Monthly Archives: May 2010

Grass, Weeds and Plants Pets Should Not Eat


By Linda Cole

Cats and dogs who wander outside during the warmer months will always find something to nibble on. Some may chew on a weed or piece of grass because it tastes good. It doesn’t harm them to eat certain plants, but some vegetation is harmful and as responsible pet owners, we need to be aware of what grows in our yards and gardens.

Pets don’t know which plants they should leave alone while on their daily patrol around their home. Eating poisonous plants is the number two toxin for cats, and ranks in the top five for dogs. Outside plants that are toxic can cause severe reactions, but for the most part, pets end up with irritations in their gastrointestinal tract or inside their mouth. If a pet eats a toxic plant, they usually get rid of most of the toxins from their system by vomiting.

Grass is perfectly fine if your pet eats some, provided it has not been chemically treated. Some dogs seem to actually crave some greenery now and then. Vets don’t really know if dogs eat the grass because they like the taste of it or if there’s something in it that’s good for them. Some think it’s a dog’s way of getting rid of an upset stomach. Whatever the reason may be, you want to avoid grass that’s been treated with toxic chemicals. If your cat or dog has access to your entire yard, be careful when putting anything on your lawn. Weed killers should also be used with your pet’s safety in mind. Make sure to keep cats or dogs off any lawn that’s been treated regardless of whether they eat grass or not. Pets who wander around a treated lawn can still pick up chemicals on their paws which can be ingested when they clean themselves.

There are more than 700 poisonous or toxic outside plants that pets need to stay away from. Most gardeners and flower lovers have heard of at least some of the plants or weeds, but those who don’t work in the garden may not be aware of what these plants are, let alone spot one on sight. However, it’s important to learn what grows in your yard, neighborhood and garden to help keep your pets safe.

Some wild growing plants, shrubs, grasses and weeds to watch out for are: Velvet Grass, Sorghum, Nightshade, Pokeweed, Smart Weeds, Baneberry, Holly, Bloodroot, Buttercup, Chockcherries, Corn Cockle, Cowbane, Cow Cockle, Jimsonweed, Mayapple, Day Lily, Morning Glory, Monkshood, Poison Hemlock and Skunk Cabbage.

Garden plants your pet shouldn’t chew on include potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb and onions. Some garden flowers and outside plants that are toxic to pets are Crocus, Day Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Daffodils, Narcissus, Clematis, Foxglove, Morning Glory and Lily of the Valley.

If your pet does eat a toxic plant, it’s important to know what part of the plant they ate and how much they ate. On some plants, not all parts are poisonous whereas others include the entire plant. Some outside plants have toxic roots or seeds and others may have toxic leaves or stems. And some plants are more toxic than others with varying degrees of symptoms and reactions by a pet.

Symptoms to watch out for include sudden vomiting, diarrhea, heavy panting or breathing, acting like they are depressed and have no energy. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have. If you know what they ate, take some of the plant, grass or shrub with you when you go to the vet. If you don’t know what it is, the vet may know, but either way it can help determine exactly what the toxin is so the vet can properly treat your pet.

Pets can’t avoid outside plants, and their curious nature can get them into trouble. It’s hard to monitor outside cats while they check out their territory, so one simple precaution would be to walk around your cat’s territory to get an idea of what kind of outside plants he could run across. That way you have an idea of what he might have eaten if he comes home with an upset tummy or is showing signs of ingesting something toxic. There are other poisons besides plants a wandering cat can find, so if you notice any signs of possible poisoning, take your pet to the vet to be on the safe side.

For more information on toxic outside plants, please check out this site. This is by no means a complete list of all 700 toxic plants, but it is a good place to start. If you have questions about a plant, talk with your vet.

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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Summer Safety for Dogs


By Suzanne Alicie

Just like humans, dogs enjoy the summertime. Warm balmy days, playing outdoors, going on vacation – what’s not to love? However, there are certain summertime safety measures that responsible pet owners should take. There are several different aspects of the season that can cause problems for your dog. We all want our dogs to enjoy the great outdoors in the summertime, but it is always wise to take some precautions against these potential dangers.

