Monthly Archives: February 2010

Obesity in Pets: It’s No Laughing Matter


By Julia Williams

People who aspire to be compassionate and/or politically correct wouldn’t dream of laughing at an obese person. Most of us are evolved enough to know this just isn’t funny. Yet, to my dismay I recently discovered that some people do think fat cats and pudgy pooches are hilarious. A simple Google search brought up countless pictures of morbidly obese dogs and cats, as well as Youtube videos, cartoons, caricatures and blogs, all poking fun at these roly-poly pets.

As an animal lover, I didn’t laugh. In fact, I gasped. I was saddened at the sight of these poor pets that were allowed to become so shockingly huge. For me, this sort of thing is the opposite of amusing. It’s certainly not what any caring, responsible pet owner would do. Our pets do not become fat of their own accord; they simply eat what (and how much) is given to them by their human guardian. Our pets don’t control the amount of calorie-burning exercise and playtime they get either. When these two things are out of balance, weight gain is the inevitable result. And according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, fat pets are becoming more prevalent every year. Their 2008 study estimated that 44% of all dogs and 57% of all cats in the U.S. are overweight, with around 14% qualifying for obesity.

But fat pets are not funny. The reality is, obese pets suffer, and many die prematurely due to weight related health problems. Like humans, overweight pets are at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, liver malfunction, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, damage to their joints and bones, and many other conditions that endanger their health. I think it’s unfortunate that people who allow their pet to starve (intentionally or not) are charged with animal cruelty, yet owners who allow their dog or cat to become morbidly obese are not held accountable. It doesn’t really make sense to me. When your pet becomes so big it can’t walk and has difficulty breathing, isn’t it rather obvious this is a serious health problem which requires human intervention?

Ignorance is no excuse for letting a pet suffer, either. Even when it’s not so clear cut, such as when a pet is merely overweight rather than morbidly obese, a responsible owner would be made aware of this when they took their pet in for a yearly checkup. Then, they could discuss with their vet the proper way to go about helping their pet lose weight. Just as with humans, there is no “quick fix” for weight gain in pets. Many different factors may be contributing to a pet’s excess weight, and owners need the guidance and knowledge of trained professionals to safely and effectively combat pet obesity.

Helping an overweight pet shed excess pounds is not an easy task, to be sure. The ideal solution is not to let your pet get fat in the first place. But if and when it happens, a responsible owner takes action immediately to remedy the situation, because untreated obesity in pets can have devastating consequences. No one who loves their dog or cat would allow their health and quality of life to be diminished by excess weight.

If you think your pet is overweight, let your vet help you determine the best course of action. By helping your pet to lose weight, you will likely be adding years to their life – which means there will be a lot more kitty kisses or doggie hugs in store for you!

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.

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Canine Epilepsy


By Ruthie Bently

These days our dogs are being diagnosed with many of the same health conditions that we have, and one of them is epilepsy which is distinguished by recurring seizures. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by misfiring of the electrical synapses in the brain. This in turn causes additional, erratic nerve transmissions that are not coordinated. These scramble the messages to the muscles in the body, which results in a seizure. Epilepsy is a chronic condition, though it should be noted that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. There are different divisions of canine epilepsy, and it is not limited to one condition but a larger catalog of disorders.

Idiopathic epilepsy (also known as Primary Epilepsy) has no specific brain abnormality except for the seizures. Genetics are now suspected in the cause of idiopathic seizures of several dog breeds including Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Keeshonds, Collies, Beagles and the British Alsatian. It is now also being considered as an inherited problem in other breeds. I know of one geneticist who is studying the American Staffordshire Terrier to see if there is a link to epilepsy in the breed. My AmStaff Skye was diagnosed with idiopathic juvenile seizures and had her first seizure when she went into her first season; she was about a year old. Most dogs diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy experience their first seizure between the age of one and five years.

Symptomatic epilepsy (also known as Secondary Epilepsy) consists of seizures that can be linked to a specific cause or abnormality. Symptomatic Epilepsy can be caused by an underlying factor that you may not even have considered. It has been linked to brain tumors, hypothyroidism, canine distemper or another infection (which can cause brain damage), congenital hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and the ingestion of toxins like gardening chemicals and lead paint chips.

There are four basic types of seizures in varying degrees of severity; they are the petite mal (mild), grand mal (moderate), status epilepticus, and clusters. The status epilepticus and the clusters are the most dangerous and can be life threatening.

