Category Archives: Lexiann Grant

Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners

By Lexiann Grant

Disasters come in all types and sizes, from local mishaps such as industrial fires or chemical spills, to regional or larger weather disasters like flooding, tornadoes, ice storms and hurricanes.

Every household should have a disaster plan for situations that require evacuation or remaining in your home. And that plan should include your pet.

First, if you have to leave, never leave your pets behind as this puts them in extreme danger. It’s important to know in advance where you can go with your animal companion – a relative’s, a pet-friendly hotel, or a kennel where you can board your pet until it’s safe to return home.

If you are away when disaster strikes, have a neighbor lined up who is willing to get your pets out and to safety. Provide them with keys or access ahead of time, as well as detailed instructions on your pets’ care, where their supplies are and where to take them.

Although the Red Cross website notes that health regulations prohibit pets in emergency shelters, some areas are beginning to set up disaster relief shelters for people with pets. Consult your local chapter for further information.

Make sure that your pet’s ID is current, whether a tag or microchip registry, and that your cell phone number and away-from-home contact information is also available. Carry a current picture of your pet in your wallet in case you get separated.

Keep a doggy (or kitty) survival kit ready to grab and go. This kit should contain such items as:

* Water and non-perishable pet food for about a week

* Portable or disposable bowls

* Medications; copies of medical records including rabies certificate

* Extra leash and collar, possibly glow-in-the dark or lighted

* Dog license

* Collapsible crate; bed or blanket

*Quick clean-up items like paper towels and pooper-scooper bags

* Small bag of kitty litter, pan and scoop

* Sweater for thin-coated dogs in cold climates

* A toy to help pass the time

Also consider a pet first aid kit. These pet-specific kits can be purchased from the Red Cross or pet-supply stores, or you can put one together yourself with your veterinarian’s advice and suggestions from Linda Cole’s informative article found here.

Your pet survival kit should also be readily available for times when you have to take shelter in your home. For severe weather like tornadoes, make sure there is space and you have provisions in your home shelter to care for your pet until the danger ends. Longer events, like power outages or blizzards, require additional plans to keep your pets warm.

In extreme situations, it may be necessary to pre-arrange for a relative or neighbor to take care of your pet until you are reunited. As much as you might not want to think about it, a pet owner’s disaster plans should include a person who would take your animal(s) in the event of your death. Include this information in your will, but also give it to a trusted friend or relative in advance.

Several organizations offer pet disaster preparedness and planning information online. Search the web pages of such groups as the ASPCA, the Red Cross, NOAA,, FEMA, and the AVMA.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use your pet emergency plan, but if you do, knowing that you – and your furry family members – are prepared, should give you more peace of mind if disaster strikes.

Read more articles by Lexiann Grant

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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.

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San Jose Bark in the Park Recap

By Lexiann Grant

Everyone wants to have fun with their dog. But when you can play and serve a good cause at the same time, that’s even better. The people who attended the San Jose Bark in the Park on September 19th, along with their dogs, must have agreed – about 14,000 humans and 3,500 canines made this year’s event the largest dog festival in the country.

As part of their commitment to give back to the dog community, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Food provides primary sponsorship of this annual event which raises funds for the Naglee Park neighborhood’s Campus Community Association, the Humane Society Silicon Valley and the San Jose Animal Care Center. Admission was free, but attendees were asked to donate $5 per dog to enjoy the day’s activities.

Although the day was planned to raise funds, it provided dogs and their humans with plenty of fun, including a Pet/Owner Look Alike Contest, Dog Costume Contest and Silly Tricks Contest. Agility, flyball, herding, and dancing with dog demonstrations were held throughout the day. A water park was set up for dogs that wanted to get their paws wet, and visitors enjoyed live music.

Nearly 100 pet-related services, vendors and food placed around the spacious, landscaped grounds of the park provided information, shopping and dining. As a service to those in need of assistance, grooming, training help, vaccinations and microchipping clinics were available for owners to utilize. Multiple rescue groups were on hand to answer questions about adopting homeless dogs or cats.

Manning the CANIDAE booth this year were Kim Trudelle and Jim Dempsey. This pet food company participates in sponsorship of the event because, “CANIDAE has a history of helping animals in need when we are able to through events and fundraisers like Bark in the Park,” said CANIDAE Sales Manager Kim Trudelle who helped organize the CANIDAE presence at the event and arrange for the prize donations. “Often times we sponsor events where the local Humane Society benefits. Other times we show up to help raise funds for the AKC Canine Health Foundation. We always have a lot of fun at these events and we get to help animals at the same time.”

