Monthly Archives: July 2009

The Best Dogs for Allergic People

By Anna Lee

A lot of focus was placed on hypoallergenic dog breeds when President elect Obama promised his daughters, Sasha and Malia, that a new puppy would be moving into the White House with them. The cause of so much attention on their choice of dog (which ended up being a Portuguese Water Dog) was due to the fact that young Malia is allergic to dogs.

Many families face a similar problem as more and more people develop allergies but still want the responsibility (and the joy) of becoming dog owners. Here are some breeds that are considered good for families with allergies.

Schnauzers: the Miniature Schnauzer is an adorable little dog that loves kids, but requires discipline and socializing with other dogs. This little guy doesn’t think he is small and will try to take on larger dogs. Schnauzers tend to bark a lot, and make good guard dogs because of this. They weigh anywhere from 10-15 pounds and have a 15 year life expectancy.

If you want a larger dog, the Giant Schnauzer is a good choice. They are quick to learn but need discipline as they will try to take over. They can weigh up to 80 pounds and require exercise to release some energy. Life expectancy is 12-15 years.

Bichon Frise: If you want a small hypoallergenic dog, try the Bichon. They are adorable little dogs, requiring grooming every 4 weeks. They are small enough to carry around with you! Bichons are extremely intelligent and have a happy temperament. They prefer to be with people and are great with kids. Housebreaking might take a little longer than usual with this breed. They weigh from 7 to 12 pounds; life expectancy is about 15 years.

Designer Dogs: Cockapoo, Labradoodle and Schnoodle

These hypoallergenic Designer Dogs (i.e., a cross between two purebred dogs) take on the traits of each breed.

* The Cockapoo is a cross between a Cocker Spaniel and a Poodle. Sizes range from teacup weighing less than 6 pounds to maxi at 19 pounds. They are playful dogs and they love everyone. If you want a small, fun-loving dog that would fit well into any lifestyle, this is a perfect choice. They are fast learners, and you need to stay one step ahead of them.

* The Labradoodle is a mixture of a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle. A yellow Labradoodle looks like a Yellow Lab with a soft perm! A Lab mixed with just about any breed with result in a wonderful, loving dog. It is the ‘poodle’ part of the mix that makes the designer Labradoodle hypoallergenic. Depending upon the breeder, the dog can have smooth hair like a Lab, or wavy hair.

* The Schnoodle is a Schnauzer Poodle mix, and they are a great family dog. Because both breeds are hypoallergenic, this dog is very allergy friendly. They are loyal, affectionate, obedient and loving, and have lots of personality. Whether you live in an apartment or a farm, they will fit in fine as long as they are with people. They love to ride in the car, so plan your family vacations with them in mind.

The Portuguese Water Dog is classified as a gun dog by the United Kennel Club. Its original job was to herd fish into nets and to retrieve broken nets and lost tackle. They have a wavy coat and do not shed. These are not low maintenance dogs, as they require a lot of grooming. Although basically a quiet breed, they do have a loud bark. They have strong wills so discipline and obedience training is necessary. If you’ve seen any news segments on the “First Dog,” you may have noticed he is extremely playful! Life expectancy is 10-14 years.

More hypoallergenic breeds to consider: most Terriers, the Chinese Hairless, Irish Water Spaniel and Spanish Water Dog.

You can be a dog owner even if you or your family members have allergies. Get a dog from the above list and enjoy responsible pet ownership! It is suggested that once you decide on a particular breed, you spend some time with one in order to properly determine that you are not allergic to it. A small investment of time will pay off big time in the end.

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.

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Is My Old Dog Still Breathing?

By Lexiann Grant

The weather turns warm. Or humid. Wylie pants, laboring to draw a deep breath of cool air. It scares me the way his sides quiver when he inhales. At night, when it’s finally cooler, I often find him awake, lying down, but with his head up, his breathing rapid. There is nothing I can do that settles him or eases his shallow respirations. In the morning, if he is down, I rush to check – is he still breathing?

Wylie is an old dog, ambling slowly around the bend of 14 into 15. He was a wild puppy, one of those dogs who probably thought his name was, “no,” “stop,” “don’t,” or “enough.” We couldn’t wait for him to mature and settle down. But several years into the senior range, Wylie still chased cats, ate toilet paper and stole food from the counter. (Yes, we did take him to obedience, each of us…twice.)

One winter night he came inside, from barking and chasing a creature invisible to me. Suddenly he staggered, his back end sinking, legs lurching like a drunk’s. His eyes rolled to me, wide with panic, and down he went. No seizure, but Wylie was obviously ill. As I was about to take him to the emergency vet, he just as suddenly regained use of his legs. Within a few seconds he ran to the kitchen, wagging his tail and barking for dinner. Back to normal, back to wild.

