Monthly Archives: April 2013

Why Do Small Dogs Pick Fights with Big Dogs?

By Linda Cole

I wasn’t expecting to adopt another dog until one day my neighbor came over with a tiny puppy tucked under her arm. As she explained why she was there, the pup stared at me, her bright eyes sparkling with personality that would have melted any dog lover’s heart. Before I knew it, the pup was nestled in my arms, giving me kisses. Riley is a Rat Terrier/Chihuahua mix, and she’s the smallest one in my pack of much larger dogs, but her attitude is definitely “Don’t mess with me.” One would think a small dog would show a little respect to a dog towering over her, but that would be ignoring the tenacity of most little dogs. So why do some small dogs pick fights with larger dogs?

One theory posed by vets is that a lot of small dogs tend to spend more time in their owners arms, giving them a higher position where they can view a larger dog from above. We have a tendency to be more protective of a small dog, especially if there are larger dogs in the family. To prevent small dog syndrome, I treat Riley just like my other dogs, and I don’t let her get away with doing things I wouldn’t allow the bigger dogs to do. We don’t pick her up and carry her around, and we let the dogs resolve minor disagreements themselves. The alpha dog in a pack isn’t always the biggest dog; sometimes it is the smallest one.

Like larger dog breeds, small breeds were bred to do a specific job. Some were developed to be companion dogs, happy to lounge away their days in the lap of the one they love. But most small breeds were created to hunt vermin or prey. These little canines had to be feisty, tenacious, brave and independent. They needed a fierce attitude to stand up to sometimes larger prey, with an equal amount of attitude. As far as the little dog goes, his size has nothing to do with it. It’s his super sized willingness to fight that’s important.

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Can Dogs and Cats Cry?

By Julia Williams

Have you ever seen your pet cry? And by “cry,” I mean actual tears from their eyes as an emotional response. Most people would say no; the general consensus is that animals lack the capacity for such a thing. We know that animals can “tear up” as a result of allergies, dust, upper respiratory infections, pollutants and such, but crying as an emotional response is believed impossible by most.

I don’t really like that word “impossible,” though. It would imply that we humans think we know everything there is to know about the emotional lives of animals. But how can we? Unless we are a dog, we can’t know what is in a dog’s mind or heart. We can form an opinion based on science and personal experience, but I think it would be arrogant for any human to say they know with certainty what emotions a dog or cat is capable of feeling.

Many scientists definitely have their own rigid thinking about the emotional capacity of animals. They base their opinion on carefully controlled research rather than the one-on-one bonding that takes place between people and their beloved pets. But here’s the thing:  a recent study proved that people could tell what emotion a dog was experiencing by looking at photographs of the dog’s face. The photos were taken after introducing stimuli designed to elicit a specific reaction from the dog.

Happiness was correctly identified by 88% of the study participants; anger was correctly identified by 70%. So if we can tell by a dog’s face whether he is happy, angry, sad, surprised or afraid, is it farfetched to believe we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the emotional capacity of animals? I don’t think so.

Jeffrey Masson, author of the bestselling book When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, believes that animals do lead complex emotional lives. To support his theory, Masson found hundreds of anecdotes from the published works and field studies of noted behaviorists, including Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Cynthia Moss.

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Top 10 Poison Dangers for Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

It’s that time again. Spring is upon us, and my neighbors are fertilizing their lawns and spraying all kinds of insecticides to kill bugs. It always makes me nervous when they’re poisoning up their adjacent yard; I’m sure some of the toxic chemicals migrate over into our space. To educate myself, I consulted the Pet Poison Helpline and saw that they have an updated list of potential poisons in our homes and yards.

The Pet Poison Helpline is a valuable resource for pet people. They log every call they get, and each year they examine their records to determine what type of poisons garnered the most calls. So even though we’ve written other articles here on the CANIDAE RPO blog about the plants, foods or chemicals that can be hazardous to your pet, as a responsible pet owner it’s good to stay updated on the subject. With that in mind, here are the most common dangers for dogs, listed in order of the frequency of calls into the helpline. Interestingly, the list starts with food items because food accounted for the highest number of poisoning calls.

1.  Foods, especially xylitol, chocolate and grapes/raisins

Xylitol is getting a lot of attention lately because of claims that tout its health benefits, including reducing the risk of tooth decay. Many sugarless gums and candies now contain xylitol, and this sweetener is dangerous to dogs. Even a small amount ingested by your pup can result in a potentially fatal drop in blood sugar or even liver failure.

Most of us know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The chemical in chocolate that makes it dangerous for dogs is theobromine, which is a relative of caffeine. The darker, bitter chocolates are the most dangerous. The fact that raisins and grapes are toxic foods for dogs isn’t as widely known. Be cautious; if a dog eats raisins or grapes it can result in kidney failure.

