Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Importance of Play Dates for Dogs


By Suzanne Alicie

You can take your dog for a run or enjoy a game of fetch in the backyard to provide him with much needed play and exercise, so why would you go to the trouble of arranging play dates for your dog? Don’t you have enough to do with kids, work and home? Keep reading to find out the importance of play dates for your dog.

Imagine that you are walking your dog in the park; suddenly he sees another dog and goes crazy pulling on the leash, barking and dragging you along as he runs after this other dog. This can lead to reluctance to take your dog anywhere he may encounter other dogs. The fear that your dog will attack another dog or even a person can lead you to feel much safer playing with and exercising your dog at home.

This is where play dates come in. Dogs are social animals, and many of their behaviors that may seem threatening are simply their pack nature. Dogs are either submissive or dominant, and in any group of canines there will emerge a natural alpha dog. By setting up play dates and allowing your dog to indulge in the sniffing and romping that is normal for him, you are allowing him to be a dog.

Dogs need to be socialized not only with other animals, but with other humans as well. A dog who is isolated and only interacts with their own family will tend to be more high strung and vocal when he encounters other people or animals.

Early socialization helps puppies grow up to be amiable and cooperative around other dogs and people. If your dog is already grown and hasn’t socialized with other dogs and people very much, it is important to start slowly to socialize him. Arrange to meet a friend to walk your two dogs together at the park. If your friend’s dog is used to other dogs and not afraid, it will be better for your dog to adjust to.

Muzzle your dog to prevent any accidental damage should he become frightened or aggressive. When you meet your friend, allow the dogs to do their doggie thing. Give them time to sniff and become accustomed to one another before beginning your walk. Don’t despair if your dog growls or even cowers from the other dog in the beginning. He is simply reacting to the other dog and after a few moments will take his behavior cues from his new friend. This is why it is important to introduce your dog to another dog that has been socialized. Bringing two un-socialized dogs together can be chaos.

As your dog becomes more accustomed to his new doggie friend, find a few more people that you know with dogs to join you on your walks. Over time your dog will grow to look forward to the time he gets to spend with his canine friends. You will be able to remove the muzzle and in certain situations even unleash the dogs and allow them to run and play together. These play dates make for dogs who aren’t timid or aggressive with new dogs or new people that they encounter.

Your dog will thrive and be much happier if he is allowed to play with other canines. While interaction with people is important, dogs need time to be pack animals, to find their place within their circle of friends, and to learn more about being a dog as well as a pet.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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.

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+PinterestShare

How to Handle Soft Tissue Injuries in Dogs


By Linda Cole

Dogs love to run, jump and romp inside and outside. But just like us, dogs can pull a muscle, sprain an ankle and even break a bone. Most soft tissue injuries in dogs come from falls, fights, accidents, and during exercise and play. My dogs love chasing each other around their enclosure and until recently, we had a nice layer of snow to run and play in. However, dogs can slip in the snow and ice, and end up with pulled muscles, stretched tendons or torn ligaments. Soft tissue injuries in dogs can range from mild to severe. When a dog develops a limp, that’s a sign they’re in pain and we need to pay attention to it.

Like us, mild muscle pulls or sprains will heal in a few days; however, unless you are a qualified vet, never try to treat your dog at home if you notice them limping more than two days. Broken bones need to be x-rayed to make sure there are no complications or other injuries associated with it and a vet needs to properly set the bone. Pulled muscles, sprains or strains need to be evaluated to insure an injury is not something serious. Dogs are also not the best patient in the house when it comes to bed rest to allow something to heal.

Read More »

Do Our Emotions Affect Our Pets?


By Julia Williams

I recently saw a TV commercial that featured a depressed man whose dog sat there looking very sad because his owner was not giving him any attention. An internet search revealed it was part of the “Depression Hurts” campaign for the anti-depressant Cymbalta. This ad asks, “Who does depression hurt? Everyone.” Apparently, this includes our pets. Delving further on Google, I found this interesting post on Twitter: “Is it just me, or does the Cymbalta commercial kind of guilt you into taking depression meds so your dog won’t be sad for you anymore?”

This got me to thinking about human emotions, and pondering whether we, as pet owners, pass our moods and feelings on to our pets. Could a depressed owner create a depressed dog? Could the pet of a stressed out, anxious, angry, manic or overly fearful owner begin to feel the same way? In contrast, would the pet of a cheerful, optimistic, happy-go-lucky human be just like them?

