Monthly Archives: September 2009

Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy

By Ruthie Bently

I own a dog and several cats, and I am always looking for ways to keep them as healthy as possible. When I adopted Skye, because of her special health issues I began looking at things I could do, that I may not have already been doing. We all know that we should provide fresh water every day for our dogs, but did you know your tap water could contain chemicals even if you live in the country and have a well? Cities regularly use chlorine to clean their water systems and some cities add fluoride to the water. Other chemicals that may be in your water are nitrates, arsenic and lead. By using bottled water or putting a filter on your kitchen faucet you can get cleaner water without the chemical additives.

You can use natural cleaners that have baking soda or vinegar in them. Vinegar cuts through grease and is great as a glass cleaner. Baking soda is a safe abrasive that can be used on dog dishes and water bowls, and you don’t end up with soap residue on your pet dishes.

By keeping an eye on your dog’s weight you reduce their chance of getting cancer or other health issues related to weight, like diabetes or heart disease. They can even have problems with their joints like hip dysplasia, and difficulty breathing. If you aren’t sure how much your dog should weigh, ask your veterinarian to help you decide the proper weight.

When walking, keep your dog away from puddles in the street, which could be contaminated by lawn chemicals like herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers. Don’t walk them across lawns that have been treated with chemicals; they can get chemical burns on their feet or get sick from licking the chemical residue from their feet. When working on your car in the driveway, make sure to sop up any spills of oil, brake fluid or toxic anti-freeze with pine shavings or clay kitty litter, and discard it in a tightly sealed, dog-proof garbage can.

Another great way to help not only your pet but yourself, is to get several houseplants that have the capability to filter the air in your home. Some good examples are Aloe Vera, spider plants, Gerber daisies, Mums and Philodendrons. However, a few of these are toxic to pets if eaten, so always keep them out of reach with a plant hanger attached to a wall or the ceiling. If you are a smoker, try not to smoke in your dog’s presence. Secondhand smoke can make them ill, and the more you smoke around your pet the more dangerous it is for them.

Try to use natural products to resolve issues with ants, ticks or fleas. There are many non-toxic organic products on the market today that will not harm your animals, but will take care of the bugs. Using diatomaceous earth or borax on the carpet or cracks between the carpet and the walls can help with the bugs as well. By vacuuming regularly and emptying your vacuum bag often, you can get rid of fleas in your household. There is even a flea trap that attracts the fleas with a light. The fleas jump toward the light and get stuck on a sticky sheet in the trap. And sprinkling powdered cinnamon around door and window sills will keep ants from coming in the house. If you have ant hills in your yard, I’ve been told that putting fish heads on top of the hills will drive the ants further into the ground, but that sounds a bit nasty to me and the cinnamon works fine for us.

Exercise your pet every day for at least 20 minutes at a time. Vigorous playing stimulates the tissues of the body and raises your dog’s blood pressure, which in turn sends more oxygen throughout your dog’s body and aids in removing toxins from the blood and body. Regular exercise has also been shown to strengthen a dog’s immune system.

Last but not least, try to keep your dog from getting overly stressed. Stress for your dog can be caused by a divorce in the family, guests visiting, other pets in the household, or getting ready to travel. You can help keep your dog stress free by sticking to a daily routine. Feed your dog at the same time every day. If you have a set time for playing, exercise or training, stick to it. Dogs need routine and the more regular the better. If you crate your dog when you leave the house, put a radio in the room that plays soothing music and set the volume to low. By trying any of these suggestions you can help keep your dog healthy for the long haul, and they will love you for 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.

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Benefits of Hiking With Your Dog

By Linda Cole

To me, spring and fall are the best times of the year to go hiking with your dog. Spring breathes new, fresh life into trees and wildlife. The land is once again colored with green grasses and spring flowers. Autumn gives us beautiful colors in different shades of orange, golden yellows and reds that enhance a hike through the woods or along trails. A change is in the air. Gone are the sticky, hot temperatures of summer! Fall is a great time to head out to your favorite trail and enjoy the benefits of hiking with your dog.

Even the most hardened four legged couch potato loves to get outside for much needed exercise. The problem with taking your dog on the same walk around the same neighborhood is that it’s the same old routine morning, noon and night. Your dog needs some variety – new scents to smell and investigate; hills and valleys to race up and down; and grass, dirt or mulch to walk on instead of cement. Just like us, dogs need stimulation and a little excitement now and then. Hiking with your dog gives him a mini vacation from his daily routine.

