Monthly Archives: May 2010

Keep Your Dog Safe In and Around Water


By Suzanne Alicie

When you think of water safety for a dog, more than likely the cute image of a doggie with a life jacket sitting on a boat pops into your head. While this is a safety measure for dogs when boating or swimming, it is only one of the things that a responsible pet owner must consider to keep their dog safe in and around water.

So, Fido is wearing his life jacket as he rides on the boat for your big fishing trip, but there are other dangers that lurk in that idyllic activity. Fish hooks, bait, and other fishing paraphernalia can be quite dangerous to your canine friend. Make sure to keep these harmful items away from your dog while he’s on the boat with you.

The life jacket is a smart decision whether boat riding or just hanging out around the pool, at the beach or the lake. No matter how well your dog swims, currents, tides, and even his energy level can lead to drowning. Any time your dog is going to be around a body of water, it is advised that you have a canine approved life jacket on them.

Swimming pools present other dangers besides drowning. There are chemicals in pool water to keep it clean and good for swimming, but if your dog drinks the chlorine and other chemicals he can become very sick and even die. The same can be said for the ocean, ponds and creeks; while not treated with chemicals, these bodies of water can be contaminated with parasites and bacteria. Always make sure your dog has fresh drinking water nearby. It is always smart to rinse your dog off and even douse him with vinegar after swimming to kill bacteria, and to remove harmful agents that he may ingest while grooming. Vinegar is also effective at removing that “wet dog” smell.

Frolicking on the beach and running through the surf may be your dog’s idea of a perfect day. He may love the warm sand, cool water and playtime, but there are dangers to be found here as well. Sea lice and jellyfish can ruin your dog’s day and cost you a pretty penny at the vet. If your dog drinks too much salt water while playing in the surf, he could become sick. Again, it is important that your dog wears a life jacket when dealing with waves and undertow at the beach. A strong wave or a quick undercurrent can sweep your dog away right before your eyes; a life jacket will help him keep his nose above water until he can find the shore and you again.

Most dogs can swim, or can be taught to swim. Do not, however, throw your dog into the water and assume that he will be able to swim. He may be surprised and swallow water, choke and drown before you can get to him. Lead your dog into the water in a safe area and let him swim on his own. Once he is used to the water and enjoys swimming he may jump in eagerly. Swimming is excellent exercise for dogs and also provides them with relief from the summer heat. However, just as with children pet owners should pay close attention to their dog when in and around water. Make sure that summer fun doesn’t lead to tragedy by following all safety precautions for your four legged friend.

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.

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Dog Breed Profile: Bull Terrier


By Ruthie Bently

My heart is stuck on the American Staffordshire Terrier, but if I ever had to pick another breed the Bull Terrier would be right up there. I have a friend who has both a Bull Terrier and a Miniature Bull Terrier, though the Bull Terrier is more of the size I prefer. As their name implies, they are a member of the Terrier group and like most terriers they need a strong alpha owner.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes two colors in the Bull Terrier: white and colored. Colored means any color other than white; brindle is preferred and a predomination of white is a disqualification. Either color is disqualified if they have blue eyes. There is no specific size requirement for the Bull Terrier, though adults usually range between 21 to 22 inches at the withers and weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. The AKC describes the Bull Terrier as a dog that “must be strongly built, muscular, symmetrical and active, with a keen, determined and intelligent expression, full of fire but of sweet disposition and amenable to discipline.” The Bull Terrier has a life expectancy between ten and twelve years.

The English sportsmen of the early 1800s prized the bulldog /terrier crosses known as Bull-and-Terriers, and they were very popular. They appreciated the agility, intensity and the courage that the Bull-and-Terriers exhibited, though there were discrepancies in the dogs produced as some kept the characteristics and size of either the terrier or the bulldog. There was not yet a standardization of one dog breed.

An English dog dealer, James Hinks, is credited with the development of the first Bull Terriers. As formal dog shows were introduced and the demand for show and pet dogs grew, Mr. Hinks developed the Bull Terrier we know today. He crossed his white Bulldog ‘Madman’ and the extinct White English Terrier with the Bull-and-Terriers of the day. These dogs were known as White Cavaliers due to their snow white coats. The dogs Hinks bred were more uniform for their size and body type. Their popularity spread across the Atlantic, and the Bull Terrier Club of America was established in 1897. The colored Bull Terrier came into being after several breeders crossed colored Staffordshire Bull Terriers with their White Cavaliers. The white Bull Terrier was recognized by the AKC in 1885 and the colored Bull Terrier was recognized as an individual variety of Bull Terrier in 1936.

The Bull Terrier is a muscular, sturdily built dog. It is a plucky, fearless, active and loyal little dog that loves its owner and family to distraction. They love children but need to be taught to be careful around small children, as they can become overexcited and may knock them over in their exuberance. Bull Terriers are playful and fun loving; some can be mischievous and most have a sweet disposition.