That was three-and-a-half years ago. According to medical literature, Wylie should have been dead less than 12 months after the first appearance of his symptoms. There is no definitive diagnosis. Maybe he has atypical seizures, maybe degenerative myelopathy, or possibly laryngeal paralysis, also a degenerative neurological disease of the entire body despite its particular name.

Wylie’s personality changed with the collapse, and what used to intrigue him now stressed him to the point of danger. Although I would have gladly spent the money for specialty treatment, Wylie couldn’t be tested. The stress and discomfort of the tests necessary for a diagnosis could aggravate his symptoms, accelerating the disease. And even with an answer, there was – is – no cure.

Now my wild child sleeps his days away. Cats that used to scatter at his appearance, sniff his ears and step over his outstretched legs, legs that quiver and paddle as he dreams. But when dark falls, sleep slips into the shadows as Wylie worries through the nights, his stress magnified by hearing that has faded. Bewilderment is plain on his face as he agonizes over intruders he may miss if he rests.

Some days his symptoms are worse. He cannot arise without help. His feet turn in of their own accord, toes and nails drag, or he turns in circles and walks in diagonal lines on some unmappable path. Or he forgets how to get from the yard to the door that brings him back to food and his bed. The once proudly curled tail hangs unfurled, and he no longer lifts his leg to mark the world as his own.

And yet I keep this old dog near to my heart and bedside, even though he doesn’t smell so good anymore. Just as I worry that tomorrow will be the awful moment when I must decide to let him go painlessly, he revives himself and makes it through another day, not in discomfort or anxiety, but in that joyously simple state natural to dogs. He barks for breakfast, plays with his treat cube and runs, not so fast or gracefully, to see the deer pass through the woods.

So I breathe a sigh of relief and wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Will Wylie be there – lost? wild? staggering? happy? I’ve learned to love the new form of crazy, the new-old Wylie. One day, his bed and bowl, they’ll both be empty (and his bed will still smell like him). Today he’s here, breathing, and that’s enough.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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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.

Protect Your Dog From Ticks

By Ruthie Bently

The different seasons come with different challenges for our pets. Here in Minnesota during spring and summer we have to deal with ticks. We’re told they are heaviest in the months of May, June and July, but we have seen them later and earlier in the year depending on the weather. It is funny that I can watch a gory monster movie, but I get absolutely creeped out by ticks.

Ticks are a member of the arachnid family and, like spiders, have eight legs when they are adults. Ticks are an external parasite that lives on the blood of their host. They are usually found on birds and mammals, though there are reports of them appearing on amphibians and reptiles. There are many varieties of ticks, but the three that should concern you if you live in the United States are the deer tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick.

While ticks can neither fly nor hop, they can drop on their host from a tree or just crawl up a leg or tail. They are abundant near water sources where animals might come to drink. The pets most at risk are the ones that are ill, senior citizens or weak, though any pet can be assaulted by a tick. Ticks can be found in most forests or areas where there are woodlands. They tend to frequent trails and paths that have been made by either humans or animals. They’re usually found more in taller meadow grass that will have shrubs and trees rather than clipped grass. It has even been hypothesized that ticks can respond to scents animals leave behind, and that is why they are found around trails and paths. Ticks are also able to sense the heat and carbon dioxide emissions from a potential host.

Deer ticks are especially dangerous, as they can be carriers of Lyme disease. This debilitating disease can strike down humans and their pets alike. The western variety of deer tick can transmit Lyme disease as well as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to their host. A deer tick is about the size of the head of a straight pin.

The American dog tick, also known as a wood tick, is found mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. They have also been found in parts of Mexico, Canada and the Pacific Northwest. They prefer dogs as their host and can be found on a dog as an adult tick. The dog tick is about an eighth of an inch long as an adult. These ticks winter in the soil and can be active between mid-April to early September, depending on your particular climate. The dog tick is primarily known for passing on Rocky Mountain spotted fever to its host, though it can also pass on the vector of tularemia, which can cause canine tick paralysis.

The brown dog tick is an oddity in that it can live its entire life indoors. This means you can have an infestation in your house, since this tick does not have to develop outside. They are found throughout the world, primarily in warmer climates. They are about the size of the American dog tick. They can be found on pets, inside houses, kennels, and sometimes on wildlife.

