Category Archives: Lexiann Grant

Is Premium Dog Food Worth the Cost?


By Lexiann Grant

When looking at what it costs to feed your dog, it’s important to understand that not all dog foods are created equal. Quality kibble can make your dog healthier and probably doesn’t cost as much as some might think.
In the 1970s when I adopted my first puppy, I knew very little about dogs and dog food. I just purchased an inexpensive brand from the grocery store while shopping for my own food. I thought buying special flavors in appetizing packages equated being good to my dog.
Wrong. My first dog – a finicky eater – was excessively thin in body and coat, not good for an Afghan Hound. She also had digestive problems.
With my second dog I decided to try a different kibble. The one I chose was a bit better and cost a little more, but I was still clueless about what constituted a healthy product. This dog had ear infections, dry itchy skin and allergies her entire life. She was the only Afghan I knew who couldn’t run without tiring easily.
I had heard from some of my friends how expensive the premium dog foods were compared to the grocery store dog foods I was buying and was reluctant to spend what seemed like more money for the same number of pounds of dog food.
So I kept feeding the same kibble to the next four dogs my husband and I adopted. Every few weeks, one of the dogs was at the veterinarian’s for flaky skin, minor skin cysts, dirty ears, heavy shedding, mild respiratory infections or low energy. All the dogs had thin, dull coats and were generally lackluster. Despite my personal inclination to healthy, balanced eating, I just assumed the dogs’ food was nutritionally sound enough, and never really made the connection. Even though these conditions can have many different causes, I eventually decided that trying better foods was the easiest solution.
Before making the switch to better food, we were told repeatedly at dog shows that our Elkhound was “out of coat.” We kept waiting for him to grow the full adult coat as he aged. Extra portions, vitamins, oils, herbs, and unusual supplements added to his inexpensive food did not make that happen.
Finally another handler asked what we fed, and suggested trying a premium food. I started researching ingredients, pet food standards and labeling practices. I realized that if you compared a premium dog food pound for pound to things we all buy in the grocery store, it’s really not that expensive. Here’s an example. At Walgreens a 14 ounce box of Cheerios costs $4.50, so 30 pounds of Cheerios would be about $150! Cheerios is mostly grains, corn starch and sugar. A 30 pound bag of super-premium pet food like CANIDAE costs about $34 where I live so it costs just a little more than a dollar a pound. A typical dog eats less than a pound a day, so feeding a premium food can easily cost less than a dollar a day.
After I figured all this out for myself, I picked CANIDAE as the dog food to try. It was affordable, and it also finally improved my Elkhound’s fur! At the shows, we received compliments on how great our dog’s coat looked, and were asked what food we fed. My husband’s reply: “CANIDAE. It’ll grow hair on a bowling ball.”
Long before I became a CANIDAE Responsible Pet Ownership blogger, I fed CANIDAE because diet is everything; it is the foundation for good health.
In this brutal economy, it’s necessary to save money. But cutting corners on pet food won’t net any savings. That’s because less expensive products use lower quality ingredients. Pennies saved on kibble can turn into big bucks spent at the vet’s.
“Premium” in dog food means a higher standard in nutrition and quality of ingredients. Pound for pound, the price of premium food is higher. But each serving contains more nutrients that are more nutritionally available than in a cheaper food, making premium kibble the better buy. With more nutrients in every bite, dogs do not need to eat as much premium food as they would a brand containing fillers and by-products.
Want help including premium kibble in your budget? Check out the handy new calculator that figures the daily cost of feeding CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods based on your dog’s weight. Go to www.canidae.com/cost-to-feed-canidae/. From the pull-down menus, answer the four questions about which formula and size bag you feed (or would like to try), your dog’s weight and the amount your pet supply store charges for the selected product. Then click the “calculate” button to see how affordable premium dog food really is.
Although no single dog food is right for every dog, premium foods like CANIDAE make a positive difference. Remember, you get what you pay for: high quality food can equal better health.

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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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Digital TV: Better Viewing for Dogs?


By Lexiann Grant

Do dogs watch television? If so, can they really see images on the screen? And, do they enjoy it? If they don’t now, HDTV, or the June 13th, 2009, switch to digital signal might turn more dogs into regular viewers. Move over Nielsen!

Although a dog’s eye is somewhat similar to a human’s, canine vision is quite different. Dogs see in dim light and detect motion better than people. According to Dr. Mike Richards, DVM, and host of VetInfo.com, dogs also see flickering light better, which may cause them to view “television as a series of moving frames rather than as a continuous scene.”

Dogs do see something when they look at television, but what they perceive is – and probably shall always remain — a mystery. “There is little doubt that dogs see the images. The real question is how they process the information and what it means to them,” said Dr. Ned Buyukmihci, VMD, a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Owners say their dogs watch other dogs, wolves or animals like horses, large cats, birds and deer on television, often running behind the TV set to see if the animals are back there. Some people note that their dogs like shows with “lots of motion,” such as westerns and sports. Other people say their dogs dislike commercials or talk shows, responding to these broadcasts by growling, and even head-butting or biting the screen.

