Monthly Archives: June 2010

Keep Your Pet Safe on the Fourth of July


By Julia Williams

Many Americans love to celebrate Independence Day with backyard barbecues, picnics in the park and noisy fireworks that go POP POP BOOM BANG for hours on end. While these festivities may be great fun for people, they’re not so pleasant for our pets. I don’t have anything against celebrating the 4th of July holiday, really I don’t. But I shudder every time I see those familiar roadside fireworks stands materialize, because I know how scared my poor cats are going to be in the coming days.

Dogs and cats have acute hearing, and those noisy fireworks can send them scurrying for cover. Add the frightening flashes of light, and it’s easy to see why Independence Day can be stressful for pets. I remember how my childhood dog, Flavia, would bark wildly at our fireworks. She’d become so agitated we had to shut her indoors while we set them off. In retrospect, I think she was just trying to protect us from these strange and dangerous things.

Unless you live in a state that bans personal fireworks, you probably hear those familiar noises not only on July 4th, but for several days before and after. Each city sets their own laws for how many days neighborhood fireworks are allowed, but in general, it’s about a week. During this time, I rarely see my cats. They spend the week hiding under the bed, and sometimes don’t even emerge for their evening meal.

In the past, I’ve just let them “ride it out,” knowing things would be back to normal for them in a few days. This year I decided to research ways to lessen their Independence Day stress. Here are some tips for helping pets get through the 4th of July holiday without shattered nerves.

Keep your pets indoors on July 4th. Since firecrackers will be going off all day long, it’s best if pets (especially cats) stay indoors for the entire day.

Keep your windows and doors closed to prevent your pet from running away if they become frightened by the fireworks. Be sure they are wearing identification tags in case they do escape.

Give your pet something to do, such as toys that will keep them occupied for long periods of time.

Put on some soothing music, or turn on the television. This may help to mask the fireworks noise, as well as lessen your pet’s stress.

Create a temporary “safe haven” for your pet in the closet. Set down their pet bed or favorite blanket, some toys, water and perhaps even food. Being in the closet will help them feel safe because it’s enclosed, and the closet blocks out some of the noise of the fireworks.

If you’re having a party on the 4th, keep your pet behind closed doors, and be sure to put a sign on the door so that no one accidentally opens it. Cats especially, will feel more secure locked away from all of the hustle and bustle. Even if you have an outgoing dog who loves people, they could still get scared from the fireworks and bolt off, or help themselves to food and drinks that might make them ill.

Don’t take your dog to a fireworks display. No matter how calm they normally are, the noises and crowd activity on this day are just too unpredictable.

Distract your pet with some new treats, chews or toys. They may be so focused on these that they hardly notice all that cracking and booming going on around them. Admittedly, this tip is more for dog owners – I highly doubt new toys or treats will have any effect on my skittish kitties.

Some people give their pet a mild tranquilizer to help them get through the 4th of July holiday. For pets that become extremely distressed by loud noises, this could be a viable option. Please consult your pet’s vet if you are considering it.

Store your fireworks safely out of reach. Like children, pets are naturally curious about things they see lying around. To them, anything has the potential to be a fun new toy they can bat around or chew on. But fireworks contain substances that are harmful for pets and could even kill them, so be sure they’re kept where dogs, cats and kids can’t get to them.

Clean up the firework debris from your yard too, so your pet won’t try to play with it or gnaw on it.

Responsible pet ownership means keeping our pets safe, healthy and happy, to the best of our ability. I hope these tips help your pets come through the noisy 4th of July holiday unscathed. I’m also hoping that this year, I see more of my cats than fleeting glimpses of three trembling forms underneath my bed.

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.

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Prison Dogs: A Second Chance at Life


By Ruthie Bently

There have been several discussions on the social networking sites lately about dogs in prisons. There are numerous organizations around the United States that match dogs with prison inmates to the benefit of both. There are training programs associated with all of them, and several of them train service dogs. I found one that has a twofold purpose: they not only match a dog with an inmate to enable the dog to enter a loving home fully trained, they use rescued retired racing Greyhounds.

