Monthly Archives: April 2010

How Dogs Make a Difference in Our Lives

By Linda Cole

I’ve had the honor of sharing my home with multiple dogs over the years. Some were ones I picked out, but most had been abandoned. I’ve never regretted adopting dogs or cats who needed a home. Every now and then, one will touch your heart more than others. Two dogs who found their way to us were special souls that made a difference in our lives.

Rosie had been found with her brother dumped in a ditch in early January. Around here, that’s a death sentence for 8 week old puppies trying to survive with no shelter or food. I remember the afternoon I picked Rosie up from the people who had found her. She was smaller than my cats. Pushing her nose inside my jacket, she cuddled against me as I wrapped her inside my coat. She shivered as we walked out into the cold air. As I climbed into the car, she crawled over and snuggled against my leg laying her head on my lap. She didn’t make a sound or move from her spot as I drove home.

The little red pup quickly grew, and grew, and grew. In fact, I was beginning to think we had adopted a small horse instead of a dog! Rosie didn’t waste any time settling into her new home. She rarely barked, preferring the more melodic tone of a howl, and she expressed her opinion loud and clear. She always had the last word to say about everything on any subject, especially when she didn’t want to do something or move out of the chair she’d claimed.

She was as gentle as they come. We were finally able to reassure her when we left the house to go to work, that we would be back. I always wondered if she remembered being abandoned in that freezing ditch. Rosie never liked winters and shivered through the cold months.

About a year after we adopted Rosie, a friend of ours had been visiting a friend and her boyfriend. She watched as the guy yelled at, kicked and hit their dog before throwing it against the wall in a fit of rage. My friend angrily told them they didn’t deserve to have a dog. Having no collar, she wrapped her shoelace around the dog’s neck and left. No pets were allowed in her apartment and after telling us her story, we agreed to take the dog. She was around 9 months old with no name.

It didn’t take us long to discover how loving and special she was, so we named her Angel. She was a beautiful black Border Collie mix with the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen. Angel loved herding my cats and she was good at it. The cats, however, weren’t too fond of it. She loved playing catch with a ball or Frisbee and her favorite thing to do was head out to a nearby lake and retrieve tennis balls thrown into the water. Eager eyes waited for me to throw the ball and she’d watch it soar, timing her splash into the water at the same time the ball hit. She’d grab the ball, race back to drop it in my hand and then streak back to the lake as the ball sailed through the air. I loved taking her to the lake because I knew how much she enjoyed it.

Considering how badly Angel had been abused, we were surprised with how gentle she was with us and the other pets. One day when becoming overly excited during a baseball game, I noticed Angel cowering in the corner of the living room trying to make herself as small as she could. She was wide eyed and shaking like a leaf. Tears came to my eyes when I realized my yelling at an umpire had frightened her. I’ll never forget that image because I realized she hadn’t forgotten how loud voices affected her and in her mind she associated yelling with pain.

There’s a special bond that develops with a pet who was abused or abandoned before they came to you. You want to hold them close and make sure nothing bad ever happens to them again. But you can’t do that. The best thing you can do is give them stability by treating them like everyone else. That’s all they ask of us. Dogs or cats don’t worry about the past. They move on and that’s what we have to do in order to help them. Time and love will heal most things, but the actions of cruel people are hard to forget. All living things feel pain and react to violence and negative emotions. I hope to never run across another dog who experienced what Angel did.

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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Does Your Cat Eat Strange Things? It Might Be Pica

By Julia Williams

I have a “foodie” cat that likes corn, beans, peas, pasta, Cheetos, popcorn, scrambled eggs – pretty much any food that doesn’t eat him first. As a responsible pet owner I don’t give him these things, except for a small morsel once in a great while; I’m just saying he would eat them if he could. Although Rocky’s obsession with food is not exactly typical for a feline, it’s far less worrisome than the eating disorder known as pica.

Pica (pronounced “PIE-kuh”) is the voluntary ingestion of non-food items. While more common in cats, pica can occur in dogs and people too, especially children. Cats who have pica will eat things like yarn, tape, plastic bags, wool and other fabrics, electrical cords, plants, kitty litter, shoelaces and paper.

Why do cats eat weird things?

