Monthly Archives: June 2009

Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats


By Linda Cole

They’re baaaack! Fleas are once again climbing from their hiding cracks and crevasses and mounting an invading army with your pet as the target. Many pet owners wrestle with the same question every summer. Do I stick with the usual control that uses chemicals to kill the fleas, or is it time to try a natural control?

For animals who have had allergic reactions or other medical and sometimes life threatening reactions to over-the-counter flea control, the answer is simple. More and more owners are taking a look at natural flea control to avoid harsh chemicals found in many of the topical medications that are on the market. However, when it comes to battling an obnoxious pest that can also do bodily harm to your pet, some kind of flea control is essential. If you’re looking for alternative solutions, the news is good – with natural ways to combat the mighty flea.

As with any flea control, you have to be consistent and dedicated to stay ahead of flea infestations. Most natural control can take up to a month before you start to see results. Don’t be discouraged. Find what works best for you and your pet, and implement several of the natural flea control solutions.

Apple Cider Vinegar makes the skin taste acidic to fleas, so don’t substitute any other vinegar. Depending on the size of your water bowl, add one tablespoon per cup of water. Don’t stop if your pet gives you “that look.” Animals adapt. If they refuse to drink the water, you can mix a 50/50 solution in a spray bottle and put it directly on your pet.

Brewers Yeast with Garlic is a favorite of mine because it can be used as a treat or put directly on their food. Not all pets like it, but those who do will wolf it down. Brewers yeast can be purchased in tablets or powder. It contains B vitamins, biotin, proteins and zinc, and can help improve your pet’s blood, skin and immune system. Like apple cider vinegar, it works from the inside by giving the pet’s skin an odor and taste not appreciated by fleas. If your pet won’t eat brewers yeast, mix up 1/4 cup powered yeast in a quart of water and pour into a squirt bottle. Spray on your pet and work the yeast and water into their coat as you spray. You can also use powered yeast as a flea powder. Shake it over their coat, working it in as you dust.

Rosemary: To make a dip with rosemary, use two cups fresh herb to one gallon of warm water. If your dog is super-sized, you will have to adjust the amount for size. Steep the rosemary for 30 minutes in boiling water. Pour into a gallon of warm water and allow it to cool slightly. You want your mix to be warm, not hot. Pour over your pet and let them air dry for best results.

Lavender Essential Oil has been used in the past to treat anxiety in cats; however, I don’t recommend this for cats as a natural flea control because it can build up and become toxic to them. For your dog, simply place a couple of drops at the base of their tail and the back of their neck after bathing them.

Lemon: Take two or three lemons and slice them rind and all. Drop into a quart of boiling water and let it set overnight. Strain out any pulp before using. Use this solution to sponge over your pet or put in a spray bottle. Let them air dry. Lemon can also help condition your pet’s skin as well as repel fleas.

Raw Garlic should be used with care, as some animals tolerate it better than others. Never give raw garlic to your cat or dog unless you have checked with your vet first. Too much can make your cat anemic, and the jury is still out for dogs. Talk with your vet for specific dosage and any health concerns you need to be aware of before starting your pet on garlic. Fleas are nasty critters for your pet, but too much raw garlic can be equally damaging for your pet.

Keep in mind that natural flea control does not kill fleas or their eggs, it only repels them. When using any natural control, administer outside where the fleas can vacate your pet away from the cracks and crevices of your home.

As with any flea control, your pet’s environment also needs to be kept clean. A thorough daily vacuuming will help keep fleas in check as well as remove any eggs. Make sure to vacuum the furniture too, and wash your pet’s bedding regularly.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Litter Box Training Do’s and Don’ts


By Julia Williams

Cats are fastidious and intelligent creatures that instinctively cover their waste, which makes litter box training a kitten so much easier than house training a puppy. Score one for kitties in the “cats versus dogs” debate!

If you adopt a new kitten that was raised indoors with its Mama, it will most likely already be trained to use the litter box. However, if you are fostering young kittens for a shelter, raising a litter of kittens, or adopting one that isn’t using a cat box yet for some reason, you will need to do some training.

If you’re lucky, your litter box training might involve little more than placing the kitten in the box a few times. As I said, cats are smart (okay, maybe I am biased just a little) and they generally use their litter box right away. Nonetheless, there are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind. Establishing good litter box habits at an early age is the key to avoiding problems in the future.

Litter Box Do’s

* Choose an appropriate box. My friend adopted a kitten recently, and I went with her to pick it up. When we arrived at her house with kitten in hand, she showed me the litter box she’d bought. It was a splendid covered cat box with a flap door, just like the one I use for my cats. Unfortunately, the entrance is a good 8” from the floor – which is fine for an adult cat but definitely not a tiny six-week-old kitten! We both had a good laugh, and then we went out to get a kitten-sized litter box with low sides that her new little fur-baby could easily climb over.

