Yearly Archives: 2009

The Best Warm Winter Clothes for Dogs


By Linda Cole

For some dogs, winter clothing is a must. If you see them shivering, they are cold and could be at risk for hypothermia, but don’t be fooled into thinking any coat will do. Not all winter clothes for dogs will keep them warm, and no one wants to spend a fortune trying to find what works and what doesn’t work. I have dogs who do need coats to stay warm when they are outside. The trick is finding the right coat or sweater that actually keeps them warm. The best winter clothes for dogs aren’t expensive and if you layer their clothes, you can keep your dog toasty.

Winter clothes for dogs need to be warm, but also easy to put on and take off. I’ve tried winter coats with zippers located on the underside of the dog. In order to zip up the coat, you have to roll the dog over on her back or hold her up on two legs. If a coat, jacket or sweater looks cute on your dog but it’s not warm and functional, it’s not worth the money. The best winter clothes for dogs can be put on quickly and easily, and should keep your dog warm and dry.

Dogs lose heat through their paws and ears. When buying winter dog clothes, look for coats or jackets that have a hood you can pull up over their ears. In my part of the country, we get cold temps that hover around 10 degrees and go down to subzero temperatures at the height of winter, with wind chills that are dangerous for humans and animals.

What works best for my dogs is a hooded fleece/quilted homemade coat and an outer dog blanket coat that is windproof and waterproof. If you aren’t into sewing your own, a quality hooded winter or fleece coat will do the same job as my homemade fleece/quilted coat. On really cold days, I add a T-shirt, sweater or sweatshirt under their other coats. When layering, keep in mind an outer coat will need to be a little larger to fit over other clothes if the Velcro® fastener or snaps can’t be adjusted when needed for a comfortable fit.

Winter clothes for dogs should include booties to help keep their feet warm and also give protection to the pads of their feet. Walking over frozen snow and ice can cut into their pads which can lead to infections. You can find inexpensive booties, but if they aren’t waterproof and they won’t keep their feet warm or dry. Look for dog boots that are lined with fleece and have a ribbed top. Booties are also great for summer use to help prevent accidental cuts from rocky terrain or broken glass. Use them to help prevent scratching on tender skin and protect injuries on the leg or paw. They are available in different lengths depending on your dog’s need.

The best winter clothes for dogs aren’t necessarily the most expensive. I have found affordable fleece coats, T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters at discount stores and online pet stores. The problem with buying online is the picture and description don’t always meet expectations and you can’t feel the coat until it arrives, so make sure you can return an item if it’s not what you expected. A coat, jacket or any clothing you put on your dog should fit comfortably and not restrict their movements. Hoods or hats should not be able to fall down and cover their eyes so it’s hard for them to see.

Winter dog clothes can be found at most retail stores that sell pet products and online pet supply companies. Sweaters and T-shirts start around $5.00 and up, winter coats, sweatshirts and windproof/waterproof dog blankets are $10 and up, and good quality dog booties begin at $10 and up.

I used to think dressing dogs in coats was silly and unnecessary. That was before my terrier/mix puppies joined my family 14 years ago. There’s no denying that they get cold in the winter. I’ve spent years searching for the best winter clothes for dogs, and have finally found the right combination for my dogs and environment. It may take a little time to find what works best for your dog, but with hundreds of styles and prices to choose from, the task is easier now than it was in the past.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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

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The Best Dogs for Apartment Living


By Ruthie Bently

I have been in the retail pet industry for over twenty-five years now, and have seen many different dog breeds living with their owners in apartments. I have also seen many lists of dogs that are “suitable” for apartment living, and they included sizes from toys to giants. Then I realized one simple fact (at least for me); the best dog is the one that is right for you! In other words, if you love a dog, then you will do what you can to make it work. I lived with my first American Staffordshire Terrier in a small home with a postage stamp sized yard.

Whatever kind of dog you choose, there are a few things you should consider if you live in an apartment. Are dogs allowed in your building? Is there a limit to the size or weight of dog you can have? Do you need to put down a deposit? Do you need to supply references to the building owner? If you live in an apartment, are you willing to take the dog out at 3:00 AM to go potty? I actually had clients that lived with three Great Danes in a third floor walk up and they were very happy, but that isn’t for everyone. You should consider the dog’s daily exercise needs and energy level. How will they interact with others (pets, people and kids) in a small space? What is their temperament like? Are they hard to groom, and how trainable are they? What is their excitability level? Are they a barker and will they go off like a firecracker if they hear a noise in the hall?

