Monthly Archives: June 2009

Dealing with the Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia


By Anna Lee

Hip dysplasia is a common problem among large breed dogs; however, the diagnosis is no longer something to fear or shy away from. With the proper medication, weight control and exercise your dog can lead a normal and fun-filled life. I know because I have an 11-1/2 year old yellow lab that swims, runs, and enjoys life while living with hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that affects a dog’s hip joints. Obese dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia. Pet owners need to make sure they feed their dogs a high-quality food and treats to ensure proper nutrition and weight. It is common to find hip dysplasia in large dogs such as Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.

The hip joints, known as ball and socket joints, are what attach the dog’s hind legs to its body. Those joints need to rotate freely in order for the dog to walk normally. A dog’s hip joints are similar to those in humans. The most common way hip dysplasia is diagnosed is when the dog has a noticeable limp and is taken to the vet.

My lab, Abby, was diagnosed quite accidentally with severe hip dysplasia in 2001, when she was just shy of two years old. She had winced in pain while running through the woods. She hit the ground and stayed there for a while. When she stood up we knew she was in pain, as she was limping and whimpering. We took her to the vet, who told us she had ruptured the cruciate ligament in the left knee, which is a common knee injury. She was overweight by about 20 pounds at that time. The vet said to schedule surgery in a week and told us to put her on a diet. He wanted her to lose weight to help take some pressure off of her knee and help in her recovery.

We put her on a diet and a week later took her in for surgery. The vet told us they would take x-rays, operate on the knee and call us when she was in recovery. The doctor called me within an hour to tell me that the x-ray showed she also had extreme hip dysplasia in both hips and would probably not live to be 5 years old. This was not at all what I had expected to hear. Needless to say I was at my wits end. I don’t know how I got through until the next day when we picked her up.

Her recuperation from the knee surgery was excellent. I was told she would not put weight on the knee for a week. He didn’t know Abby very well, as she put weight on it two days later and was walking with just a slight limp after a few weeks. We also learned when a dog blows out one knee the second knee will follow suit.

A few months after the knee surgery we moved 700 miles to Tennessee. Three months later she blew out the other knee. We took her to a vet who was recommended as an expert in knee injuries. At least by then she had lost over 20 pounds and was in much better condition. I told the new vet about her previous knee surgery and also about the hip dysplasia. He said he would take x-rays and review her hips.

When we picked her up after surgery the vet said she did very well. We could see that, as she was walking out with him using all four legs! His procedure was much different from the first vet. Her scar is half the size and she was able to walk without a limp within a week. He also gave us the good news that her hips were not as bad as we had been told and we should just take it day by day.

Five years later she when she was about 7, the hip dysplasia started to rear its ugly head. She refused to get in the back of our SUV, which was the first clue. We took immediate action and drove her directly to the vet. We were living in a different area of Tennessee, therefore, a different vet yet again. This time we had a female vet and she said x-rays were needed but she was sure it was the hips giving her problems. We left her there for the x-rays, and when we picked her up later that day the vet showed us the film. We could clearly see how different her hip joints looked compared to what a normal joint looks like.

I was prepared for the worst, but the good news was that she did not need hip surgery. We discussed two medications and chose the one that fit her needs better. She gets 50 mgs once a day in a chewable tablet. Does she still have problems? Yes, and she always will. Her big problem areas are steep steps, sitting down and getting up. She walks fine and she runs like the wind. She can run around the pool at full speed, jump in for her Frisbee, swim to the steps and climb out. She can do that for hours on end. Without her meds she would not be able to be that active without a noticeable limp.

In 2001 we were told she would not be with us longer than 5 more years. Well, it’s 8 plus years later and she is living proof that with the right vet and the right medications, hip dysplasia is not the end of the world. The bottom line is this: get a second opinion or a third if necessary. Do your own research and then find a vet you can trust with your dog’s life. Don’t panic when you hear the diagnosis of hip dysplasia. With love, proper nutrition and medication, your dog can live a long and active life!

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.

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+PinterestShare

Is Premium Dog Food Worth the Cost?


