Monthly Archives: August 2013

Keeping Your Dog Safe on Evening or Early Morning Walks

By Suzanne Alicie

We love hearing from our readers. Mary M. recently gave us a great topic to address to help you keep your dog safe when walking in low-light situations, such as evenings and early mornings. As you know by reading some of our other Responsible Pet Ownership posts, we’re all about finding ways to help you keep your pets safe, healthy and happy.

Do you walk your dog early in the morning as the sun is coming up or late in the evening when dusk makes dangerous shadows? Believe it or not, wearing reflective clothing yourself is not enough to protect your dog. Driving at this time of morning or evening is dangerous, and no matter how careful a driver may be there is always a chance of them not seeing your dog. Yes, I know that the side of the road is supposed to be a safe area for walking your dog, but accidents happen. People look away from the road and veer off the side, or shadows can make it difficult to discern where the edge of the road is, not to mention making it hard to see a person or dog in the gloom.

Reflective Equipment

Besides having some sort of reflective clothing on yourself, you should also make sure your dog has a reflective safety vest, reflective leash and collar. Glow in the dark items are also helpful in the event that headlights don’t hit you. Making you and your dog visible even in very low light is important for keeping you both safe. There is no such thing as too much reflective safety gear when it comes to keeping your dog safe.

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Does Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac Affect Dogs?

By Linda Cole

Hiking a favorite trail or playing at the park may seem like a safe way to spend the day, but you may not have noticed that patch of poison ivy your dog walked through. The question is, does poison ivy, oak or sumac affect dogs, and can they give it to us?

Humans and animals can suffer the same itchy fate when exposed skin makes contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac. These plants aren’t as likely to bother cats because their coat covers them completely. Dogs on the other hand, have exposed skin on their tummy and the inside area of their back legs. The oil from these plants can also sometimes work its way through a dog or cat’s coat to the skin, causing an itchy discomfort. If you weren’t aware your pet was in contact with one of these poison plants, you might think his scratching was due to fleas.

Poison ivy is generally found in every state except Hawaii and Alaska. Poison oak is mainly found in western states; it can be found in southern states as well, but is rarely found in the Midwest. Sumac thrives in wooded, swampy areas of southern and eastern states. It’s also prevalent in wet wooded areas, like along the Mississippi River.

All three toxic plants contain an oily sap called urushiol, which causes an itchy rash and nasty blisters on the skin. Urushiol has to be absorbed through the skin before it can cause an allergic reaction. It takes longer for the oily resin to penetrate through thicker skin, which is why there can be a delay before there’s a reaction, or why it seems to spread. A rash and blisters are seen first where the skin is the thinnest, and appears on other areas as the toxin is absorbed through thicker skin. Fluid from broken blisters is not contagious and can’t infect other areas on the body because the urushiol that created the blister has already been absorbed.

If your dog or cat walks through a patch of poison ivy, oak or sumac and gets some of the resin on his coat, even if it doesn’t affect him, you can get the sap on you if he rubs against you or you pet him. Since dogs and cats are shorter, it’s very easy for them to get the oily sap on their ears, face or anywhere else on their body when hiking or just out running around in their own backyard.

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Tips for Controlling Your Pet’s Shedding

By Langley Cornwell

There was a time, a long time ago, when I naïvely thought that pet shedding was seasonal. I used to think there was a magical time in the not-so-distant future when I wouldn’t have to dust, sweep or vacuum every day. I used to hope that a furtive glance at the corners of our home wouldn’t reveal dust bunnies big enough to scare the dogs.

I’ve come to accept that pet hair all over the house, our furniture and my clothing is a fact of life. As I commiserate with family and friends, it’s apparent that while some dog and cat breeds have longer hair or thicker coats or heavier undercoats, they all still shed. Sure, some shed more than others… but they all shed hair, and it’s a nuisance.

Since we can’t stop our pets from shedding, it’s good to learn ways to reduce loose dog and cat hair from swirling around our homes.          