If left home alone too long they will pine for their owner and can be destructive if not given an outlet for their energy. The Bull Terrier needs daily exercise, and either a long walk or playing ball in the yard will work well. They take well to both agility and obedience. They need to be active and this will keep them mentally as well as physically occupied. Bull Terriers are not known as barkers, so if they begin barking it is a good idea to pay attention because they are trying to tell you something.

As with most terriers this is not a dog for everyone, and I strongly suggest obedience training for a well-behaved dog. I would compare Bull Terriers to a perpetual child in the “terrible twos” stage of life. Not that they are terrible by any means, but you have to keep one step ahead of them.

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.

How to Keep the Peace in a Multi-Cat Household


By Julia Williams

I have been a multi-cat household for most of my adult life. Though some of my cats have not been the “best of friends,” most of the time they peacefully co-exist. There have been times, though, when I returned home to find what seemed like half a cat’s worth of fur on the carpet – telltale remnants of a feline quarrel. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but no matter how well two cats may seem to get along, I think there will always be minor squabbles now and then. Cats are relatively solitary creatures by nature, and turf tiffs may be an unavoidable occurrence in multiple-cat homes.

Cats who usually get along may sometimes clash out of jealousy. This happens in my household when I pay too much attention to my female cat who is, admittedly, my favorite. It seems like every time I finish brushing Belle, one or both of my two male cats will chase her until she cowers under the table, hissing and growling. I’ve no doubt that if she didn’t run and hide, this altercation would turn into a fight. I used to scold the male cats, but this only made them angry and more aggressive towards Belle. My solution is to either give the two male cats attention first, or brush Belle when they are sleeping soundly in the other room. This usually works, but if they do happen to become aggressive towards her, I simply clap my hands or give a loud, high-pitched “Hey!” or “No!” Another good way to break up a minor cat spat is with a squirt of water. It startles them but doesn’t hurt them, and their hatred of H2O trumps their desire to fight.

Cat fights are usually about dominance and asserting “top cat” status as well as defending their perceived territory. There may also be an “alpha cat” issue in a multi-cat household. Although most people think of dogs and wolves when they hear the term “alpha,” there are alpha cats too. This is readily apparent in feral colonies, where alpha cats are seen being very aggressive to the other cats, which enables them to get more food. Alpha cats are very headstrong and always want their own way. They may bite and scratch their owner or other animals as a way to control them, so that they get what they want.

Proper introductions can go a long way toward creating a peaceful multi-cat household. Don’t bring a new cat home and simply plop them together and say, “Meet your new friend!” This will never turn out well. The cats need to have separate living, eating and sleeping quarters until they become adjusted to this new change in their routine. Some say it need only be a few days, while others maintain it should be at least a week to ten days. It may also help to swap their bedding and toys so they can become accustomed to the other’s scent. The last step before putting them together (supervised of course), is to switch areas, i.e. let the newcomer explore the house for a few hours while confining your other cat(s) to the new cat’s room.

I recently read about another method of “encouraging” cats to get along. I hesitate to mention it since I’ve not tried it myself, but I find the idea intriguing, if a bit odd. Supposedly, if you smear both cats with the juice from a can of tuna and put them together in a room, they’ll engage in a mutual lick-fest which results in good feelings that carry over to their daily lives. Knowing how much cats love that stinky tuna juice, it might be worth a try, but only with cats who are not overly aggressive towards each other. Regardless, you should stay in the room with them to carefully monitor their behavior.

Other suggestions for keeping the peace in a multi-cat household include:

• Neuter male cats to help curb aggressive tendencies.
• Separate their resources by keeping each cat’s food bowls, bed and litter box in a different room.
• Provide cat trees and perches for them in different rooms so they can have some space when they want it.
• Reward your cats with praise or treats when they interact in a friendly manner.
• Pheromones and homeopathic remedies may reduce the stress levels of two cats who aren’t getting along.
• Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist to evaluate the problem. You can find a list here.
• Read Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat, by Pam Johnson-Bennett. I just ordered this book because it sounds great and has gotten really good reviews. The book purports to show “how to plan, set up, and maintain a home environment that will help multiple cats—and their owners—live in peace.” The book also covers how to diffuse tension, prevent squabbles and ambushes, and blend two families. It sounds like a terrific resource that every responsible pet owner with cats should read.

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 Makes a Dog’s Nose Change Color?


By Linda Cole

I had a female Siberian Husky, Cheyenne, whose black nose would change color in the winter. It would go from black to a pinkish color and then back to black when the weather warmed up. I believed she was healthy, but checked with my vet just to be on the safe side. A sudden change in color can be a warning sign something is wrong, but it can also be nothing more than your dog getting older. Why does a dog’s nose change color?