Hiking is a great way to get rid of boredom. This is one reason why dogs dig in the yard and chew on furniture or rugs. If your dog is sleeping all day, a hike is just the activity he needs to perk him up and run off pent up energy. You can see a spark light up in his eyes when he sees your backpack, hiking boots, water bottles and his leash because he knows he gets to go with you to a place with lots of interesting sights, smells and things to do.

One of my favorite places to hike is a trail that winds up and down gentle hills and goes through a small grove of trees, a clover filled meadow and ends at a small, fast moving brook. Not a long trail, but long enough to give my boots a good workout as well as my dogs. Along the trail, we see mainly rabbits shooting out from their hiding places, birds, lots of butterflies and a hawk every now and then floating in the sky above. Occasionally, we’ll run across other hikers and their dogs. Hiking with your dog gives you an opportunity to meet other people, and your dog gets a chance to meet other dogs. Plus it’s one of the best ways to bond with your pet.

Hiking also provides you with benefits. It’s a great way to reduce stress, get rid of your own boredom and get away from the noise of the world. A solitary trail with trees dressed in their best fall coats of color and fresh air all around make it hard to carry the day’s burdens in your backpack. Hiking with your dog is just a fun thing to do anytime of the year. It’s healthy and adds stimulation to your dog’s life as well as your own with a good work out that doesn’t feel like exercise. It also helps you and your dog maintain a healthy weight and keeps muscles toned and strong.

There are a few things to remember, however. Know your trail and the animals or snakes you may encounter while hiking. It’s also important to know your dog. How well does he respond to you when you call his name if he’s excited? If he takes off into the wild spaces and you have to run him down or you spend hours frantically listening for his bark, don’t take him off leash. He can still benefit from a hike at your side safely on his leash. Don’t forget water for both you and your dog, and it’s good to carry a small first aid kit in your pack. Other useful items include a wind up flashlight (no batteries needed), emergency blanket, ace bandage, wooden matches, hunting knife, a compass, a good length of rope, sweatshirt or jacket, a pair of jeans or sweat pants, hat, some food and extra water. I seldom have to use any of the items I carry in my pack when I’m hiking, but it’s always best to be prepared and not need them, than wish you had taken the time to plan in advance.

Don’t forget your camera for capturing those unique moments you can only find on a beautiful day along a trail. Fall colors will soon begin replacing the greens of summer with signs of the coming winter approaching just around the corner. Go for a hike! It’s fun, exhilarating, healthy and time well spent that will benefit you and your dog in more ways than one.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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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.

Should People Treat Their Pets Like Children?

By Julia Williams

Several years ago I was actively blogging on another site when a heated debate erupted concerning people who thought of their pets “like children.” A man who evidently did not have pets, had gotten his knickers in a twist over the idea that some people consider their pets a member of their family and – gasp!— akin to children on many levels. He stated that anyone who felt this way was off their rocker and further, that it was an insult to all “real” children. He also said that anyone who referred to their pets as “fur kids” or “fur babies” owed all children an apology.

It made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now. My cats are “like children” to me, and the idea that it insults human children to feel this way is really quite funny. He’s certainly entitled to think of his own pets however he chooses. But no one has the right to tell anybody how they should feel about their pets, or about anything else for that matter! Moreover, no one has the right to tell a person they are being inappropriate for thinking or feeling in a way that is contrary to their own beliefs or emotions.

I don’t personally see the need to put little bows on dogs or dress them up in cute outfits (except on Halloween which is a whole different story), but I’d never tell a dog owner who did that they were in the wrong. Simply put, I have no right. My moral compass guides me and me alone; it guides only my choices for my pet, and no one else’s.

I firmly believe that if it floats your boat to think of your pets like children and treat them like cherished members of your family, then you should. If it doesn’t, then don’t. As long as there is no cruelty, neglect or harm being done to your pet, it’s nobody’s business.

If celebrating your pet’s birthday with a cake (made from dog food or cat food, of course) and buying them some presents is fun for you, by all means do it. If you want to include your pet in your family portrait or on your holiday card, it’s your prerogative. And why should anyone care if you choose to call yourself their “Mommy” or their “Daddy.” (Incidentally, according to a survey for the American Animal Hospital Association, a whopping 83 percent of pet owners do!).

I was watching a comedy show on TV the other night, when I heard a joke that really made me chuckle. The comedian said: “You can get everything from a dog that you can get from a child, but the dog doesn’t grow up to resent you.” Okay, technically that’s not true, but I still found it funny.