By Lexiann Grant

When looking at what it costs to feed your dog, it’s important to understand that not all dog foods are created equal. Quality kibble can make your dog healthier and probably doesn’t cost as much as some might think.
In the 1970s when I adopted my first puppy, I knew very little about dogs and dog food. I just purchased an inexpensive brand from the grocery store while shopping for my own food. I thought buying special flavors in appetizing packages equated being good to my dog.
Wrong. My first dog – a finicky eater – was excessively thin in body and coat, not good for an Afghan Hound. She also had digestive problems.
With my second dog I decided to try a different kibble. The one I chose was a bit better and cost a little more, but I was still clueless about what constituted a healthy product. This dog had ear infections, dry itchy skin and allergies her entire life. She was the only Afghan I knew who couldn’t run without tiring easily.
I had heard from some of my friends how expensive the premium dog foods were compared to the grocery store dog foods I was buying and was reluctant to spend what seemed like more money for the same number of pounds of dog food.
So I kept feeding the same kibble to the next four dogs my husband and I adopted. Every few weeks, one of the dogs was at the veterinarian’s for flaky skin, minor skin cysts, dirty ears, heavy shedding, mild respiratory infections or low energy. All the dogs had thin, dull coats and were generally lackluster. Despite my personal inclination to healthy, balanced eating, I just assumed the dogs’ food was nutritionally sound enough, and never really made the connection. Even though these conditions can have many different causes, I eventually decided that trying better foods was the easiest solution.
Before making the switch to better food, we were told repeatedly at dog shows that our Elkhound was “out of coat.” We kept waiting for him to grow the full adult coat as he aged. Extra portions, vitamins, oils, herbs, and unusual supplements added to his inexpensive food did not make that happen.
Finally another handler asked what we fed, and suggested trying a premium food. I started researching ingredients, pet food standards and labeling practices. I realized that if you compared a premium dog food pound for pound to things we all buy in the grocery store, it’s really not that expensive. Here’s an example. At Walgreens a 14 ounce box of Cheerios costs $4.50, so 30 pounds of Cheerios would be about $150! Cheerios is mostly grains, corn starch and sugar. A 30 pound bag of super-premium pet food like CANIDAE costs about $34 where I live so it costs just a little more than a dollar a pound. A typical dog eats less than a pound a day, so feeding a premium food can easily cost less than a dollar a day.
After I figured all this out for myself, I picked CANIDAE as the dog food to try. It was affordable, and it also finally improved my Elkhound’s fur! At the shows, we received compliments on how great our dog’s coat looked, and were asked what food we fed. My husband’s reply: “CANIDAE. It’ll grow hair on a bowling ball.”
Long before I became a CANIDAE Responsible Pet Ownership blogger, I fed CANIDAE because diet is everything; it is the foundation for good health.
In this brutal economy, it’s necessary to save money. But cutting corners on pet food won’t net any savings. That’s because less expensive products use lower quality ingredients. Pennies saved on kibble can turn into big bucks spent at the vet’s.
“Premium” in dog food means a higher standard in nutrition and quality of ingredients. Pound for pound, the price of premium food is higher. But each serving contains more nutrients that are more nutritionally available than in a cheaper food, making premium kibble the better buy. With more nutrients in every bite, dogs do not need to eat as much premium food as they would a brand containing fillers and by-products.
Want help including premium kibble in your budget? Check out the handy new calculator that figures the daily cost of feeding CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods based on your dog’s weight. Go to www.canidae.com/cost-to-feed-canidae/. From the pull-down menus, answer the four questions about which formula and size bag you feed (or would like to try), your dog’s weight and the amount your pet supply store charges for the selected product. Then click the “calculate” button to see how affordable premium dog food really is.
Although no single dog food is right for every dog, premium foods like CANIDAE make a positive difference. Remember, you get what you pay for: high quality food can equal better health.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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.

Dogs Never Stop Chewing


By Ruthie Bently

I recently bought Skye a sterilized natural bone, and she was in her yard chewing on it when a friend came over. He asked me how old Skye was and I replied that she would be four this summer. That surprised him, because she was still chewing. After all she had all her permanent teeth, so he wanted to know why she was still chewing. As he had never owned a dog and wanted to understand, I explained that it doesn’t matter how old a dog is; they never stop chewing.

