back for him because he really felt a bond between us.

Needless to say, it's been 4 weeks now and Rocky and I have been inseparable! He's really helped me through all my losses and while he most certainly isn't a replacement for my pups who have crossed over the rainbow bridge, he definitely has filled the large paw prints left behind in my home. I have even started him in classes to become my certified therapy dog!

A HUGE Thank You to Darren Haydar #20, Right Wing Hockey Player, of the Chicago Wolves for partnering w/CACC (Chicago Animal Care & Control)... without his partnership I would not have found my "Rock."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How to Teach Your Dog to Play Frisbee

By Langley Cornwell

Watching super dog-athletes at events like the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is inspiring. The K9 Frisbee Dog Entertainment blows me away every year. Likewise, when I watch videos of dogs like Wallace, Bling Bling, Torch, Shiloh and Gracie performing amazing Disc Dog feats, I’m blown away. The way the canine athletes look at their handlers with such concentration and pure trust says it all. These dogs are focused on doing exactly what their person tells them to. At the risk of sounding corny or completely nuts, the look those dogs give their humans communicates the kind of love that can only come from a dog.

We play a very rudimentary version of Frisbee with one of our dogs. Our dog loves to chase the disc but rarely catches it in the air. Even so, she brings it right back so we’ll throw it again. She is a fine athlete; she’s very agile and can jump amazingly high. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I would take the time to teach her, she could learn to be a fine backyard Disc Dog.

Because the name “Frisbee” is a registered trademark, the sport is officially known as Disc Dog. Opinions vary on the specifics of training your pup to be a Disc Dog. It’s like all dog training; there are multiple paths to the same goal. Generally speaking, this method seems to be the most common:  

Use a disc specifically designed for dogs, because human Frisbees are not suitable for canine play.

Begin by introducing your dog to the disc. One of our dogs was interested in the toy immediately, but we had to take extra steps to entice our other dog. If your dog doesn’t take to it immediately, make the disc desirable somehow. Recommendations include waving the disc temptingly while talking in an excited voice, giving your dog a treat (and/or a click if you’ve clicker trained him) when he touches it, smearing peanut butter on the edges of the disc or rubbing a hotdog around the rim. Some people report using the disc as a food bowl and allowing the dog to eat out of it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Can Dogs Sense if Someone is Untrustworthy?

By Linda Cole

One reason people pick a specific dog breed is for home protection. Dogs bred as livestock guardians, like the German Shepherd or Anatolian Shepherd, have a natural instinct to protect their flock and family. Guardian dogs and breeds used as guard dogs tend to have a natural distrust of strangers. But being able to sense if someone is untrustworthy is something completely different. Do dogs have a sort of sixth sense about people?

My first dog was an American Eskimo named Jack. I took him with me pretty much everywhere I went and he was exposed to a lot of different people. Most of the time, Jack enjoyed being around other humans, but there were times he refused to allow someone to pet him, even though I saw nothing out of the ordinary from the people he pulled away from. However, his reaction to someone was something I noted because it was unusual behavior for him.

We know dogs can sense danger when it comes to certain health conditions. Trained medical dogs can smell changes in blood sugar levels. Dogs are trained to detect high blood pressure, a potential heart attack or an impending seizure, and they can smell different types of cancer. Even untrained dogs can pick up changes in our health. That has nothing to do with a sixth sense, but it does show how sensitive a dog's sense of smell is. Scientific studies have shown that even humans can smell pheromones put out by other people which can give us signals about someone's mood. If we can pick up someone's pheromones, you know a dog has already processed that information.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Tips for Involving Your Dog in Your Wedding

By Tamara McRill

Have you ever thought about how great it would be to have your dog prancing proudly down the aisle at your wedding? After all, the ceremony is supposed to be a gathering of friends and family. Shouldn't your four-legged pals be there too?

Of course they can, although there are some considerations and practicalities to consider before you start fitting your dog for his tux. Once you have those sorted out, you can determine the best role your pet can have in your nuptials.

Is Your Dog Ceremony Ready?

What you should really consider before getting too excited about the idea of including your pet is if your dog is up to the task of being in your wedding. Is your dog calm around strangers? Will he tolerate wearing any extra adornments for the occasion? Carefully consider whether your dog would really prefer to be relaxing at home instead of at your wedding.

You can check my “Should You Bring a Non-Service Dog to a Wedding?” post for a full list of considerations before deciding to let your pooch participate on your wedding day. It covers everything from potential problems for guests to whether the venue even allows pets. Just remember that you will need someone your dog is comfortable with to be their “handler” during the ceremony. You will be a little busy getting hitched.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why Do Cats Shed Their Claws?

By Julia Williams

Cat owners are accustomed to discovering tufts of fur around their home. We will also find whiskers now and then, and some weird humans will even save those whiskers and tape them to the fridge as a sort of oddball kitty collage…ahem…no one I know does that, of course. But I digress.

If you have a cat, though, sooner or later you will find “the claw.” There it is, one of kitty’s claws stuck to the carpet or the scratching post. If you have multiple cats and they tend to scuffle, you might even find a claw jutting out from one of their foreheads, like a little “kitty unicorn horn” or a victory badge left behind by the cat who won. (Don’t laugh, that has happened to two of my cats!).

No matter where you find the claw, the first time it happens you might freak out a bit because you think something awful happened to your cat. “Oh no! Fluffy’s claw fell off!” you exclaim. “Is she sick or injured? Should I take her to the vet?” You might even examine her paws only to see all of the claws intact. Well, if Fluffy still has all of her claws, then what IS that thing you found?

