CANIDAE® Blog: Posted By Date

How to Fix Your Dog’s Itch

February 21, 2019

All dogs get itchy from time to time and need a good scratch. This is reasonable and completely normal in most cases, but sometimes it can get out of hand. Some dogs can scratch themselves silly. So how do you determine how much is too much?

If your dog starts to scratch and then fixates on a spot, if he digs in until he’s raw or he starts whimpering due to the discomfort, you’re past the point of normal. If you’ve eliminated the biggest, most obvious reasons for this overzealous scratching, is there anything else you can do? Is the issue fixable? The good news is yes, the issue is fixable. And in fixing the itch, you might just save your dog from some other health problems too.

So why is scratching such a big deal? The problem is that when your dog starts with the intense scratching, he is breaking down the natural protective barrier on his skin, leaving him open to a variety of parasites and infections. The other problem is that scratching leads to dry skin, which only leads to more awful itching for your usually playful pooch. It’s a vicious cycle; the more he scratches, the itchier his skin gets.

If you’ve ever experienced this problem, you know how far it can go. Sometimes, your poor dog scratches so much the areas becomes inflamed and he starts to lose fur in the itchy places, which is definitely not good. So what can you do to help your pooch ditch the itch? As with any health problem, the best place to start is your dog’s vet, because you need to get to the root of the problem. You need to determine whether this is obsessive, compulsive behavior or if its health related.

Prevention

Fleas and mites are the biggest trigger when it comes to itchy dogs, so keeping your pooch flea and tick free is a top priority, no matter the time of year or the climate you live in. I know some dogs that have crazy environmental allergies as well. In fact, a friend’s dog is allergic to grass! That’s a tough one, but if allergies are causing the itching issue, you’ll need to take steps to limit your dog’s exposure to the culprit.

If your vet determines there are no specific health reasons for the itching, then it might be an emotional/psychological issue. When I first adopted one of my dogs, he was a chronic scratcher. He concentrated all his energy on this one specific spot, at the base of his tail. After an extensive vet exam and several tests, it was determined that it was a nervous tic kind of thing. There was no physical reason for his itching, but it was helping him expend pent-up anxiety. I changed up his routine and that helped.

Making sure your dog gets enough physical exercise, mental stimulation, and playtime can help prevent excessive scratching. It’s important to not only help your dog expend his energy but also to keep him busy. Activities help prevent a dog from scratching in the first place, since a busy dog is less likely to even think about it.

At Home Cures

A nice, warm oatmeal soap bath may do the trick. If you go this route, make sure to only use soaps that are designated for dogs, as the type for humans, even babies, may dry out your dog’s skin, which is counterproductive. Another idea I’ve seen is to soak your dog in a chamomile tea mixture, which can apparently help soothe his skin just like oatmeal does.

You may want to take a good look at your dog’s food as well. Some vets recommend a food with fish for their beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, something like CANIDAE Grain Free PURE SEA with Real Salmon or CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Ancestral Fish Formula. Your vet may even suggest adding a fish oil supplement to your dog’s diet.

While having any itchy dog is definitely no fun for anyone, most especially your pooch, take heart. While annoying, it’s generally easy to manage or cure.

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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Do Cats Make Good Pets for Children with Autism?

February 20, 2019

Research indicates that dog ownership benefits children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). For instance, a 2015 study indicated that dog ownership helped reduce the anxiety of children with ASD. A 2006 study found that the presence of a dog during occupational therapy correlated to more social interaction and greater use of language in children with autism.

But what does research say about cats and children with autism? Unfortunately, there haven’t been many studies examining the specific benefits of cats for children with ASD.

Gretchen Carlisle, research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, has conducted several studies to determine how pet ownership can help children with ASD. One study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, indicates that having a pet of any kind in the home can benefit children with autism.

For this particular study, Carlisle surveyed 70 families who had autistic children between the ages of 8 and 18. All of the children were being seen as patients at the University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

She found that nearly 70% of the families had dogs and approximately 50% of the families had cats. Farm animals, reptiles, fish, birds, rodents, spiders, and rabbits were other pets owned by participants.

She found that when there was a pet of any kind in the home, children with autism were more likely to engage in social behaviors, such as asking for information, introducing themselves, and responding to other people’s questions. These behaviors are typically challenging for individuals on the autism spectrum.

The University of Missouri plans to conduct a research study focusing on the benefits of adopted shelter cats for children with autism. The 18-month study will examine the effect adopting a shelter cat has on the anxiety levels and social skills in children with autism spectrum disorders. The study will also monitor the stress levels of the cats themselves.

Cats from two local shelters will be screened for temperament and enrolled in the study. Each family will have the opportunity to choose an adoptable cat from the enrolled cat participants. All families must agree to give the cat a permanent loving home.

The researchers expect to find that the autistic children whose family adopts a shelter cat will have increased social skills, decreased anxiety, and form a bond with their cat. The researchers also expect that the cats will settle into their new homes without significant stress. The Winn Feline Foundation and the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) have given the University of Missouri grant money to make this study possible.