I recently spoke with Beverly Sebastian about the program 2nd Chance at Life, which is affiliated with the National Greyhound Foundation. What makes this program unique? It is nationwide and not localized to one state or region of the United States. Their ultimate goal is to partner with over 100 Department of Correction facilities in twenty states, using 12,000 inmates and 100 Greyhound adoption groups to save the lives of more than 6,000 retired racing Greyhounds a year. If you would like more information about 2nd Chance at Life, click here to visit their website.

2nd Chance at Life places retired racing Greyhounds with prisoners to be socialized and obedience trained so they can be adopted. After an extensive obedience training course, each dog receives a certificate (tailored specifically to retired Greyhounds) that is the equivalent of the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen award. Each inmate also receives a certificate of completion. The hours an inmate spends training each dog can be used toward becoming certified as a dog trainer, which they can use as a vocation after their release. All the equipment needed for the Greyhound is furnished by 2nd Chance. This includes a crate and dog food, and no monies come from any of the correctional facilities where the dogs are placed. A certified dog trainer works alongside the inmates training the Greyhounds to assist them, and their salary is also paid by 2nd Chance.

The 2nd Chance at Life program teaches the inmate trainer responsibility and patience, and allows them to experience the unconditional love of a pet, sometimes for the first time. It begins with a rescued racing Greyhound being placed with an inmate in a prison foster home. This gives the dog a place to live until they can be adopted, which keeps the Greyhound from being euthanized in a shelter facility. Each inmate is screened before being accepted into the program, and must have a clean record for at least two years prior to acceptance. Inmates are relieved of idleness and boredom as they are entirely responsible for the Greyhound’s care. A Greyhound with obedience training that has graduated from the program is more apt to be retained in a new adoptive home.

Each inmate keeps a daily journal, in which they write their dog’s progress as well as their thoughts about the program, their dog and what it has done for them. When their dog graduates and is adopted, to alleviate any separation anxiety the dog may have they are sent to their new home with a blanket that has the inmate’s scent on it. This helps them adjust to life in their new home. Some new owners even pass on photos of the adopted Greyhound for the inmate trainer. The inmate is immediately given a new dog to train and the process begins again.

Director Wilkinson of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections stated “The program alleviates boredom and tension in prison, resulting in a safer environment for both staff and inmates.” This sounds like a win-win situation to me, how about you?

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.

Would You Like to Own the World’s Ugliest Dog?


By Julia Williams

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one of the oldest, and most often repeated, sayings, and nowhere is it more evident than at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. This internationally acclaimed contest is held every summer at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. I lived in Petaluma for ten years and attended the event many times. It was a lot of fun, but it was also interesting to see just how much the owners (and the fairgoers) adored these hideously homely dogs.

To be crowned the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, you must indeed be Ugly with a capital U – and these dogs definitely are! Many of these ugly dogs are hairless with odd tufts of hair here and there (often referred to as “Einstein hair”) and they usually have toothless grins or tongues that hang outside their mouths – in short, these ugly dogs have faces only a mother could love.

It got me to wondering, aside from this well-known contest whose past winners have achieved instant canine celebrity status, what the appeal is in owning an ugly dog. Some of these dogs are so ugly they make you laugh. And some are so ugly they make you shudder! In a society that values beauty so much, it’s fascinating to see ugly animals so revered. Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue if we humans held a “World’s Ugliest Person” contest? I have to laugh at this double standard; it’s not only okay to call a dog ugly, but we revel in their ugliness.

Do the owners of these ugly dogs love them even more because they’re so ugly, or do they fall in love with the dog’s “inner beauty” and become oblivious to the outside package? I don’t know. What I do know is that the World’s Ugliest Dog contest is immensely popular with pet owners and the general public alike. Contestants come from all over the U.S., from as far away as Florida. Animal Planet sponsors the contest and has broadcast the proceedings for the last several years. The World’s Ugliest Dog winner gets a $1,000 prize, a trophy, doggie bling (collars, leashes, bowls and toys) and worldwide fame, complete with talk show appearances, videos, glossy magazine write-ups, a professional photo shoot and a modeling contract with House of Dog. Whew!

