Monthly Archives: January 2014

What Can Pets Teach Us about Forgiveness?

By Linda Cole

I’ve rescued quite a few dogs and cats over the years, most of them wandering strays that were lost or abandoned. Some were healthy despite their life on the streets, and some were a little rough around the edges. A handful had been abused in one way or another. The one thing all of them had in common was their ability to leave the past behind and move on with their life. Humans may be the smarter species, but it’s the animal world that has an unbiased ability to forgive.

Most of us learn at an early age that life isn’t exactly fair. We experience setbacks, have missteps, broken promises or shattered relationships that can cause us to lose faith in other people. Things happen, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t control everything that occurs in life. When we feel vulnerable, our tendency is to focus on what made us feel bad, find someone else to blame or hold a grudge. Forgiving a wrong can be hard to do sometimes.

Our pets on the other hand, have the ability to forgive us if we make mistakes when dealing with them. Of course it’s not the same type of forgiveness we give to another person, but dogs and cats don’t hesitate to give us the benefit of the doubt when a human mistreats them or unfairly punishes them. Animals don’t translate the failings and mistreatment given by one human to mean all humans are abusive or unfair. We get a pass if we lose our temper and yell, as long as it’s not on a regular basis. No matter what kind of treatment a dog or cat experiences, they don’t hang on to the past, hold a grudge or complain. What happened in the past is not relevant for creatures that live in the present. However, gaining their trust may be harder to do if their trust was violated.
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Understanding Your Dog’s Growl

By Langley Cornwell

When we first introduced our most recent dog into the family (consisting of two humans, one resident dog and one cat), we noticed that he growled a good bit. At the time, he was trying to get his bearings and learning how to assimilate into our routines so we weren’t necessarily worried about the growling. Even so, it was disconcerting. Because I wanted to reach a state of harmony as quickly as possible, my first instinct was to correct his behavior. That would have been the wrong thing to do. It’s important to understand why your dog is growling rather than immediately try to hush him.

Why do dog’s growl?

Dogs are expressive animals, which is one of the things we love about them. They communicate when they are happy or sad; they communicate when they are nervous, fearful or angry. We mostly understand what a dog is communicating by observing his face, ears and body posture. When a dog growls, however, the reason can be ambiguous to us. Why is he growling? Is he going to attack someone or something?

A dog growls in order to communicate, and as responsible pet owners it’s important for us to try and understand what prompted the growling. Generally, a growl indicates that your dog is unhappy, uncomfortable or afraid. He may be reacting to a perceived threat, or he may simply be playing. In fact, growling is divided into three escalating categories: play-based growls, fear-based growls and growls of warning before aggressive or defensive action is taken.

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Accommodating an Old Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

I wrote an article a short time ago about living with an older dog. Our Bear is definitely showing her age, and many times her irritability makes it hard to do anything that helps her feel better. If you have an older dog, you may want to start making some changes around your home that will make life easier for them. I like to think of it like dealing with an elderly person who doesn’t want to admit there are things bothering them. Changes are made gradually and are designed to give them a choice without any attention drawn to the easier choices when they begin making them.

While your dog may have always flopped down for a nap wherever he felt like it, you can make it more comfy by placing therapeutic “egg carton foam mattress” dog beds in their favorite places. Bear has a hidey hole in the bathroom where she likes to lay away from the hustle and bustle of the house. She also has her spot next to our bed when she’s too stiff to go underneath it, and a spot beside the couch where she lays when she’s feeling sociable. Her cushioned beds in those places are new additions that make her favorite napping spots more comfortable, easier on her joints and warmer.

If your dog has trouble with the stairs, there are a few things you can do. Non-slip mats on the stairs will help your dog balance out unsteady steps without fear of slipping and falling. Moving food and water to a place where your dog spends most of her time can help cut down on the trips up and down the stairs. We have a terrible set of spiral stairs that are difficult for humans to navigate. Bear has always flown up and down them much faster than me, but now she tends to stumble and stops midway to rest. I worry constantly about her falling down the steps. My better half has declared that when Bear is unable to manage the steps he will build her a slide. My job is to make sure that does not happen – I don’t want her sliding to the basement, so I am making it more comfortable for her on the main level of the house. If everything she needs is upstairs, she won’t need to go down the steps.