While canine epilepsy can be severe, some seizures can be controlled and even eliminated with the proper diet. It is important to stay away from chemical preservatives in your dog’s food as these may be seizure triggers. Skye eats CANIDAE ALS Grain Free which has no chemical preservatives. Seizures that cannot be controlled by diet, may be controlled with homeopathic methods or by medication if need be. If a dog needs to be medicated to control their seizures, there are several medications available.

Most seizures can be controlled with Phenobarbital and it is sometimes used in conjunction with Potassium Bromide. It should be noted that Phenobarbital is a barbiturate and can cause liver or kidney damage with prolonged usage. You need to have blood tests done every four to six months to check that the liver and kidneys are functioning properly. Potassium Bromide has been used alone when Phenobarbital has caused liver damage.

There can be a side effect with use of the bromides, called bromide intoxication. Bromide intoxication manifests itself in uneven locomotion, stumbling over nothing and even falling down. If your dog has these symptoms, talk to your vet about lowering the dosage or changing medication. Skye was originally on a combination of Phenobarbital and Potassium Bromide and I witnessed Bromide intoxication. Her medication was changed to Sodium Bromide and though I have to watch her sodium levels, she no longer has any issues with Bromide intoxication. Neurontin, also known as Gabapentin, is a newer drug developed for use in human epilepsy and it is safe for use in canine epilepsy as well. However it can be costly – about $250.00 per month. Valium is not primarily used in the prevention of seizures, but it is used after the seizures happen to help calm the dog.

If your dog begins having seizures, have your vet look for underlying health issues. If none are found make sure to check your dog’s pedigree and lineage for a possible genetic link. Since Skye has been on just the Sodium Bromide I have not seen any side effects. We go to the vet every six months for blood tests, which are always normal.

Canine epilepsy is no longer the monster it used to be, and our companion animals can live long, healthy, fulfilling lives with the proper care. You wouldn’t know to look at Skye that she had ever had seizures, and I feel very blessed.

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 “Dog People” and “Cat People” Really Different?


By Linda Cole

We are attracted to certain types of pets just as we are to specific types of people. All animals are worthy of our compassion, and choosing either a dog or cat to share our home with is a reflection on our personality.

There’s something mystical about a cat. They cuddle with us on their terms. Most will come when called, but only if they think there’s something in it for them. I’m pretty sure mine enjoy seeing their frantic owner comb every known hiding spot in the house looking for them as they watch from a newly discovered spot. I love a cat’s independence and how the intensity in her body grows as she watches a squirrel or bird perch on a tree branch in front of the window separating them.

Dog people and cat people do have good reasons why they prefer one over the other. But as much as I love cats, dogs also have a special place in my heart. I love how a dog greets you no matter how long you’ve been gone. Cats miss us too, but they are often too proud to let us know. A dog wants to be with us all the time and they always have a smile in their eyes. I don’t think of myself as a dog or cat person, just an animal person.

According to a study that was done in 2008 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, “cat people” are more likely to be single with multiple cats; “dog people” are typically married with kids and have just one dog in the home. But with so many variables in the equation, this generalization seems rather pointless.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently conducted an online survey to find out if there really is a difference between cat people and dog people. Their study is called the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, and they asked participants questions to measure five different personality traits. Around 4,500 people answered questions that measured openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and extraversion (this spelling is correct and is the same as extrovert). The researchers used these five personality traits in earlier studies to measure responses, and believe most people fall into one of the categories.

What they found was that people who consider themselves to be dog people tend to be more outgoing and social. Cat people, according to their study, are more neurotic yet open. The openness in this case means creative, philosophical, curious, imaginative, or more in touch with their own feelings.

The University of Texas at Austin study has not been published yet, so I’ll reserve judgment until it’s available to the public to read. The small bit of general information that has already been released has created controversy and defensive reactions from pet owners. Neurotic, after all, is a pretty strong word to label cat people with. The information that’s been released is more of a generalization of the five personality types. The study was only for differences between dog people and cat people based on how they viewed themselves. Some considered themselves to be dog people but they own cats, or cat people with dogs. Some of the respondents didn’t even own a pet.

What’s useful about the Texas study is when matching up a therapy animal with a patient, understanding a person’s preference can make a difference by using an animal the person relates to best. But do we really want to stereotype someone based on their choice in pets? And where do households with both dogs and cats fit into the study?

