Pet Owners Beware of Wild Parsnip and Giant Hogweed

wild parsnip annieBy Linda Cole

Even though a lot of people have a difficult time identifying poison ivy, poison oak or sumac, the itchy rash that appears on the skin is well known. Wild parsnip and giant hogweed are two more toxic plants that can produce a reaction, but unlike poison ivy, these two plants contain a sap that can cause severe burn blisters on exposed skin. These are two plants pet owners should be able to identify.

Most of us haven’t the foggiest idea about the types of plants we encounter while hiking along a sunny trail or wandering through a field with a dog. Plants with pretty flowers seem safe and some people can’t resist picking a bouquet as they walk. Even if you don’t pick flowers, just walking through a patch of wild parsnip or giant hogweed can produce burns if your skin comes in contact with the sap. Pets are at risk if they run through a patch and get sap on their nose or in their eyes. It’s also possible for the juice to work its way down to the skin of short-haired dogs, and like poison ivy, if a dog or cat has sap on his coat he can transfer it to you if you pet him.

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7 Tips on Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat MickeyBy Julia Williams

One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.

When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?

The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.

Vet Checkups

As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.

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5 Tips for Using Rewards While Grooming Your Dog

grooming anniinaBy Laurie Darroch

No matter how much you may want to keep your dog clean and well groomed in order to keep them healthy and presentable, sometimes they simply do not want to be groomed. Your dog may be of the ilk that does not care for the whole fuss that goes with grooming and bathing. If they have not experienced it or are not used to it, you may have to coax them into behaving during their grooming and bathing sessions. Here are 5 types of rewards you can use as encouragement.

Treat Rewards

Initially, a hesitant dog may take a bit of coaxing to sit still long enough for a good brushing, skin and ear check, nail trimming or bath. Since grooming is important for maintaining a healthy coat and skin, and to find any possible problems, bribery may help to train them. If they are the kind that will never like grooming, a CANIDAE grain free PURE chewy treat  is a good way to reward them for sitting still or just to get your dog to approach and not avoid the activity.

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AKC Adds Three New Dog Breeds to Their “Pack”

By Linda Cole

The American Kennel Club is adding three new dog breeds to their pack this year, which makes them eligible to compete in the Westminster Dog Show. The new inductees – the Lagotto Romagnolo, the Miniature American Shepherd and the Berger Picard – bring the total number of breeds recognized by the AKC up to 187.

Lagotto Romagnolo – Sporting Group

lagottoPronounced La-go-toh Roman-yolo, this webbed footed, curly double-coated dog is one of Italy’s most ancient breeds. Lagotto means “duck dog.” Also known as the Romagna Water Dog, the breed dates back to Roman times. Developed in the marshlands of Romagna in northeastern Italy, this small to medium sized dog was developed and used for centuries as a premier water dog, and has remained unchanged over the years. The Lagotto Romagnolo is believed to be the foundation stock for all modern day water dog breeds.

Sometime during the 1800s, Italy began to drain their marshlands and convert the land to farming. It caused a sharp decline in the population of the breed, as their reason for existing dried up with the marshlands when the flocks of waterfowl began to disappear. But these intelligent, clever and energetic dogs found a new purpose thanks to their super sense of smell, their digging ability, and an abundance of energy. The Lagotto evolved into one of the best truffle hunting dog breeds in Italy and elsewhere. This gentle and sensitive breed is recognized as the only purebred dog in the world specialized as a truffle hunting dog. However, these dogs have retained their water dog hunting skills and continue to be hardworking dogs on land and water.

The Lagotto Romagnolo excels in dog sports like agility and gun dog trials, and loves to swim. These dogs are quick to learn new things, but can be manipulative which makes them not such a good choice for first time dog owners. Reserved with strangers, they are extremely loyal, devoted and affectionate with their family, including children, and are good guard dogs. Always alert with a desire to dig and strong instincts to hunt, especially waterfowl, the Lagotto should not be allowed to run off leash. Fully grown adults stand 17-18 inches high and weigh around 24-35 pounds. Their coat color can be off white, brown, brown roan, orange, or brown and white. Because they are working dogs at heart, daily exercise is recommended. The Lagotto Romagnolo makes a good hiking buddy or jogging partner.