* Choose the right cat litter. Kittens often taste their litter, and there is concern among some cat lovers that the clumping clay litter can harm their digestive systems. I don’t know anyone who’s experienced that, but if you want to err on the side of caution, there are several natural alternatives you can try. My favorite natural cat litter is made from finely ground corn; others include wheat, sawdust and pine pellets.

*Location, location, location. As in real estate, the location of your cat’s litter box is very important. It should be placed in an easily accessible area that’s relatively quiet and offers some privacy. Make sure the cat box is not located near appliances that make startling or loud noises, such as washing machines or refrigerators. If you have toddlers or dogs, put the litter box in an area that you can make off limits to them with a baby gate. This is to make sure kitty doesn’t get ambushed while doing his business, and also to keep curious hands and mouths out of the cat litter.

* Provide more than one litter box if you have several cats, or have multiple stories in your home that the kitten will have access to.

* Confine a young kitten to a small area until you know they are consistently using the litter box, particularly at night while you’re asleep.

* Take your kitten to the litter box throughout the day, particularly if you see it sniffing around as though looking for a spot to “go.” The first few times, you can very gently scratch the litter with the kitten’s paws to simulate the digging, although it’s not really necessary. When your kitten uses the litter box, it’s a good idea to praise and pet them, to let them know they did a good thing and you’re happy with them.

Litter Box Don’ts

* Accidents may happen. Never, ever punish your kitten by spanking or rubbing his nose in the mess. This only creates fear, distrust, and a cat that will grow up not wanting to be in your company. Be sure to clean the area they soiled with a product containing enzymes which remove the scent.

* Don’t change the type of litter if your kitten seems to like the one you have. If you do decide to try a new cat litter, mix it into the old litter gradually if the type of litter is compatible. For instance, when I switched from clumping clay to corn-based litter which is also a clumping type, I added a little of the new along with the old for several weeks.

* Don’t forget to clean the box regularly. For some cats, that may mean daily scooping.

* Don’t move the litter box to a new location suddenly. If you want to change the location, leave the old box where it is and place a second box in the new spot until your kitten is using it regularly.

* Don’t tempt fate by leaving a large potted plant at floor level. The dirt is attractive to kittens, and they might use it as a toilet or just have some fun digging in it.

Your litter box training should be a breeze if you remember three simple things: start early, stay consistent and provide a suitable environment for your “feline loo.”

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Give Your Dog a Bath


By Anna Lee

Humans need to bathe to remove grime, dirt and dust from our skin. Dogs need to be bathed to remove the dirt and grime from their coats. Dogs do have a natural “doggie smell” which a bath will help improve. It is part of a regimen that is important for the health of your dog. Bath time is also an opportunity for you to check for anything unusual on your dog’s body such as a lump, a scratch, or a tick, as well as a great bonding experience.

A dog does not need a bath as often as a human does. It is not recommended that you give your dog a bath more than once a week. You will judge when your dog is in need of one. I know when my dog needs a bath as she gets that “doggie” odor!

Supplies You Will Need

Dog shampoo is formulated for dogs and is the only shampoo you should use. Do not use the shampoo you use for your hair, or baby shampoo, or your bath soap. These products will dry out your dog’s coat. There are a variety of specialized dog shampoos such as whitening shampoo to be used on white dogs to eliminate the touch of yellow they sometimes get. There is odor control shampoo which is good for dogs that spend a lot of time outside, dog shampoo for sensitive or dry skin, and medicated shampoo. Choose the one that is right for your particular dog’s needs.

Towels are a must! I purchased a micro bath towel for my dog, which absorbs a lot of water. It’s important to get your dog as dry as possible. If you don’t have a micro towel, a large towel of any type will work. Old beach towels make excellent dog towels.

If you trim your dog’s nails yourself, have the nail timer handy too. You might as well use the dog toothbrush and toothpaste as the final part of the job. Finish up by rewarding your dog with a CANIDAE® dog treat or two.

The Bath Process

In order to keep your dog relaxed, continually talk to your dog during the bath. Your voice will be a calming influence and it will take his mind off of what you are doing if he isn’t one who enjoys a bath. The best way to shampoo a large dog would be outside with the garden hose. First you should thoroughly wet the dog’s coat. Apply a liberal amount of shampoo to the dog and rub it in. Use your hands to make sure you get all the nooks and crannies. While doing that, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to check for lumps, scratches or anything out of the ordinary. Once well lathered, give the dog a thorough rinse. It is not necessary to lather the dog twice unless there had been a run in with a skunk! If you have a small dog and have a utility sink, that would be the perfect spot for a bath.