Everything I have read agrees that any dog in an apartment needs exercise every day. This can help curtail boredom and the problem of having an over exuberant dog racing around the apartment when you get home. You don’t need a yard to own a dog, but the dog still needs daily exercise. A bored dog can do a lot of damage to your belongings and the apartment. There are several alternatives to a yard, including dog parks, public parks, hiking paths and dog walkers or exercisers. You could join a flyball or Disc Dog team and practice every day.

So which dog breeds are the best for apartment living? Small to medium breeds usually do better, as they need less exercise and may be less rambunctious. Some of the smaller breeds that may work for you are: Basset Hound, Bichon Frise, Bulldog (French or English), Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Cockapoo, Corgi, Dachshund, English Toy Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillion, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Poodle (Miniature, Toy, or Standard), Pug, Shih Tzu, Schnauzer, Poodle, and Terriers such as Australian, Boston, Bull, Manchester, Scottish, West Highland White and Yorkshire.

As to a list of larger dogs suitable for apartment living, I hesitate to suggest too many (other than the Greyhound, which is a great couch potato). Here are some larger size dogs that, with the proper amount of daily exercise, might do okay in an apartment: Akita, Chow Chow, Collie, Boxer, Bullmastiff or Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Shar Pei and Springer Spaniel.

Regardless of size, dog breeds with higher energy levels should be considered carefully. If not properly exercised and well-trained, these dogs can be unpredictable and can do unbelievable damage in a short amount of time. Smaller breeds can sometimes be trained to a litter box or pheromone scented papers, which can be helpful late at night. Some breeds are more prone to barking or making mischief than others. My best advice to you is to research breed characteristics before you adopt a dog. These are only my guidelines and you should pick the dog that is best for you and your lifestyle. You might also wish to check your local shelter to see if anyone has recently given up a dog that lived in an apartment. This way you not only get a dog used to living in an apartment, you are also saving a life.

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.

5 Reasons to Support Your Local Independent Pet Store


By Julia Williams

Growing up, my parents knew that the local pet store was my favorite place to be, bar none. Animals were – and still are – “my thing.” I loved going down to the pet store to play with the kittens and puppies, and I could watch the hamsters spinning on their wheels and the fish cruising in their tanks for hours. If the owners and my parents had agreed to let me live there, I probably would have.

Today, the fond memories of those frequent childhood visits to this special place bring me joy but also a touch of sadness. I am all too aware that with the proliferation of discount mega-retailers, the future of the local independent pet store is uncertain. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we support these unique local stores so we don’t lose the many wonderful things they offer us as consumers and animal lovers.

Here are five good reasons to support your local independent pet store.

Personal service

For the last 75 years, the local independent pet store has been the heart and soul of our communities. These pet stores are operated by small business owners who are fully committed to giving their customers the very best service possible. The owners almost always live in the community, and chances are when you walk into their store they will greet you by name. My local independent pet store makes me feel like my patronage matters to them, because it truly does! I am so much more to them than just a nameless, faceless consumer among millions; I am an individual, with individual needs and concerns. When they thank me for my business as I walk out the door, I know that they really mean it.

Expert advice

The food we choose for our pets plays a crucial role in their development and ongoing good health. With so many choices available to consumers today, it can be difficult to decide which pet food to feed our beloved dogs and cats. Local independent pet stores can be of great help with this important decision. The owners and employees are highly educated about pet food and they have years –sometimes decades – of experience in recommending the right food for your pet.

Premium quality pet food

As responsible pet owners, nothing is more important than the health and well being of our beloved animal companions. We are concerned about the safety of the food we feed to our pets, as well as the nutritional value it provides. We want to feed them a pet food that is made from the most nutritious ingredients possible. Simply put, we want safe, healthy food at an affordable price.

Local independent pet stores carry only the finest, high-quality pet food brands available. When you shop at a local independent pet store, you can be confident that the premium brands on display, like CANIDAE dog food and FELIDAE cat food, are great choices that will help you keep your companion animal in good health.

Consistency

The highly trained staff of your local independent pet store provides reliable hands-on service and trustworthy advice. Their knowledge of the products they carry is impeccable, and this helps them provide a consistent shopping experience every time you visit their store.

Uniqueness

Local independent businesses are the backbone of our communities. Each store has its own distinctive style, with unique décor and an ambiance that makes stocking up on pet food and supplies an enjoyable experience rather than a chore.

For these five reasons and more, CANIDAE Pet Foods will always support the local independent pet stores. And as a cat owner who wants the very best for my cherished companion and my community, I will too. If we all support these irreplaceable local pet stores, there is hope that they can remain in our communities to serve future generations of pet lovers.

