Monthly Archives: October 2009

What is Bloat? What are the Symptoms?


By Ruthie Bently

Quite a few of my articles are anecdotal, and this one is as well. I had never owned a dog that got bloat until a few months ago, when my AmStaff Skye had her own bout of it. Bloat is known by several names: torsion, Gastric dilation-volvulus (or GDV) and simply bloat. Deep-chested dogs are more susceptible to bloat, but any dog could theoretically get it.

Some of the factors that have been shown to contribute to bloat are: eating only one meal per day, exercising immediately after a meal, eating their food too fast, drinking lots of water right after a meal, gulping their food too quickly or eating from elevated bowls. Bloat can even be brought on by a stressful event for your dog, or if they have a temperament that is fearful. Even a dog’s age can be a factor.

What happens is that a dog’s stomach becomes distended with fluid and/or gas, and the stomach turns out of its normal position. The blood circulation to the stomach becomes impaired by the distention, and return of blood to the heart can be compromised by a compression of the larger vessels. If returning blood to the heart is compromised in this manner, further damage to several of the dog’s organs can occur, which can become a life threatening issue very quickly.

When Skye had her issue with bloat, I noticed that her abdomen began to swell like a balloon. She was trying to cough up something (like a cat with a hairball) and had no success. She also kept gulping water, as if that would help the situation. The color of her gums, tongue and ears became very pale. She was lethargic and started drooling, which she never does. She also became restless, began pacing and could not find a comfortable place. In short, I could tell she was miserable. Some of the other symptoms an owner may observe are rapid heartbeat, depression, weakness, difficulty or rapid breathing, and the dog may collapse.

What Skye had done was get into the cat litter box and help herself to some “kitty hors d’oeuvres.” I use a wheat-based cat litter and after she ate it, it began to ferment in her stomach. Of course, it happened on a Saturday night and we don’t have an emergency clinic in our town, though the vet would have met me at his office if I had asked him to. As soon as I noticed she was having a problem, I called the vet. He told me that they call it a “garbage gut,” and it can happen when a dog gets into something they are not used to eating, as it may react with the acid in their stomach.

I was very lucky because her stomach never torsioned, but I was scared to death for her. What the vet suggested was to go to the local discount store and get a gas reliever. He told me to give her one dose, and another dose in two hour increments if needed. I was so worried; I packed Skye into my truck and took her with me. After getting the anti-gas medicine, I gave her one as soon as I got out to the truck. What followed were several hours of “green fog” in our house, but I am happy to say it solved the problem, and I got a taller gate that Skye couldn’t climb over to get to the litter boxes.

Some of the breeds that can be susceptible to bloat are Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd, Wolfhound, Great Dane, Doberman Pinscher, English Sheepdog, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Mastiff, Akita, Sight hounds, and Irish Setter. You can find a more complete list of susceptible dog breeds online.

I would never suggest that you just go get a gas reliever (because I am not a veterinarian), and your situation could be more serious than mine. I would, however, suggest that if this situation happens to you, call your vet as soon as possible or get your dog to an emergency clinic. Time is of the essence if you suspect your dog has bloat. You can also help by keeping any foods for other pets, any garbage containers and litter boxes out of reach of your own dog. By being vigilant on your own, your dog may never have to suffer like my poor girl did.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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The Best Dogs for Agility Training and Trials


By Anna Lee

I am sure you’ve seen those dogs on TV, the little lightning bolts that seem to streak across the ground and fly through the air like the wind. I enjoy watching them, and it is amazing how they can move at such speeds and be so accurate! I wish the sport of Dog Agility was on TV more often because it is fascinating.

In Agility events the dogs must complete an obstacle course, which is set up in a large outdoor area. The course has many components to it. Some of the aspects of the course are: the sea saw, tunnels, dog walk, pause (not paws!) table, pause box, jumps, A-frame and weave polls. The weave polls fascinate me the most. Weave polls are a series of poles stuck in the ground, in a line maybe 1 foot apart. The dog works its way through the poles weaving in and out. That is just one small segment of the agility trials, but accuracy and speed are the keys. The course is timed, and if the dog misses an aspect or goes out of bounds, time penalties are added to the score. The dog with the shortest time wins and is proclaimed the champion!