Dogs and cats shed for the same reason that humans do: to get rid of damaged, old or excess hair. My fantasies of seasonal shedding were not totally pipe dreams; it’s true that animals grow a thicker coat in the winter months to help insulate them from the cold. Then when summertime comes, they shed the extra hair to stay cooler. But that’s not the whole story. Pets also shed damaged hair throughout their lifetime. And if your pet happens to have any type of skin conditions, allergies or irritations, they may shed excessively.

There are steps you can take to keep your cat or dog’s skin and hair healthy and reduce the quantity of excess pet hair in your home.

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Eight Tough-to-Train Dog Breeds

By Linda Cole

Some of the more challenging dog breeds to train are also among the smartest. Part of the problem with smart dogs is they can think for themselves and quickly learn how to control their owner.

Dog intelligence is determined by how many repetitions it takes for a dog to learn a new command or task. Breeds considered the smartest learn in just a few repetitions. Canines at the bottom of the list take a lot longer to catch on. It’s not that they aren’t as bright as the top tiered dogs; they just need more motivation.

Border Collies can either be one of the most challenging – or easiest – dogs to train. This free thinking, problem solving and sensitive herder is capable of learning new things in just one try, but you can’t use heavy-handed training methods. This breed can be difficult for an inexperienced owner to train because he is an intelligent dog and notices absolutely everything you do. Subtle changes in your tone of voice and hand gestures can confuse him, because he thinks you’re teaching a new command. You have to be exact each time with your commands and gestures.

Beagles are happy, confident dogs from the hound group. This lovable scenthound has a stubborn streak a mile long, which can cause a novice trainer to throw up his arms in defeat. He needs a good reason to learn. Your best training tool is lots of tasty, healthy dog treats like CANIDAE Pure Heaven Duck or Salmon. Beagles love food, and are willing to learn anything for a favorite treat. The U.S. Department of Agriculture started the Beagle Brigade in 1984 to sniff out contraband food coming into the country via airports because this cute, friendly and small dog isn’t as intimidating as larger dogs.

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Bruin Picks the Flicks…Good Movies for Dogs!

Photo credit: an iconoclast

By Bruin, canine guest blogger

I was sitting in front of the fireplace in my hound’s tooth smoking jacket the other evening, enjoying a salty dog cocktail.

The book I was reading had already been read so many times that the pages were all dog-eared. Rather than continue drinking and possibly then require some hair of the dog,  I picked up a copy of the Las Vegas Canine Enspirer to see if there were any movies I might be interested in seeing.

It suddenly occurred to me that with the passing of both Mr. Siskel and Mr. Ebert, movie fans were on their own. No longer was there anyone suggesting or catiquing films.

Outside it was raining cats and dogs, and I really didn’t feel like venturing out. I thought, why not pass the time by coming up with a list of good movies for dogs. I could call it “Bruin Picks the Flicks.”

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How to Bring Out the Best in Your Dog

By Langley Cornwell

What? Your dog is perfect? Well then, move along. There’s nothing for you to learn here. But if you’re like me, there are things we could do to make our dogs happier and our lives easier. It’s a simple concept, really. It all starts with determining what “type” of dog you have and then tailoring your activities to suit them.

Dogs generally fall into broad categories like couch potato, exercise nut, curious intellectual and loner. By accommodating their natural tendencies, you will bring out the best in your dog.

Couch Potato

Our newest dog is a complete couch potato; his idea of a good time is snuggling on the sofa all day. Because of this, I don’t expect him to be the outstanding athlete that our (loner) other dog is. Even so, we know it’s important to make sure he gets some sort of daily exercise and mental stimulation, but we don’t push him to run laps around the ball field. When we’re settled in for the evening, if we make sure there’s plenty of space on the couch for him to be near one of us, he’s happy. With regular, low stress walks and loads of personal interaction, we’re bringing out the best in this dog.

Loner

Our other dog definitely falls into the category of being a loner. When we’re all snuggled on the couch, she’s either at the far end, with plenty of personal space, or she’s on a bed in another room. She’s a happy dog and we interact with her a good bit, but when it’s quiet time, she wants to be left alone. According to Modern Dog Magazine, loner-type dogs do well with activities that reinforce a solid and dependable relationship with you.

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