How shows are broadcast also makes a difference to canine viewers. HDTV, which has higher-resolution pictures and clearer images linked with smoother motion, should be more easily seen by dogs. “HDTV could enhance dogs’ viewing pleasure,” said Paul Noble, co-author of 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You To Know.”

Dr. Susan McLaughlin, DVM, a veterinary ophthalmologist at Purdue University, said her own dog “responds noticeably” to other animals on television. “I don’t think dogs look at TV all that differently than looking out a window at the world,” she explained, “It’s my observation that dogs act like they can see TV, but not everything interests them — they are rather discerning viewers.”

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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.

Norwegian Forest Cat: Ancient Breed Has Mythological Origins


By Lexiann Grant

The Norwegian Forest cat is, as its name indicates, a cat of Scandinavian descent. A breed believed to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old, the “Wegie” was the cat of the Vikings, living as a ratter on both farm and ship.

Breeders from Finland describe the cat as the “mystic wildcat of the fairy tales.” Norse mythology tells that these cats were the favorites of Freyja (also spelled Freya, Freja, or Frejya), goddess of love, fertility and the hearth. Freyja traveled in a chariot drawn by either two white or gray Wegies.

Legend says that the goddess’ presence passing through the countryside caused seeds to sprout and grow. Farmers that left out pans of milk for her divine cats were blessed with bountiful harvests.

Freyja also symbolized domesticity and was often portrayed with Norwegian Forest cats playing around her feet. Lovers wanting to marry asked the blessing of Freyja and her cats. Because of this custom, many superstitions about weddings and cats began. Some of these were:

* Girls who value cats will definitely marry
* Giving newlyweds a black cat as a gift represents good luck
* If someone steps on a cat’s tail, that person will not marry for a year
* If a woman feeds a cat before she goes to her wedding, she will have a happy marriage
* Scandinavians believed that feeding a cat well would guarantee sunshine on the day of a wedding.

Besides the Norwegian Forest cat’s role in transporting Freyja about the countryside, they drove her into battle against the Aesirs (or Asers), the gods of the dark side. They also pulled her chariot to the funeral of Balder, the god of beauty and kindness.

Called Norsk Skogkatts or Skaukatts in their native Norway, these cats were originally thought of as fairy cats. A naturally large breed, Forest cats were said to be so huge that not even the gods could lift them. One tale relates how Thor, the strongest of the gods, lost a contest of strength to Jormungand, who was disguised as a Forest cat. (Jormungand was the serpent son of Loki, god of mischief and deceit.)

Old though the breed is, their mythology continues into the present. Stories as recent as the 1930s spin mythological narratives about Wegies turning into trolls, and trolls turning into Wegies. Today’s breeders still name their catteries after ancient Norse myths.

For more information about Norwegian Forest cats, visit the websites of The Cat Fancier’s Association or The International Cat Association.

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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.

Cats are at Risk for Heartworm Disease, Too


By Lexiann Grant

Mosquito season is beginning, and it’s time to protect your cat from heartworm disease. Yes, cats get heartworms too – even indoor cats are at risk since mosquitoes can enter a home when a door is open.

The life cycle of heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) starts when a mosquito bites an infected animal. As the mosquito feeds on the animal’s blood, it ingests the microfilariae which are the immature form of the heartworm. Inside the mosquito the microfilariae develop into larvae. Then, when the mosquito bites an uninfected pet, the larvae are transmitted into that animal’s bloodstream.

The larvae migrate through the pet’s body to the heart where they develop into mature worms and reproduce. Heartworms commonly live in the right side of a pet’s heart and can grow up to 12 inches in length. Infestation with heartworm causes cardiovascular disease in dogs and cats.

Although the parasite is more common in dogs, heartworm infection in a feline can be just as deadly. Research indicates that cats may have the potential for a more severe reaction to heartworms than dogs.

Occasionally an affected cat will show no signs of disease but others experience acute respiratory distress and can even die suddenly. The usual symptoms shown by an infected cat include coughing, difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, fainting, lethargy, weight loss or vomiting.

Since these symptoms also can be caused by other diseases, a heartworm-infected cat can often be misdiagnosed. Cats may have 25 or fewer worms present when infected. Because of this, heartworms may be difficult to detect in a cat. Testing for both antigens and antibodies to heartworms is advised in felines.

Veterinarians may recommend chest x-rays for cats suspected of having heartworms. A positive radiograph shows enlargement of the right side of the heart as well as possible damage to portions of the lungs. Blood tests may show slightly elevated levels of eosinophiles (a type of white blood cell that is normally present when the body fights infestation by parasites).

For cats that do have heartworm disease, there is currently no approved treatment. However, because of the lower numbers for worms typically present in cats, a spontaneous cure can occur so that no treatment is necessary.

Some cats may experience ”crises” such as elevated blood pressure, allergic-type reactions or even shock, when a worm dies. These symptoms can respond to the use of corticosteroids. Affected cats should also have their physical activity restricted.