Carlisle states that while dogs are good for some kids with autism spectrum disorders, each child is an individual. A dog may not be the best companion animal for children with certain sensitivities because dogs can be very energetic, in-your-face, and loud. Dogs tend to bark at random things and lick their owner’s faces, behaviors that might actually raise rather than lower stress for autistic children with sensory sensitivities. Most cats, however, are content to lay around the house and are generally quieter. Parents should do their own research to choose a pet that’s best suited for their child.

If you have a child with autism and feel ready to adopt a pet, expose your child to the pet before you bring him home. Visit a local shelter to see how your child reacts to the dogs or cats there. Visiting the shelter on a weekday may be less stressful for your child, as shelters tend to be less busy during the week than they are on weekends. Alternatively, you can ask a family member or friend if you and your child can visit with their cat or dog. Knowing how your child will react to a pet before adopting one is important.

Do you have a child with autism? Has a pet helped him or her?

Read more articles by Sierra Koester

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5 Fun Ways to Socialize Your Dog

February 19, 2019

Socialization is an important part of being a responsible dog owner. The goal is to teach your pet to be comfortable and well behaved around other dogs and people in any setting. It need not be a daunting task, however; socializing can be a fun way to help your dog interact with the world at large every time you go out together. Here are five ways to get started.

Training Classes

A more controlled type of socialization than free play, in training classes your dog will be expected to practice and begin to learn specific skills and follow directions, even with the distractions of other dogs and their owners. Besides being lots of fun for your dog, learning the skills is great exercise and mentally stimulating, too. When you practice together in a socially mixed environment like a training class, this reinforces the behavior your dog will need to exhibit anywhere he goes with you.

In the controlled environment of a training class, you can manage and change inappropriate behaviors with the support of a teacher and other dog owners. Watching the other dogs is a good way for both you and your dog to see how others behave, and what to do when one gets out of control.

Dog Park Play

If you have a local dog park, take advantage of its availability to expose your pooch to other dogs in a controlled environment. Some dog parks have obstacle courses or sizeable running areas, and may also be separated into areas for small or large dogs. Be sure to follow the rules of etiquette, such as cleaning up after your dog or keeping him on a leash in areas where it’s required.

Your dog may soon associate the words, “Dog park!” with a pleasurable outing that allows him to be social and play with other dogs. He may find a best buddy that loves to run fast with him, or one that loves to play an exciting game of chase.

Socialize with Other People

Dogs need to learn appropriate social skills with humans as well as other dogs. Everyone appreciates a dog who knows how to behave in public. The more you expose your dog to other people, the more he will learn what he can and cannot do. The added bonus is that your dog will develop friendships with other people and be excited to see them each time.

Arrange to meet fellow dog lovers at their home or yours, at the dog park, on local nature trails or even just for casual walks around the neighborhood. Your dog will learn by verbal and physical cues when you mention familiar names that you are going on a fun excursion and he will eagerly anticipate the visit. His wagging tail and excitement waiting at the door will tell you he enjoys the social visits and play time.

Socialize with Other Dogs

Not all dogs will be the best of buddies, no matter how much you may want them to be. Some dogs do fine with any size dog, while others may do better with those closer in size or temperament. Your dog will have to learn how to deal with unpleasant dogs or those he simply does not get along with.

This is also a good chance for you to learn what behaviors may set your dog off, and learn how to deal with it. You should always be present when dogs play together until you know they can interact in a good way without constant supervision. You need to be close by to step in, if necessary, when they first meet.

Sharing Toys and Treats

Whenever you go someplace for play time, bring along a few favorite balls, toys, bubbles, or any other toy your dog might enjoy sharing with another dog. He will need to learn how to share, and when to change his behavior. To doubly reinforce the behavior you want to see, besides using verbal praise and petting, bring some CANIDAE treats to give him when he follows your training lead or does something particularly good. If it’s okay with the other dog’s owner, give them some treats, too.

You might find that socializing your dog is challenging in the beginning. As you and your dog learn, the outings will become a good outlet for his excess energy, a chance to make new friends, and a way to make bringing your dog with you acceptable to others. Socialization is good for your dog’s mental health as well. In addition, you may find some dog loving friends for yourself!

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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First Felines: A History of Cats in the White House

February 18, 2019

No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, one thing all pet lovers can agree on is that the White House should always have at least one four-legged occupant. Over the course of our country’s nearly 250-year history a wide range of animals have resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but today we’re going to take a look at the First Felines.

Incredibly, I could only find evidence of 12 presidents that have been owned by a cat! Wouldn’t you think the most stressful job in the world could use loads of purr therapy? While Bill Clinton’s cat, Socks is probably the most well-known, here’s a look at some other First Felines that deserve their fair share of the limelight.

Abraham Lincoln: Tabby

Our 16th president was the first to bring a cat into the White House. He actually adored cats, going so far as to feed his son’s cat Tabby with a gold fork at White House dinners, which the First Lady considered shameful. When asked if her husband had a hobby, Mary Todd Lincoln replied, “cats.” During the Civil War, on a visit to General Grant’s headquarters in the middle of winter, he found three stray kittens in the telegraph hut. When he learned their mother was dead, he made sure the kittens would be fed and a good home found for them.

Rutherford B Hayes: Siam

President Hayes reportedly owned the first Siamese cat to come to the United States. Siam was a gift to Hayes and his wife Lucy in 1879 from the American Consul in Bangkok. Several months after arriving, Siam became sick and despite intervention from the president’s personal physician she couldn’t be saved.