The sport of Dog Agility requires a sure footed and speedy dog with determination and a will to compete. Not all dogs are physically able to run the course due to their size, their breed characteristics and their ability to listen to and follow commands. Three breeds that rise to the top in Agility Trials are:

The Border Collie – This dog was bred to gather and control sheep. He stares down his flock with an intense eye. The Border Collie has unlimited energy and stamina. This medium size dog weighs approximately 30-45 pounds and stands approximately 18-22 inches high at the shoulder, and can live to be 15 years old. I have several friends with Border Collies and they are amazing to watch under normal circumstances.

The Shetland Sheepdog – This dog was bred to stand guard for farmers. He kept birds and hungry sheep from the gardens. They make excellent family pets and they are superstars in dog sports. They only weight about 20 pounds, are 13-16 inches at the shoulder, and can live to be 15 year old.

The Australian Shepherd – This breed originated in the western United States, not Australia, and was bred to herd livestock. This is another great family dog that is full of energy. The Australian Shepherd is 18-23 inches at the shoulder, can weigh 40-65 pounds, and live about 15 years.

If you think you might be interested in Agility Trials and want to get a puppy and start training them, there is a lot of information online regarding this sport. You can start agility training while your puppy is still young. There are many good books and videos available as well. It is important to get proper guidance so that your dog or puppy does not get injured. The website Agility Training for Dogs (www.agilitytrainingfordogs. com) has a lot of very helpful information and is a good place to start.

There are several dog breeds involved in Agility Trials other than the three breeds mentioned above. As to what type of dogs are best suited for agility training, ask yourself: Is your dog the star of the dog park? Can your dog move like a speeding bullet? Can he jump like a jackrabbit? If the answer is yes to those questions, then maybe he should be given a chance at Agility Training and Trials.

For agility training you would not choose a Great Dane or a Mastiff; they are too big and slow moving. You also would not want to use a Dachshund or Yorkie as their legs are much too short. They are lovable dogs, but not quite right for this particular sport! It is important to have your dog checked out thoroughly by your vet first, as you do not want to put undue stress on your pet.

Read, learn, research, ask questions, watch videos, and attend Agility Trials – learn as much as you can before you get involved because it requires a great deal of time and dedication. Six to nine months of solid agility training is necessary before a dog can compete. This sport requires dedication from the dog as well as the owner. If you cannot invest the time required, it may be best for you to leave the agility training and trials to others.

As for Abby, my 11-1/2 year old Lab, we will sit on the sofa and watch the Agility Trials on TV together. The fact that she can still jump on up the sofa means she is agile enough for me!

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.

Breed Profile: New Guinea Singing Dog


By Ruthie Bently

I became aware of a newer “rare breed” of dog recently, when I was asked to write about the New Guinea Singing Dog for this blog. CANIDAE has actually been supporting several New Guinea Singing Dogs at the Tautphaus Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho for almost two years now. These dogs came to the zoo from their original owner who was unable to care for them because they were not fully domesticated.

Prior to CANIDAE sponsoring their exhibit, these handsome dogs were being fed any dog food the local grocery store donated. Now, CANIDAE team members Chris Milliken and Diane Matsuura make sure they are fed with the finest all natural nutrition available. CANIDAE is very happy to help these “threatened” dogs that have a unique voice, and this is their first opportunity to sponsor a zoo exhibit.

Although several kennel clubs recognize them, the New Guinea Singing Dog is not one I would suggest owning. According to the United Kennel Club (UKC) they should be 17 inches high (43 cm) and weigh 25 pounds (11 kg). They have a double coat, which ranges from red to brown, and some dogs have a mask. Their life expectancy is between fifteen and twenty years of age. Their group affiliation in the UKC is the Sighthounds and Pariah Dogs Group, and they are considered a rare breed. They can also be registered with the American Rare Breed Association, in the Spitz and Primitive Group, as a dog breed.