The study also found that some people may prefer dogs, but have cats because that’s the pet that fits best into their lifestyle or work schedule at the moment. Cat people may have a certain breed of dog because that’s the pet that works best for someone in the home with allergies.

Studies are useful in providing an insight into how people see themselves. However, I’m not convinced that placing a label on a person from a generalized statement is convincing as far as determining a difference between dog people and cat people. The way I see it, we are pet parents who are enriched with the love we give and receive from our pets. A preference does play a role in our choice, but regardless of whether we have cats or dogs, labels mean nothing to them and they accept us for who we are. And so should we.

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 Algonquin Hotel Cat Makes Guests Feel Right at Home


By Julia Williams

When I’m traveling, the thing I miss most about “home” is spending time with my cats. If I’ve had a difficult day, nothing brings me back into balance quicker than a good petting session. When I need some affection, I have three felines who are happy to give it, provided they get some back. Needless to say, I get very homesick for my cats when I am away, and I’m sure many cat owners feel the same – which is why, if you ever find yourself in New York City, you simply must stay at the Algonquin Hotel!

This landmark hotel has many claims to fame, but is known the world over for their famous feline resident: a gorgeous Ragdoll cat named Matilda. This PURRsonable feline is always on hand to make sure that any hotel guest who needs some kitty love, shall have it. Now that’s what I call five-star hospitality!

The oldest operating hotel in New York City, the Algonquin has kept a “resident cat” since the 1930s. The story goes that one stormy night, a bedraggled cat wandered into the hotel seeking food and shelter. The hotel’s owner at the time, known to be a very gracious host, felt sorry for the cat and welcomed it into the hotel.

That first hotel cat was an orange tabby initially called Rusty. Hotel lore claims that actor John Barrymore, who was starring in Hamlet on Broadway, thought the cat needed a more theatrical name. Thus, the cat was rechristened Hamlet, and a tradition was born. Since then, all of the male Algonquin hotel cats are called Hamlet, and the females are named Matilda.

The current Matilda is the ninth Algonquin hotel cat. A former show cat, Matilda is the first purebred feline to reside at the hotel. She became their newest kitty concierge in 1997 at the tender age of two, and has endeared herself to the guests ever since. The Ragdoll is an American cat breed best known for its docile temperament and affectionate nature. These qualities make them a perfect hotel cat, and the ever-friendly Matilda does her breed proud.

Other than the kitchen and dining areas, Matilda has the run of the hotel and is frequently spotted snoozing at the front desk. However, her favorite place to hang out is her personal chaise lounge in the lobby, where she can oversee the comings and goings of the guests and get chin rubs from them.

Around check-in time, Matilda can be found by the luggage cart, where she likes to sniff all incoming baggage and greet the arriving guests. She has become quite popular over the years and receives mail weekly from all over the world. She even has her own email address, and has been the subject of countless stories. Once, when her cat collar was stolen, the tale of the “Algonquin Cat-Burglary” was the talk of the city.

Each year, the Algonquin Hotel throws Matilda a birthday bash as befits a New York celebrity. Perhaps the most memorable one, according to the hotel’s website, was her seventh birthday. With 150 of her closest friends in attendance, Matilda “jumped on her cake and ran out of the room, leaving a trail of paw prints.” Although she didn’t display much appreciation for her birthday party that year, the gatherings serve as a way for the hotel to raise a substantial sum for cat charities.

The Algonquin hotel cat has been memorialized in a children’s book and a 24-karat gold pendant. The hotel’s bar even has a cocktail named after Matilda. Want to know more about this famous feline? You can watch a short video, Meet Matilda, the Algonquin Hotel Cat, on the Cat Channel website.

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.

What to do With Pets When Your Home is for Sale


By Suzanne Alicie

Selling a home can take time. It is not uncommon for a home to be listed for several months. During this time, you and your family may continue to live in the home. But of course you make an extra effort to keep the house clean and presentable because the realtor could show up any time with a potential buyer.

While this is a bit of an upheaval for your family, there is one other thing to consider and that is your family pet. The homeowners are often at work when the house is shown. This means that your dog or cat is at home unattended when strangers enter and move through your home.

When your house is for sale it is important to make sure that your pet is kept enclosed to protect both the pets and potential home buyers who are viewing the house. When a realtor and viewers enter a house, your dog or cat could slip out the door and get into the street or become lost. Another possibility is that your dog may become territorial and frighten or even attack the strange people coming into his home.