Miniature American Shepherd – Herding Group

MASLike Australian Shepherds, Miniature American Shepherds can have blue, brown or one of each colored eyes. A favorite breed of equestrians because of their size, it’s not uncommon to see Miniature American Shepherds at horse shows. The breed was developed in the late 1960s in California by a woman named Doris Cordova who wanted to create a smaller version of the Australian Shepherd while keeping the intelligence, energy, loyalty, dependability and easygoing temperament of the Aussie. The Miniature American Shepherd is identical in appearance to the larger breed in every way except size. Cordova began to breed the smallest Australian Shepherds from each litter. Eventually she was able to consistently produce litters of the smaller version.

Even though the Miniature American Shepherd is a small dog, 14-18 inches and weighing in at 17-30 pounds, he should not be fed dog food formulated for small breeds. The best choice for active breeds is a premium quality food like CANIDAE. This is an energetic dog who needs a proper diet that will provide him with his daily nutritional needs, along with plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

Miniature American Shepherds are intelligent, athletic, playful, protective and calm. He’s an extremely versatile herding dog for corralling smaller stock like goats and sheep, but are tenacious enough to work larger stock as well. Their small size makes them perfect traveling companions, and they are at home in a city or country setting. Their guarding instincts are strong, they are after all herding dogs, and will bark out an alert when needed. If you’re into jogging, this breed would be a good running companion. He is naturally gentle and good with children. Like any working dog, this canine is happiest when he has a job to do.

Berger Picard – Herding Group

The 2005 heartwarming movie “Because of Winn Dixie” is based on a book by Kate DiCamillo. It’s about a 10 year girl named Opal who finds comfort and a friend when she adopts a stray dog wandering around the parking lot at the local Winn Dixie store. The dog is portrayed as a mixed breed and named Winn Dixie because of where Opal found him. However, Winn Dixie is actually a purebred Berger Picard. Langley wrote a very interesting breed profile on this adorable dog breed earlier this year. You can read more about the Berger Picard here.

Top photo by Teemu Mäntynen/Flickr
Bottom photo by Mullinspw/Wikimedia Commons

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Does Your Pet Make You Feel Unconditionally Loved?

love stellaBy Langley Cornwell

The answer to this question is a resounding yes! The connection people have with their pets is a source of unending fascination to me. The flowery words they use to describe the animal/human relationship are evidence of how they feel about their pets. And even though animals can’t use flowery words, they do a good job of communicating their love for us in different ways. When I asked my friends how their pets make them feel unconditionally loved, I received so many beautiful answers. Here is a sampling:

They Comfort Us

My friend Kim talks about her animals all the time. She marvels at the fact that, when she’s hurting, her dog and cats will curl up with her. “It’s like they sense my distress and want to comfort me.”

Taylor’s little dog Brynnie recognizes when she’s having nightmares and will stand on her chest and gently paw her face until she awakens. You see, Taylor has PTSD and often has horrible nightmares. She’s so grateful that her dog seems to understand and helps her through the tough times.

The other day my friend Jenn choked as she was drinking a glass of water. She describes it this way “As I fell forward onto my knees trying not to die from the very substance that gives me life, my dog came running over to make sure I was OK and tucked his head under my arm. No one else in the house so much as paused their video game to make sure I wasn’t actually as close to dying as my dog and I were both convinced I was. Dogs are the best.”

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Which Dog Breeds are the Friendliest?

friendly dogs adamBy Linda Cole

Dog owners have their reasons for why they picked a particular breed to bring into their home. Most dogs are friendly when they’re properly socialized to people and other animals, but there are some  breeds that are considered the friendliest. Here are six of them.

The Irish Setter is a chestnut red hunting dog that was used to “set” the game for his owner. He was originally red and white with shorter legs which allowed him to crouch down low when he found a bird and wait for his owner to throw a net over both of them. Through selective breeding, the white was bred completely out of the breed as were his shorter legs. These dogs are extremely fast with a good nose to locate birds. Used to point out and then retrieve birds, the Irish Setter is also adept at tracking, agility, obedience and as a watchdog. These dogs make great family pets and are smart, high spirited, loving and get along well with other pets and kids.

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