William McKinley: Valeriano Weyler and Enrique DeLome

President McKinley may have been owned by a pair of Turkish Angora cats, Valeriano Weyler, named for the governor of Cuba, and Enrique DeLome, named after Spain’s Ambassador. The true story is lost to history, but some reports say that shortly after the kittens were born the Spanish-American war broke out. In an effort to “make a political statement,” the president’s wife Ida ordered them to be drowned. Another source says the McKinleys never owned cats, and the drowning story is just a myth. Let’s hope so!

Calvin Coolidge: Mud, Bounder, Smokey, Blackie, Timmy and Tige

President Coolidge and his wife Grace practically ran a zoo! Among their many cats were Mud, Bounder, Smokey, Blackie, Timmy and Tige. Timmy and Coolidge’s canary actually napped together! Tige traveled the White House around the president’s neck and when he went missing, Coolidge appealed to the people by calling for their help on a radio address. After being found, Tige was fitted with a special collar that contained his White House address, but after going missing a second time he was never found.

Woodrow Wilson: Mittens and Puffins

The 28th president’s two cats were named Mittens and Puffins. Both felines enjoyed jumping on the dining room table during family meals.

Teddy Roosevelt: Slippers and Tom Quartz

President Roosevelt’s six-toed cat named Slippers loved to nap in the White House hallways, requiring the guests at a state banquet to detour around her on their way to the dining room! Their second cat Tom Quartz was named after the cat in Roughing It by Mark Twain.

John F Kennedy: Tom Kitten

President Kennedy’s daughter Caroline had to find a new home for her cat Tom Kitten (named after the beloved Beatrix Potter character) when it was discovered the president was allergic. The cat died at a very young age and was given an obituary in a local newspaper.

Gerald Ford: Shan Shein

Sealpoint Siamese Shan Shein (named after a city in China) was owned by President Ford’s daughter Susan. When Susan was in school, Shan would often hide under the bed in the Lincoln bedroom. Unfortunately, the Fords had Shan declawed to prevent furniture scratching.

Jimmy Carter: Misty Malarky Ying Yang

The Carter family also had a sealpoint Siamese, Misty Malarky Ying Yang. In spite of the female name that inspired a musical composition by Gabor Szabo, Misty was a male cat! He was particularly devoted to daughter Amy, and could often be found curled up in her favorite spot—Amy’s indoor doll house.

Ronald Reagan: Cleo and Sara

Although technically not White House cats (these two kitties lived at their California ranch), Ronald and Nancy had a pair of torties, Cleo and Sara. Apparently many cats lived at the Reagan ranch but they were only photographed with the torties, so they must have been extra special!

George W. Bush: India, Ernie and Cowboy

Three cats resided in the Bush White House. India was named after baseball player Ruben “El Indio” Sierra of the Texas Rangers, the baseball team Bush owned at the time. India, nicknamed Willie, was very reclusive and preferred spending her time in the library. She died just before the Bush family left the White House. Ernie, named after Ernest Hemingway, became “too wild” to live in the White House and was sent to live with friends, and Cowboy died of kidney disease shortly after Bush took office.

While we don’t know when the White House will get its next feline resident, we do know that an adorable gray tabby named Hazel currently lives at Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president. One thing is certain, she has her paws full keeping the DC rats (four-legged and otherwise) in line!

Do you have a favorite “Presidential Pet?”

Read more articles by Melissa Lapierre

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Why Is My Pet Pacing at Night, and What Can I Do?

February 15, 2019

Have you ever been awakened by your dog pacing around at night? Suddenly you’re hearing those little toenails click, click, clicking on the hardwood floors while you’re trying to sleep. Do they need to go out? Are they feeling poorly? Should you get out of your warm, cozy cocoon and see what they want?

While most dogs and cats have learned to settle in when we humans do, every so often some have problems settling down when the sun disappears. In this article, I’ll go through some of the reasons your pet may have trouble winding down, and what you can do to help them rest comfortably for the night.

Dogs have been man’s best friend for a long time, which means they’ve had a lot of time to get used to our routines, including when it’s time to sleep. Those of us who share a home with a canine friend usually don’t have any issues with nighttime prowling or sniffing about, but it can happen.

Most domesticated cats have also generally adapted to the human’s nighttime ritual, but sometimes their nocturnal nature kicks in and they awaken in the wee hours ready to hunt prey, create chaos, and otherwise just be a cat. So what causes this nighttime revelry, and what are the steps you can take to help your precious pet settle in?

Causes of Restlessness

As far as dogs are concerned, restlessness is most commonly seen in puppies and younger dogs. Because they spend so much time sleeping during the day, there is a chance that when you’re ready to go to bed, they are ready for playtime. In mature or senior dogs, the reasons for nighttime disquiet can be more complex.

Dementia is one of the possible causes for restlessness in pets, especially in older dogs and cats. If your senior animal paces the floors and simply cannot find peace during the night, you will want a vet to determine if there are health issues contributing to this condition.

Pain can also cause nighttime pacing. Sometimes it’s as small as a bug bite that itches, but it can be any number of things – sore or torn muscles, painful growing bones, a cracked tooth or nail. In these cases, a vet visit is also in order.

