Monthly Archives: August 2010

Dog Breed Profile: Was Lassie a Typical Collie?

By Suzanne Alicie

While most people think of the popular television show “Lassie” when they hear the word Collie, this breed of dog deserves attention unrelated to television popularity.

The Collie is a very intelligent dog, as well as beautiful, loyal and useful. Originating in Britain, the Collie has become a common breed in the U.S. and other countries as a working dog and as a family pet.

The size of a Collie may lead you to think they are outdoor animals. They do live active and energetic lives outdoors, but the behavior and easy training also makes a Collie the ideal indoor pet as well. An average Collie weighs anywhere between 50 and 75 pounds, with the female weighing on the lower end of that range. While the Collie is an energetic dog breed, if he isn’t exercised regularly he will quickly become lazy and lethargic, so even if your Collie is an indoor pet, make sure to take him for a daily walk or run.

The Collie is a loving dog with an even temperament. They learn quickly and are eager to please. Because of their obedience and friendly nature, along with their prey drive, Collies are naturally good at herding livestock and working with other animals.

Because of the very sensitive nature of a Collie, it is important that a responsible pet owner always offer praise and correct their Collie gently, showing the dog instead the proper action. If a Collie is rebuked sharply his feelings may be hurt and he could shy away from you until you show him that you aren’t angry. While a Collie will protect his family from danger, they do not respond well to loud or violent behavior.

Collies are cautious of strangers and protective of their home and family, so they may bark more than other breeds. This can be dealt with by socializing your Collie and training him not to bark at some everyday things. However, the natural instinct to alert the family of potential danger makes the Collie an ideal pet to have around small children and to alert you if someone is trespassing too close to the family home.

When it comes to the appearance of a Collie, there are many different options. Rough and smooth Collies are available in four basic colors: sable and white, tri color (a mix of white, black and tan), blue merle and white. The difference between rough and smooth Collies is really no more than the grooming that will be required. Rough Collies have coarser fur that keeps mud and dirt from sticking and is easy to keep clean, but requires more brushing to keep from matting and tangling. The smooth Collie has finer hair that is easier to care for, but will need to be washed more often.

One thing that is common for all Collies is the extreme shedding. These dogs shed out twice a year, and will require extra grooming at that time to keep loose fur from becoming entangled and creating mats and lumps in the coat.

Collies are known as a hearty breed and are generally healthy dogs, but there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to the health and well being of your Collie.

• Collies are very susceptible to heat. On hot days they need a lot of cool water and a cool place to lie down.
• Collies are known for their sensitive Collie noses which are susceptible to sunburn.
• Collie eye anomaly (or CEA) affects almost 85% of Collies in the U.S.

The Collie is a great breed to have as a pet or as a working dog, and will serve either function happily. So, while your Collie may not rescue people like Lassie did, he will love you and seek to please you every day.

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.

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Why It’s Important to Groom Your Pet

By Linda Cole

Grooming and playing are two great ways to bond with your pet. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to monitor your pet’s overall health and gain their trust. Sitting down regularly with your pet will leave them feeling good about themselves (even though they may complain the whole time) and it gives you time with your favorite furry friend.

Hair clipping will be included in your pet grooming routine if you have a long haired dog. Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies, have lots of hair between their paw pads. When the hair grows too long, ice and snow can collect on the hair and cut the dog’s pads. Tiny rocks can be held in between their pads by the long hair and can injure their feet. It can be harder for them to walk on slippery surfaces because they can’t get proper traction walking on the overgrown hair. Long haired dogs may also need to have the hair in and around their ears trimmed.

Combing or brushing is an essential part of pet grooming. It helps remove loose hair as well as dirt and debris along the skin and in their coat. Medium to long haired dogs and long haired cats can have tangled, matted hair that pulls on the pet’s skin and mats can be difficult to remove. Regular brushing can help keep their coats mat free. Brushing stimulates their skin, removes dirt along the skin and in their coat and gets rid of loose hair that won’t end up on the living room furniture or on an unsuspecting house guest. This is a good time, while your pet is relaxed, to run your hands over their body and check for any lumps, skin irritations or sores hidden under the coat. Use an appropriate comb or brush that won’t scratch their skin.