Although the exact cause of why some cats have a penchant for eating non-food items is not fully understood, a genetic component is suspected since the disorder is more commonly found in oriental breeds like Siamese and Burmese. According to Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, pica has also been linked to a variety of diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Other suspected causes of pica include mineral deficiencies, diabetes, brain tumors and other illnesses. If all medical causes have been ruled out, pica may be a manifestation of behavioral or psychological issues such as boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, comfort, compulsive urges, and learned behavior.

Cat pica is sometimes associated with wool-sucking, although the two are not really the same thing. Wool sucking is generally believed to be a compulsive, misdirected form of nursing behavior, caused perhaps by abrupt early weaning of kittens. Additionally, cats who engage in wool sucking usually do not progress to the stage of actually eating the blankets, sweaters, stuffed animals and other “objects of their affection.” You can read more about wool sucking in cats here.

Is pica dangerous for your cat?

Beyond the obvious perils of chewing on power cords, ingesting plants that are poisonous for pets, or consuming potentially toxic non-food items, pica is dangerous because the items could become lodged in their stomach or intestine. This blockage can be fatal since it prevents the passage of food and may cut off blood supply to the organs. If your cat regularly eats non-food items and becomes lethargic, vomits or displays erratic behavior, see your veterinarian immediately.

Treatments for cat pica

Because pica may be a sign of an underlying health problem, any cat who shows an interest in consuming unusual non-food items should be examined by a vet. If no medical issues can be found, treatment may include:

● Keeping the targeted items (blankets, tape, cords, plastic bags etc.) out of your cat’s reach.

● Redirecting their impulse to more appropriate and safer items, such as food-dispensing toys or durable cat toys. For felines who like to snack on plants, you could try growing some catnip or cat grass just for them.

● A copious amount of interactive playtime can help if the cause of your cat’s pica is related to boredom.

● Increasing the fiber in your cat’s diet (but please consult your vet before making any changes to their diet).

● Deterring the chewing by applying hot sauce, Bitter Apple or other aversive substances to the objects they favor.

If your cat eats weird things, it might be pica, or it might not be. It’s crucial to have them examined by their vet to determine if there are any underlying medical issues. This quirky behavior might seem cute, but it’s really not. And since it could be harmful to them, it’s something you will certainly want professional help with, so your kitty can live a long and healthy life.

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.

Therapy Dogs Live a Life of Community Service

By Suzanne Alicie

CANIDAE sponsors several outstanding animals, and are exceptionally proud to be able to include therapy dogs Stitch and Riley as well as their newly certified partner Sophie. Because of the CANIDAE sponsorship and even the attendance of some company employees at events, these dogs are able to spread their love and comfort in an ever growing way including hospital visits, community events and the Make a Wish foundation.

Johne and Jane Johnson volunteered their time at the VA hospitals before they got involved with the therapy dogs. Johne bought Stitch as a puppy for the express purpose of training him to be a therapy dog in order to expand their outreach program with the VA hospitals in the area. Along the way they adopted Riley whose owner claimed that she was a terrible dog who didn’t like men. Riley became a certified part of the team and loves being around people, men included. This just goes to show that the way an owner thinks and feels about a dog does affect the way they behave.

Jane, a marathon runner, found a Maltipoo in a gutter while out training one day. She brought her home ,and now Sophie is the newest certified therapy dog on the team. Sophie is small enough to claim a lap to cuddle in when she visits, and usually does so. The Johnsons have also rescued another dog, a Bluetick hound named Bella who is in the process of training. These wonderful dogs visit VA hospitals as well as children’s hospitals and many community events to spread love and companionship.

Pets in general have a positive effect on people, and therapy dogs are trained to provide the attention and love that the people in the hospitals need. Mr. Johnson tells of many times when visiting the VA hospital there were patients who were despondent and non- responsive to him and the others who visited with him. However, when the dogs began to visit, these same people opened up and began talking about pets they used to have, and really enjoyed their visits with Stitch and Riley. Eventually those same patients began to look forward to his visits, although if he went without the dogs the main thing he heard was “Where are the dogs? Why didn’t you bring the dogs?” This lets him know that his therapy dogs are truly something special, and that they make a big difference to these patients.

The difference between therapy dogs and service dogs is that the service provided by therapy dogs is purely social. Service dogs are trained to stay with a specific person and assist them with different tasks, while therapy dogs are welcome visitors who provide their services to everyone they encounter. Many times veterans need physical therapy to aid with their recovery from illness and injury; this can lead to a boring and repetitive routine. Therapy dogs introduce something a little different and bring some excitement into the day. Lonely or depressed patients have shown remarkable improvement after a visit from Riley and Stitch. The unconditional love and acceptance of a dog can lift the spirits and distract patients from dark thoughts and loneliness.