Anxiety is another cause for ceaseless pacing in some pets. It may surprise you to know that dogs and cats are very much like humans in this way. Think about how hard it is for you to fall asleep when you are stressed out about something. The same thing happens to our pets, and they pace the floors.

Prevention

An ounce of prevention is the best course of action. We sleep better after a full day of activities, exercise, and fun, and so do our pets. One of the best ways to prevent your pet from being restless at night is to make sure they get enough exercise and mental stimulation during the day. Take a long walk with your dog, and encourage your kitty to play with a variety of interactive toys. Training lessons and playing games will work too. Hide some CANIDAE treats around the house and encourage your pet to go find them, play fetch, crumple up a paper bag; whatever it takes help wear them out and calm them down.

Cure

If you have reason to believe your pet is pacing due to physical issues and not simply a lack of exercise and stimulation, you’ll want to consult with your veterinarian to determine your options. If your pet suffers from anxiety, dementia, or pain, the best you can do is follow your veterinarian’s advice and proceed from there. Some problems that cause your pet to lose sleep can be fixed with a simple procedure or medication. Not all problems can be cured, but they can be managed enough to make your furry companion comfortable and able to rest at night.

While it may be annoying when your pet paces during the night, try not to get mad at them. They’re likely not very happy with the situation either. It’s your responsibility to determine if the issue is physical, mental, or emotional and take the necessary steps to ensure that everyone gets back to a good night’s sleep.

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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Dear Valentine: A Love Letter to My Cat

February 14, 2019

It’s Valentine’s Day and you know what that means – time to show the one you love how much they mean to you. And yes, of course that means your cat, too! One great thing about cats (among many) is that they don’t require extravagant gestures on Valentine’s Day. Your cat won’t blast you on social media if you don’t shower them with gifts, expensive dinners and such. They won’t give you the cold shoulder if you don’t pull out all the stops to prove your love. This doesn’t mean they don’t want your love, though. They certainly do, it’s just that a cat’s needs are so much simpler. Give them some treats and a toy, and your feline Valentine will think you are the cat’s meow.

But what if you still want to do something extra for your cat on Valentine’s Day? You could get them a cat tree, window perch, wall shelves or something else that will enrich their environment. There’s no guarantee they’ll love you even more than they already do, but if it makes YOU feel good then that’s a win.

With that in mind, I decided to write love letters to my two cats. Much as I wish they could understand my language, I know they cannot. So this was really for me; I just wanted to say some things I hope they know in their hearts despite the communication barrier.

I found the process quite enjoyable and satisfying on so many levels, and I encourage you to write a love letter to your kitty, too. If you do, please share it in the comment section!

Dear Annabelle,

My special girl with a heart of gold, I have known and loved a lot of cats in my lifetime, but never one as sweet and loving as you. You are without question the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I feel blessed beyond measure that you chose me.

You show me every day that I mean as much to you as you do to me, and this lifts my spirits and touches me deeply. This bond we share is so much greater than any I could have ever hoped for or imagined. You’ll never be inconsequential or “just a cat” to me; you are my everything.

I’m sorry to be so sappy, baby girl, but my heart feels what it feels and I can’t hold back. I need you to know that I’ll never love another as profoundly and completely, of this I am sure. The gift of your love and your kitty kisses (sandpaper tongue aside) is the most wonderful thing I could ever be given. Your presence in my life adds immeasurable happiness and contentment.

Please keep being you, my affectionate feline friend, and always remember how much I adore you.

###

Dear Rocky,

I’ve never known a naughtier kitty, but your mischievous ways are what I love most about you, my darling boy. It’s true that you test my patience daily with your food obsession and attempts to make what’s mine, yours. And it’s true there’s no limit to the lengths you’ll go to steal my chicken or lick the butter. But it’s also true that I know this is just who you are, and I wouldn’t change it even if I could. Truly! It’s what makes you extra special, after all.

I know you sometimes get jealous of my bond with Annabelle and feel like you are playing second fiddle. I wish I could make you understand that even though my relationship with you is not as deep, I still love you with all my heart. I cherish the unique bond we have, and I can’t imagine my world without you in it. How boring my life would be without the laughs your impish antics bring! Every day, you make me smile and bring me joy…what human could want for anything more from their kitty companion?

Oh Rocky, aka Naughty McNaughterson, I love you more than you will ever understand. Happy Valentine’s Day, my delightful furry friend!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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9 Reasons You Should Play with Your Pet Every Day

February 13, 2019

Play is so much more than just your pet running around and having fun. It’s an essential part of learning social skills, as well as emotional, physical and intellectual development. Besides being fun, play has an important role in puppy and kitten development, but it’s also important in their adult years. Here are nine reasons to play with your pet every day.

Provides Mental Challenges

Taking your dog on a walk, hike, or to the dog park provides him with mental challenges that help keep his mind healthy. Cats can be trained to walk on a leash, and many will enjoy a stimulating stroll around the neighborhood. But playing with your pet is another good way to challenge him mentally.

Interactive toys and puzzle feeders can be used during playtime for both dogs and cats. Learning basic commands will also be viewed as play, as long as you make it a game and reward your pet with some CANIDAE treats or a favorite toy.

Alleviates Boredom

Play helps curb boredom, which can lead to behavior issues if a pet becomes frustrated. A bored pet is likely to find destructive ways to entertain himself. Playing with your dog or cat on a daily basis helps keep them happy and stimulated.