Dogs never stop chewing. Sounds funny doesn’t it? But the truth is that while dogs stop teething, they never stop chewing. This should come as no surprise to anyone who owns any dog that is used for hunting or retrieving, as they are very oral by nature. Most Retriever and Terrier owners I know have a good supply of nylon bones or chewies to keep their four legged kids busy.

Dogs’ teeth are not visible when they are born, and 28 puppy teeth begin coming in between three to six weeks of age. This is when a puppy begins to chew. They start losing their puppy teeth by the age of thirteen weeks. Dogs’ adult teeth (they have 42) begin coming in between the age of two and seven months. So you could see some heavy duty chewing between the ages of three weeks to seven months. The chewing will slow down as they get older, but it never stops completely.

Dogs can’t pick up things with their paws the way we do with our hands, so they use their mouths to taste and test the things they pick up. They are curious, so it doesn’t matter if it is the TV remote, a cell phone, glasses or a shoe on the floor; they have to check it out. Chewing helps remove plaque from your dog’s teeth, and is a good addition to brushing your dog’s teeth regularly. So if you have a good supply of nylon bones, sterilized natural bones and other chewies you can keep your dog (and yourself) happy, as they won’t be looking for things that they shouldn’t be chewing and that could be dangerous for them.

I have observed that dogs will work out frustrations when they are chewing. When Skye can’t find a favorite chew toy, she will go after a “non-approved” dog toy. That usually means a plastic drink bottle or cottage cheese container; though it has included wood logs and shoes. She takes the plastic out of the recycle bin and the wood out of the wood box because she can reach them. I would rather that she picked a dog toy, but she just wants something in her mouth and is too lazy to go looking for a real toy. She has a toy box outside and one inside as well, so it isn’t like she can’t find anything to suit her. Skye knows that it’s not a dog approved item, so she could be doing it for the attention factor as well. All I know is that Skye needs to chew.

One way to help your own canine chewer is to have duplicate chewing toys around the house in different rooms, as well as some toys that are designated outside chewing toys. An outside chewing toy would be one that you would not want leaving grease on your leather sofa, or that may get sticky during chewing and leave gooey bits around the house that are difficult to clean up.

Remember, our dogs are like children in that they should not be left alone with any toy no matter how safe you think they might be. You should always supervise your dog with any toy that you choose to allow them to have. By carefully supervising the toys your dog chews, you shouldn’t have the same issues that we have had with Skye and hopefully you can learn from our mistakes. As they say: “forewarned is forearmed.”

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.

How to Keep an Indoor Cat Happy


By Julia Williams

Until recently, I didn’t believe an indoor cat could be happy. I thought that “depriving” a cat of the outdoors would surely make them depressed, lethargic and overweight. I saw how much my own country kitties enjoyed climbing trees, fences and trellises, lounging in the garden, and hunting the ever-prolific gophers on our five acre field.

Then we moved back to the small town of my childhood, and my cats became primarily indoor cats. They were scared at first, and hid in the bedroom closet for a week. I wasn’t going to let them go out for at least a month anyway. When they finally did come out of the closet, my California born-and-raised cats took one sniff of the cool Montana air and must’ve decided then and there that being indoors suited them just fine. And when the snow came, it pretty much sealed the deal.

I worried that they’d hate being inside and cease to be the joyful kitties I knew and loved, but soon realized that my concerns were unwarranted. In fact, to my surprise they now show little interest in going outside, even when offered the opportunity. I did make some adjustments to their indoor environment however, to make it as kitty-hospitable as possible. The key to keeping an indoor cat happy, it seems, is providing them with plenty of stimulation and attention, along with an enriched environment.

So what does that entail, exactly? I keep my indoor kitties stimulated by having lots of different cat toys for them to play with. I bring home a huge bag of Christmas clearance cat toys from my local pet store every January, and rarely spend more than $10. Some of those toys have a holiday theme of course, but the cats don’t know the difference or care, and neither do I.

The important thing to remember about cat toys is that every kitty is different; for example, mine go crazy for furry mice but get bored with balls in a nanosecond. If I buy assortments that have balls in them I give those to my sister, whose cats love to bat balls. Soon enough you’ll discover which types of toys your cat likes best, and you can get more of those.