Besides fundraising and recreation, festivals such as Bark in the Park serve another purpose. People who play with their dogs, bond with their dogs. Having fun together is one of the best methods for strengthening the tie between you and your dog. And the benefits of this relationship are numerous: improved physical and emotional health, a deeper commitment to the welfare of your pet, and assistance for other companion animals in need.

What better way to raise money, have fun and do good, than a huge, day-long dog party? Next year’s San Jose Bark in the Park, also supported by CANIDAE, is slated for September 18th. For more information on this and the upcoming years’ events, visit

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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.

Why Feed Grain Free Dog and Cat Food?

By Lexiann Grant

Should you feed grain free food to your cats and dogs? While grains contain many beneficial nutrients, cats are carnivores and not normally grain eaters, and, some dogs don’t do well with grains while other dogs need the higher levels of protein a grain free diet can offer.

Although grains are a good source of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, the digestive system of the feline is not designed to efficiently break down and utilize a large amount of carbohydrates. The small quantity of carbohydrates that ancestral cats ate came primarily from the stomach contents of prey which they caught and consumed. While pariah and feral dogs were more versatile in their diets, eating more carbohydrates than cats, the source of these carbs was vegetables, fruits and also food remnants in their prey’s digestive tract.

Studies over the years through various veterinary colleges and journals have shown that several health conditions can be aggravated by too much dietary grain. Special diets for affected pets usually eliminate or greatly reduce the grain source of carbohydrates in their food.

* Allergies. In dogs, allergies most often manifest with itching, dry flaky skin, skin lesions, and excessively waxy ears with frequent ear infections. Cats may experience itching, hair loss, nasal discharge and respiratory symptoms. Although food allergies are the least common type of allergy diagnosed in dogs and cats and make up only about 5% of all cases of skin disease, there are rare cases of allergy to soy, corn and wheat grains.

* Inflammatory Bowel Disease. A serious, complex disease which results in chronic diarrhea and sometimes vomiting, IBD is linked in part to diet. Grains have a history of making the symptoms of this condition worse. Elimination diets to diagnose and control IBD rely on a single meat protein source and most frequently – no grains.

* Urinary tract disease, including struvite bladder stones and feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC or FLUTD). For pets predisposed to bladder problems, a precisely balanced diet is critical to maintaining health. Meat protein in strict proportion is necessary to maintain proper urine pH, which is typically too alkaline in these painful conditions. Grains contribute to alkaline urine pH: the more grain in the diet, the more alkaline urine is likely to become.

“With urinary problems I recommend food that is higher in protein content and lower in grain,” says Dr. Shawn Messonnier DVM,, and author of Unexpected Miracles, “and, IBD and allergies can be worsened because of possible interactions with grains.”

* Obesity and high glucose. Partial grains can contribute to weight gain or unstable blood sugar levels, particularly in cats. Energy from grain carbohydrates rushes into the system and converts quickly to glucose. This sudden excess can lead to high levels, followed by a plunge. Dogs who “work” or compete in high-energy activities need more meat protein for sustained energy. Pets with diabetes can more easily maintain normal blood sugar levels with diets lower in grains and higher in meat protein. And, calories from partial grains can also pack on as pounds of fat more quickly.

* Additionally, non-premium foods that rely on grain plants as their main source of protein can be deficient in the amino acid, taurine. Taurine deficiency plays a key role in the development of eye and heart problems, particularly in cats.

If grains are bad, then why are they used in pet food? Because not all grains are bad, and not all animals have a problem with grains. Not only do whole, low-allergenic grains, like oats, barley or brown rice, contain beneficial nutrients, they are useful to the production of kibble. These healthy grains help “hold” dry food together and supply nutrients.

For the dog or cat who needs a grain free diet, these nutrients come from other sources – which also facilitate the manufacturing process – such as potatoes, peas, cranberries and other vegetables or fruits. The essential nutrients found in grains are also available in these food sources and do not have to be “added back” into the diet.

Not every dog, or even some cats, should be fed a grain free food. But for the health conscious owner who wants to provide an “ancestral diet” or for the special needs or “high energy” pet, grain free is a healthy option. Grain free foods are more expensive, but like any dietary choice, it’s an investment in good health. Like their other premium products, CANIDAE® offers a grain free line of kibble and canned foods for both dogs and cats.

Personally, I feed grain free to two of my dogs and most of the cats. One dog is my “little carnivore” that has always turned up her nose at the first whiff of a vegetable, grain or fruit (except for peanut butter)! The other dog has problems with alkaline urine and struvite crystals, and CANIDAE Grain Free has been key in keeping him healthy. The cats, some of whom have FLUTD, eat mostly grain free as well… and I’m looking forward to trying the new Grain Free FELIDAE® food.