Imagine being a bored patient who is in pain and all alone. Suddenly these two gorgeous golden labs and their tiny white partner burst onto the scene, three special dogs who love to be petted and played with, who are happy to just be in contact with you. Interaction with the dogs breaks up a dull routine and makes the patient feel so much better.

The training to become a certified therapy dog involves learning several important things. Besides basic obedience, these dogs learn to deal with loud noises, ignore food when it’s dropped or eaten in front of them, how to handle crowds, and the fact that everyone will reach out towards them. The mentality of a good therapy dog is that any attention is welcome, and that love is the name of the game. Little Sophie recently got to take a trip to Disneyland as part of her training to become certified.

Mr. Johnson says that any dog can be trained to be a therapy dog, but some may have learned behaviors that must be worked through first. Dogs that have been abused in any way may shy away from strangers wanting to pet them. The Johnsons now have three certified therapy dogs and only one of them has been trained for his job since he was a puppy. There is a difference, Mr. Johnson says. All three dogs are good at their jobs and love what they do, but Stitch is the one who has been raised with love from the beginning and simply has no understanding of anyone being mean.

Besides being beneficial to the hospitals and the people they visit, therapy dogs like Stitch, Riley and Sophie are also helping to spread the word of the importance and legal allowances for certified service dogs. Mr. Johnson often takes Stitch to dinner with him and his wife; this is not only a training enforcement for the dog but also a learning opportunity for the people who work in restaurants as to when a dog is allowed in, and the purpose of the dog for the person he is with. There have been several instances where Mr. Johnson has been told he can’t bring the dog in. This leads to educating and informing the employees and management as well as other diners about the legality of service dogs and their purpose. By taking on this challenge, Mr. Johnson is making the world more aware and hopefully making it easier for the people who need to take their service dogs everywhere with them.

The Johnsons, their wonderful dogs, and the Masonic lodge they are a part of have received awards for their community service. They plan to continue with breeding and training therapy dogs in order to make life a little better for all of those they encounter.

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.

How to Give Your Dog Medication

By Ruthie Bently

From time to time our dogs have to take medication, whether it is their monthly heartworm pill, a dewormer, or an antibiotic because they are ill. Some dogs are great at taking medication and some are just demons. How do you get your dog used to taking medication when you need to give it to them? One of the determining factors is whether or not it can be taken with food; some medications need to be given without food so they are absorbed into the dog’s system faster. If this is the case, are you giving a pill or a liquid?

If you are giving your dog a pill, find a convenient room to administer it in. I use the kitchen, because this is where my dog gets fed and she associates the room with food and goodies. Get the pill out of the bottle before you call your dog. This way, you are prepared and won’t be trying to fumble with a lid that is hard to open or a dog who may not want to get a pill. Call your dog into the room using an unconcerned, cheerful voice and put your dog on a sit/stay facing you.

Hold the pill between two fingers of one hand; grasp their upper jaw with the other hand using your thumb on one side and the rest of your fingers on the other. Gently squeeze their upper jaw behind their canine teeth while raising their head. With one of the free fingers of your “pill” hand (between their lower canines) pull their lower jaw down and place the pill in the dip of the tongue at the back of their mouth. Hold their mouth closed as you lower their head and begin stroking their lower jaw (front to back) while speaking in a soothing tone.

If you are dispensing a liquid medicine, measure it out in a liquid syringe and slip the syringe behind your dog’s last set of molars and into their mouth near their throat. Again, rubbing your dog’s throat front to back will help them swallow the medication. Whichever medication you are giving, make sure they have actually swallowed it and not spit it out. And be sure to praise your dog and give them a treat; they will remember this and be more willing to take their medicine the next time.

If you have a small dog you can pick them up and set them on a table, since they are less apt to move if they are at a disadvantage. If you have a larger dog that is a wiggler or not as amenable to getting a pill, you can put them on a sit/stay with their back to the corner of the room. This way, you’ll be able to block their exit from the room.

If the medication can be given with food it’s a fairly simple process. If you are giving a pill, pick something your dog loves to eat. I use cream cheese or a piece of cheese, but have also used CANIDAE canned food, peanut butter, liver sausage and hot dogs. The size of the pill determines how much you use to camouflage it with (I use about a quarter of a teaspoon). Wrap the pill in the food and offer it to your dog, making sure not to mask the pill too much or too little. Too much camouflage and your dog may find the pill and spit it out, too little and they’ll be able to taste the pill and spit it out.