Ears and Nails

Once the dog is almost dry, this is a good time to check the ears for wax. Labs are prone to wax building up because they have very close set ears which does not allow for good air flow. Since you have the dog’s attention it is a good opportunity to check the nails. If you brush your dog’s teeth this is a good opportunity to take care of that.

Rewards

By this point the dog is most likely getting a little bored with the bath game, and you are probably ready to put on dry shoes. Now it’s reward time! Take a few minutes to praise the dog for enduring the bath, throw his favorite toy or ball for him a few times and give him a dog biscuit as a reward. He will learn to associate bath time as a good thing.

A bath is necessary for the overall good health of your four legged pooch. If you follow the simple process outlined above, your dog will look good and smell nice – and be healthier, too. If, after all of this, you find it impossible to bathe your dog yourself, then go ahead and take him for a professional grooming. Check with your vet for a recommendation. The vet I use also has a groomer on staff for a reasonable price.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What Does “Responsible Pet Ownership” Really Mean?


By Ruthie Bently

From time to time, CANIDAE puts “freebies” in their bags of food. The first bag of their food I bought had a magnetic calendar in it; the next bag I got had a bracelet in it. On one side it says “CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods” and on the other side it says “RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP.” I don’t need to be reminded what that means, however I wear it every day so it is always in my focus. But what does responsible pet ownership really mean?

It means doing everything you can to make sure that the pet you choose (or the pet that chooses you) has the best life you can provide for them. If you pick a puppy, it means regular vet visits for the first year with booster shots, having your puppy neutered or spayed if you’re not a breeder, teething and everything else that owning a puppy entails. It means getting into a puppy class for training and socialization so you have a well-behaved dog. High quality food and fresh water daily are on the list too, and should be at the top. You need to provide proper teething and chewing toys for your pet, as well as toys for regular exercise. You may even want to consider giving your dog a job to do, as they thrive on variety in their lives.

Responsible Pet Ownership means dealing with ticks, fleas, heartworms, kennel cough and all the other parasites and diseases that may come along. It means regular grooming, bathing and toenail clipping. It could also include picking burrs and weed seeds out of paw pads and coats, so they do not imbed themselves and cause an infection or a matt in the fur. Responsible Pet Ownership means having a safe place for your pet to play outside, with proper shade and confinement, as well as fresh water.

If you adopt a “special needs” pet, it could mean dealing with daily medications, healing salves, physical rehabilitation, monthly vet visits, even sizing changes for a cart if that is what your dog needs to move around. Responsible Pet Ownership means being vigilant every hour of every day to keep your pet safe from environmental dangers that may be in your home and on your property that you may not even realize exist.

It means living with a sentient creature that loves you just because you are. They don’t care how long you spend away from home and dance around when you get back. They don’t care if you have had a bad day at work, they are just glad you are home. They snuggle with you when you are sick, and cuddle with you on cold winter nights. They will hog the blankets and the bed (if you let them). They get you to exercise and spend more time outside in the sun, the rain, the snow and everything in between. They give unconditional love, are non-judgmental and expect nothing in return. They make us better humans, because they can.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of an animal you choose to spend your life with. Just like us, they have quirks or oddities; whichever word you choose will suffice. That’s not important to them, as they just want to be with us. As a species, we are truly blessed if we have an animal or two (or more) in our lives. They make us better humans.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Understanding Dog Pack Hierarchy, and Why it Matters


By Linda Cole

Dogs are social animals with a well defined pack hierarchy. Like the wolf pack, each individual in the pack has its own place in that social order. Without a leader and parameters, a dog pack is confused, unstable and in constant conflict. Whether you are a pack of one dog or multiple canines, it’s important to understand the structure of the pack in order to maintain your role as leader.

As pack leader, it’s up to you to set rules and limitations for your dog. They are looking to their human alpha leader for consistent guidance and behavior you deem appropriate. A stable relationship is created when your dog understands what you expect from them.

A wolf pack hierarchy is made up of one alpha male and an alpha female. Next in line is the beta, and the omega is the lowest member of the pack. The other pack members fall in between the alpha and omega. The alpha male is the only one who leads and makes all the decisions that the entire pack follows, such as when and where to hunt, and when the rest of the pack can eat. He takes the best sleeping spots and is the only one allowed to mate with the alpha female. Any individual member who fails to obey the rules will be dealt with in a swift and appropriate manner. Those who refuse to follow pack laws are sometimes driven out in order to maintain stability.