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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.

Hot Weather Tips for Pet Owners

By Lexiann Grant

With hot weather in full swing, here are some tips to help your pet get through the summer.

Never leave your pet shut in an automobile during hot weather. Temperatures rise quickly in closed vehicles and your dog can suffer heatstroke and die.

Don’t leave your pet outside without access to a cool, shady area. Dog houses should be placed in the shade as temperatures inside these shelters rise higher than outdoor air if they receive direct sunlight most of the day.

Indoor pets who are not allowed in all areas of your house should have access to cooler rooms such as basements, baths or kitchens with tile floors. Avoid keeping your dog or cat in the garage, utility or laundry areas – rooms which are usually very warm. If your pet stays in a cooler room, they’ll be more comfortable should the air conditioning in your home fail.

Bring outdoor pets inside during extreme heat waves. For homes without air conditioning, try dumping ice in a tub, then place a fan where it blows air directly across the ice and towards one of your pet’s nap areas.

If a shelter isn’t safe for you during stormy summer weather, then it’s not safe for your pet either. Secure kennels and dog houses out of the way of falling limbs and where they are protected from high winds, lightning and hail.

Should the necessity arise to leave your home due to severe conditions such as floods or tornadoes, take your pet with you. Do not leave them to fend for themselves and possibly become lost or die. To ensure their safe return home if you are separated during a weather disaster, keep a current name and phone number identification tag on your pet’s collar.

Whether indoors or out, make certain that your pet has plenty of fresh water. High temperatures and changes in humidity increase your animal’s need for water. Fill large, spill-proof containers with chilled water. Place bowls where the sun won’t shine directly on them.

You may want to feed a lighter diet in summer. Some animals are more lethargic in hotter weather. Check with your vet for a recommendation.

All dogs, and even cats restricted to the indoors, are susceptible to insect bites and parasite infestations during warmer months. Use appropriate products to kill or prevent fleas, ticks and helminths. Ask your veterinarian which products are best for your pet. Outings during the summer can also be insect free if you apply a pet-safe insect repellant. Don’t use products designed for humans.

Exercise your dog with caution during hot or humid weather, particularly if he has a health problem like heart disease. When walking in unshaded areas, shield your dog’s body with your own, thereby creating a little shade for your pet.

Remember that your dog is “barefooted.” Prevent burned pads – don’t walk your dog on hot surfaces such as blacktop or concrete. Avoid taking your dog for walks in mid-afternoon when temperatures are highest; try early morning or evening walks instead.

Dogs that swim alone can drown as easily as people. If you have a pool, provide steps where your pet can exit easily. When swimming in a lake or river keep your dog safe from undercurrents or unseen hazards beneath the surface.

Don’t clip or shave your pet’s fur unless your vet or groomer recommends it, since a pet’s fur acts as insulation. Hairless breeds may need sunscreens when they’re outdoors to prevent burning.

Dogs and cats can’t handle high temperatures as well as humans. Pets with heavier fur or brachycephalic noses, like Pugs or Persians, are at risk for over-heating more quickly, but all pets can be the victims of heat prostration (or exhaustion), and heat or sun stroke. Know the warning signs and how to treat the condition.

Symptoms include: panting, rapid or labored breathing; tongue and mouth membranes turn bright red; confusion, disorientation; body temperatures of 104 degrees or higher; weakness; vomiting, sometimes with diarrhea; and, unconsciousness or coma.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Treat immediately by wetting your pet’s fur thoroughly or wrapping your pet in a cool, wet towel. After your pet begins to cool, allow them small licks of water from melting ice cubes. Get your pet to a veterinarian immediately for additional treatment.
Have a safe summer, and may you and your pet stay cool.

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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.

Is My Old Dog Still Breathing?

By Lexiann Grant

The weather turns warm. Or humid. Wylie pants, laboring to draw a deep breath of cool air. It scares me the way his sides quiver when he inhales. At night, when it’s finally cooler, I often find him awake, lying down, but with his head up, his breathing rapid. There is nothing I can do that settles him or eases his shallow respirations. In the morning, if he is down, I rush to check – is he still breathing?

Wylie is an old dog, ambling slowly around the bend of 14 into 15. He was a wild puppy, one of those dogs who probably thought his name was, “no,” “stop,” “don’t,” or “enough.” We couldn’t wait for him to mature and settle down. But several years into the senior range, Wylie still chased cats, ate toilet paper and stole food from the counter. (Yes, we did take him to obedience, each of us…twice.)