Skye is a special needs dog and has been on medication since she was about a year old, both pills and liquid. The liquid medication is very salty and Skye didn’t like taking it, so the breeder would squirt it on a piece of bread and give it to her that way. While it was an efficient way to get the medication into Skye, she would shake her head from side to side after eating the bread to get rid of the taste of the medication. Skye now gets liquid medicine twice a day with her CANIDAE canned food. I put Skye’s food in her dish first, squirt the medicine on top and mix it with the food. I set it down, and Skye makes it disappear.

By using a cheerful, unconcerned voice, praise and treats, anyone can get their pet to take their medicine. To paraphrase Mary Poppins “a spoonful of CANIDAE makes the medicine go down.”

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.

11 Basic Commands Every Dog Needs to Know

By Linda Cole

We teach our children basic commands they need to know in order to stop them from running out in front of a car or putting something dangerous in their mouth. Puppies should also be taught certain commands for the same reason. Whether you adopt a puppy or prefer an older dog because it fits better with your lifestyle, there are certain basic commands every dog should know. Their safety could depend on it.

“Come” means to stop what he’s doing and return to you. It’s an easy command to teach, and important in an emergency, if he should break loose from his leash or pen, or rush out the front door when company arrives. The come command helps you control situations much easier, and allows you to keep your dog out of harm’s way.

“Sit” is another easy command every dog should know. Dogs get excited when they’re getting ready to go outside or go for a walk. Some have a hard time waiting while supper is being prepared and some dogs go bonkers when the doorbell rings. Teaching your dog to sit and wait helps subdue their excitement so you can answer the door, finish their supper or get their leash attached to their collar. The sit command also works well to keep them from jumping up on people.

“Stay” is harder for some dogs to learn, but it’s well worth the time and patience it takes to teach it. Dogs don’t always understand they could be in danger, and using stay can stop them from running in front of a car or grabbing something they shouldn’t have. It gives you time to remove the danger or wait until it’s gone. Staying can be hard for a dog to do when he sees something he wants, especially if it’s a cat or squirrel in the yard across the street; however, it’s an essential command every puppy and dog should know.

“Drop it.” How many times have you tried to wrestle something out of your dog’s mouth? They don’t know that the chicken bone clamped between their teeth is harmful for them. Instead of you prying their mouth open to retrieve whatever they’ve picked up, the drop it command makes life much easier for you. Knowing this command also makes playing fetch more fun when your dog returns the ball to you and drops it at your feet or in your hand so you can give it another toss.

“Leave it” is another good command for dogs to know, because it can give you peace of mind knowing they won’t grab something they shouldn’t have. Dogs can easily swallow whatever they’ve picked up if they think you want to take it away from them. And dogs have been known to swallow needles, safety pins and other small objects before their owners could retrieve the item. The leave it command tells the dog it’s not for him.

“Wait.” This command is sometimes used in conjunction with stay although they are two different commands used for different reasons. A more energetic dog may need to be held in check for a short time. Wait tells him it’s not time to go and he must stay where he is until you let him know he can move.

“Okay” is a command every dog should know because this releases them from any other command you’ve given him. Okay simply means the dog is free to move.

“No” tells your dog he can’t have something, or to stop doing what he’s doing. No should be used to stop unwanted behavior like chewing, jumping up on you or someone else, or biting.

“Heel” helps you control your dog while on a walk and when you are around other people or dogs. Instead of allowing your dog to pull on his leash, heel puts him by your side where you have better control of him should you meet another dog or person while walking.

“Off.” Not everyone enjoys having a dog jump up on them. This command tells them to stay down and not to jump up on you or someone else. It also keeps your dog off the furniture.

“Stand” is a command every dog should know because it makes it easier when you are trying to give him a bath or groom him. Teaching him to stand is also a big help during vet examinations or when you are trying to examine him yourself.

These eleven basic commands can help you keep your canine companion out of danger, and you will have a well mannered dog who understands and follows your wishes. For information on how to teach your dog some of these commands, read Basic Commands for Dogs: Heel and Stand, and Teaching Come and Stay.

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.