Heat

If your dog is spending time outdoors, it is important that he has a cool shaded area with plenty of fresh water to drink. Even a few hours outside without any shelter or water can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke and general overheating. While dogs love to be outside and enjoy the warm weather, as dog owners we have to remember to take care and not expose them to too much of the heat.

Fleas and Ticks

While these are year round problems in some areas, during the summer it is extremely dangerous for dogs to be unprotected. There are several ways to protect your dog from fleas and ticks in the summertime. Whether you use a topical treatment, pills, collars, powders, or natural methods, treat your dog and his bedding to help prevent flea and tick infestations. Also, check your dog regularly after he spends time outdoors, to remove pesky ticks before they get attached. As a dog moves around outside, even if he is treated, more than likely you will still find a tick or two occasionally. For more information on how to fight these nasty pests, read Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats, by Linda Cole.

Diseases

Your dog may be more active outdoors in warm weather, which could lead to exploring new areas, and traveling with you. This can expose your dogs to the dangerous Parvovirus and other infectious diseases. Make sure your dog has had all of his inoculations, and try to keep a sharp eye on what he may eat, sniff or roll in as he checks out the summertime world around him.

Grooming Problems

As the weather heats up, many dogs will shed their winter coats. This means that you will have to spend a little extra time brushing and grooming your dog. Another cause of extra grooming is that dogs love to run and roll, which leaves them with grass, burrs and other hitchhikers attached to their coat. Dogs’ nails tend to get naturally worn when they spend time outdoors, but it is important to check your dogs’ paws for pad tears, broken nails and other problems that may cause them pain. It’s always a good idea to have a doggie first aid kit on hand to treat these little problems and keep your dog running smoothly on all four padded paws.

Getting outdoors in the summertime is a lot of fun for both you and your pet. Taking a few precautions and extra steps to prepare your dog for the season can help insure that summer remains a pleasure and not a cause of distress for you or your dog.

Photo courtesy of Tero Miettinen.

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.

Medical and Behavioral Causes for Canine Aggression


By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever been growled at or bitten by a dog that as a rule is a calm, even-tempered animal? I have, and it was because I made a mistake. I had given my dog a bone and he kept trying to take it into the bedroom to chew it in his favorite place: my bed. I kept taking the bone into the kitchen and placing it on his rug where he was allowed to chew it. That just didn’t suit him.

I got bit when I approached him from behind and reached around him to take the bone away. The proper way to remedy the situation would have been to put him on a sit/stay, pick up his bone while facing him and crate him with his bone, so he could enjoy it in peace and my quilt wouldn’t get dirty. In his defense it was the first beef bone he’d ever been given and he was two years old. He had no idea who was behind him; he didn’t have eyes in the back of his head and was protecting his property. This aggression was caused by a behavior I was able to correct with patience, understanding, love and CANIDAE Snap Biscuit treats.

Behavioral causes for canine aggression can include protection of their persons, perceived property or other four-legged companions. Some dogs will show this aggression when being walked by their owners. They are walking happily down the sidewalk when all of a sudden there is a barking, snarling mass of fur at the end of a leash. If you are walking with or without your dog in the other direction, I suggest crossing the street before continuing on your walk.

A dog does not necessarily see property lines in the same manner that humans do. It doesn’t matter if they are behind or in front of a fence – in some dogs’ minds the property ends with their line of sight. If you have ever parked in a parking lot and been accosted by a dog in the car next to you showing teeth and/or growling, it may be because the dog sees you as a threat to the car they are in. They don’t know that you could care less; they were left there by the alpha family member and are doing their job.

Fear can cause aggression. A dog may be afraid of thunder, fireworks or other loud noises. They may be fearful of noises made during the normal running of appliances that they may not be used to (i.e., the dishwasher, clothes washer or dryer). A dog may be afraid of another dog, and may show aggression to make himself look more threatening to a dog that is approaching them with body language they don’t like.