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Give Your “Fur Baby” a Hug for National Pet Month

By Linda Cole

National Pet Month is a perfect time to celebrate how special our furry best friends are! This month dedicated to pets was started twenty years ago in England as a way to promote the love of pets with five specific goals.

1. Responsible Pet Ownership

Bringing a pet into your home is a serious decision. Pets aren’t bookends or accessories, and it’s important to get a pet for the right reasons, as well as to find one that fits your lifestyle. There are many considerations to think about before adopting a pet, because you are making a commitment to be a responsible pet owner for their lifetime.

We want to make sure our pets are up to date on their vaccinations, get enough exercise, have a safe and comfortable place to sleep at night, and eat nutritious food like CANIDAE All Life Stages dog food or FELIDAE cat food to help them maintain a proper weight and stay healthy. It’s our job to worry about our furry friends and make sure we have a plan in place for emergencies and a pet first aid kit for unexpected needs.

2. Benefits of Owning a Pet

Children who grow up in homes with a pet are less likely to develop allergies, and being exposed to a pet in the first year of their life may have a positive impact on their developing immune system. Studies have shown that pets help kids with social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, and help teach a child responsibility and empathy. Having a pet at home helps us recover faster from an illness or surgery and they help lower stress levels, which reduces the heart rate and blood pressure.

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Choosing the Right Toys for Your Dog

By Lisa Mason

Your dog will become bored playing with the same old toy day after day. The toy will lay there untouched and he will look at you mournfully. This means he has lost interest in that toy and needs another one. Multiple toys of different shapes, materials and textures will allow your dog to choose the right toy for his mood.

Every Dog Needs a Chew Toy

Chew toys are a must for your dog. Sometimes a dog just wants to chew, and if he doesn’t have a toy, your furniture and shoes may be in trouble. Chew toys will satisfy the need to chew, and it will also exercise your dog’s jaws and help clean his teeth.

Make sure to pick a chew toy that is appropriate for your dog’s size. If the chew toy is too large for your dog to get a good grip on, he will get frustrated and find something else to chew on. If the chew toy is small, a large dog could choke on it.

Other Great Choices for Dog Toys

Balls and Frisbees should be next on your dog’s toy list. Even a small dog will enjoy chasing a ball or a Frisbee, and its great exercise for them. Small dogs that don’t play outside a lot will enjoy rolling the ball around the house and trying to capture it. Give the dog several balls in varying sizes. A ball should just barely fit in the dog’s mouth for him to carry it, or it should be larger for rolling games. Never let a large dog play with a tiny ball as he may choke on it.

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Common Misconceptions about Dog Behavior

By Linda Cole

The dictionary defines a misconception as “A false or mistaken view, opinion or attitude.” When someone believes something about dog behavior that isn’t true, it can put the dog at risk, and possibly damage a relationship with a pet. Unfounded misconceptions can even jeopardize the life of some dog breeds. Dog behavior isn’t always easy to figure out, though, and misconceptions are common. Here are six of them:

1. Aggression runs in some breeds 

Dog breeds were developed to do specific jobs for us. For some breeds, toughness, determination and a fighting spirit was essential for them to do their jobs. Dalmatians, for example, were used for centuries as guard dogs, war dogs, border security and sentinels. They ran with horse drawn carriages, protecting wealthy riders from robbers. When necessary, a Dalmatian can stand up to a foe with a determined defiance. Nevertherless, a well socialized and trained Dalmatian is a wonderful family pet and has a unique ability to calm horses.

At one time, Pit Bulls were used to bait bulls. When that was outlawed, irresponsible owners threw them into illegal dog fighting rings. Pit Bulls were once “America’s Nanny Dog.” In the care of a responsible pet owner who understands the needs of a particular breed and the importance of proper training, socializing and respect, no breed is more aggressive than others. However, there are harder to control breeds that should never be in the hands of someone who isn’t an expert in the breed and doesn’t know how to take the lead role. Dog experts harp about finding the right dog for your lifestyle for a good reason.

2. You can’t fix an aggressive or anti-social dog

Many dogs rescued from dog fighting operations have been successfully rehabilitated and placed in new homes, including ones with kids. Dogs live in the now, leave the past behind, and don’t hold grudges. Any bad behavior can be corrected, but it takes time, commitment, patience, understanding and leadership. Depending on the type of aggression, a professional may be needed. Aggression could be indicating an underlying medical issue, and pain can cause a dog to be aggressive. It’s important to recognize and take immediate steps to change unwanted behavior.

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