CANIDAE Helps Take a Bite Out of Crime

By Julia Williams

The handsome Belgian Malinois pictured here is Baco, a hard-working K9 who helps fight crime in the Southern California city of Pomona. CANIDAE graciously donated Baco to the Pomona Police Department a year ago, to replace a patrol dog who died from cancer. Officer Theo Joseph is Baco’s human partner on the force (also called a handler), and Baco is his third police dog.

I spoke with Officer Joseph recently to get an update on how Baco has been doing this past year. As it turns out, Baco just recently caught his first bad guy. This “K9 rite of passage” is an important test, as it tells the handler much about the dog, what he has learned, and how he’s likely to perform in the future. According to Officer Joseph, Baco handled his first apprehension of a bad guy (two of them, actually) really well, and shows great promise as a police dog.

With his first bite behind him, Baco can now attend a six-week training for narcotic detection. This cross-training is valuable because it will make Baco an even more useful member of the force. If Baco’s sensitive canine nose detects drugs in a vehicle, Officer Joseph has probable cause to search without needing to obtain a warrant.

Although Baco knows many English words, he has been trained to respond only to commands in Dutch. This can be useful to the officer, since it prevents criminals from knowing what commands are being given. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to mistakenly think that a command to apprehend is the dog’s name. Whereupon, instead of calming the menacing dog in front of them by calling his name, the criminal is actually saying “grab me, grab me.” Don’t tell the bad guy this, but no matter what he says it won’t cause the dog to retreat or attack, because K9s are taught to respond only to their handler.

Dog officers develop extremely close bonds with their K9 partners, largely because they are with them 24/7. Their dogs go to work with them every day and spend evenings and weekends at their home. “I spend more time with Baco than I do with my family,” joked Officer Joseph.

On those rare occasions when he works a shift without Baco, Officer Joseph said it feels strange. It’s not just the companionship of a dog that he misses, however. Baco’s mere presence can prevent physical confrontations with criminals and diffuse potentially deadly situations. Officer Joseph described an incident where a stand-off occurred between a suspect and police. The man was willing to fight eight officers, but when he heard the bark of just one police dog, he surrendered immediately. This is a perfect illustration of how tremendously valuable K9s are to law enforcement.

Baco eats premium-quality CANIDAE dog food, of course, alternating between the All Life Stages and Chicken & Rice formulas. Officer Joseph believes that the CANIDAE food helps Baco be a better police dog because it gives him the high level of energy he needs, doesn’t cause digestion issues, and satisfies his ravenous appetite.

Although Baco takes his police work seriously, Officer Joseph said he’s also a laidback, low-key canine. This is in stark contrast to the officer’s last K9 partner, another Belgian Malinois named Zorro described as a “Type A” personality. Zorro is retired from the force and lives at home with the family along with Baco and a third dog, a Husky. When he’s not fighting crime, Baco enjoys playing tug-of-war and keep-away with his favorite toy, a plastic bone. He likes country music, and snores while sleeping.

Talking with Officer Joseph brought back fond memories of my college days as a Journalism student. I was assigned to the “police beat” and went on many Citizen Ride-Alongs, including two with K9 units. All of my rides were interesting and educational, but the K9s provided the most fodder for A+ tales. Officer Kaiser and his German Shepherd Samson, were quite the pair. I’d been forewarned by other officers that “the dog stinks to high heaven,” and “Kaiser is the only guy on the force with a dog smarter than he is.” I’ll not divulge whether they were right, but my four-hour ride with this duo was definitely unforgettable.

Samson spent the entire time breathing down my neck from the back seat of the patrol car. When a call came over the radio about a fight at a liquor store, Officer Kaiser spun the car around and accelerated (largely to impress me, I’m sure), and Samson went wild, barking and pacing like mad. The “fight” turned out to be a mild scrap between three macho dudes and a hippie with a dead squirrel in the basket of his moped. (I swear I’m not making that up!). While Officer Kaiser spoke to the men, Samson leaned out the window and kept a keen eye on them. Later, we headed to Samson’s favorite “potty spot.” When Officer Kaiser told Samson to “Take a break!” he flew out the car window, did his business and jumped back in.

Although my memorable Citizen Ride-Alongs occurred many years ago, Officer Joseph said most cities still do them today, but that he and Baco have only done two of them in their first year together. I’m quite certain they weren’t nearly as entertaining as my rides with Officer Kaiser and Samson. Nevertheless, Baco is an exemplary K9, and CANIDAE is proud to sponsor him.

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.