Grooming your dog frequently can help you find a tick and prevent an infestation in your house. A tick can cause itchiness around the site of the bite, infection and sometimes even paralysis and death. Often, a tick can be removed fairly easily, by using a tweezers and grasping the head of the tick and pulling gently. Don’t try to remove the tick with your bare hands; if the tick you are removing is infected, you could transfer it to yourself. You don’t want to leave the mouth parts in the wound, as they can cause a secondary infection.

If you are not experienced at proper tick removal, consult with your veterinarian first to learn how to remove them properly and safely. Your vet can also offer various tick treatments and preventative choices that are appropriate for your dog.

One method some vets recommend is to take a swab with rubbing alcohol on it and dab it on the tick to try and get it to let go. Make sure after removing a tick from your dog to bathe the area well with an antiseptic wash. Keep an eye on the area in case there are further complications, and contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes at the site of the bite.

It isn’t hard to be aware and check your dog each time you come in the house. By being diligent you can safeguard your pets, your family and yourself. Your dog will love the extra attention even if they don’t know why they’re getting it.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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.

Training Dogs with Kindness

By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with a saying “You can get more flies with honey than vinegar.” Did you know that you can train a dog with kindness and compassion and get better results than when you try to browbeat them? I got my first American Staffordshire Terrier as a Christmas present on December 27th, 1981. He was a great dog and he is gone now, but he taught me several valuable lessons. One of them was to go with my own instincts as to how I trained my dog.

Growing up, I was familiar with dogs and choke chains. I was bothered with the “choking” factor, but it was an accepted way to train dogs in the 1960s and 1970s. With Nimber I learned that AmStaffs, though stubborn as a donkey (this is the polite word), were also capable of being sensitive. Sounds funny doesn’t it? I never knew the dog I got could be a prima donna.

Nimber and I got through his puppy training class and he was pretty well behaved when I gave him commands, so I wasn’t sure about continuing on with training classes. I wanted a companion who paid attention to what I told him and did what I asked him to do. Nimber did about 75% of the time, and I wasn’t really looking forward to going back to class. Nimber didn’t really like school and I couldn’t blame him; I hated school when I was young, why should he be any different.

Nimber and I were going along fine, and I found I needed to go out of town and couldn’t take him with me. OK, not a big deal; I had a great kennel. They would feed his regular food, supplements and give him biscuits for being good. When I scheduled his stay, I was asked if I wanted training time. They explained that it would be a refresher course for Nimber and wouldn’t cost extra. So I said “Sure, why not?” What a jerk I was. The owner of the kennel was a trainer, but unfortunately not Nimber’s trainer. Her husband who was used to dealing with police canine units was Nimber’s trainer. That was my mistake.

I went to pick Nimber up when I got home, and interrupted a training session. My four-legged child, who knew my vehicle by its sight and sound, my smell and all the canine triggers a dog has at their disposal, knew I was there before he could see me, and he reacted. So did the trainer, he grabbed Nimber’s ear and pinched it between his finger and the chain of the choke collar Nimber was wearing for the training session. I was out of the car by this point and saw Nimber yelping, blood beginning to seep from his ear, and a masochist trainer still holding Nimber’s ear in a pinch. I very politely went over to him and got my dog before he could do any more damage to my dog’s body or spirit. I paid my bill, took my poor dog home and never went back.

What this taught me was to check into whose care I am putting my beloved pets, no matter how well I think I know them. It also made me look for alternative forms of training for subsequent dogs. I have read numerous books on training since then and have used the techniques I found within. Through this process, I also learned that you don’t have to bully a dog into doing what you want them to do. When you treat them with kindness and respect, they will give you back the moon.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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.

Fact or Fallacy: Most Cats Are Aloof

By Julia Williams

The biggest misconception about cats, in my opinion, is that most of them are aloof. The feline is thought to be a haughty creature that doesn’t show any outward signs of love for their owners. Many people also believe that cats abhor human companionship, and only tolerate us because it’s the easiest way to get food. Some even say cats think they’re superior to humans, and that if we don’t cater to their every whim, the cat will promptly pee on something to remind us who is in charge.

My experience with cats, on the other hand, has proven otherwise. In fact, after many decades of living with, loving, and being loved by dozens of cats, I’m convinced that only aloof people have aloof cats. Cats are highly social animals, and many aloof cats were simply taught to be that way. Quite often, the typical “aloof” cat is one who was raised by people who weren’t home very much, and when they were, they paid little attention to the cat. Any pet raised this way – including dogs, bunnies, horses and hamsters – would come to regard humans as largely food providers and not much else.

My cats have never been aloof, and yours don’t need to be either. I’m not some sort of miracle cat whisperer; I just understand cats, and I know how to raise them to be trusting, friendly, happy and affectionate creatures.