The New Guinea Singing Dog (aka NGSD) was brought to the island of New Guinea about 6,000 years ago by stone age aborigines. They had been isolated until about fifty years ago, and little is known about them. They are a primitive breed of dog, although they were tame enough to accompany prehistoric man on hunts. The NGSD predate the dingo by 2,000 years, but like the dingo it is believed they come from the subspecies of Indian wolf. Sir Edward Halistrom discovered them in 1957, and took the first pair from Papua-New Guinea to the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. They were named for him (Canis hallstromi) and were reclassified in 1969 as a domestic dog breed, in the same subspecies as the dingo.

New Guinea Singing Dogs have not been studied in the wild. Because many consider them feral dogs, little is known about their social organization, behavior or history in the wild. When glimpsed in the wild, they have been seen singly or in pairs, never in a pack. Most of the NGSD in North America are descended from the original pair from the Taronga Zoo. Five others were taken to the Domestic Animal Institute in Keil, Germany from the Irian Java, and one was seen by a British climbing expedition below Mount Trikora in 1991. They have their own conservation group, and their status is “threatened.”

They are called Singing Dogs because of their voice. While they are able to howl like a wolf, they can modulate the pitch of their howls. They also trill, which has been compared to a sound made by the Asiatic Wild Dog. They do not repeatedly bark, but have a vocal range that includes whines, yelps and howls of a single note, which show a quality of synchronization. They blend their vocal tones and the howl can be spurred if the dog is excited or disturbed.

While it is said they can be loyal and affectionate dogs, they do have their detriments and I would not suggest having one as a family pet. They are still considered a wild animal by many, as they have strong roaming and predatory instincts, and will escape fenced areas. Training sessions can become difficult if prey is detected because of their drive to hunt, and they use not only their scent and sight but their hearing as well to find prey. Because of their incredible flexibility, they can get through any opening large enough to fit their head through. They explore their environment constantly and utilize all five senses.

New Guinea Singing Dogs are extremely intelligent and can become bored easily. They are a very active breed that needs lots of attention and exercise. If not properly trained they can be destructive. While they can develop a strong bond with a human they will become upset when separated. They have catlike qualities and show more independence than a more domesticated dog, so don’t expect them to come when you call. They need to be well-socialized early to tolerate humans and can be shy and aloof around strangers. They can also be dog aggressive, especially to their own sex, and there are reports of their misunderstanding another dog’s attempt to play with them.

Because New Guinea Singing Dogs live as long as they do, I would consider very carefully before owning one. Twenty years is a long time to live with a semi-domesticated dog that could become a handful very quickly.

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.

The Strange Behaviors of Cats


By Julia Williams

Does your cat do weird things? Rest assured, if your feline friend regularly engages in strange behavior that makes no sense to you –you’re not alone. I could fill a book with all of the peculiar things my cats have done over the years. It leads me to believe there must be some unwritten “rule of paw” that every cat knows about and agrees to adhere to, once they get adopted by a human. It probably goes something like this: “I will always engage in strange behaviors that drive my human crazy.”

Okay, maybe not. But having been around cats all of my life, it does seem like they are always doing odd things for no particular reason. Perhaps my cats have a perfectly good reason why they won’t sleep in the adorable plush cat bed I bought for them, but will curl up inches away from it on the cold, hardwood floor instead; if so, it eludes me. Perhaps they know exactly what makes a cardboard box – any cardboard box – so darn irresistible. I’ve seen my cats turn into little Cirque du Soleil-like contortionists to wedge themselves into a teeny tiny cardboard box for a nap. It doesn’t look the least bit comfortable to me, yet they snooze away.

My cats are disinterested in most of the cute cat toys I buy for them. They like to play with straws instead, and will even steal them out of my drink when I’m not looking! My idiot kitties used to hang their behinds off the side of their litter box and leave little “droppings” on the floor, but I put an end to this objectionable behavior by switching to a covered cat box. However, I have not yet found a solution to their confounding habit of forever trying to stick their furry little rumps in my face. “No Thank You” doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel about that behavior.

My cats have always been very good about using the various scratching posts I’ve strategically placed around my house. Nevertheless, every so often I will catch Rocky (a.k.a., my “problem child”) in the act of sharpening his claws on the carpet – right next to one of the scratching posts!