Another other thing to keep in mind is that you need to rotate your cat toys frequently. Once a week I swap out all the toys with others that I keep in the “cat toy drawer.” In a feline’s world, this is like getting brand new toys to play with every week.

I also buy them toys that require human participation – like mice-on-a-stick, lasers, and cat “fishing” poles – which accomplishes both the stimulation and attention aspect. I also try to give each of my three cats my undivided attention every day, no matter how busy I am. I brought these cats into my family because I wanted to give them love and a good home, and I owe it to them to pay attention to them. Now that they’re primarily indoor cats, they are a bit needier and they crave more attention than they did before, so I adjusted to accommodate them.

Besides playing with them, you can also give your cats attention by having petting sessions, lap time, and grooming time. As with the toys, you need to discover what your cat likes the most, and do more of that. Annabelle loves to be brushed and combed (that’s an understatement), so this is what I do for her time. Mickey loves to sit on my lap, so I let him, even if it means I have to sit two feet away from my keyboard. Rocky prefers plain vanilla petting, so he gets that.

The third aspect to keeping an indoor kitty content is an enriched environment. In other words, you need to provide things besides toys that make them happy. My cats like to lie on the back of the sofa and watch the birds, so I placed a comfy sheepskin kitty mat there to contain the cat hair. You can also buy window perches that accomplish the same thing. You might want to get them a cozy cat bed or cat “donut” to sleep in, too. If your kitty likes to nibble on grass, it’s easy to grow special cat greens for them.

Cat towers and cat condos are a great way to provide your cat with a place to nap, scratch, climb, play and perch, all in one day! It’s also a good idea to provide your indoor cat with various scratching surfaces— I have several styles of corrugated cardboard scratchers, as well as a carpeted scratching post. I’ve learned that when it comes to cats, you really can’t have too many scratching posts!

My cats are probably not as happy indoors as they were outdoors, but they are happy enough. Given that indoor cats live longer and are typically healthier, that is good enough for me.

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.

Body Language of Dogs


By Linda Cole

As pack leader of multiple dogs, it’s our responsibility to keep our animals stable and free from aggression by other members of our pack. We can hear a bark, growl or whimper which can signal a change in a dog’s temperament. Body language will also give us a clue something is wrong that has upset or frightened a member of our pack. Just as we display happiness, anger, fear and even aggression in our face and body language, a dog will also have visible signs showing how they are feeling.

Dogs communicate and interact with each other through body language. They use this knowledge with us, as well. My pack understands when it’s time to go outside because of certain movements and actions I take. That’s the signal they are watching for and they respond with no spoken words from me.

People, especially children, can be injured when they don’t understand what the dog is trying to say to them. Children can and should be taught how to determine a dog’s state of mind by observing its body language. Watch your dogs closely when any children, including your own, are playing with or simply petting them. Not all dogs like to be petted, especially around the head and ears. Some feel intimidated with a hug, being laid on or wrestled with. Bites can be stopped before they happen when you and the child recognize and understand when the dog is saying, “I’ve had enough and it’s time to back off.”

A dog who rolls over on its back with the tail tucked between his legs is in a submissive position. Lip-licking helps reduce stress and show others they are being compliant. Crouching down with their butt in the air says “I want to play.” Eye contact, especially if it’s intense or an actual stare, can indicate this dog is ready to rumble. A dominate dog is always ready to challenge authority in the pack, but they will respect and honor commands as long as your body language indicates you are leader of the pack.

A confident dog holds his tail erect with a gentle slow wag. He stands or sits tall and erect, head held high. You can see his ears are pricked up as he listens and the eyes are relaxed looking with no “whites” showing. The body language of this dog says “Everything is cool and I feel good.”

An aggressive dog stiffens in his body and legs. His tail will be lower and held out straight. He may or may not signal his displeasure with a growl. Ears are flattened against his head and the head will be lowered. His hackles, the hair on his back, rump and around the shoulders, will be raised. Angry eyes stare intently and become narrowed. The lips may be curled into a snarl.

The fearful animal may be hard to predict. Fear in any species can make that individual unpredictable and potentially dangerous. A fearful dog has its tail tucked between their legs or it may hang straight down with a wag that is fast and uncertain. The back is arched and his head and rear are lower. The legs are slightly bent. He may turn his head away and look out of the corner of his eyes showing the whites of the eye while trying to avoid looking at what’s causing the concern or fear.