The most important thing I’ve learned about cats is that you have to respect their individuality. When you stop buying into the labels and treat cats as the unique creatures they are, a meaningful relationship can unfold. Also, you can’t expect a cat to be as outwardly demonstrative of their feelings as a dog. The cat isn’t being aloof – it’s simply not in a feline’s nature to jump all over you and feverishly lick you to pieces when you come home. But my cats DO meet me at the door, and they meow and purr, and prance around me looking for attention.

The other major aspect of raising a non-aloof cat is that you have to respect its likes and dislikes. For example, my cat Mickey doesn’t really like to be held. If I try to hold him for very long he will squirm and kick to let me know he wants no part of this. He will also turn his face away if I try to kiss him. But Mickey absolutely loves to sit on my lap, and will let me pet him and brush him for hours; he generally only jumps down when I need to get up for something. So if a person’s definition of aloof requires the cat to let them hold him or kiss him, then Mickey would be aloof in their eyes. When you give him affection in a way that he is comfortable with, he can’t get enough of it.

By contrast, Annabelle and Rocky love being hugged and kissed but won’t sit on my lap for more than a few minutes. Are they being aloof? No, they’re simply being animals who have very clearly defined likes and dislikes, and they’re not about to let humans force them into doing something they find objectionable. People are no different, by the way. When you respect them and accept their individual preferences (which might differ from your own), they’re much more likely to want to be around you.

Further, cats that are raised by people who make no attempt to understand their nature and/or show them affection, will take a long time to let their guard down. They will be “aloof” because their survival instincts demand it. Even so, most of these felines can eventually learn to love. The key is patiently demonstrating that you can be trusted and that you respect their individuality.

My cats almost always come when I call them, and they generally want to be in whatever room I am in. I remember one night I wasn’t feeling well and was tossing and turning in bed. The cats were lying next to me, and their warmth and proximity (which I normally love) added to my discomfort. Frustrated, I grabbed my pillow and went to lie down on the couch by myself. It wasn’t more than five minutes before all three cats had come into the living room to lie down beside me on the couch. I just had to laugh. My cats are definitely not aloof – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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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.

Excess Calcium Isn’t Good for Dogs

By Lexiann Grant

When you think of essential minerals your dog requires in his diet, calcium probably comes to mind first.

Because bones and teeth are formed and maintained with calcium, the body requires this nutrient in greater quantity than any other dietary mineral. Calcium is also critical in nerve impulse transmission, contraction of muscles and heart rhythm regulation.

Excess calcium causes numerous health problems, including kidney disease and some urinary stones. Parathyroid hormones influenced by dietary calcium levels, can disrupt dynamics in the gastrointestinal tract.

Feeding insufficient calcium also undermines health. Puppies may have poor bone growth and inadequate dental development. Bones in deficient adults can soften or fracture, and tooth loss or accelerated tooth decay occur.

Because of this, some owners feel their dog or puppy – particularly if he is a large breed – should be given extra calcium. But too much calcium can have the opposite effect: excess calcium can slow bone and cartilage development, even stunt growth.

One Cornell University study found an increased incidence of skeletal problems including hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), osteochondritis dissecans or osteochondrosis (OCD) and hip dysplasia when dietary calcium was excessive.

In HOD part of the bone over-grows causing pain, fever, enlarged joints, and possibly hunched spine or bowed legs. With OCD, fluid accumulates in affected joints or connective tissue separates resulting in inflammation and pain. By the time symptoms of lameness, pain, or swelling are present, the damage is done.

Young pups fed certain commercial foods, and dogs eating homemade diets, may not be getting enough calcium. Table foods naturally high in calcium, such as broccoli or dairy products, can increase levels.

Balanced dog foods like CANIDAE® All Life Stages supply the correct amount of calcium without guessing. This amount is based on AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) and National Research Council guidelines. Formulas are tested to assure nutritional adequacy.

The minimum requirement is 1.0% and the maximum is 2.5% for a dry product basis. Growth formulas average 1.6% with maintenance formulas around 1.4%.

Calcium must also be balanced against phosphorous intake. The ideal range recommended by AAFCO is between 1-to-1 and 2-to-1 parts calcium to phosphorous. With improper ratios, phosphorous and zinc levels may become deficient.

Check with the manufacturer for calcium levels and ratios in your dog’s food. Nutritional information is usually available online as well. Your veterinarian can advise you if your dog or puppy requires extra calcium, but healthy dogs on a balanced, premium food shouldn’t need supplementation.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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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.