Curbs Obesity

There’s a wide variety of dog sports, including uncommon ones such as canine dressage and mantrailing, that you can enjoy with your canine friend. And yes, there are a few fun sports for cats as well, like feline agility for example. If sports just aren’t your thing (or your pet’s), then play can provide exercise that helps them maintain a healthy weight. Cats and dogs spend a good portion of their day snoozing, and it’s estimated that 58% of cats and 53% of dogs are overweight or obese. Engaging them in daily play activities will help keep them at a healthy weight.

Practice Innate Skills

Cats love to chase, stalk, jump and pounce when playing; these are all good ways to practicing their hunting innate skills. Play helps fine tune motor coordination and practice movements needed during a hunt, even if the prey is just a toy mouse or feather on a stick.

Non-working herding dogs naturally want to herd, and playing games gives them an outlet to use instinctive skills they were born with. Just be sure to keep a herding dog under your control to ensure playtime remains safe and fun. Nosework games can give your dog the opportunity to use their scenting ability to search out hidden treats.

Teaching Opportunities

Playing helps you teach your pet good manners and impulse control. The tug of war game teaches your dog to control his bite if you stop the game whenever his teeth touch your hand or arm. He learns that if he keeps his bite in check, the game will continue. Instead of yelling at your dog to stay down or stop barking, playing with him in a relaxed state of mind helps you teach him how to behave.

Playtime is the perfect time to work on basic commands. Fetch gives you a chance to teach your dog to come when called, as well as the “drop it” and “leave it” commands. You can even teach your cat to play fetch. Establish rules for your pet to learn, give lots of praise and keep the game fun. Stop playing if he doesn’t follow the rules. He will learn pretty quickly to play the game your way if he wants it to continue.

Promotes Bonding

Dogs and cats want to speed time interacting with the people they love. Teaching them commands or tricks, going for walks and playing with them are all great ways to develop the all important bond. Playtime helps you earn trust, which is required for a strong bond.

Relieves Stress and Aggression

A stressed out pet is more likely to suffer from anxiety, aggression and other behavior issues. Play helps to lower stress hormones and provides an outlet for pent up energy.

Builds Confidence

Playing with your pet helps them figure out what is and isn’t acceptable. When you use positive reinforcement, stay patient and keep playtime fun, your pet learns what you want and gains confidence. A confident pet is better able to handle stress associated with new situations and new people.

It’s Good For You, Too

Playing with your pet also helps you reduce stress. A game of fetch or tug of war with your dog, or dangling a toy in front of your kitty, will get you up and moving.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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How to Get Your Dog to Love You Even More

February 12, 2019

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is on all of our minds. Not just love for our significant other either. It’s pretty common for people to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their kids and other family members, too. Even pets! If you’ve been racking your brain trying to come up with ways to show some extra love to your dog this Valentine’s Day, keep reading. Here are 7 ways to share the love with your dog and get him to love you even more in return!

Figure out what your dog loves, and do it with him.

Just like with people, dogs have different likes and interests. Some dogs love to chase the Frisbee. Others like to participate in agility, play tug of war, go swimming, snuggle on the couch, or play fetch. Find out what kind of activities your pooch loves the most and do them more often with him. Your bond will deepen, and so will his love for you!

Listen to your dog.

They say the key to any healthy relationship is communication and trust. It’s no different with our canine companions. Sometimes this can be difficult because our dogs don’t speak our language. You can learn to speak “dog” though. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and other cues he gives you as to how he is feeling. If he lets you know that a certain situation makes him nervous or uncomfortable, listen. If he tells you that he really loves something, whether it be a certain toy or a favorite activity, listen. If your pooch knows you are paying attention and listening to him, he will know he can trust you. More trust equals more love!

Start a hobby together.

One way human couples bond is to share a hobby together. Have you ever thought about picking up a new hobby to share with your dog? There are so many dog sports out there, like agility, tracking, or dock diving. There are even some more unusual ones, like bikejoring or dog parkour. You can participate with most of these just in your own backyard or neighborhood, but if you and your dog are especially motivated, you can take things a step further and compete. Whichever way you choose to go, I can guarantee you that your bond with your dog will only grow stronger and deeper!

Take your dog on regular walks.

Dogs love to get outside to burn off energy and take in all the sights and smells. They also love spending quality time with their human. Kill two birds with one stone by going on walks together with your pooch. Not only is it good for your dog’s health to get out for walks every day, but it will strengthen the bond you two share.

Make sure your dog has plenty of toys.

A bored dog can become a destructive one. Be sure to provide your dog with lots of toys to keep him engaged. Change them out every now and then to keep them fresh and new. Or take it one step further and only bring out your dog’s favorite toy during playtime together. That way he’ll associate the toy and extra fun time with you!

Practice positive reinforcement training.

Positive reinforcement training is all the rage, and for good reason. Rather than punishing your dog for bad behavior, which leads to fearfulness and broken trust, try redirecting and rewarding him for doing things correctly. Positive reinforcement like clicker training has so many benefits. It allows you to train your dog how to behave properly, it provides him with extra mental stimulation, and it even helps you to train your dog to do fun tricks! What dog doesn’t love getting rewarded with some CANIDAE treats for being a good boy?!