Dominance can also cause aggression. Dogs may fight over territory, a female they both covet, food or even a family member. Jealousy can also cause dominance aggression. I had a client with a male Akita, and she began dating several years after she became a widow. The Akita did not like the new man in her life and made his feelings known. By involving her new beau in the dog’s day-to-day schedule which included feeding, walking and training, the problem was resolved and they became a happy family.

Canine aggression can also be caused by medical problems. One report mentioned over fifty different medical reasons for canine aggression. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common and occurs when there is too little thyroid in a dog’s system. Your vet can perform a test for hypothyroidism and may prescribe thyroid medication to remedy the situation. Hypothyroidism currently affects more than fifty dog breeds. Hypoglycemia, which is low blood sugar, is another cause and may or may not be linked to canine diabetes.

A trauma caused by a blow to a dog’s head or a brain tumor, which can cause swelling, bleeding or injury to the brain, can result in canine aggression. Dogs can contract either viral or bacterial encephalitis. Rabies and distemper are both forms of viral encephalitis. Some studies show that dogs can contract distemper from a distemper vaccination. The lack of serotonin in a dog’s brain can cause them to become aggressive, as it is the neurochemical control for aggression. Epilepsy, which has many causes, has also been noted as a form of canine aggression. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome associated with aging canine seniors can also cause canine aggression.

Canine aggression can be due to either a behavioral or medical cause. If you have a regularly well-behaved dog that begins behaving oddly for no apparent reason, it is time to visit the vet for a checkup.

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.

Singapura: the Smallest Cat has a Big Personality


By Julia Williams

We recently profiled the largest domestic cat breed, the beautiful Maine Coon, so I thought it only fair to profile the smallest cat breed too. If you prefer itty bitty kitties over super-sized ones like the Maine Coon, the petite Singapura might be the perfect cat breed for you. The Singapura is the smallest of all the recognized domestic cat breeds. Females average 5 to 6 pounds, while males typically tip the scales at around 6 to 8 pounds.

Singapura is the Malaysian word for Singapore, which means “Lion City.” The plucky feral felines that became the foundation of the Singapura breed were sometimes called “drain cats,” because they often took refuge in the storm drains of Singapore.

Appearance of the Singapura Cat

The Singapura is a shorthaired cat with an angelic round face and noticeably large eyes in hazel, green or yellow. Singapura cats are only found in one coat color, a warm beige ticked with sepia brown. (Ticking refers to bands of color on the tips of the hair). Their silky coat requires minimal grooming; some say it resembles that of a cougar. The Singapura’s muzzle, chest, stomach and inner legs are an unticked, light ivory color.

Although they do have a petite frame, Singapura cats are not delicate creatures by any means. They are muscular cats with good bone structure and a moderately stocky build, yet even so, they have an irrefutable air of elegance about them. The Singapura is slow to develop, and may not reach full size until about 15 to 24 months of age. Because the Singapura is small compared to most felines, veterinarians unfamiliar with the breed might wonder if something is wrong with the cat or kitten.

Personality of the Singapura Cat

They may be small in stature, but the Singapura cat has a larger-than-life personality. It’s as if they are saying, “I may be little, but I am a force to be reckoned with.” If you like extroverted cats who have “purrsonality plus,” then the Singapura is a good choice. They are lively, curious, mischievous and intelligent cats that genuinely seem to enjoy the company of their human companions. Agile and active, Singapura cats love high places and are known to be climbers.

Singapura cats remain extremely playful well into adulthood, and some say they never truly abandon this endearing trait. These felines insist on being in the middle of everything, a trait that has earned them the label of “pesky people cat.” Rita Kay Bee, a breeder of Singapuras, describes their attitude as: “The world is my oyster. Get out of my way – I’m going for the pearl and you can’t stop me.”

