Monthly Archives: August 2013

Intriguing Facts about Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

Most pet owners spend a lot of time bonding with their pets and learning all about them. We know where they like to be scratched, if a thunderstorm will upset them, how they respond to strangers, or if a stubborn streak will try your patience. Each pet is unique with their own personality, but as a species all dogs and cats are intriguing. Here are 13 facts you may not know about your pet.

1. A dog’s sense of smell is so powerful that some can detect odors buried 40 feet underground or track whale scat in the ocean. We have around 5 million scent receptors in our nose, but canine noses are equipped with around 125 to 300 million scent receptors, depending on the breed.

2. A common belief is that all cats are lactose intolerant and shouldn’t be given milk, but that’s not true for every feline. Some don’t have a problem drinking milk; however, after weaning they don’t need milk, and it can upset a cat’s tummy if she drinks too much. As long as your cat can tolerate it, there’s nothing wrong with giving her an occasional saucer of milk in addition to a quality cat food like CANIDAE. If you want to know if your kitty can have some milk now and then, give a small amount and wait 24 hours. If she doesn’t develop diarrhea, a little milk as a treat is fine.

3. A dog’s wet nose helps capture scent particles, and if his nose is dry, he may lick it to help him catch a scent. They can wiggle each nostril independently, and they know which nostril a smell entered, which helps them locate the source of a smell. The nose is made up of ridges and dimples unique to an individual dog, and is believed to be as individual as our fingerprints are. Felines also have a nose print that can be used to identify an individual cat.

4. Cats that live on their own don’t communicate by meowing to each other. Domesticated cat meows and yowls are used to communicate with humans. Felines have a fairly sophisticated vocalization range of about 100 different meows or yowls. Dogs only have about 10 different barks, yips or snarls.

5. Dogs have a disconnected shoulder blade, which gives them a better range of motion when running and jumping. Most canines can run at around 19 mph at full speed.

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What is Dog Water Therapy?

By Tamara McRill

Who can resist the joyous tongue-lolling grin dogs get when they play in water? Not me… and I’m guessing that as a pet lover, not you either! Turns out this canine fun – in the form of dog water therapy – can also help the health of our pets.

Sounds like a great match, so let’s explore just what dog water therapy is, what you can expect and how it can help with pet rehabilitation.

Splish Splash

Well, it’s sort of like taking a bath. Dog water therapy – also known as canine hydrotherapy – is most commonly performed in a small heated pool. A dog’s muscles are similar to ours, in that they can benefit from the warmth of heated water. Most hydrotherapy pools are also treated with a chemical such as chlorine.

Most therapy center pools have either a ramp for dogs to get in and out of the pool, a hoist to lift your dog out, or both. If your dog has difficulty walking, be sure to ask about this at centers you are checking out.

Some pools also have jets to spray underwater, which is great for building strength. Also something to ask about, if it meets your dog’s medical needs. Always be sure to consult with your veterinarian before starting any type of therapy for your dog and to get your vet’s recommendations on what types of pool features are best for your pet’s treatment.

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Which Dog Breeds Excel in Agility?

By Linda Cole

When people think of a specific dog breed for the sport of agility, the image of a Border Collie often comes to mind. The dog’s piercing eyes are focused on his human partner as he waits to start his run. Both dog and owner are pumped and ready to go, eager to test themselves against the clock. The dog’s job is to race around an obstacle course as quickly as he can, taking direction from his partner. The Border Collie excels in this fast-paced and demanding sport, but there are other breeds that have the speed, intelligence and determination to be agility champs.

Aside from being a fun way for a dog to burn off energy, agility is a sport that builds confidence and patience. One look into their intense, eager eyes and you just know that agility is something dogs truly love to do. A paralyzed Border Collie named Zip enjoys agility so much that she continues to run courses in her wheelchair!

Herding Dogs

Members of the Herding Group have what it takes to excel in agility. These breeds were developed to move livestock and can make sharp turns. They have plenty of stamina and speed, can think on their own and are workaholics who follow commands from their handler. They are intelligent and quick to learn new things. This group includes the Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog and Australian Shepherd. Even the short-legged Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgi can succeed in this dog sport.