Trimming your pet’s toenails gives you a chance to inspect their feet to make sure there are no hidden cuts or foreign objects, like small rocks or burrs, caught in between the paw pads. Outside cats can come home with small injuries to their feet you may not notice right away. Both cats and dogs can get splinters in their pads or cuts that can become infected over time. Pet grooming should always include an inspection of their feet whether the toenails need trimmed or not, to catch any problems before they require a trip to the vet. If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pet’s toenails, most vets are happy to do it for you. When trimming nails at home, be careful not to cut into the quick. Trim as far as you’re comfortable with and then finish up with a nail file to smooth the rough edges. For more detailed information on trimming the nails, see How to Give your Pooch a Pedicure.

Bathing isn’t a part of pet grooming that’s necessary every time, especially for cats. Cats seldom need us to give them a bath, but on those rare occasions when one is needed, try to make it as positive as you can. (Read How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It for step-by-step directions). Outside cats require more baths because they roll around in all kinds of “stuff” and can get oily debris in their hair. Dogs, on the other hand, do need baths now and then. This is another opportunity to inspect their body as you work the shampoo into their coat.

Dental care is one area of pet grooming that’s often neglected by pet owners. It’s easy to forget about the inside of the mouth; however, it’s important to check their teeth and gums regularly for signs of gingivitis or other dental problems before they become serious.

Ear inspection is something my pets would rather I skipped, but it’s important to include their ears during each pet grooming session. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair have a problem with adequate air flow and air doesn’t circulate in the ear canal as well as it does in dogs with erect ears. Humidity can actually build up in their ears keeping them moist inside. If your floppy-eared dog loves to swim, make sure to dry the inside of the ears after he gets out of the water. They can have more buildup of dirt and crud as well, and are more at risk for ear infections than dogs with erect ears. Regular inspection of your pet’s ears can catch an ear mite infestation or yeast infection in the early stages.

Regular pet grooming allows us, as responsible pet owners, the opportunity of a hands-on inspection of our pets as well as helping to keep them clean. It’s time well spent, and is as healthy for us as it is for our pets.

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.

Keep Your Pets Safe from Poisonous Creatures

By Ruthie Bently

Growing up in northern Illinois, I didn’t see many venomous creatures, though my friends and I found a nest of baby rattlesnakes one day under a railroad trestle; we figured they’d fallen off a train car passing overhead. While venomous creatures exist in most of the United States and around the world, many employ flight over fight unless cornered. Venomous creatures use their venom when hunting, and at times we and our pets are in the wrong place at the right time.

There are many poisonous spiders that are dangerous to our pets. The best known are the black widow, brown recluse and tarantula. There are three black widow spiders indigenous to the U.S. The Western (Lactrodectus hesperus) is found from southwestern Canada down into Mexico; the Northern (Lactrodectus variiolus) ranges from southeastern Canada to the northeastern U.S., and the Southern black widow’s (Lactrodectus mactans) range covers New York to Florida, the southeastern U.S., and to the west across Oklahoma and Texas. The black widow’s venom (a neurotoxin) is reputed to be fifteen times more dangerous than a rattlesnake’s, and symptoms include increased blood pressure, limb rigidity, shortness of breath, abdominal spasms and dizziness.

The brown recluse ranges from Illinois south to Texas and from West Virginia to Georgia. Its range is expanding due to inadvertent transport by humans, and might be found in any of the lower 48 states. Its venom causes tissue damage around the bite and in extreme cases liver or kidney damage. While the bite of a tarantula may be painful and not usually fatal to humans, it may be lethal to small pets. When threatened, tarantulas have the ability to kick hairs from their abdomen which cause a burning sensation to mucous membranes or sensitive skin. Their range in the U.S. covers the southwest, central California, and they’ve been found in southern Illinois. Symptoms include the wound becoming red and feeling warm, skin rash, itching, swelling of throat and lips, and cardiovascular collapse in extreme cases.