A strong pack leader understands members of the pack need to be allowed to settle small differences on their own. However, when a dog’s body language indicates a fight could be brewing, it’s time to step in and remove the offending dog for a brief cooling off period. It’s a refocusing of the mind, if you will.

Dogs are only concerned with what’s going on right now. An aggressive or fearful dog can return to a confident and feeling good pet in a matter of seconds. Dogs will respect a pack leader who stays cool under pressure and responds to the needs and safety of the group by being assertive, consistent and fair to all members of the pack. Understanding body language of dogs allows you to step in and stop problems before they arise. Maintaining a healthy, happy pack is as simple as watching what your dog is trying to tell you.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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.

Great Ways to Pamper Your Pet


By Julia Williams

My mother once informed me that my three cats were spoiled rotten. At first her comment irked me, but then I realized it was true. I also realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with spoiling them! People who love their pets want to treat them in a way that makes the animal happy and enriches its life. Otherwise, what’s the point of having a pet? Besides, no amount of pampering could ever equal the amount of love and joy they add to my life.

Then too, what one person sees as pampering might seem like a necessity to another. In my frugal mother’s eyes, feeding my cats a premium food like FELIDAE® is a waste of money. However, I know that this high-quality, all natural food is worth every penny because it improves my cats’ health and extends their lives. So while she may think I “spoil” them with cat food that costs more than the cheap supermarket fare, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Besides feeding your dog or cat good food, there are countless other ways to pamper your pet. Here are just a few:

1. Give them your undivided attention by petting and grooming them, talking to them and hugging them. While some people insist that cats are too independent to want or need attention, I have to disagree. I’ve had many different feline companions over the years, and not one of them was aloof or indifferent to my doting ways. It’s true that every cat has a distinct personality, and some enjoy the attention more than others, but they all enjoy it nonetheless.

The best thing about pampering your pet with attention is that it’s free. Dogs and cats that are petted and loved on a daily basis will be happier and better behaved. A gentle brushing of their fur is something almost every pet loves. Once a week, you could give your pet a soothing body massage, too. Don’t laugh – massaging your pet increases circulation and makes their coat shine – and most dogs and cats really seem to love it!

2. Pamper your dog or cat with a nice cozy pet bed. Since they spend the better part of their day sleeping (or at the very least, relaxing in a half-awake state), providing them with a comfy bed is really not so much pampering as it is a necessity. An added bonus for you is that a bed of their own keeps the pet hair contained to one primary spot. A heated pet bed is great if you have an older, arthritic dog or cat. They’re safe to use, and the gentle heat will soothe their joints.

3. Dog sweaters and coats may seem silly and superfluous to some people, but many short-haired breeds do get chilly going outdoors in winter. For these dogs, a sweater or coat is not a fashion statement – it’s a practical way to keep them warm and dry.

4. Treats can be a great way to pamper your pet, provided you don’t overdo it. A fat pet is not a healthy pet, so give them treats only once in awhile, and make sure to factor the treat into their daily food allotment. Bits of plain cooked chicken or turkey, or freeze-dried liver, chicken and fish treats that have no additives or preservatives are the healthiest treats you can give your pet.

Homemade dog biscuits and cat treats are also healthy ways to pamper your pets, and they’re easy to make. I have two “pet recipe” books that I use, and there are some good recipes on the internet as well. If you’d rather buy your dog treats, try the SNAP-BISCUITS® made by CANIDAE®.

5. Toys are an inexpensive way to pamper your pet, and they can help them get some exercise, too. The nice thing about both dogs and cats is that they’re pretty easy to please when it comes to toys. In general, anything that keeps them safely amused instead of looking around for trouble, is a good toy to get.

The main thing to keep in mind is that pampering your pet should be all about what your pet likes, rather than what you want. And you don’t need to be able to speak “dog” or “cat” to tell the difference! Pamper your pooch or spoil your kitty with the things that make them happy, and you’ll be rewarded with a lifetime of unconditional love and joy. In my eyes, that’s a pretty darn good trade.

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.