History of the Singapura Cat

Though there is some controversy over the origins of the Singapura, it’s generally believed the gene pool that created this rare breed came from Singapore, a result of mating between the Burmese and the Abyssinian. The breed was brought to the U.S. in the early 1970s, and today is found worldwide and recognized by most registration associations. Singapuras were accepted for CFA registration in 1982 and for championship competition in 1988.

There are relatively few breeders and exhibitors working with the Singapura cat, so the breed is still somewhat rare and hard to find. However, Singapuras have enjoyed considerable success in the show ring for such a young breed. In 1991, Singapore tourism officials erected statues of the Singapura along the river and featured the cat in various types of promotional material.

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.

Why Do Dogs Drool?


By Linda Cole

Anyone who has seen the movie “Beethoven” will remember the scene where the dog is sitting in the middle of his owner’s bed with a long string of drool hanging from his mouth. As he shakes his head, drool flies everywhere. It was funny in the movie and some dogs drool naturally, but excessive drooling can indicate a more serious problem.

I had a dog who would get a drink of water, walk over to sit beside me and then slobber excess water down my leg. It wasn’t so bad during the winter months with a pair of jeans on, but in the summer when I wore shorts, it really gave me a start when I wasn’t expecting it. She was a breed of dog that drooled naturally and, like in the movie Beethoven, anytime she shook her head, we’d run for cover. That dog would send drool flying everywhere! The cats weren’t even spared from a flying string of dog drool and ran away from her just as fast as we did. I learned to leave towels in easy to find places throughout the house – just in case.

Some breeds have lips that are heavier than others. Bloodhounds, Mastiffs, Boxers and Saint Bernards, along with other breeds, are known for their drooling. These types of dogs drool because the loose skin around their jaw catches saliva where it collects and fills up until there’s no room for more. Slobbering and drooling is just part of who they are, but even for them, excess drooling can indicate there’s something wrong. Excessive drooling can cause a dog to become dehydrated.

Breeds who normally don’t drool may have times when they become over stimulated, which can cause excess saliva to build up. It’s nothing to worry about unless the dog suddenly begins to drool with no clear reason. A medical problem may be why.

Dogs drool when they have something caught in their mouth, on their tongue, in their throat or between their teeth. Our canine friends use their mouths to help them determine what things are, and an inquisitive dog can pick up small objects that can become stuck somewhere in their mouth. A bad tooth or gum disease will also cause your dog to slobber. One sure sign of dental or gum problems is a dog with extremely bad breath. A bone that splintered or became caught in the dog’s throat or a splinter from chewing on wood can get stuck on the roof of their mouth, under the tongue or caught between their teeth. If you see your dog pawing at his mouth and drooling, something is bothering him.

Digestive problems will cause dogs to drool. Bloat is a dangerous condition that needs to be taken care of immediately. A hard stomach, foaming at the mouth along with drool and attempts to vomit are symptoms of bloat. For more information on bloat, read What is Bloat? What Are the Symptoms?

Heat stroke, epilepsy and other medical conditions are more reasons why dogs drool. Nausea from riding in a car or an upset stomach from eating something that didn’t agree with him will cause a dog to drool. Overeating, eating too much spicy food or mixing different kinds of food together can cause a stomach ache in some dogs.

A reaction to flea control products, bee stings, poison and allergic reactions to food or medications will produce excess saliva. Pain-induced drooling from conditions like urinary tract infections and ear infections, liver disease and tumors in their mouth are a few reasons why your dog could be suddenly drooling. A dog who picks up stinging insects and spiders will sometimes bite them on the tongue or side of the mouth causing them to drool.

Toads, snails and slugs will cause a dog to drool if they grab one. Every summer during the evening hours we comb through the grass in my dog’s pen trying to find toads and slugs before my dogs do. Most toads aren’t poisonous to dogs, but they have enough toxin to make them drool if a dog picks one up or tries to bite it. In some parts of the country, there are a few toads that are deadly to dogs and cats.