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.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs


By Linda Cole

Winter weather can be rough on a dog’s paws, and at times can be downright painful. A combination of cold temperatures, snow and ice can take a toll on your best friend’s feet. Winter paw care for dogs is essential to keep their feet pain free and healthy during the cold days of winter.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #1:

Beware of chemical de-icers and ice melt on streets and sidewalks. Your dog needs to go outside even during the coldest or snowiest days of winter. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dog pen where their dog can hang out, take care of their business and stretch their legs. A dog who stays in their own yard doesn’t have to worry about getting ice melt or chemical de-icers on their paws along with the snow and ice. If you walk your dog during the winter, it’s important to pay attention to sidewalks and streets after a fresh snowfall, and try to avoid as much of the chemicals used to clear streets and sidewalks as you can.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #2:

Trim the hair between their pads. Even dogs like Siberian Huskies can get cold paws during winter weather. Some dogs have hair that grows between their pads and if it gets too long, it collects snow and ice that can dig into their pads. Hair growth between the pads should be trimmed even with their pads to help eliminate as much frozen snow as possible from sticking to the hair.

Inspect your dog’s feet after they come inside and clean them with warm water to remove any chemicals they may have picked up. An inside/outside cat should also have their feet cleaned when they come in. This is the perfect time to inspect between their toes and the pads to make sure there are no cuts or scrapes that have become infected. Never allow your dog or cat to clean their own paws after an afternoon or evening walk. The chemical ice melts and de-icers can be toxic to them.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #3:

Apply a soothing salve if needed. A dog’s pads can become irritated from walking on snow and ice. After washing their feet, apply petroleum jelly, Bag Balm or a similar salve to help soothe their irritated paws. You can reapply before going outside for their next walk or a game of fetch in the snow. Waterproof booties are a good solution to eliminate wear and tear on your dog’s feet. They will also help keep your dog warmer. Dogs lose heat through their ears and feet. Along with booties, a good waterproof/windproof coat with a hood can help keep your buddy warm while enjoying outside activities or taking care of business.

Winter Paw Care for Dogs Tip #4:

Keep your dog’s nails trimmed. If your dogs are anything like mine, nail trimming time is not one of their favorite bonding moments. However, it’s important to keep their nails properly trimmed. Nails that are too long can lead to a foot deformity called splayed feet. When their nails are too long, the toes are spread apart more than they should be and when they walk in snow or icy conditions, there is a greater probability the dog will collect more snow and ice between their toes. Nails that are too long can also lead to sore nail beds, torn nails, hip and back problems and painful feet that make it hard for them to put their full weight on their feet.

Winter is a beautiful time of the year, but the snow and ice can damage your dog’s feet with little cuts and scrapes from ice and snow that gets packed in between the pads on his feet and toes. Help him stay safe and healthy in the winter by paying close attention to his feet. Winter paw care for dogs is important. After all, we wouldn’t want to walk barefoot over what our dogs have to deal with. A little TLC goes a long way and makes all the difference in the world to them.

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 Right Way to Discipline a Dog


By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with several dogs and got to see training methods first hand. I have seen both well trained and unruly dogs and have found that the old maxim is true: “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” As I get older, my life experiences have taught me that this is true and I have been applying it to my training methods.

Growing up, if a dog had an “accident” in the house they got their nose rubbed in it. In my mind all this resulted in was a dirty nose which had to be cleaned. One of my favorite memories (though probably not for my grandfather) happened on a Sunday morning. Grandpa was reading his paper in the living room, with it spread on the floor in front of the couch. Grandma’s dog Peggy came in, walked right over to the newspaper, and relieved herself. Grandpa started blustering for Grandma to come get her “damn” dog. Grandma picked up Peggy and dutifully carried her outside, praising her the whole time. You see, Peggy had been trained to go on newspaper and though hers was in the kitchen, she probably thought Grandpa’s paper was for her.

Growing up, if a dog chewed something “off limits” they got hit on the butt with it. I remember watching the floor near a dog being hit with the damaged item and the dog cringing. When my dog Katie’s playmate passed, she grieved and took to chewing shoes. I put them behind a closed closet door on a high shelf, and she still got to them. This taught me to take responsibility for my own actions around the house, yard and anywhere else Katie would be. Things she could reach had to be moved out of reach or it was my fault that she got them. This means if you leave your cell phone, glasses or TV remote where your dog can reach them, you have to take responsibility for your dog being able to get to them – and believe me dogs can be very inventive.

When your dog does something wrong they should be disciplined, but while they may know you are angry at them, they may not know why. Catching them in the “naughty” act is easier to discipline because if it is after the fact, they won’t understand what you are mad about. If your dog chews something inappropriate, take it away from them. Tell them “NO” in a strong voice and hand them something that is OK to chew. Using praise to get them to chew their own toy or taking them outside for a game of “catch the chewy” will help.