I suppose one first has to ask, do pets have emotions? Some people, especially scientific types and those who are not “pet people,” say no. They believe emotions exist only in humans. However, most pet owners tend to disagree, because they see proof that animals have emotions every day. Responsible pet owners who spend quality time with their animal companions, can tell what kind of mood they are in by reading their body language and facial expressions. We know whether our pets are eager or fearful, happy or sad, mad or content. What are those then, if not emotions?

Every pet owner likely has no shortage of anecdotal evidence of their dog or cat picking up on their emotional state. We see firsthand just how sensitive animals are to our moods, and we see them react accordingly. When I am sad and crying, my cats all crowd around me. They head-butt my hands and face, try other things to get my attention, and stick to me like glue if I am in bed. It’s as if they are saying, “We know you are hurting, how can we make it better?”

I also know that when I am in high spirits, my cats seem happier too. Rocky will sometimes meet me at the door when I come home. After I pick him up, hug him exuberantly and tell him how glad I am to see him, he then prances around the kitchen like he’s king of the castle. Dogs are often more aggressive to people who fear them. Much like children will do when their parents fight, dogs and cats slink away to hide or sulk when their owners are arguing.

Nonetheless, it can be hard to convince science-minded individuals that animals have emotions, primarily because it’s nearly impossible to measure feelings. While it may be crystal clear to a pet owner that their dog or cat has as a full spectrum of emotions, science can’t quantify them – yet. As such, it’s easy to discount the role that emotions play in pets.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it seems silly to believe that the ability to sense mood occurred for the first and only time in the human animal. Yet even if we believe that animals have emotions and can sense our moods, does that mean we automatically transfer our feelings to our pets? If a person is constantly agitated or angry, I am positive this would negatively affect their pet’s emotional state. But is the pet taking on those emotions, or are they merely reacting to them? What do you think?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

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.

Does Dog Gender Make a Difference?


By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with female dogs, and have owned both males and females. All my AmStaffs seem to have been picked for me for one reason: there was a dog that needed a home when I wanted a dog. I didn’t consider gender, because I didn’t think it mattered.

I haven’t read anything definitive on whether females or males are better, though I’ve read that many police departments tend to choose intact males for their canine units. Female dogs tend to be smaller in size than their male counterparts, in both weight and height. Males in theory have more stamina and energy, though you can’t prove that at our house. To exercise Skye we spend at least twenty minutes three times a day in the yard playing ball or chasing a disk, or we go for a long walk. She will be panting at the end of our exercise sessions, but doesn’t want to quit.

There are differences between the genders of intact male and female dogs. A non-spayed female dog usually has two “heat” seasons a year. Her behavior during this time will change and she’ll be receptive to males, will wander the neighborhood if allowed out, and be more vocal. If she has young puppies she will be more protective of them and may act aggressively. She may even mark her own territory, to let the neighborhood males know she’s available. A non-neutered male dog will search out a female in season, fight other male dogs, may behave inappropriately toward their owner by “humping” their leg, and will mark their territory to attract a female in season. While this may be the norm, I have known spayed females that mark their territory too. Depending on the age your dog is spayed or neutered at, if they have already developed some of the behaviors described they may never get over them.

To my knowledge there is no scientific study that shows whether a male or female dog is better. Several obedience judges and veterinarians were surveyed about their opinions in the book, The Perfect Puppy, by Lynette and Benjamin Hart. The traits of behavior between males and females were discussed and the consensus was that male dogs were more dog aggressive and more apt to attempt dominance over their owners. Females on the other hand, were thought to be easier to housebreak and train.

I have read a lot of forum threads on the subject lately, and have seen information that shows no marked behavior differences between male and female dogs. One forum I read stated that males were preferred as pets, but that it also depended on the breed of dog. If you are looking at a breed with specific traits like being laid back, gentle and quiet, it won’t matter if you get a male or a female. The same can be said for a breed that is known for being more active; either sex will have the breed’s traits. Theoretically this would hold true for a mixed breed as well; a Lab/terrier mix would have Labrador Retriever and terrier traits. Both dog genders can have temperament and behavior issues.