One winter night he came inside, from barking and chasing a creature invisible to me. Suddenly he staggered, his back end sinking, legs lurching like a drunk’s. His eyes rolled to me, wide with panic, and down he went. No seizure, but Wylie was obviously ill. As I was about to take him to the emergency vet, he just as suddenly regained use of his legs. Within a few seconds he ran to the kitchen, wagging his tail and barking for dinner. Back to normal, back to wild.

That was three-and-a-half years ago. According to medical literature, Wylie should have been dead less than 12 months after the first appearance of his symptoms. There is no definitive diagnosis. Maybe he has atypical seizures, maybe degenerative myelopathy, or possibly laryngeal paralysis, also a degenerative neurological disease of the entire body despite its particular name.

Wylie’s personality changed with the collapse, and what used to intrigue him now stressed him to the point of danger. Although I would have gladly spent the money for specialty treatment, Wylie couldn’t be tested. The stress and discomfort of the tests necessary for a diagnosis could aggravate his symptoms, accelerating the disease. And even with an answer, there was – is – no cure.

Now my wild child sleeps his days away. Cats that used to scatter at his appearance, sniff his ears and step over his outstretched legs, legs that quiver and paddle as he dreams. But when dark falls, sleep slips into the shadows as Wylie worries through the nights, his stress magnified by hearing that has faded. Bewilderment is plain on his face as he agonizes over intruders he may miss if he rests.

Some days his symptoms are worse. He cannot arise without help. His feet turn in of their own accord, toes and nails drag, or he turns in circles and walks in diagonal lines on some unmappable path. Or he forgets how to get from the yard to the door that brings him back to food and his bed. The once proudly curled tail hangs unfurled, and he no longer lifts his leg to mark the world as his own.

And yet I keep this old dog near to my heart and bedside, even though he doesn’t smell so good anymore. Just as I worry that tomorrow will be the awful moment when I must decide to let him go painlessly, he revives himself and makes it through another day, not in discomfort or anxiety, but in that joyously simple state natural to dogs. He barks for breakfast, plays with his treat cube and runs, not so fast or gracefully, to see the deer pass through the woods.

So I breathe a sigh of relief and wait to see what tomorrow will bring. Will Wylie be there – lost? wild? staggering? happy? I’ve learned to love the new form of crazy, the new-old Wylie. One day, his bed and bowl, they’ll both be empty (and his bed will still smell like him). Today he’s here, breathing, and that’s enough.

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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.

Excess Calcium Isn’t Good for Dogs

By Lexiann Grant

When you think of essential minerals your dog requires in his diet, calcium probably comes to mind first.

Because bones and teeth are formed and maintained with calcium, the body requires this nutrient in greater quantity than any other dietary mineral. Calcium is also critical in nerve impulse transmission, contraction of muscles and heart rhythm regulation.

Excess calcium causes numerous health problems, including kidney disease and some urinary stones. Parathyroid hormones influenced by dietary calcium levels, can disrupt dynamics in the gastrointestinal tract.

Feeding insufficient calcium also undermines health. Puppies may have poor bone growth and inadequate dental development. Bones in deficient adults can soften or fracture, and tooth loss or accelerated tooth decay occur.

Because of this, some owners feel their dog or puppy – particularly if he is a large breed – should be given extra calcium. But too much calcium can have the opposite effect: excess calcium can slow bone and cartilage development, even stunt growth.

One Cornell University study found an increased incidence of skeletal problems including hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD), osteochondritis dissecans or osteochondrosis (OCD) and hip dysplasia when dietary calcium was excessive.

In HOD part of the bone over-grows causing pain, fever, enlarged joints, and possibly hunched spine or bowed legs. With OCD, fluid accumulates in affected joints or connective tissue separates resulting in inflammation and pain. By the time symptoms of lameness, pain, or swelling are present, the damage is done.

Young pups fed certain commercial foods, and dogs eating homemade diets, may not be getting enough calcium. Table foods naturally high in calcium, such as broccoli or dairy products, can increase levels.

Balanced dog foods like CANIDAE® All Life Stages supply the correct amount of calcium without guessing. This amount is based on AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) and National Research Council guidelines. Formulas are tested to assure nutritional adequacy.

The minimum requirement is 1.0% and the maximum is 2.5% for a dry product basis. Growth formulas average 1.6% with maintenance formulas around 1.4%.

Calcium must also be balanced against phosphorous intake. The ideal range recommended by AAFCO is between 1-to-1 and 2-to-1 parts calcium to phosphorous. With improper ratios, phosphorous and zinc levels may become deficient.

Check with the manufacturer for calcium levels and ratios in your dog’s food. Nutritional information is usually available online as well. Your veterinarian can advise you if your dog or puppy requires extra calcium, but healthy dogs on a balanced, premium food shouldn’t need supplementation.

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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.