One odd cat behavior that always makes me laugh is the overzealous and prolonged digging in the litter box. Sometimes it lasts so long, I think they must surely be trying to dig a hole to China. Another funny cat behavior is when they scratch the floor next to their food bowl. Some theorize this is because they’re unhappy with the food offering and are trying to cover it, but I’m not convinced. I’ve been feeding them FELIDAE cat food exclusively for about five years, and they seem to love it. Why would it be acceptable 99 days out of 100?

Kneading is a common behavior that almost all cats do. Kneading is a vestige of kittenhood, when they would knead the momma cat’s belly during nursing, to help the milk flow. When adult cats do it (very often on their human “mom’s” belly!) it’s typically thought to indicate that they’re happy and content.

A strange behavior my cat Annabelle does that looks similar to kneading is what I call “angry marching in place.” She will furiously march with just her back legs, usually on the bedspread or the carpet, with an odd expression on her face. I have no idea why she does this, but she looks more possessed than happy when doing it.

Does your cat follow you into the bathroom? I’m not sure why felines are so fascinated with what goes on in that room and want to be in there with you, but most cat owners I’ve talked to say this is a typical behavior at their house. I learned long ago to warn my guests to firmly shut the door when they use my bathroom. Otherwise, they could find themselves sitting on the throne with a cat staring at them, and the door flung wide open. Cats never gently nudge open a door; they push it open with all their might.

Drooling while being petted is another common cat behavior. Animal behaviorist’s say this simply means your kitty is happy and relaxed, and enjoying the attention you’re lavishing upon them. It makes sense to me. My three cats all drool excessively when I pet or brush them, but never at any other time. Once, at the end of a marathon brushing session with Annabelle, I reached down to kiss her paw and discovered that it was sopping wet! (I’m much more careful about what I kiss now).

Cats are funny creatures, to be sure. But those of us who love them, accept their strange behaviors because it’s a part of what makes them so endearing. If you’d like to share your own cat’s quirky behaviors, please feel free to leave a comment.

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.

Handling Thunderstorm Anxiety in Pets


By Linda Cole

A thunderstorm is a natural weather condition that produces cracks of thunder which can shake a house to the core. A fearful pet will scamper under the bed before the thunder has finished echoing across the sky. Thunderstorm anxiety in pets is real, and can be a traumatic experience. Although thunderstorms occur most often in spring and summer, they can happen in fall and winter, too. A rare weather phenomenon called thundersnow can occur in late winter or early spring, producing loud claps of thunder and usually heavy snow. So pets with a fear of storms can be affected by thunderstorm activity all year long.

While many dogs and cats are carefree animals that never give a passing storm the time of day, others become anxious before a thunderstorm darkens the skies. Dogs seem to experience thunderstorm anxiety more often than cats, but cats can have a fear of storms as well.

My rescued German Shepard/Collie mix trembles when a thunderstorm is in our area. She wraps herself around me as tight as she can get and shakes from head to toe until the thunderstorm drifts away. If we are outside and she hears thunder in the distance, she’s inside in a flash and refuses to come back out. Her eyes are wide as she listens for the next thunder boom. Thankfully, she isn’t aggressive. In severe cases of thunderstorm anxiety in pets, dogs have jumped through windows injuring themselves or someone in the family, and some do become aggressive.

There is evidence animals have an ability to predict the weather using their sense of smell and hearing as well as having an awareness of detecting changes in atmospheric pressure. Because of this sixth sense, our pets usually know a thunderstorm is approaching long before we do. Pets that are fearful of storms may pace, shake, drool, whine, bark, pant, hide or even run away from home as soon as they sense a storm brewing.

An Internet survey of dog owners suggests that herding dogs and hounds tend to suffer from thunderstorm anxiety more than other breeds. Rescued or shelter dogs are also more apt to be fearful of storms. It’s possible that puppies or kittens can sense our uneasiness which reinforces their fear. So a pet’s fear of thunderstorms could be something they learn at a young age, or is a fear developed from uncaring owners who may have mistreated them or left them on their own for a period of time. Regardless of how or when thunderstorm anxiety in pets develops, there are things you can do to help ease your pet’s fear.