Some dogs drool naturally, and from experience I know that even with them, you know when they have excessive drooling. Any time a dog drools more than usual or suddenly begins, it’s an indication something is wrong. Never put off seeing your vet, because your dog’s life could depend on your fast action. When caught early, most medical conditions can be taken care of and some of them are nothing to mess around with.

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.

Laser Therapy: What it is and How it Works


By Ruthie Bently

My beloved dog Skye had a bad accident in December and severed two ligaments in her left leg. I found out the vet used laser therapy in her rehabilitation, and as a responsible pet owner, I wanted to learn more about it.

I know lasers have been around for many years and that the word itself is an acronym (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). The term laser was coined by Gordon Gould (a Columbia University grad student) in a paper published at a conference in 1959, and applies to a very powerful form of visible light energy in a single wavelength. I remember watching several movies where the hero was going to be cut or injured by a laser, and a Johnny Quest cartoon in the 1960s where the villains used lasers to blow up ships. So what is my vet doing using a laser on my dog?

I needn’t have worried. While lasers can be used in surgery to cut through tissue and cauterize it, laser therapy is not surgery and does not use a cutting laser. Laser therapy has been used on pets for over twenty-five years, and has gained credence as an alternative therapy. Its use as a healing therapy has been documented in over 3,000 publications. As the term laser cannot be used in any treatment other than a superficial one, another acronym was used: LEPT. This stands for Low Energy Photon Therapy, and the machine is called a “cold LASER.” The colors used most often are red (at 610 to 810 nanometers) and infrared (at 800 nanometers or higher wavelength). The color used depends on the energy needed to stimulate a specific healing process in the body.

Pulsed and continuous are the two kinds of laser therapy used by veterinarians. You should speak with your veterinarian to determine your best course of action in using laser therapy. They will be the ones best qualified to advise you on which method should be used, depending on your dog’s situation.

Continuous laser therapy is used when inflammation is present. It is used to stimulate blood vessels to increase blood circulation and heat to the area affected by the inflammation, as well as dispersing fluid buildup to the area. This method also helps to reduce any pain associated with the inflamed area and is used to help heal surgical incisions, chronic ear problems, surface injuries or wounds.

Pulsed laser therapy is used when immediate pain relief is needed. It interferes with the transmission of pain impulses to the brain and is used in pain management. It works well for long-backed dogs like Basset Hounds or Dachshunds that are prone to back pain, though it can help any dog with back pain. It is also used for overexertion during sports competitions or regular exercise, as well as arthritis.

Other health issues laser therapy is used to treat are traumas to the body due to a wound or injury to bone or muscle. Effects of surgery from the removal of a growth or a broken bone can be sped up by laser therapy. Inflammatory conditions that can be helped are gingivitis, granulomas caused by excessive licking, ear problems (either acute or chronic), inflammation of the anal glands and idiopathic cystitis (an inflammation of the bladder). Neurological conditions, nasal problems, and dermatological issues have also be cited to have been helped. Laser therapy can be used to stimulate acupuncture points for pets unable to tolerate the acupuncture needles.

A word of caution: while laser units are available for purchase by the general public, there is a danger of applying the therapy at the wrong frequency. This can cause disruptive rather than healing benefits. Protective glasses should be used, as there is a danger of eye damage to the patient, veterinarian or handler. This can happen either through reflection or directly by the beam, especially with the infrared wavelengths. Laser therapy should only be administered by a veterinarian or by someone you have been referred to by your veterinarian. While you can treat your own animal, if you treat someone else’s animal you could be cited for practicing veterinary medicine without a license. If you are considering purchasing one of these units, I strongly recommend asking your vet to teach you how to properly use it.

The benefits of laser therapy are that it can be used to treat many kinds of injuries, without drugs, pain or surgery. It stimulates the body to heal itself by using non-thermal photons administered to the body to be absorbed by the injured cells. The injured cells are stimulated and the rate of metabolism is increased. This in turn increases circulation which reduces inflammation, relieves pain and accelerates the body’s natural healing process.

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.