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Can Dogs and Cats Get Frostbite?

By Linda Cole

Winters can be really snowy and cold in my neck of the woods, making it hard for humans and animals to get around. My dogs do fine when we’re outside, provided their time in the snow and cold is limited. But in extreme cold, it takes only a few minutes before they’re limping back with very cold feet. I’ve had occasions where I’ve had to pick one up and carry her back inside. It’s important to keep a close eye on pets during the winter months because they can get frostbite on their feet, ears, tail and nose.

Some dog and cat breeds have a warm coat that provides them with good protection from harsh weather. The Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon Cat developed naturally on their own, adapting to weather conditions to survive. Northern dogs were bred to work in extreme weather conditions. They needed to be tough because human lives depended on their ability to handle snow and cold. However, even pets with double coats can feel the effects of the cold and are at risk of frostbite, especially inside pets that aren’t acclimated to the colder temperatures.

A pet is at risk of frostbite when the temperature drops to 32º F and below. When exposed to the cold for too long, the body begins a process of survival. Blood vessels closest to the skin begin to constrict and push blood to the core to protect vital organs like the heart and liver. The longer the body is exposed to the cold, blood flow at the extremities can become so low it can’t protect these areas from freezing, which results in tissue damage. These are the areas of the body farthest from the heart with little to no hair covering them. The tip of the tail, ears, paw pads and toes are the most common areas affected, but dogs and cats can get frostbite on their nose, too.

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10 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Pet Healthy

By Julia Williams

Every January, most of us do a little “mental review.” Whether we make detailed resolutions or take a more casual approach, the New Year is a good time to contemplate making some changes. Many times, what we want to improve is our health, with the goal being to live long and happy lives. We want the same for our beloved animal companions, so now is also a great time to reflect on things we can do to ensure they’re with us for as long as possible. Here then, are 10 tips for a lifetime of good health for pets.

Know Your Pet Well – Every animal is an individual, and what’s “normal” for one dog or cat may not be normal for yours. However, you can pay close enough attention to your own pet to find out what’s normal for them. Doing so will enable you to quickly tell when something is a little off with your pet, and get them immediate veterinary attention. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as the saying goes.

Perform Regular Health Checks – At least once a month (once a week is better), give your pet’s body a thorough inspection. Do a massage while checking their skin, ears, eyes, nails, paw pads, mouth, teeth and gums for anything unusual. If you find any lumps, scabs, redness, irritation, hair loss, discharge or other signs of trouble, be sure to call your vet right away. Remember, it’s easier to treat potential health problems early as opposed to waiting until they become bigger issues.

Feed a High Quality Pet Food – Fueling their body with nutritionally sound food is one of the most important things we can do to keep our pets healthy. Animals cannot read nutrition labels, so they depend on us to bring home food that not only tastes good to them but provides everything they need to stay healthy. CANIDAE makes a wide variety of premium pet food for dogs and cats of all ages, so you’re sure to find one that fits the needs of your animal companion.
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How Dog Owners Unknowingly Stress Out Their Pets

By Linda Cole

Dogs are as imperfect as we are, and there will be times when your pet engages in behavior you don’t like. Our canine friends do their best to understand what we want, but sometimes they fall short of our expectations. However, it’s not your dog’s fault if he doesn’t understand what you want and appears confused by your reaction to his behavior. Because we are dealing with a non-human species, it’s easy to make mistakes which can stress out our dogs.

Forgetting that your dog is a dog

It’s not uncommon for a possum, raccoon or cat to get inside my dog pen, especially at night. My dogs scour the perimeter of the pen searching for the critter that left the scent trail. Every now and then the trespassing critter is still in the pen. I usually check it before I let the dogs out, but recently a possum slipped in unnoticed. Thankfully it played dead, confusing the dogs, and I was able to get them back inside. After the possum left, it took forever for the dogs to settle down and do their business. The only thing they wanted to do was search for that critter. That was normal behavior as far as they were concerned.

Dogs chase things, dig, bark, mark and chew. One common way that humans stress out a dog is to punish him for following a natural instinct. Instead, make sure he has proper chew toys; designate a spot in your yard where he can dig; help your dog learn to control excessive barking by teaching him to be quiet on command. Keep your pet on leash to control his prey drive, and if he picks up an interesting scent, be patient while he investigates.

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