Well, I must go for now, my three children are meowing for some attention from their Mom.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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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.

Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands: Come and Stay

By Ruthie Bently

“Come” and “stay” are important commands to teach your dog. They could save your dog’s life. I also teach the command “wait,” which is a variation on the sit/stay command or a long down, though your dog does not have to be in the down position.

I was lucky because Skye was already taught her basic commands when I got her, and was very well behaved. Teaching your dog to come is an easy command. Whether you are teaching a puppy or an adult dog, remember to have patience and only train your dog for fifteen minute intervals. This way they don’t get distracted or bored. As I mentioned in a previous article there are no time limits for training your dog. Each dog learns at their own pace, and you should never rush them or compare their progress to another dog’s progress.

The training tools needed are a collar (regular or choke collar), and a long lead line (cotton or nylon). I do not suggest using a retractable lead for training of any kind, though you could use one in a pinch. I use a twenty foot cotton lead, which is lightweight and easier for me to control, especially when I have a sixty pound dog on the other end. I also have plenty of CANIDAE Snap-Bits treats available, which I love because of their small size.

The “come” command is easier to teach if you have already taught your dog to sit, although it can be taught if your dog has not yet learned to sit. Attach the long lead to your dog’s collar and have them sit. Next, while facing your dog, walk backwards to the end of the lead so it is fully extended between you and your dog. Then call them in a happy voice and say “come” repeatedly until they come. If they don’t immediately get the idea, begin drawing the lead (with dog attached) toward you while you are repeating the word come. After they come to you, whether they do it on their own or with your help, praise them, give them a treat, or a hug and a pat on the head. Keep practicing and training until your dog has this one down.

You can also use the long lead to teach the “stay” command. Put your dog in a “sit” facing you and back away from your dog to the end of the line again, repeating the word stay as you back away. After you get to the end of the leash length, keep repeating the word stay for fifteen to thirty seconds. You want the dog to stay where they are until you give them your release word, which can be as simple as OK. I teach in increments of time beginning with about fifteen seconds and work my way up to one minute. If you go into open obedience classes with your dog, they will need to “stay” for longer than thirty seconds, but remember that your dog’s attention span when teaching a new command may be distracted by something else, so you want to make it easy and fun for them, without them getting bored.

I also teach the command “wait” to my dogs. This is a great command if you are getting your dog ready to go outside, to go for a ride in the car, or if you need to put something on the dog, like a different collar or a coat, sweater or boots. When I was teaching this command to Skye, I began by putting her in a “sit/stay,” which is basically getting your dog to sit, and then giving the stay command. Then you add the “wait” command. As Skye was already trained, I didn’t need to use a long lead; but you can teach it very easily that way. Put your dog in a “sit” and as before back away to the end of the lead’s length. Tell your dog to stay, then add the “wait” command. After your dog learns “wait,” you will not have to use the “stay” command; just put them on a sit and then say “wait” in place of the “stay” command you would use.

It is really a long “sitting stay” the way I use it, but it has come in handy. Most recently I took her with me to her favorite pet store to get her CANIDAE dog food and the cats’ FELIDAE. I have a small truck and while I have her leashed it is a short lead, which is designed to keep her close so she can’t climb out the window. While loading my purchases, Skye decided to get out of the truck. She was still leashed to the truck, but I was worried that she might hurt herself if she pulled on the leash too much. So I told her to wait, which she did. After I got the truck loaded, I unattached her leash while holding her collar, put her back in the truck, re-leashed her and off we went.

I learned this command from a man I used to work with who taught his Labrador Retrievers to sit and “wait” at any street corner or curbside they came up to. This may sound over-simplified, but if you live on a busy street and teach your dog the “wait” command when you get to the curb, this could be all it takes to save your dog’s life if they get out of the house unattended and go shooting for the street. I have come to the conclusion that you can never over-train a dog. They love to learn, and training will always keep them safer than not training them.

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.

Are Cats Smart? Smarter Than Dogs Even?

By Julia Williams

I can hear the dog owners scoffing and the cat owners saying, “Heck yeah!” I’m not really going to get into this age-old debate. For starters, I don’t believe there has ever been a scientific study which clearly proves either species is more intelligent than the other. Dogs and cats are both smart, in different ways. Furthermore, any study done is negated in my eyes by the fact that they are measuring intelligence in terms of what “humans” would do or are capable of. As I see it, you simply can’t measure the intellect of a dog or cat through human means.