A monthly preventative for feline heartworm is available through veterinarians. In endemic areas, such prevention may be the best remedy. Because indoor cats can have less resistance to such pests, a preventive may be more important for them.

There are currently four different preventatives available for cats. Two of these products are oral and two for topical application. All are administered once monthly. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends asking your veterinarian to help you decide if your cat should be placed on heartworm preventative.

Additional information on Feline Heartworm Disease can be found on the American Heartworm Society website.

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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 do we love our dogs? Because…


By Lexiann Grant

Although we started out as work partners, thousands of years ago, dogs first loved us. In return we fed them, then grew to love them. There are more reasons than can be named why we love our dogs. What’s not to love?

To celebrate this loving relationship, here’s a list of some of the top reasons why. We love them because they…

…Fill our hearts and homes with laughter.
…Do something remarkable every day.
…Greet us enthusiastically even when we’ve only been gone for one minute.
…Show us how to give and receive unconditional love.
…Share our sorrows and our joys with us.
…Introduce us to their fascinating, simple world.
…Play funny jokes on us.
…Reduce our stress.
…Howl songs of delight to us.
…Are cuddly, huggable and love to be touched.
…Want to go with us everywhere we go and do whatever we do.
…Clean up the food we spill on the floor.
…Depend on us to care for them and teach them.
…Live with mindfulness of the present.
…Keep us on our toes.
…Do disgusting things that bewilder and amuse us.
…Change a bad day into a good one with a wag of their tail.
…Allow our inner child to come out and play.
…Relieve our boredom.
…Offer us an excuse to tell unexpected visitors why the house isn’t spotless.
…Lick our tears away.
…Watch over us when we are sick and guard us from peril.
…Make us proud of their achievements.
…Express themselves and their emotions honestly.
…Usually understand us, even when we don’t know what we mean ourselves.
…Quickly forgive us our wrongs.
…Teach us valuable life lessons, like patience, acceptance and devotion.
…Don’t criticize or judge us.
…Make us feel secure after we have a nightmare.
…Never let us sleep by ourselves when we are lonely.
…Don’t care how we look or what we wear.
…Are always beautiful regardless of their appearance.
…Give us a reason to get up in the mornings.
…Eat the same food each day but relish every meal.
…Are poetry in motion.
…Provide us a piece of heaven on earth.
…Are our family members and best friends.
…Live in our hearts and memories forever, even after they’re gone.
…Are our soul mates.

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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.

Do Dogs Understand Time?

By Lexiann Grant

Humans often dwell on the past and worry about the future. We envy dogs their ability to live in the moment, unfettered by their past, unconcerned about tomorrow. Although our perception of what dogs think about “living in the moment” may seem anthropomorphic, there’s a sound basis for the idea.

A dog probably doesn’t reflect, “what a bad day I’ve had” after visiting the vet. They focus on what they’re doing “now.” A dog in a threatening situation wouldn’t survive long if he were thinking instead about what toy to chew next. Marc Bekoff, PhD, an animal behavior professor at the University of Colorado, thinks dogs live in the moment. “When they’re actively engaged it’s hard to distract them. They’re attentive, mindful. And mindful means being in the present.”

But dogs use past experience to plan for the future. A dog who becomes agitated when he sees the vet hospital is basing his behavior on his previous painful or frightening experience there.

“When a dog experiences anxiety, it’s because of that moment. When they’re repeatedly exposed to the same situation, like aversion to the vet’s, there’s no reason to believe they’re not thinking about what’s coming,” Bekoff said. “They’re able to combine what’s happening now with what they think will happen.”

By considering a dog’s ability to react to the present, then plan immediate, future behavior based on the past, that implies dogs have a concept of time. Their concept isn’t the same as humans, but the dogs who live with us, have a sense of time and are tuned into our schedules.

This affects the way they make decisions. Dogs look for options. Different behaviors lead to different outcomes: which will be most satisfactory? Past experience, human schedules, conditioning and individual preferences all relate. Bekoff believes dogs are adaptable and intelligent, with much of their behavior based not on instinct, but on thought.

If dogs reason this way, are they also self-aware? The educational trend is moving away from strict behaviorism to careful cognitivism. New research aims to discover what animals might understand about themselves because not all animal behavior can easily be explained by instinct.

The idea of “self” in humans has broad meaning, but it’s unknown if dogs think this way or not. “There’s no evidence that dogs need to know who they are in order to function as humans do,” Bekoff said, “but animals appear to have a sense of ‘my body, my tail, not yours — mine-ness’.”

Owners, particularly those with multiple dogs, tend to believe their dog knows “their” crate, toy, food or name: who they are. And people like to know their dogs have emotion. But Ellen Lindell, VMD, and board certified veterinary behaviorist advises not focusing too much on the emotional part, “Maybe it’s simpler than that.”

Bottom line: enjoy the moment — now — with your dog.

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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.