“Snow nose” or “winter nose” is the most common reason why a dog’s nose will change color. It will fade from black to brown or pink during the winter months. Cheyenne’s nose began to change color every winter once she reached her middle years. By the time she was a senior citizen, the color in her nose pretty much stayed in-between a brownish to pinkish color year round.

Siberian Huskies, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labs and Bernese Mountain dogs are the breeds where snow nose is most common. When a dog’s nose changes color during the winter it’s because the enzyme tyrosinase, which is responsible for producing pigmentation in the nose, is thought to be more sensitive to cold. It could also be a result of less sunlight during the winter months. Why the enzyme is less active during the winter is not completely understood. However, it’s nothing to be alarmed about and when spring rolls around, the dog’s nose will return to its normal color. However, if your dog’s nose changes to white, it’s not snow nose.

A skin condition called vitiligo is an immune disease that will cause a dog’s nose to change color. The cells that produce color on the dog’s nose and hair color on their body lose their ability to create pigmentation. A sign your dog has vitiligo will be white patches on his body. A simple biopsy can determine if your dog has this disease. Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dachsunds, Poodles, Irish Setters, Afghan Hounds, Samoyeds, Pointers and Dobermans are more likely to suffer from vitiligo than other breeds. Vitiligo isn’t a health concern for the dog and if they have it, nutritional supplements may help restore their coloring.

Some dog’s can lose coloring in their nose if they’ve been sick or experienced some kind of trauma. The color should return once they’ve recovered. A scraped nose or one that suffered abrasions will turn pink until the scabs fall off. Some dogs have a sensitivity to plastic containers. With constant irritation from eating and drinking out of plastic bowls, their nose will turn pink and the lips will become inflamed. If your dog’s nose turns color and you’re using plastic bowls, change to stainless steel bowls.

Your dog could have what’s called a Dudley Nose where his nose changes color for no apparent reason. A puppy’s black nose may change to a brown color as he gets older and sometimes the pigmentation will fade to pink or white. If your vet rules out snow nose, vitiligo or other more serious conditions like cancer, your dog’s loss of color is nothing more than a Dudley Nose.

Lupus Erythematosus is a condition that will cause a dog’s nose to lose color. They will also have scaly skin and inflammation around the face with lesions along the ears. Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, German Shepherds and crossbreed dogs are most at risk to develop this condition. As a responsible pet owner, you should ask your vet for advice on how to help your dog if he develops Lupus Erythematosus.

For the most part, if your dog’s nose changes color, it’s nothing to worry about and it may be part of the aging process. The enzyme producing pigmentation doesn’t produce as much color as the dog ages. But it’s always best to be safe when it comes to the health of your dog and see your veterinarian to make sure the color loss is nothing serious. The only real problem for a color change in a dog’s nose is if the dog is about to enter the show ring circuit; he will be eliminated for not meeting breed standards.

Special attention should be given to a dog with a pink or white nose because it will sunburn easily. Make sure to apply dog safe sunscreen to his nose when he’s outside and watch for any blistering which is an indication of a severe burn.

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.

What Does a Psychiatric Service Dog Do?


By Ruthie Bently

Dogs help many people, in many different ways. There are dogs that sniff things out, such as bombs and explosives, cancers and drugs. I even heard a story recently about a man training a dog to sniff out emeralds. There are assistance dogs that help people who are deaf or blind, even dogs that assist people with cerebral palsy, who may need help picking things up. One of the newer kinds of service dogs is a psychiatric service dog.

A psychiatric service dog (PSD) is specifically trained to assist an individual or perform tasks for someone who has been disabled by severe mental health issues. This can include but is not limited to someone that suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression or anxiety, Autism, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, eating disorders and Agoraphobia. Anyone who has been diagnosed as mentally disabled is eligible for a PSD.

A psychiatric service dog can assist their person by providing a safe presence that grounds them. They remind their owner to take their medication on time. They have been used to relieve paranoia and manic attacks. They can interrupt the repetitive behaviors of someone with OCD. They can be taught to discern the onset of a hallucination. A PSD for a soldier suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can use their training to interrupt a flashback or dissociative episode, or to alleviate fear and hyper vigilance.

A PSD can be trained to let their owner know when an attack of dissociation, mania or panic is about to occur. For someone suffering from panic attacks they can help their owner during the attack by warming their body and attending to their emotional distress. An agoraphobic can take their PSD outside and experience less stress. For people who may be fearful inside their own home, psychiatric service dogs have been used to turn on the lights and search the rooms for intruders.

Psychiatric service dogs are allowed where most service dogs are allowed. There are several things that a responsible pet owner of a potential PSD should consider. There is no one breed of dog that is better for this service. The dog’s size and exercise level should be considered when looking for a PSD. If the dog is an older dog, they should be well socialized. If you do a lot of traveling by air, size should be considered carefully as it can get expensive the larger dog you choose. As with any dog, this is a long term situation. The person receiving the PSD should be aware that this is for the dog’s lifetime which could be fifteen to twenty years. It should also be remembered that this dog will be a companion 24/7, as they are a service dog and are with their human to help.