Shower your dog with affection.

Dogs love affection. There are exceptions to this rule of course, but most dogs love to bask in the attention of their adoring humans. Whether your dog loves head pats, back scratches, belly rubs, or extra snuggles, make a point to shower him with the affection he deserves this Valentine’s Day (and every day). Just be sure to pay attention to his body language so you can stop if he tells you he’s had enough. You don’t want to smother him!

There are a million other ways to show your dog love, but these ideas should give you a good place to start. May you enjoy a love-filed Valentine’s Day with your doggy companion!

And if you also share your life with a feline, be sure to read our article, How to Get Your Cat to Love You More.

Read more articles by Emily Hall

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Snowshoeing with Your Dog: Winter Fun at its Finest!

February 7, 2019

Many of my friends have eschewed the gym and are looking for more ways to add functional fitness to their lifestyle. I say bravo to this. I think it’s a more interesting way to stay physically fit, and the bonus is that you can be out enjoying all the gifts that nature has to offer at the same time. For dog lovers like me, the icing on the cake is that there are many outdoor activities your furry companion can accompany you on.

Big disclaimer before I go any further. I do not snowshoe. I have, but I live in the Deep South so it’s not an activity that is readily available to me. However, I do have friends in snowy places, including Maine, who absolutely love it. And they take their dog along on all their winter outdoor adventures.

Snowshoeing is on the rise. I recently learned that it’s one of the most popular wintertime activities in the United States. This makes sense. It’s a relatively inexpensive sport; all that’s required are the snowshoes themselves, maybe some poles, layers of insulated clothes, and a good, warm pair of boots. The snowshoes and poles can be either purchased or rented in many locations.

Beginners should have a few successful outings under their belt before attempting to bring their pooch along. Once you feel confident in your snowshoeing skills, you’re ready to bundle up your four-legged friend for some glorious shared adventures. When you reach that point, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Best Dog Breeds for Showshoeing

You may think some breeds are more likely to enjoy this activity than others, and of course you’re right…but don’t be too quick to decide. If you have a short-legged dog, consider going out on a day when the snow is not too deep. And if your little buddy seems to love it, look into a dog backpack or another way you can transport him if the going gets too rough or he gets too tired.

That being said, I still want to offer a word of caution on breeds; most brachycephalic dog breeds are not good candidates for snowshoeing. The cold and the effort would likely be too hard on them, and their short legs and coat aren’t conducive to this kind of activity in any case.

On the other hand, the cold and exertion won’t faze most mountain dog breeds. If your pet is smaller and has shorter fur, you’ll want to provide insulation for him as well as for yourself. There are good, fleecy dog vests on the market for this very thing.

Trip Planning

It’s important to consider your dog’s age, condition, fitness, and overall health when choosing a trail. Cold weather activities require our hearts to pump harder to keep us warm, so you may want to start out on easier, flatter trails for shorter durations, slowly building up to more challenging outings.

Make sure your chosen trails as well as your destinations are dog friendly, and keep a keen eye on the weather conditions. Always be ready for contingencies. As such, you’ll want to carry more water than you think you’ll need and offer it to your dog frequently. You may also want to have some CANIDAE treats on hand and perhaps enough kibble for a meal, just in case.

Safety

Following along those lines, always be ready for the unexpected. Weather is impossible to predict with certainty, so you want to prepare for unforeseen events. In addition to food and water for both of you, you’ll want to have basic first aid items like band aids, elastic wraps and a few other emergency supplies. A map and compass are also good to bring along. And don’t forget the poop bags!

During routine rest breaks, check your dog’s paws and pads for signs of sores, blisters, or frostbite. If your dog will tolerate it, you may want to try some dog booties. If not, consider carrying a paw protection wax or balm in your first aid kit and apply as necessary throughout the excursion.

Always let someone know when and where you’re going and when you expect to be back.

If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll have a wonderful time tromping around in the great outdoors with your four-legged friend!

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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5 Behavior Changes to Watch for in Senior Dogs


My dogs are getting older, and I’m seeing so many changes in them. It almost seems unfair, how fast it all happens. It feels like just yesterday they were little bundles of fluff and puppy breath. But I get it. Part of having a dog is watching them grow from pup into their golden years. Those years bring a lot of changes for our dogs, though. Health issues, changes in appearance, and behavior changes are three things we can expect as our dogs age. We’ve all heard of the stages of puppyhood and there are plenty of resources for that, but what happens during the silver muzzle stage? What can we actually expect from these years?

Dogs grow older in much the same way people do, and they are susceptible to many of the same problems including dementia, arthritis, loss of appetite, loss of hearing and sight. The thing is, dogs can’t communicate with us like people do, so they can’t explain what is happening to them. As a result, their issues can end up manifesting in aggressive ways or ways that make you think your dog is misbehaving for no real reason. The good news is, some of these problems can be eased with medication, but it’s best to let your vet decide the right course of action for you and your aging pet.

Potty Accidents in the House

One of the things you might notice as your dog gets on in years is a tendency to forget his house training. It may start as a once or twice thing, and then grow more frequent. Your dog may or may not even try to let you know when he needs to go out. Incontinence is something to bring to your veterinarian’s attention because it might be as simple as a urinary tract infection, which is fairly easily remedied. On the other hand, it could be an indicator of something more serious. Almost 90 percent of senior dogs with basic incontinence respond well to medical management, but it’s important to get to the root cause so the proper treatment is offered.