If you have been away and the dog had an accident in the house, you may have been gone too long. While Skye is housebroken, she does have accidents from time to time. I take any solids outside to her “potty” spot and leave them. If the stain is liquid, I mop it up, carry the paper towels outside and put them in the composter after showing Skye where she is supposed to go.

Several articles I’ve read on discipline agree that you need to take responsibility for your actions, and your dog will react to body language you project when you are angry. An angry scowl, raised voice or hands on your hips is a dead giveaway. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to smile and make nice when the dog has just done something naughty. However, beating, yelling and shouting will only make your dog more fearful of you. It also makes them less likely to come the next time they hear your angry voice. Try to keep your voice quiet and project a sense of calm when calling your dog after a misdeed, and then discipline them.

One of my clients came home one day to find that their Border Collie had torn the fringe off an antique rug in the living room. They liked the rug there and didn’t want to ban the dog from the living room. They respected their dog enough to try and figure out why it was suddenly acting out. We did some research and found that the dog had herded sheep and the rug was made of wool. The dog, trying to herd the “perceived sheep” was nipping the fringe off the rug, much as it would nip the heels of the sheep to get them to move. The rug got repaired and moved to another room.

Respecting your dog is an important aspect of proper discipline. When I trained my first dog, I added several training books to my library. Now almost thirty later I’m reading about a newer concept that makes more sense to me: respect. I’m not trying to humanize my dog but she is a sentient creature and when I treat her with respect, I get better results than if I treat her like a “dumb animal.” This means not overtraining Skye, and making sure there is a balance between training, working time and playtime. I’ve found this to be a happy medium and though we still have issues sometimes, Skye personally likes the “honey” method.

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.

How to Keep Cats Out of the Christmas Tree


By Julia Williams

Christmas tree decorations come in all sizes, shapes and colors, from glittery round balls and intricate figurines, to handmade ornaments and whiskered cat faces peering out at you from inside the tree. Wait. What??

Yes, it’s true. Cats are the biggest Christmas tree ornament you will ever have. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me for suggestions on how to keep cats out of the Christmas tree. Nearly all cat owners have a story (or two) to tell about waking up to find the Christmas tree in shambles and their precious ornaments either broken to bits or scattered throughout the house. One friend even joked about starting a 12-step support group for people whose cats ruin the Christmas tree.

I sympathize, because I can relate. I’ve had my share of knocked over Christmas trees and shattered ornaments. But here’s the thing: expecting a cat not to be infatuated with your Christmas tree is, well, just plain silly. You can’t change any creature’s instincts, let alone one whose middle name is usually “mischief.” Simply put, cats love to climb trees. All of those shiny things dangling from the branches of your Noble Fir or Blue Spruce just make it all the more enticing to a tree-loving feline.

If your kitty is smitten with your tree, you basically have two options. You can forego the tree, or you can try one of the various methods other people have tried for keeping cats out of the Christmas tree. However, you must keep in mind that every cat is different and what works for one person’s cat might not work for yours. I will give you some suggestions for things to try, but I can’t say for certain that any one of them will be the answer to your trashed-tree prayers. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another. Above all, please don’t be mad at the cat for doing what comes natural to them!

The first thing you should do is eliminate temptation as much as possible. Ornaments hanging on the bottom branches and cords dangling in mid-air are a cat’s invitation to play. And if you have breakable ornaments with sentimental value, leave them off the tree. If you must display them, use them on a small tree you can put up on the mantel or some other place your cat can’t get to.

Various sprays have been met with success by some cat owners. Some to try include Bitter Apple, vinegar, pink grapefruit body spray, natural citrus room spray, cranberry room spray and animal-deterrent sprays. Spray your tree thoroughly before you put on the decorations, and spray the tree skirt as well. If one of these sprays works to deter your cat, you may need to reapply it a few times a week (be sure to unplug the tree before spraying). The exception is the vinegar; your cat will smell this long after it can be detected by human noses.

Other scented things some cats find objectionable are dryer sheets, orange peels, strong-smelling bars of soap and red pepper flakes. These can be placed around the bottom of the tree, underneath the tree skirt or on the tree trunk.

Double sided sticky tape is a well known cat deterrent, but it’s not terribly practical for keeping cats out of the Christmas tree. You could, however, try putting it over the tree stand and wrapping it around the bottom of the tree trunk.

Train your cat with the “coins in a can” method. Put some pennies in an empty soda can and keep it handy when you are in the room where the tree is situated. When you see your cat start to approach the tree, shake that can with all your might. The noise startles them and may deter them from investigating the tree when you’re not in the room.

If none of these methods keep your cat out of the Christmas tree, there’s really only one thing left to do. Laugh about it. And while you are laughing, you may as well redecorate the tree, and be thankful for the mirth your kitty adds to your life – not only during the holiday season, but every day of the year!

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.