A psychiatric service dog can be trained by their potential owner, but it is suggested that a professional trainer be used in private lessons. Before choosing a PSD, a trainer should be consulted to help pick the best dog for the job and situation. A PSD does not have to be certified, but I would recommend it as the owner will have to be able to prove that the dog is a service dog. Three areas of training evidence that the owner should be able to show are basic obedience, disability related task or therapeutic functions, and public access skills.

Jane Miller, author of Healing Companions: Ordinary Dogs and Their Extraordinary Power to Transform Lives, has been working with PSDs for some time now and is the leading authority in the field. She’s had remarkable results in this emerging field. She was even approached by the Veteran’s Administration to speak on the subject of psychiatric service dogs for soldiers returning from combat with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Most of us know the emotional support and unconditional love that our dogs give us, but a psychiatric service dog allows people to gain or regain assertiveness, self confidence and self esteem, as well as nurturing their emotional well being and inspiring confidence.

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 Choose a Dog That’s Right for You


By Julia Williams

Adding a dog to your family can be a wonderful, happy thing for all concerned. But it’s a major decision that should never be made on a whim, because a dog depends on you for life, for everything. Before you get a dog, be absolutely certain that your lifestyle, finances and family can accommodate responsible pet ownership, because anything less would be very unfair to your four-legged friend. The next step is to thoroughly research which breed (or mixed breed) would be best for you and your family. Here are some things to think about:

Puppy or Adult Dog?

Before deciding which breed might be right for you and your family, you’ll want to think about whether you can handle the challenges of getting a puppy, or if your lifestyle is better suited to an adult dog. Puppies require a great deal more training, attention, patience and vet visits, especially for the first year. When you adopt an adult dog, you’ll have a better idea of what their energy level and temperament are. Adult dogs may already be socialized and well trained, but not always. To help you decide what age of dog to get, read Should You Adopt a Puppy or an Adult Dog?

Purebred or “Mutt?”

This age-old question has no right or wrong answer; much depends upon personal preference and why you want to have a dog in the first place. Although purebred dogs have some distinct advantages, there are many good reasons for choosing mixed breeds too. Purebreds offer a predictable size and somewhat predictable temperament. However, there are also dogs who go against “type,” so breed is not a guarantee that the dog you choose will have the traits you seek. Sometimes, people have fond memories of a particular breed from their childhood and want to have this same breed as an adult. There’s nothing wrong with that; just be aware that “same breed” doesn’t mean it will have the same personality. Mixed breed dogs may not have fancy pedigrees, but they make wonderful family pets and loving companions.

Size

This is another important factor to consider when selecting a dog. If you live in a teeny tiny apartment, a giant breed is probably not right for you. Similarly, dogs with very high energy levels are probably best suited to homes with a yard and/or a dog run. Small dogs are more vulnerable to accidents such as being stepped on, and may not like the roughhousing that often accompanies a household with young children. Little dogs can also be more sensitive to cold temperatures, so keeping them warm in winter may require special consideration. Expense is another factor to consider when deciding which size dog to get. Large dogs will obviously eat more food than small dogs, they need larger pet beds to sleep in, and may incur additional veterinary expenses for antibiotics, anesthesia and other medical treatments.

Exercise Requirements

Although every dog needs regular exercise, some breeds require more than others. If you are a couch-potato type whose idea of exercise is reaching for the remote, you still need to commit to taking Fido out for regular walks and playtime at the dog park. This will likely be fine for lower-energy dogs like Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Pugs and Rat Terriers (not a complete list by any means). If you want a jogging partner or an agility competitor, a high-energy breed like the Border Collie might be the right dog for you. Other high-energy dogs that need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation include Australian Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters and Weimaraners. Just remember though, breed is not a guarantee of a specific trait. Breed can provide a general idea of what a dog’s energy level may be, but dogs are individuals and should be regarded as such.

Grooming Needs

All dogs will require basic grooming, but some have special needs based on physical characteristics such as ears or the type of hair coat. For example, dogs with long floppy ears may need frequent ear cleanings to prevent infections. Thick, double coated dogs like Malamutes , Samoyeds and Akitas need frequent brushing and grooming, as do long-haired dogs like Afghan Hounds, Bearded Collies and Cocker Spaniels. Some breeds are known droolers, and these may require more housework and a good supply of “slobber cloths.”

As you can see, there are many things to consider before you succumb to those irresistible puppy dog eyes. Choosing the right dog may not be an easy process, but if you take your time and do your homework, you’ll be rewarded with a canine companion that’s perfectly suited to you and your family.

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.