Sleep Pattern Changes

Often, dogs keep the same waking and sleeping hours as their human companions, which makes sense since they live so happily alongside us. As some dogs age, however, their bodies become confused as to what is day and what is night, so their sleep cycles become disrupted. Your pooch may become anxious or whiny; he might pace in the middle of the night, or even become agitated and cry because of the confusion. The good news is that just like humans, this issue can be managed with excellent sleep hygiene and perhaps a gentle supplement. Your vet may suggest a daily dose a melatonin to help regulate your dog’s sleep cycles.

Disorientation

As your dog ages, you might find him becoming disoriented in places he was once familiar with. You may notice your dog going to the wrong door, getting behind doors when he used to know which way they open, staring out into space, or even walking into walls or getting stuck in corners. Your dog may also withdraw from affection or playtime, and even lose his appetite. If you notice any of these behaviors, and especially if they seem to escalate quickly, it’s best to speak to your vet to see if this is consistent with your dog’s age or if there are other health issues to consider.

Hearing and Vision Loss

When you call your pup in from the yard, he usually comes running in excitement, right? What if he doesn’t? There is a chance this is merely a behavioral change, but there is also a chance that it’s because your dog can no longer hear you or has trouble hearing you over other environmental noises. Another sign to look for is a dog that becomes confused in the house or begins to bump into things when he could navigate around them before. This could indicate vision loss.

Helping your dog gracefully slip into his golden years doesn’t have to be a scary change for either of you. When you brought your dog home, you signed up for forever. Your dog has given you so many years of unconditional love and selfless devotion. It’s your turn to step up. So pay close attention to these changes; they can happen bit by bit, but you will begin to notice. Just be patient and understanding with your four-legged friend. Make him feel safe, loved, and secure, and feed him the best possible age-appropriate nutrition, such as CANIDAE Grain Free PURE Meadow Senior Dog Formula or CANIDAE All Life Stages Platinum. Remember, you are aging right along with him, albeit much slower. Even so, you’ll likely be where he is one day.

If anything seems unusual or hard for you to deal with, speak with your vet and make a plan, especially if you notice your dog having a hard time as he ages. With the right tools in place and the proper mindset, these can be some of the best times for both of you.

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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The American Rescue Dog Show: a Pooch Pageant Like No Other!

The wildly popular Puppy Bowl debuted on Animal Planet in 2013. The following year, Hallmark Channel started their own tradition with the Kitten Bowl. Both shows air each year on Super Bowl Sunday. All of the puppies and kittens come from animal shelters and usually find forever homes before the programs air. Last year, Hallmark Channel started a new Westminster-type yearly tradition with the American Rescue Dog Show that features a variety of fun categories including Best Wiggle Butt, Best Underbite and Best Couch Potato. The winning pooch snags a $25,000 donation for the shelter or rescue they were adopted from. More importantly, the goal of the program is to promote adopting from shelters and rescue organizations.

Airing this year on February 17 and 18 at 8 pm EST, the American Rescue Dog Show is for underdogs, purebred dogs and mixed breeds alike. There are 10 categories, and each semi-final winner nabs a $5,000 grant for the organization that rescued them. All of the dogs competing in the show have been adopted.

The Canine Competitors

Tune in to learn each dog’s heartwarming story including how they found their forever home with loving owners. Many had rough starts and uncertain futures before they were rescued.

Here’s the lineup of each category.

Best in Belly Rubs – Sweet P, Banshee, Bo, Oaklee, Pirate, Prince, Ruby

Sweet Pea was found wandering the streets and almost euthanized. She had just given birth and suffered from a prolapsed uterus. When she was taken to a vet to be put down, he decided to operate instead – thereby saving her life.

Best in Couch Potatoes – Lulu, Blue, Cooper, Daddy O, Honey, Josh, Stella

Lulu was used as a bait dog for fighting and breeding. She was also severely beaten. Despite the abuse she suffered, Lulu is happy now in her forever home with people who appreciate her gentle personality.

Best in Senior – Vincent, Autumn, Chaos, Joey, Midge, Rabbit, Raul

Vincent was abandoned in the desert and left to die. Thankfully, a couple hiking found him and took him to the rescue where they volunteered. They took him into their home to foster and ended up adopting him.

Best in Short and Sweet – Indian Bones, Georgie, Howard, Maggie, Marcel CuChamp, Ookla, Pablo

Indiana Bones was shy and skittish living in a rescue, but that didn’t stop his owners from falling in love with him at first sight. After settling into his forever home, Indiana Bones made a complete turnaround from a timid doggy to one full of confidence. Today he is a favorite in the apartment complex where he lives and even lets himself into his neighbor’s homes.

Best in Smiling – Chappy, Harley, JJ, Lady, Penelope, Waffles, Willy

Chappy was rescued by Dogs Without Borders when they found her in a Serbia breeding facility. She was abused and used for dog fighting. She never lost her spirit though, and now has a safe and happy life in her forever home.