When trying to decide whether to get a male or a female dog, I think it depends on you and what you want or need. The most important thing is to evaluate your situation. The needs of your family should be considered too. What do you want in your new companion? Do you need a working dog or a companion? Your energy level should be considered as well. While all dogs need some amount of exercise every day, if you are not overly active you won’t want to be going for a five mile walk every day. If you have children, the size of the dog should be considered. Too large a dog can bowl over a child if they are running full tilt with a ball.

At the end of the day, I personally don’t think gender makes a difference. You want a well-behaved dog that won’t be afraid of you and cower in a corner. You’re taking on a responsibility that will last the life of the dog, which could be between 15-20 years. Leave yourself open to the possibilities, and don’t let gender cloud the issue.

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.

Feline Health Concerns


By Suzanne Alicie

Cats seem to be pretty easy pets to care for; all they really ask for are food, water and a clean litter box. But felines in general have many health concerns that responsible pet owners should be aware of and discuss with their veterinarian.

Hairballs – Because cats groom themselves they are always swallowing loose hair. Occasionally this hair forms into a ball and lodges in the cat’s stomach; your cat may do a great deal of coughing and hacking to dislodge the hairball, eventually coughing it up and out. If your cat is unable to expel a hairball then it is time to take action. There are over the counter medications that you can use to help the cat pass the hairball one way or the other, or you can visit your vet and he will administer a treatment after examining the cat to make sure there are no other problems.

Worms – Roundworms, tapeworms, hook worms and even heartworms can affect your cat. If left untreated, worms can be fatal to your feline friend. You can take your cat to the vet to be checked for worms and choose the best treatment for the specific type of worms.

Urinary Tract Infections – Bladder problems are common in both sexes of cats; however male cats risk a life threatening blockage due to urinary and bladder infections. A veterinarian should examine any cat you believe has a UTI or any problems with urination.

Fleas – Flea infestations cause anemia and have been known to kill kittens. Many times you can deal with fleas at home with flea dips and treatments to prevent infestation, but in the case of kittens younger than 6 months you should contact your vet before using any topical treatments. Linda Cole has written two helpful articles on how to fight fleas: Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats, and Winter is the Best Time to Fight Fleas.

Cat Flu – This viral infection that affect the upper respiratory tract can make your cat very sick, and can even kill young kittens and older cats. Pus leaking from the eyes, sneezing and thick discharge from the nose, fever or loss of appetite are all symptoms of cat flu. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms.

FIV – Also known as feline AIDS, this disease lowers the cat’s immunity to common infections. A cat that suffers a long list of illnesses is commonly found to have FIV. While there is no vaccine for FIV, all cats should be tested so that preventive steps can be taken.

Feline Leukemia Virus – Thanks to a recent vaccine, FLV is no longer the most common fatal disease in cats. Cats that contract FLV rarely have a long life expectancy, and all cats should be immunized while young before they are in contact with any other cat that may have FLV.

Abscessed Wounds – The skin on a cat is tough and does not tear easily. This means that when a cat gets a scratch or bite the skin heals over quickly, often trapping bacteria underneath. These bacteria can cause your cat to become very ill as the infection spreads. An abscess can rupture on its own releasing thick yellow pus. If you clean this with warm salt water or peroxide the abscess will usually heal with no further problems. If an abscess does not rupture you should take your cat to the vet so that he can drain it and resolve the infection with antibiotics.

By keeping a close eye on your cat and his behavior, you can many times head off any health concerns before they become a problem.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Find CANIDAE Retailers Near You!

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.

Signs That Show Your Dog Respects You


By Linda Cole

The loyalty of our dogs cannot be questioned; they will stand by us through thick and thin. Dogs can be well behaved and guard our homes and property, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they respect you. You can tell if your dog respects you by how they interact with you.

Happy tail wagging, ears laid back and submissive body language when you return home is one sign your dog respects you. Lip licking, grooming you and even a kiss on the cheek are signs that they recognize you as their leader and respect you.

In the dog world, the leader always goes first. A dog who races to the door ahead of his owner is showing disrespect, and doesn’t see the human as the alpha of his pack. When your dog respects you, he stays calmly behind you and waits for you to walk through the doorway first. Whether you are going outside for a walk, up or down steps or someone has knocked on the door, a respectful dog will never push ahead of his owner.

Read More »