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Being a Responsibly Informed Pet Owner

By Julia Williams

We live in interesting times. It’s true that every generation has it decidedly different than the one before, but the disparity seems to get wider with every decade. One reason for this is the internet. I used to get answers to all my burning questions by phoning the library reference desk. If the librarian didn’t know the answer, she always knew where to find it… in those archaic things called books. Remember those? LOL. Now, I can find the answers online in less time than it takes to pick up the phone.

It’s easier than ever to be an informed pet owner nowadays, provided you know how to tell the difference between reputable websites providing accurate information, and sites looking to make a quick buck with keyword-stuffed content. Just because you see the same info on many websites doesn’t mean it’s correct; online information tends to multiply like rabbits, and the “daddy” site that everyone else copied from could be erroneous.

So I always approach my online research with a healthy dose of caution, especially if it concerns my pets’ health or my own. I also do not attempt to self diagnose, and I never substitute the opinion of my trusted vet with information gleaned from a website. That being said, the internet can complement veterinary care because it allows you to ask your vet more questions and gives you the opportunity to learn and become a more informed pet owner.

I always thoroughly research anything my own doctor recommends or prescribes for me, and I do the same for my cats. I have a wonderful vet; she doesn’t roll her eyes when she seems me getting out my “list” of symptoms or things I want to ask her about. (I can’t say the same about my M.D.). My vet always takes the time to discuss all medications, treatments and options with me so I’m confident in the decisions we make together about my cats’ care. I trust her expertise completely, but I still believe a responsible pet owner has a duty to be as informed as possible about the various options.

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Do Dogs Understand Human Speech?

By Langley Cornwell

Most dog people believe that their pets can understand them; some say their pets are in tune with their moods and emotions, and some even go so far as to say that their pets understand their actual words.

Nonetheless, scientists have yet to conclusively determine how much human speech dogs can truly understand. If you have a dog, you know they are able to link sounds with actions (let’s go for a walk, get in the car, lay down, shake, bow, etc.) but they struggle with concepts. For example, if you say, “Go get a toy” the dog will do just that. But if you have a ball and a rope side by side and you say, “Go get the rope” the dog may have a hard time determining which toy you are asking for.

There are exceptions to this. In fact, my friend’s yellow lab has 5 Frisbees, each a different color. If you tell her to get the pink one, she does. Likewise, if you ask her to bring you the red one, she does. Clearly, my friend’s dog displays a high level of cognition. And all of this is without any training!

Research confirms that dogs can functionally understand and use concepts like larger and different with a good bit of training with high value rewards like Canidae Pure Heaven treats, but my friend’s dog simply has this ability. Most dogs can label objects but have problems with differences like color or size (bring me the red Frisbee, bring me the big ball).

A well-known experiment conducted by German researchers confirmed that a Border Collie named Rico had a vocabulary of over 200 words. The researchers started by validating Rico’s vocabulary in a controlled setting. To do this, they collected 10 items Rico was familiar with. They had Rico’s owner issue a verbal command for the dog to fetch a specific item from another room. Rico performed this task perfectly. Next, the researchers wanted to take the experiment a step further so they placed another item –  one that was unfamiliar to Rico – among the familiar items. The owner requested the new item by name, even though Rico didn’t know the name of the item, and Rico brought the new item back to his owner.

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What is Vestibular Disease?

By Linda Cole

Vestibular disease can strike dogs and cats suddenly. Your pet is fine one minute and the next, he’s struggling to stand and walk. One of my older cats developed vestibular disease years ago. At the time, I had no idea what it was. Understanding vestibular disease is important because the symptoms mirror those of a stroke as well as other medical conditions, and it can be misdiagnosed.

My cat, Patches, was sitting upright when she suddenly fell over on her side and couldn’t get up. Her eyes were moving rapidly back and forth and her head was shaking. It was a scary moment and I was convinced she’d just had a stroke. I called my vet and he decided she could wait until the office was open the next morning. By then she seemed better and had regained her balance. Come to find out, it was idiopathic vestibular disease and not a stroke as I had feared.

The vestibular system is how animals, including us, know which way is up or down, if we’re spinning around, standing, moving, sitting or lying down. In general, it’s responsible for maintaining our sense of balance and controls head and eye movements. Without getting too technical, the vestibular system is made up of nerves in the brain that continue into the inner ear. The vestibular apparatus is located next to the cochlea that’s found deep in the inner ear, and another one is located in the medulla (the lower area of the brain) which is found at the top of the spinal cord.

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