Best in Snoring – Scooter-Butt, Beef, Big Belinda, Charlotte, Chiquita, Frank, Munster,

Scooter-Butt had some health issues to overcome before he could be adopted, but his rescuer wasn’t about to give up on him. Scooter-Butt needed to use a doggy wheelchair while undergoing physical therapy to help him walk properly. Then a large cancerous tumor was found on his spine. Today he is cancer free, walking normally and very happy in his forever home!

Best in Special Needs – Penelope, Cupcake, Emmi, Larry, Moxie, Scooty, Winston

After birth, Penelope was extremely ill and surrendered to a rescue. She was diagnosed with giardia, a severe UTI, and kennel cough that developed into pneumonia. She is also deaf. Her foster mom pulled Penelope through and adopted her. Now they work together advocating for legislation to shut down puppy mills.

Best in Talking – Olive, Delilah, Ghost, Mia, Mo, Nick, Pip, Sydney

When Olive’s mother was rescued, she was pregnant. Olive was the only pup from the litter to survive and her mom died shortly after.

Best in Underbite – Creature, Galileo, Jim Bear, JoJo, Mabel, Panagiota, Theodore

Creature was being abused by two kids dragging him across a parking lot by a wire when he was rescued and taken to a shelter.

Best in Wiggle Butt – Gumdrop, Babka, Blanca, Honey, Luna, Rocco, Zelda

Gumdrop was weak and had a 50/50 chance of survival when she was in the shelter. Today she is a certified therapy dog!

Many dogs suffer abuse and health issues before finding their way into a shelter. The American Rescue Dog Show highlights the dedicated work of rescue organizations around the world to save lives and give dogs a chance to find forever homes. It is also a testament of the forgiving nature and unconditional love of man’s best friend.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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Do Cats Like to Be Kissed?

To kiss or not to kiss your kitty, that is the question! We adore our feline friends, so of course we want to shower them with affection. But how do we do this? One way many people show their cat love is by kissing them. It may seem like kissing would be a natural display of affection for our cats since that’s what we typically do with the humans we feel romantic love towards. When it comes to cats, however, it’s not really that straightforward. While many cats will tolerate being kissed and some may even enjoy this gesture of love, others simply do not.

If you are in the habit of kissing your cat, you’d be right to wonder if they actually welcome your lips on their face or their fur, or really wish you’d just quit it already. There’s no one size fits all answer though – it depends upon the individual cat, as well as your relationship with them. Still, it’s important to determine which category your kitty falls into, because unwelcome kisses are not any more enjoyable for a feline than they are for a human.

Do Cats Understand Kisses?

While researching this topic, the general consensus was that because cats communicate in different ways than humans do, they don’t really understand what the gesture means. In other words, since a cat’s means of expressing affection and their perception of emotions are different, they don’t really get the whole kissing thing.

I agree with parts of that, specifically that cats do have different ways of showing love and may not entirely grasp the full meaning of certain emotions and actions. However, I’m not sure this equates to them not understanding the intent behind a loving kiss. I say this because I am certain my cuddle-bug cat, Annabelle, is very aware that me kissing her is a gesture of affection. How do I know? She shows me by the way she reacts when I kiss her, which is a perfect lead-in to the next section of this post.

Are Your Kisses Welcome?

It should come as no surprise that since every cat is a unique being, they all have different preferences about the type of affection they want to receive. Because you love your cat and want them to be happy and love you back, you need to know whether they like to be kissed or they don’t. It’s honestly not that hard to figure out, I promise!

Your cat’s body language, demeanor and actions are all important clues to pay attention to when you’re trying to decide if they like your kisses, or anything else you do. If when kissing your cat you observe that she purrs, rubs against you, kneads, head-bonks you, leans into you, licks you and appears noticeably relaxed and content, you can be reasonably assured that she enjoys this form of affection. If your cat rapidly swishes her tail, pins her ears back, hisses or growls, swats at you, turns her head away as you go in for the kiss, or tries to get away from you, she’s telling you she doesn’t like what you are doing.

Respect Your Cat’s Wishes

If your cat’s body language is telling you they’re just not a big fan of your kisses, you’d be wise to stop. I’m well aware of how hard that can be though, when all you really want to do is show your kitty how much you love them. But here’s the thing – continuing to do something your cat doesn’t like will damage your bond with them, and you may even end up getting scratched or bitten.

The latter happened to me with one of my cats when I ignored all of his clear signals that he didn’t like to be kissed. Usually he’d just turn his face away but one day I guess he’d had enough, because as I put my face down to kiss him he bit me on the cheek – hard! It hurt and I was mad at him, but upon reflection I realized I had it coming. He’d been telling me for years that he didn’t like to be kissed, and I ignored the signals simply because it was what I wanted to do. Trust me … that’s never going to end well. Learn from my mistake and stop kissing your cat if you can tell they don’t like it.

If your cat’s body language says they enjoy your kisses, consider yourself lucky and smooch away! Proceed with care, however; always make sure to be mindful of how your cat is feeling, and stop kissing them if they change their mind.

In addition to bestowing kisses on our cats, there are many other ways we can show them they are loved. If you need some ideas, check out my articles, How to Get Your Cat to Love You More, and How to Be the Best Cat Owner Ever. And if you want to know whether your cat really, truly loves you back, be sure to read How Can You Tell If Your Cat Loves You.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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