Thunderstorm anxiety in pets has different levels of fear that can go all the way to phobia. Most pets can be kept calm in a safe place where they feel comfortable, such as a crate (kennel) they sleep in or a well lit cozy room in the basement away from a storm’s fury. Most cats never get to the phobia stage and will simply hide in a spot they feel comfortable in until the storm moves on. Try not to cuddle or reassure your pet that everything is alright because this rewards the fearful behavior. However, that’s easier said than done.

If thunderstorm anxiety in pets isn’t severe, you can try to desensitize your dog or cat by playing a recording of a thunderstorm starting off with a storm in the distance and gradually coming closer. Have plenty of treats on hand to reward your pet only as long as he remains calm. The idea is to condition him with treats for good behavior so he learns to ignore the storm through positive reinforcement. If your pet becomes anxious as the fake storm grows louder, ignore his behavior, do not give him a treat and reduce the sound until he calms down. You have to be careful with this technique, because if you move too fast or don’t notice your pet’s fear increase, it can make things worse. Make sure you know what you are doing if you try to desensitize your pet.

Music has been used successfully in treating thunderstorm anxiety in pets. Cats and dogs love classical music, but stick to a nice Brahms or Mozart – something relaxing and calm.

Natural remedies may be able to help, but it would be best to discuss the use of any medications, natural or prescription, with your vet first. A vet can prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressants if necessary.

Thunderstorm anxiety in pets can range from mild to severe. If your pet becomes aggressive, his fear grows into panic, you are afraid he may hurt himself or someone else or has injured himself, then it’s time to discuss options with your veterinarian who can help you help your pet the next time a thunderstorm pops up overhead.

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.

The Benefits of Doga: Yoga for Dogs


By Ruthie Bently

We’ve all heard about yoga and its benefits for people, but there is a new movement in the United States today called “doga,” which is yoga that you and your dog can do together. You can even purchase an instructional doga DVD that shows you how to teach doga poses to your dog. I first encountered doga last year working for Wendy’s Animal Talk radio show. It was suggested that the topic of doga might make an interesting show, and I can tell you, it was not boring!

Doga began catching on in New York and California at about the same time. Now there are several teachers around the country, as well as a new book on the subject, though the idea is not credited to any one person. Doga has spread to Jacksonville, Florida, San Francisco, and Seattle here in the States. It has even caught on in Canada and Japan, and is being taught at the Nippon Ayurveda School by the Japan Dog Association.

Doga combines meditation, gentle stretching and massage for human owners and dogs alike. While teacher training seminars are available, doga instructors do not have to complete a certification program and most instructors learn by sharing their techniques. Unfortunately doga, like anything else that is new, has its detractors. Some yoga instructors feel that yoga could be trivialized by turning it into a fad. As dogs are pack animals, many doga instructors believe that they are a good match for yoga’s premises of connection and union with other creatures.

Some of the benefits of doga include: increased flexibility, helping to resolve behavioral issues, reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and aiding in digestion. As to the difficulty of teaching a dog doga, it is about the same as any other training technique. The dog probably won’t be perfect the first time out of the box, but after a few sessions he/she could be a “dogi” pro.

In a regular doga class you help your dog into different poses, and in some classes acupressure and massage are used to help your dog relax and to soothe them. If you aren’t sure how your dog will behave around other dogs, you might want to buy the DVD or the book and try it at home.

There are no special requirements for teaching your dog doga, but you should contact your vet first to make sure they are healthy enough to do it. Also, with anything else that is new you want to be very gentle with your dog no matter how healthy they are. If you take a class, you will probably want to contact the teacher first to see if you need a health certificate to make sure your dog’s shots are up to date. If the instructor tells you that you don’t need one, you may want to consider teaching your dog at home. I know if Skye was going to be in a class with a lot of other dogs, I would want to know she was safe from picking something up from another dog in class.

Doga has even spawned clothing lines, toys, exercise mats and beds for your dog. Whatever you think about this new form of exercise, it helps you spend more time with your dog, and will increase the bond that you share. What could be better than that?

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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.