There are between 1,500 and 2,000 scorpions worldwide; over 70 species are found in North America. Scorpions are nocturnal and possess a sting used to capture and overcome prey. Scorpions can be found under stones, bark on trees, leaf litter on the ground, in dark crevices and dry abandoned dirt roads. All scorpions are venomous though the most toxic in the U.S. is the Bark Scorpion (also known as the Sculptured Scorpion). Its range covers southern Nevada, southern and western Arizona and southern Utah. Its sting is acutely toxic and can be life-threatening to a pet. The Hentz’s Striped Scorpion range covers Florida, the Gulf States and as far west as Arizona and Mexico. The Giant Hairy Scorpion (H. arizonensis) is the largest species of nine species of Hadrurus scorpions in the U.S., and is found in the southwest. The range of these species goes as far north as Idaho and as far east as Colorado.

There are venomous snakes in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Three species of toxic coral snakes (elapids) inhabit the U.S. The coral snake is a banded snake with bands of red, yellow and black. It’s sometimes confused with the king snake which has the same color bands, but is non-venomous. There is an easy way to remember the difference.  Just remember this: “red on black, friend to Jack” (describes king snake banding pattern); “red on yellow, can kill a fellow” (describes coral snake banding pattern).

The pit vipers include five species of copperheads, three species of cottonmouths (water moccasin), and thirty-one species of rattlesnakes including the Massasauga which is on the Endangered and Threatened Species List in several states. Some of these snakes may not be dangerous to humans, but they are to our pets. Hawaii doesn’t have a venomous terrestrial snake, but it does have the Yellow-bellied sea snake, a cobra family member. Its range encompasses the Pacific Ocean, from Africa to the western coast of the Americas, including many Pacific islands to Hawaii, and it’s found near the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama. They’re helpless if beached, but should be avoided. For more information see Linda Cole’s article What to Do If a Snake Bites Your Pet. If snakes are numerous where you live, consider snake aversion therapy.

Being a responsible pet owner means keeping your pet safe from venomous creatures. If you sight an animal on your property, your pet catches one, or one bites your animal here are two good websites for information. At Enature.com you can find species by identification and locate a species you’ve seen or find out what dangerous creatures are indigenous to your area of the country. Venombyte.com lists venomous species by state.

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.

Cat Shows Are Not Just for Pedigreed Felines!

By Julia Williams

I’ve only been to a handful of cat shows, but I found them interesting and a lot of fun. It never occurred to me to inquire about showing my own cats, for two reasons. First, I don’t have a purebred cat. More importantly, my cats are rather shy with strangers and would either try to run away from the judges or scratch them to bits. I can’t change their temperaments, but I recently learned that nearly every cat show has a Household Pet class. So owners of outgoing felines who are either non-purebred or without papers, can “prettify” them and let them strut their stuff at a cat show. Who knows, your beloved garden-variety housecat might even take home a title!

The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), The International Cat Association (TICA) and the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF) are the main cat registries and hosts for cat shows. Although some of the rules and eligibility requirements vary between these organizations, all three have a Household Pet category for their cat shows.

The Household Pet cats compete in one group, without regard to age, sex, coat length or color. Unlike the Pedigree classes, there is no written standard for Household Pets, although most organizations require that cats over 8 months be spayed or neutered. The cats in the Household Pet class are judged instead on their condition, uniqueness, physical beauty, health, and show presence. Judges look for cats who have a pleasing appearance, unusual markings, a sweet disposition and a calm demeanor. However, since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” the judging for this class tends to be more subjective.

Should you show your cat?

Entering your feline friend in a cat show could be fun and rewarding for both of you, but it’s definitely not for every cat. First and foremost, you must decide if your cat’s temperament is suitable to being in the cat show environment. Would they enjoy the experience, or would it frighten them and stress them out? A good “show cat” will have a friendly and unflappable disposition. This is especially important for the Household Pet class, since temperament is one of the main judging criteria.

For shy or nervous cats, being at a show would be more of an ordeal than something they would enjoy. Is your cat outgoing enough to tolerate the crowds, noise and being handled by strangers? A good show cat loves being on display and doesn’t mind being handled by lots of different people. If your cat is relatively friendly and well-adjusted, they might do well in the ring, although there is really no way to tell for certain aside from giving it a try.