To solve these potential problems, consider some of the following solutions for your pets while your home is for sale. Pets who are accustomed to being able to roam freely about the house may balk initially, but will soon adjust to a new routine.

1. Doggie Daycare will get your dog out of the home when you go to work. He won’t be at home so that the realtor can show the house at any time while you are gone, without worry.

2. Crate your dog or cat when you leave the home so that he is in an enclosed and safe area where he won’t be in contact with the realtor or home viewers.

3. Backyard kennels or enclosed runs are a way to not only protect your dog and the people who are entering your home, but also a great way to make sure your dog gets fresh air and a bit of exercise. An enclosed kennel in the back yard is also a good selling point for potential buyers who have a pet.

Do not place your dog on a chain outside unattended. The dog could become entangled, spill his water, or even break the chain and escape.

Taking some precautions while your home is for sale will help you to avoid losing your pet and even possible lawsuits. However, there will be an adjustment period for your pet when you begin instituting these changes in the daily routine. Expect some regression in training and a bit of acting out from your canine or feline friend. Be patient and realize that your pet is experiencing a great deal of upheaval along with the rest of the family. The difference is that your pet won’t understand what is going on and may feel as if he is being punished. Be sure to reward your dog or cat for good behavior, and give them a lot of attention when you are home.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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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.

How to Groom a Short-Coated Dog


By Ruthie Bently

Each dog’s hair coat is different and in my opinion, grooming a dog with a short coat (also known as a smooth coat) is the easiest. You don’t have to cut the dog’s hair coat and you don’t need to use a stripping knife to cut out the dead hair. You also don’t have to bathe a dog with a short coat very often. If they are a fairly clean dog, then bathing them once a month is often enough.

If you bathe a dog too much you can actually strip the oils out of their hair coat. This can be detrimental because the oils in a dog’s coat can help keep them insulated against the cold weather. My AmStaff Skye loves to run through mud puddles, and I’ve watched her jump up and down trying to see how much mud she can get on herself. I have a dry shampoo for spot cleaning her feet and parts of her that get wet or muddy after we have been down by the river.

The first step in grooming a short-coated dog is to give them a bath. Fill the bathtub with about six inches of lukewarm water and use it to get them wet all over. A medium-sized saucepan works well for both getting your dog wet and for rinsing off the shampoo. I purchased a shampoo that has colloidal oatmeal in it, though lately I have been making my own. The oatmeal soothes the skin and is good for any bites from flies or mosquitoes or scratches your dog might get from charging through bushes.

After wetting your dog completely, put about a nickel sized amount of shampoo in your hand. Beginning at their head (avoiding the eyes) soap them from front to back and top to bottom. Massaging your dog with a rubber brush or palm pad helps calm them, works the shampoo down to the skin and helps get any dirt out of their coat.

Be sure to rinse your dog very well to make sure all the soap suds are out of their coat. For every twenty minutes of bathing allow yourself five minutes of rinse time. Dry your dog with several old, clean towels set aside for that purpose, or use a blow dryer on a low heat setting. If it’s warm enough outside in the summer months, you can let your dog air dry.

If your dog’s nails need to be clipped, after their bath is a good time to do it. The warm water of the bath usually soothes a dog and makes it easier to clip their nails. If they object to having their toes clipped at this time, waiting until bedtime after they’ve had a full day of activity and are tired can also be helpful. Make sure you have styptic powder or a styptic pencil on hand if your dog tends to be a wiggler.

The next step is brushing out the hair that was loosened by the bath. There are many tools you can use to brush your short-coated dog, and you need to decide which is best for you. You can use a shedding blade, natural bristle brush, a round rubber curry brush or rectangular rubber brush, a sisal mitt with bristles, a rubber mitt or a rubber palm pad. I prefer the round rubber brush, palm pad or shedding blade as they are easier to clean. They also attract the hair to themselves and you don’t tend to end up with globs of hair around the house.

During the warmer months I brush Skye outside and give the hair to the wild birds to use for their nests. Begin at your dog’s head and brush them head to tail and top to bottom. If you can’t brush them outside, brushing them in the bathroom on the tile floor is a good idea since it is a small room and it’s easy to sweep up the hair. You shouldn’t need a conditioning spray unless your dog has a brittle coat, and with frequent brushing you will help your dog’s body replenish its natural lubricating hair oils.

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.