Our dogs operate under the same hierarchy. They are born with an instinctive sense of pack mentality. Observe any litter of pups as they grow and mature. Dominate and submissive personalities begin to show as they play and interact with their litter mates. Mom keeps them in line with little nudges and nips around their neck and ears. These gentle reminders and punishments learned as pups will remain with them throughout their lives.

To establish yourself as top dog in the pack hierarchy, you have to first know which animal in your pack is the alpha. A female can be recognized by the pack as their alpha leader. Observe your dogs to see which one shows dominate behavior over the other dogs or yourself. Dominate behavior will include bumping, blocking, moving in between you and other dogs, standing alert with their tail held high (a sign of confidence), low growling whenever another dog comes near or making eye contact and holding it. Control the alpha, and you control the rest of the pack.

Never yell, hit, kick or spank any dog. It is not something they understand and will only create a more aggressive or fearful dog in the long run. You will certainly not gain any respect or trust. Respect can’t be forced; you have to earn it by controlling your pack on their terms. You become the alpha by making all the decisions for the pack. You eat first, go through a doorway first, determine which dog gets attention and when it’s given, win the tug of war game, sit and sleep in the prime spots, “move” a pack member out of your way instead of walking around or stepping over them. In other words, you establish yourself in the pack hierarchy as the alpha by controlling their basic needs and desires.

Dogs want to please us and be our protectors and companions. We create and allow unwanted behavior each time a member of our pack is allowed to misbehave with no consequences from the boss. A true alpha leader in the social order of the pack hierarchy would never allow misdeeds to go unpunished. This causes confusion and a breakdown in their social order which in turn creates an unstable pack.

The best way to show our pets just how much they mean to us is to treat them as rightful members in the pack hierarchy. Each one knows their place in the pack and you, as their alpha leader, have set the parameters and rules they will abide by. Stay calm, cool and assertive when you need to remind a rule breaker who the top dog is by administering appropriate and fair discipline. By learning how to lead, you are creating stable dogs who know their place and obey the wishes of the one who controls the pack.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Transport Dogs Safely in Pickup Trucks


By Julia Williams

The other day I was traveling on the freeway when I noticed the pickup truck in front of me had a beautiful chocolate lab bouncing from one side of the truck bed to the other. I was appalled to see that the dog was not tethered in the back of the truck! I’ll never forget the terrified look on the dog’s face as he struggled to maintain his balance and keep from flying out of the truck.

Transporting your dog untethered in the open bed of a pickup truck is an accident waiting to happen. When you let your dog ride loose in the back of your pickup, you endanger both your dog and other motorists. One quick turn, abrupt stop or unexpected bump in the road, and your dog can be catapulted into traffic. This can result in painful broken bones, bruises and road rash, and even death. If they do manage to survive the fall and oncoming traffic, it can cost thousands of dollars in veterinary bills to fix them up.

Letting your dog ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck is not only unsafe and potentially deadly for dogs, it’s illegal in some states. Most states that don’t yet have legislation in place to protect dogs from this dangerous practice, are working on it. Regardless of the law, responsible pet owners have a moral duty to ensure the health and safety of their companion animals, both at home and on the road.

Some people believe that taking the dog with them is better than leaving them home alone. But consider this: having a lonely dog waiting for you when you get home is a million times better than having one get killed or injured from falling out of a pickup truck bed.

If you simply must take your dog with you in the back of your pickup truck, there are several different options for keeping your beloved canine companion safe. The safest is to buy a topper for the truck bed so your dog can ride in an enclosed area, protected from the road and wind hazards.

A large, sturdy dog crate (such as those required for airline transportation) is also a good option, provided that the crate is securely tied down to prevent it from sliding around the truck bed floor. Although these cost less than a truck bed topper, they can still run several hundred dollars or more depending on the size and type of crate you buy.

Another option is to secure the dog directly behind the truck’s cab by cross tethering. This is accomplished by securing a rope to each side of the truck, with a short leash attached in the middle for the dog. Be aware, however, that if the leash is too long, the dog could fall from the truck’s rear and be dragged along the street.

Cross tethers designed specifically for restraining dogs in the backs of pickups can be found at most pet stores as well as online. A properly installed cross tether secures the animal to the truck in such a way that it can’t go over the bed or choke itself. The safest (and most comfortable) way to cross tether your dog is with the addition of a padded harness. This prevents entanglement and limits the dog’s range of motion to ensure that he won’t choke.

The German Shepherd in the photo above is using the Kurgo K9 Truck Tether along with the Kurgo Smart Harness which is made from automotive seatbelt webbing. This tether and harness will fit all pickup trucks, and can also be fitted to the vehicle’s seats to allow your dog to ride inside during inclement weather. Both of these together cost less than $50. That’s such a small price to pay to keep “man’s best friend” safe and sound while riding in the back of a pickup truck.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.