Is your cat in good health? To be entered in a show, your cat must be fit and well, with no fleas, ear mites, bare patches of skin, runny eyes or sneezing, and vaccinations must be current.

How do you find a cat show to enter?

Cat shows are held all around the country every weekend. You can see the show listings for CFA here and for TICA, here.

If you see a show near you that you want to attend, contact the person listed for entry forms and information. Be sure to ask if the show you are interested in has a Household Pet division. Entries for cat shows close several weeks before the actual show date to allow time to create the catalog and judges’ books, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get your forms in.

Once you’ve decided to take the leap into cat shows, you should start by doing some research. It’s much better to know the rules than to find out you’ve broken them and been disqualified. Catsinfo.com has a lot of information for beginners interested in showing their cat, whether pedigreed or not. The internet is a good place to do some research, but a far better idea is to go to a cat show as a spectator so you can see first-hand how they work and what’s involved. You can also chat with the other cat owners to get advice. You may even find one who lives near you who would be willing to be your mentor and help you learn the “cat show ropes.”

So you see, your furry friend need not possess a pedigree to become a cat show champion. If you think your feline has the good looks and calm demeanor to take the cat show world by storm, why not have a go at it?

Photos by Krzysiu “Jarzyna” Szymański

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.

The Best Way to Help a Scared Dog or Cat

By Linda Cole

Fear can be paralyzing to any living thing. Most animals and people who have gone through a fearful situation will remember it and react accordingly the next time they encounter anything that reminds them of it. As much as you want to help your scared dog or cat, there is a right way and wrong way to go about it. The last thing you want to do is reinforce their fear. I’m not talking about a scared pet who has a severe reaction to thunderstorms, fireworks, a neighborhood dog or cat, other pets in the home, or other situations that cause them to overreact with fear. This article is concerning mild to moderate cases of fear with no aggression issues associated with it.

When a scared dog or cat can’t tell us what scared them, we have to try to figure out where their fear came from. Sometimes the reason is easy to determine, but we may not always know why a dog or cat is showing signs of fear. As a responsible pet owner, you want to help a scared dog or cat by comforting them and reassuring them everything is alright. Your first reaction is to pick them up or sit beside them and gently stroke their coat and tell them, “It’s alright,” but this only reinforces their fear. To your pet, you’re saying it’s OK for them to be fearful. The next time the fearful situation comes up, the cat or dog remembers how you reacted, and the positive feedback they received during the stressful situation can reinforce their fearful reaction to it.

When you attempt to comfort a scared dog or cat, you’re teaching the pet to be dependent on you, but pets need to be able to work through occasional periods of fear themselves. No pet owner wants their dog or cat to be upset or frightened, but they need to be given an opportunity to learn how to be confident and brave during scary situations, because you can’t always be around to reassure them.

The best thing to do when your dog or cat reacts to something they believe as threatening is to ignore their reaction completely, unless it was warranted and your pet reacted to a potentially dangerous situation. Dogs and cats look to us to help them understand things that happen in their world. When they see you reacting as if there’s nothing to worry about and the situation poses no threat, they will adopt your lead. Once a frightened pet learns nothing bad happens during their episodes of being scared, they begin to relax and calm down on their own. The next time they encounter the scary moment, they will remember how you reacted to it and their fear will gradually be forgotten.

Keep in mind, however, that not all pets can get over their fears this easily. Ignoring more severe cases can put other pets or people at risk. When a pet, especially a dog, reacts aggressively to a scary situation each time they’re scared, then it’s time to talk to a vet or animal behaviorist who can help your pet deal with their fear. Some scared dogs or cats have phobias that are a mystery to us, especially an adopted pet from a shelter or one you may have found wandering lost on the street. There are times when ignoring their fears could cause them more harm. Responsible pet owners need to be able to distinguish between a severe phobia that may require help from a professional animal behaviorist, over a scared reaction from a one-time event or even a mild case of fear that can be dealt with by ignoring the reaction and showing them there’s no reason to be scared.