Relax. It is a claw…sort of. Your cat still has all of her claws, but what you found is the nail sheath, which is the older, outer layer of the claw that “sheds” to expose a newer, sharper claw. This is perfectly natural and no cause for alarm.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Understanding Your Dog's Fears

By Langley Cornwell

My dog Frosty had a serious fear of loud noises. She was most terrified when it stormed, when there were fireworks or when guns were being shot. She would salivate, pace and hide. Once we were able to understand what she was afraid of, it made it easier to help her when she was faced with the things that scared her.

Fear can be a crippling emotion and when it comes to your dog, fear can drive his actions and lead to bad and even dangerous behavior. Understanding the fears that your dog experiences can help you, as a responsible pet owner, better help your canine companion.

Things that scare your dog may seem silly or inconsequential, but to your pooch they are monumental. What are some common fears that dogs exhibit?


The noise created by vacuum cleaners, certain appliances and even lawnmowers have been known to scare some dogs. In the house, sudden loud noises like those from a mixer, a blender or some other small appliance can startle and upset any dog.

Often, the reverberation of loud sounds off the walls of an enclosed room can frighten your dog. In the great outdoors, though, dogs can react poorly to the lawnmower. In all cases, a dog is simply unable to make sense of the movement and the noise, and it results in fear.

In the same way, some dogs may be frightened by thunder, lightning or fireworks. It is possible to rehabilitate some dogs from such fears through therapy, positive encouragement and even medications. However, avoiding the things that frighten your dog, if feasible, may be the best way to deal with their fears.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Funny, Famous and Cute Quotes about Cats and Dogs

By Linda Cole

When it comes to having an opinion about “man's best friend” or the inquisitive nature of a cat, we don't have to look far for a great quote expressing someone's impression of their favorite pet. I enjoy reading quotes about cats and dogs because some of them make me stop and think, some make me laugh, and some make me wonder why our pets continue to put up with us. I'd like to share with you some of my favorite funny, famous and cute quotes about cats and dogs.

Cat Quotes

“There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast.” - Unknown

“To a cat, ‘No’ means not while I'm looking.” - Unknown

“Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.” - Jeff Valdez

“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and, little by little, they become its visible soul.” - Jean Cocteau

“Thousands of years ago, cats were worshiped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.” - Anonymous

“I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. ‘Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears you have already read it.’ She looks up and gives me her full gaze. ‘Don't be ridiculous,’ she purrs, ‘I wrote it.’” - Dilys Laing

“Cat's motto: No matter what you've done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it.” - Unknown

“I don't think it is so much the actual bath that most cats dislike; I think it's the fact that they have to spend a good part of the day putting their hair back in place.” - Debbie Peterson

“If I tried to tell you how much I love my cats, you wouldn't understand me – unless your heart is also meow-shaped and covered in stray fur.” - Lexie Saige

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Unique “Message” Collars Can Make Dog Walking Safer

By Linda Cole

I have yet to find a dog who doesn't enjoy going on walks. However, the problem is that not all dogs are leash trained, nor are they all friendly. Sometimes, a meeting between two dogs doesn't go as well as both owners expected. I recently heard about a new idea in collars, leashes and harnesses, with messages that can help make dog walking safer for dogs, their owners and other people.

A company in the United Kingdom has come up with a simple way to send a clear signal to people approaching with their dog or someone just walking that tells them if a dog is friendly, isn't interested in making a new friend, or needs space to stay calm. Dexil’s Friendly Dog Collars were designed to let strangers know what a dog's temperament is like before they are near him. The purpose of the collars is to hopefully cut down on dog-on-dog encounters and dogs biting people who simply want to pet them. It's a system based on a traffic light.

You can get a collar, lead or harness with a simple message embroidered in black on them. A green collar with the word “Friendly” means that the dog is good with adults, kids and other dogs. Orange with “No Dogs” means he's happy to meet people, but he's not good with other dogs. Red with “Caution” means to stay away, and do not approach this dog. He needs his space and doesn't want you to pet him.

Other messages are available, including two for special needs pets. A gold color signifies a “Nervous” dog that may be unpredictable if approached. White is for a “Blind Dog” that may be limited in his sight or completely blind. White is also used for “Deaf Dog,” which means he's hard of hearing or completely deaf. Blue says “Training,” for dogs being trained by their owner, so please do not disturb. Yellow is a good one for shelters and rescue groups; it says “Adopt Me.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Do Dogs Need Canine Friends?

By Lisa Mason

There are a lot of different opinions about whether a dog needs to have other dogs around them to have a happy life. Some will say that their tiny little dog hasn’t seen another dog since it left its mother. Other pet owners will clutch their small dog protectively when a larger dog approaches. They worry that the small dog will get hurt rough housing around with the bigger canines.

All the while that we humans are holding our small dogs in our arms to keep them out of harm’s way, typically the dog is struggling to get free to go play with the other dog. We keep our dogs indoors and away from other dogs because we fear that another dog may have fleas or some other disease that will infect our dogs. We in fact baby and protect our dogs to the point of making them social outcasts.

Dogs are Members of a Pack

Dogs are social animals.  Let’s not forget that they are descendants of wolves who ran in packs. Let’s not forget that our dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and were quite capable of taking care of themselves. We have domesticated dogs so much over the years that they are now totally dependent on humans for their every need. Dogs used to run in the wild, in packs. The pack leader, or head canine, kept the pack under control and taught the smaller pups how to interact within the pack’s circle.

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