This year marks the 22nd annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest, and judging by the entries posted on the official website, there is no shortage of homely dogs hoping to be crowned the King of Ugly (or Queen) and take home all of those fabulous prizes. Past World’s Ugliest Dog winner Rascal is back for another go at the title, and his family says “To us, Rascal is the most handsome being to ever live, and is a loving family member, but it’s in fun when he is called ugly.” And then there’s Handsome Hector, whose motto is “eat like a pig, look like a rat and lounge like a bloated seal!” You can see all of the ugly dogs vying for this year’s title of World’s Ugliest Dog here.

Call me shallow, but I’m just not sure I could ever fall in love with an ugly dog, or an ugly cat for that matter. Inner beauty notwithstanding, I just really prefer my pets to have hair…and teeth…and tongues that stay inside their mouths instead of lolling lopsidedly out one side like a drunken sailor. Then again, maybe I just haven’t met the right ugly dog, the one who’s “so ugly he’s cute.” Since there are so many other pet lovers willing to overlook the ugly canines of the world, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Would you – could you? – love the World’s Ugliest Dog?

Photos courtesy of the World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest, Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma, California

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.

Five Famous Dogs Who Touched Our Hearts


By Linda Cole

Every now and then, we run across amazing stories about dogs who did extraordinary things or had to overcome obstacles to complete their mission. Dogs who showed their loyalty to the owners they cherished and did what they had to do to be with them. Canines who stood out from the crowd because of who they were as dogs and because they taught us a little bit about life, love and devotion. These famous dogs touched our hearts, and their stories should be retold from time to time as a reminder of the bond between dogs and their owners.

Greyfriar’s Bobby was a black Skye Terrier who was born in 1856 and lived in Scotland with his owner, John Gray. This famous dog was as devoted to his owner as any dog could be, and proved his loyalty in 1858 after John Gray passed away. Gray was buried in Edinburgh, Scotland in Greyfriar’s Churchyard with few in attendance and no headstone. The groundskeeper at Greyfriar discovered Bobby sitting on his master’s grave and drove him away, but the little dog kept returning. The groundskeeper finally gave up and provided shelter for Bobby next to Gray’s grave. For fourteen years, Bobby guarded his master’s grave only leaving for food. Each afternoon at one o’clock sharp, Bobby left the cemetery long enough to visit a nearby restaurant he and John Gray had frequented. People would wait at the entrance to the churchyard for Bobby to make his daily food run, and it’s been said they could set their watch by him. Bobby died on January 14, 1872 and is buried just outside the churchyard only 75 feet from John Gray. A gravestone marks his resting place and on it is engraved, “Greyfriars Bobby-died 14th January 1872-aged 16 years-Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”

Hachiko, an Akita born November 10, 1923, lived in Japan with his owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor in agriculture at the University of Tokyo. Every night, Hachiko would go to the nearby train station and wait for Ueno to return home. This famous dog knew exactly which train carried his master. One day, Ueno wasn’t on the train; he had died at the university. Hachiko never gave up and returned each night to wait for his master’s train for nine years, until his death on March 8, 1935. A former student of Professor Ueno heard of Hachiko’s nightly vigil and became interested in the Akita breed. He discovered there were only 30 purebred Akitas in the entire country. His writings on Hachiko and the Akita dog breed spread across the country. The Akita became a national symbol of loyalty as the breed became more popular. Hachiko’s loyalty was used as an example for children to follow, and his unmoving devotion inspired the people to strive for loyalty and devotion in their own families.