Animal behaviorist, cat owner and cat expert Randall Lockwood said it best: “A cat is very smart at being a cat. Does it better than anybody.” If you asked a cat to write an 80-page thesis on nuclear fusion or the synthesis of carbon nanotubes, he would seem pretty dim-witted, wouldn’t he? But if your cat asked you to go out and catch a gopher with your bare hands, without getting so much as a scratch on you, you wouldn’t seem so bright either.

Dog owners often claim that because their canine companion learns commands and tricks much quicker than cats do, this translates to a higher degree of intelligence. However, what they fail to take into account is that dogs are pack animals with a strong desire to please the “top dog,” which coincidentally happens to be the human doing the teaching.

Cats, on the other hand, are inherently solitary creatures that are motivated more by the need to survive than to please. Moreover, felines have survived thousands of years in radically different environments and living conditions, which demonstrates just how crafty and adaptable they are. If we measured an animal’s intelligence solely by the ability to be self-reliant and resourceful, then cats would clearly be smarter than dogs.

Cats are smarter than dogs at cleaning themselves and covering their own waste. But dogs are smarter than cats at understanding “cause and effect” and memorizing commands. Then too, dogs will “protect and serve” but cats rarely work for anyone other than themselves. Cats almost never eat garbage or rotten food, but most dogs will wolf it down and suffer the gastric consequences. But perhaps the most compelling argument in the “cats are smarter than dogs” debate is that dogs are trained by humans, whereas cats train humans to do their bidding. Or, as the saying goes: “Dogs have masters, cats have staff.”

I hope you know that all of this is meant in fun. I’m not championing the intelligence of cats over dogs or vice versa. In the end, I think what it comes down to is this: some cats are smarter than dogs, some dogs are smarter than cats, and all of them are far more intelligent than any human can possibly comprehend. Further, cats and dogs all have the ability to make us laugh with their antics, and to make us want to be close to them every day. That means far more to me than any measure of intelligence.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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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.

Is a Goldfish a Pet?

By Anna Lee

There are many people who do not want the responsibility of a dog or a cat, no matter how many times their children beg for one. When you bring a dog or cat into your home it is a huge commitment. Cats are a little easier to deal with, but they still require time, energy and love. A dog takes even more time, and typically, more money. If you’re not ready to add a dog or cat to your family, maybe you can slide by with a goldfish, or perhaps a hamster?

If you lead the type of life that would not allow you to take care of a dog in the proper way, then please do not get a dog because the kids want one. No matter how much they plead and cry it is a bad idea. I think it is very sad when the family gets a puppy and the poor dog is home alone in a crate all day with little to no attention. Then the pup spends most of the evening in a crate while the family is off running errands and attending sporting events.

So if you’ve told your children that there’s no way right now a dog or cat would fit in with your lifestyle, but they keep asking, maybe it’s time for a different approach. You need to instill in them that dogs and cats have many needs. They need to be fed, they need water, they need you to play with them, they need you to make sure they are healthy and have checkups at the vet. The list goes on and on.

Now is the time to say that perhaps in a year or so the family might be in a better position to get a dog. Try to explain what their responsibilities will be when that time comes. Suggest that they work their way up to a dog in stages. If they can prove to be a responsible pet owner with a smaller animal such as a fish or hamster, then you will consider getting a dog.

Suggest that each child can pick out one or two goldfish at the local pet store. Take the kids with you for the purchase, and let them help you pick out a nice size bowl and the accessories. Then approach the large fish tanks and let them each choose the fish. The movement and color will fascinate the kids and hopefully get them interested in having a goldfish as a pet.

Make a big deal out of picking out the fish. The more you play it up the easier it will be for them to accept. Have the salesperson at the store explain to all of you how to care for the fish, and emphasize that they should not overfeed the fish, that the water needs to changed and that they need to pick out names for their fish.

Fish not your thing? Maybe a furry little hamster would do. You can buy a nice big cage and all the accessories and watch the critter run around and play for hours. Hamsters love exercise wheels and can stay inside a wheel for hours on end. You just need to make sure you (or your children) clean the cage weekly and feed it the appropriate food. Pet stores sell hamster food and all the supplies you need. Again, let the store employee give the kids the run down on what is required to take care of a hamster.

A goldfish or a hamster will probably not put an end to your child’s desire to have a dog or a cat. However, these low maintenance pets can be a stepping stone in the learning curve of responsible pet ownership.

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.