Most owners think of their pets as members of their family. You want to protect them and help them be as confident as they can be. Watching a scared dog or cat can be heartbreaking and our first reaction is to coddle them. I know from experience how difficult it is to ignore them when all you want to do is comfort them by reassuring them it’s alright. But I know the best way to help is to ignore their fear, as long as it’s not a serious or aggressive overreaction that could escalate, harming others or themselves. Be patient and stay consistent and over time, their fear will subside once they learn nothing bad happened when they were scared. A self confident dog or cat is a happy and well balanced pet.

If you have a dog who has a fear of water, Ruthie Bently recently wrote an article on how to help them overcome their fear of water.

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.

Venomous Creatures That Can Endanger Pets

By Ruthie Bently

There are many creatures in the United States (both native and non-native) that are venomous to our family pets. They can be found at the beach, in the woods, on a hike, even in your own backyard. This article will help to give you a head’s up on the creatures that are toxic to your pets, and where you might encounter them.

The only U.S. state with poisonous frogs is Hawaii. The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog was introduced in 1932 in an effort to control mosquitoes. While most frogs are nocturnal, poison dart frogs are active during the day and their bright colors are a warning of danger. Their poison is used by rainforest Indians to tip their hunting arrows and blowgun darts. A small number contain toxins that can poison by contact, enter the skin through a cut, or orally. The poison can cause hallucinations, and can affect the heart. If your pet comes in contact with one of these frogs, take them to your vet immediately.

Every toad in the U.S. has toxins in their system in varying degrees. The largest native toad in the U.S. is the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius). All toads have paratoid glands behind each eye on either side of their neck. When a dog or cat catches a toad, these glands release a poison that enters the mouth and throat of the pet causing inflammation. The most toxic, non-native toad in the United States is the Cane Toad (Bufo marinus), introduced to control sugarcane beetles. Its paratoid glands extend down the sides of its body. It was introduced to south Florida and its range is now southern Texas into Mexico.

If ingested, toad toxin can cause nausea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, signs of collapse, weakness and death. A pet does not need to eat a toad or swallow their toxin to be affected. The toxins can be absorbed through the mucous linings of a pet’s mouth. After mouthing a toad, a pet immediately begins drooling and the drool has an oily sheen to it. Pets may begin pawing at their mouth, shaking their head or have problems breathing. Try diluting the effects of the poison by completely washing out your pet’s mouth with water, and call your vet immediately. For more information about this venomous creature, read Dogs and Toads Don’t Make a Good Duo.

The only venomous lizard in the U.S. is the Gila Monster, and there are two species: (Banded and Reticulated).The Banded is also known as the Northern Gila Monster, and its range covers four states: California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. The Reticulated Gila Monster is also known as the Southern Gila Monster, and its range covers western Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Both species can grow to a length of two feet and weigh three pounds. Gila Monsters are diurnal; this means they are active during the daytime, though they are slow moving. They do not usually attack unless cornered, however they do not let go once they have bitten something.

The Gila Monster has grooved teeth in its lower jaw and when it bites a victim the venom, which is a neurotoxin, is secreted from glands in the lower jaw that flows through the teeth into the wound created. As the Gila Monster keeps biting the venom keeps flowing; it is as toxic as the western diamondback rattlesnake’s venom. A bite causes swelling around the wound and considerable pain followed by nausea, thirst, faintness and weakness. While their bite is not fatal to humans, it may be to small pets, especially if there is arterial bleeding. One site suggests detaching the lizard by inserting a stick between its jaw and bite, and prying its mouth open; using a lighter or matches to apply heat under the lizard’s jaw until it lets go; or by dipping the lizard into water until it unfastens. Stop any bleeding if possible and flush the wound with a large quantity of clean, fresh water. Contact your vet before attempting these methods to make sure they would suggest this.

Newts are Salamindridae family members and when bothered secrete a sticky mucous from glands on their heads, bodies and tails that can be irritating to humans and pets. The Rough-Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) and other newts of the Taricha genus secrete a toxin similar to pufferfish liver toxin. Caution should be taken at all times to avoid these with your pets. Other newts in this genus include: Red-Bellied Newt, California Newt and the Coast Range Newt.

In my next article, I’ll cover more creatures that are venomous to pets, including spiders, scorpions and snakes.

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.