Bobbie the Wonder Dog was a Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix. In 1923, Bobbie was with his family on vacation in Indiana when he got lost. Unfortunately, his home was in Silverton, Oregon. The family searched for Bobbie with no success and finally had to return home without him. Six months later, Bobbie was found sitting in front of his home, thin and with very sore paws. He had traveled 2,800 miles through the Midwest and plains states and crossed over mountains to reach his home during the peak of winter. He died in 1927 and was buried at Oregon’s Humane Society’s Pet Cemetery. Today, Bobbie is remembered in an annual children’s pet parade in Silverton, as a reminder and tribute to all pets and the special connection we have with them and how much they enhance our lives.

Spike, a yellow Lab mix, is better known to us as Old Yeller. He’s included in this group of famous dogs who touched our hearts because the story, which is based on a true story, taught us about loyalty, devotion and life. Old Yeller contracts rabies after being bitten by a rabid gray wolf and his fate is played out in a scene where a tearful Travis is faced with having to do what’s most humane for his beloved pet.

Marley, the yellow Lab from the movie, “Marley and Me,” was born in 1991 and belonged to author John Grogan. Marley is described by Grogan as the world’s worst dog, but you knew just how much he was loved by the entire Grogan family in spite of his misdeeds. He became a famous dog when Grogan started writing about life with Marley for his newspaper column. Marley’s antics made us laugh and cry, and we could sympathize with the Grogan family as this mischievous pup kept them on their toes. Marley didn’t take life too seriously and enjoyed every minute of it. He died in 2003.

Cats also have a special place in the hearts of those who love them. For the cat lovers who may have missed it, read Famous Felines Worth Remembering, a fun article about some extraordinary cats.

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.

What is Kennel Cough?


By Ruthie Bently

Kennel Cough is known by several names: Bordetella, Bordetellosis, canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), and canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It is highly contagious to dogs, and is the most common canine upper respiratory problem in the United States, though it is found throughout the world. It is a complex disease which can involve several pathogens that when present simultaneously, can act together to heighten the severity of the disease. Kennel cough outbreaks are most commonly seen in shelters, kennels (including boarding) and training programs where multiple dogs are housed.

The most common pathogens that can cause kennel cough include the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium, parainfluenza virus and mycoplasma. It is thought that reovirus, canine adenovirus type two and canine herpes virus can contribute to the disease too. While any one of these can cause symptoms of kennel cough, most cases diagnosed are the result of more than a single organism. During the past several years it has been found that canine respiratory coronavirus and a subspecies of Streptococcus equi have also been associated with kennel cough.

If occurring alone, signs of a Bordetella bronchiseptica infection are seen between two days and two weeks after exposure. Symptoms last about ten days, but after the infection has been solved the affected dog can still shed bacteria for another six to fourteen weeks, and can pass the infection on to other dogs. Kennel cough can affect both domestic and wild dogs, so you may want to consider vaccination if you live in an area with foxes, coyotes or wolves.

A dog with kennel cough may have a watery nasal discharge, but the most common symptom is a hacking cough, as if your dog is trying to cough up something. It may be followed by dry heaves. I have personal experience with this, and listening to my dog cough was reminiscent of a goose honking. If your dog does not have a severe case of kennel cough they will still be active and alert. Symptoms in more severe cases include: pneumonia, fever, lethargy and no appetite. It can be severe and cause death, though these cases tend to occur in puppies that have not been vaccinated or dogs that have compromised immune systems. If your dog contracts kennel cough, it is suggested that a harness or head collar should be substituted for their regular collar, as pressure on the trachea and throat can worsen the coughing.

While bacterial cultures, blood work and viral isolation may be conducted to isolate the pathogens, a veterinary diagnosis can usually be made based on the recent exposure to other dogs and the symptoms involved. Depending on the severity of the attack, there are several forms of treatment for kennel cough. A mild form may be treated with antibiotics, cough suppressants or a bronchodilator. It should be noted that this does not lessen the length of time that an infected dog can pass on the disease. In the case that a dog is showing signs of pneumonia, running a fever or not eating, antibiotics are prescribed. Aerosol therapy may also be prescribed. If your dog is showing signs of pneumonia, get them to the vet immediately; if left untreated you could lose your canine companion.

Some protection against parainfluenza virus is offered by a vaccine that protects against “kennel cough” or 5-way vaccine (which covers canine distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus cough, parainfluenza and parvovirus). While these vaccines can help, they may not keep your dog from contracting kennel cough. Not exposing your dog to puppies or other dogs is the best protection for kennel cough. If this is not an option, you may want to consider vaccination. Intranasal vaccines, which are effective, are only recommended for higher risk animals due to possible side effects. Some veterinarians suggest vaccinating a dog for kennel cough before boarding or training where the dog may come in contact with other dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog for kennel cough if you are concerned.

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 Help Pets with Flea Allergy Dermatitis


By Linda Cole

Responsible pet owners know how important it is to make sure their pets are treated for fleas. Unfortunately, some pets have an allergic reaction to a flea’s bite even with flea medication on them. Some reactions can be quite severe. I have a dog that has an allergic reaction to flea bites. Left untreated, a pet will whine and chew their skin raw, which isn’t good for them and can drive you and your pet crazy. My dog has flea allergy dermatitis, also called flea bite allergy.

The first and most important step in helping a pet who has an allergic reaction to fleas is to make sure they are treated with a quality flea control medication monthly. Start treatment at least one month before flea season starts and continue it until at least one month after flea season is over. Talk with your vet to determine which flea treatment would be best for your pet.

Fleas don’t actually live on our pets. Most of their life is spent lounging somewhere in the home. Some people assume that if they don’t see fleas on their pet, they don’t have a flea problem, but that’s simply not true. If you don’t find fleas on your pet at the time you inspect them, it doesn’t mean your pet or home is flea free. If it’s flea season and you have pets, a community of fleas could be hanging out in your home and yard, and using your pet as their own personal diner.

To help a pet who has flea allergy dermatitis, it’s important to treat the pet and the home at the same time and try to eliminate the little pests completely. The best way to control fleas in the home is to have a pest control service spray monthly during flea season; inside and outside. By having an effective flea control on the pet and with an aggressive attack on fleas around the home, you have a good chance of getting rid of the fleas.

Pets who suffer from flea allergy dermatitis are so sensitive that just one or two flea bites can cause them to chew on themselves constantly, and won’t stop even when their skin has become raw. You don’t have to have an infestation of fleas for your pet to be miserable. It’s not the flea bite itself that drives a dog or cat crazy, it’s the saliva of the flea that causes all the itching. Flea bite allergies are the most common type of allergy found in cats and dogs.

Signs of flea allergy dermatitis are constant scratching, chewing, licking and whining. Their skin may be red or even raw from constant scratching and chewing. You can feel bumps on their skin when you run your hand over the area they’ve been chewing on, especially along their back at the base of the tail and along the tail. You may notice an area where your pet scratched and chewed so much, they have a bare spot or thinning hair in the area. They can develop hot spots on their face or other parts of their body, and you are apt find flea debris in the area. The debris looks like little pieces of dried blood because that’s exactly what it is. Flea bite allergy can cause secondary infections if left untreated, so it’s up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure to tackle a flea problem aggressively and use all of the weapons available to us during flea season.

Keep your pet’s bedding clean. Vacuum regularly where your pet sleeps, along baseboards, and move furniture so you can vacuum under it. Remove couch and chair cushions and vacuum thoroughly underneath them. Dispose of the vacuum bag after each vacuuming and if your vacuum has no bag, dump the dirt out into a small trash bag and seal it before throwing it away. You don’t want any of your captured fleas to escape back into the home.

If your pet shows signs of having any adverse reaction to fleas even with flea medication on them, talk with your vet. They can recommend a flea control product that might work better for your pet and they can also advise you on other products you can use to help relieve their itching. You want to make sure to use flea control that kills adult fleas and has an insect growth regulator (IGR) which will kill immature fleas before they have a chance to mature into adults.

Flea allergy dermatitis can drive both you and your pet crazy. Start your fight against fleas before they have a chance to attack your pet or invade your home.

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.