20101030

Seven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe This Halloween

October 30, 2010

Play it safe with your dog on Halloween with these tips:

1) Keep all candy, particularly chocolate, out of reach.

2) Cellophane and wrappers can block intestinal tracts so secure all rubbish. Also, watch for leftover Halloween litter while walking your pooch the next day.

3) Be smart with decorations. Wagging tails can easily knock over lit candles and jack-o-lanterns.

4) Only dress your dog in a costume if he can tolerate it. Don't cover her eyes or airways.

5) Keep Fido away from the front door, especially if he is not properly socialized with children or is known to escape.

6) Occupy your dog and avoid anxiety with a special chew toy.

7) Don't leave your pup outside. Pranks, taunting and theft are common this time of year.

(By the team at http://fidodogtreats.com)

20101027

Helping Your Pet Adjust to New Situations (Entry #1 - Introduction)

October 27, 2010

"Dogs are creatures of habit. Have you ever noticed how your pet anticipates and acts on certain cues in your daily routine, like going to her kennel when you pick up your briefcase or running to the kitchen when you ask your kids if they're hungry? Pets like having stability and routine in their lives. That's why pets experiencing major changes in to their daily routine - like moving to a new home or welcoming another pet - can sometimes require a little extra attention to minimize stress and anxiety." - VetPetHealth.com

Because of this, I thought it would be nice to start a new series that addresses how to help your pet adjust to various new situations. In this series, we'll cover how to help your dog during a move to a new home, how to introduce your dog to a new pet, how to help your dog adjust to a change in routine, how to recognize anxious body language in your dog, and tips for calming an anxious dog.

We hope this series will be helpful to all of our readers. If you have any suggestions of topics you would like us to cover, just shoot us an e-mail and let us know. We welcome your comments!

20101022

Pumpkins Are a Dog's Best Friend (Taken from Daily Dog Tips)

October 22, 2010

Highly palatable pumpkin is liked by dogs and their owners who recognize its nutritional benefits. This superfood is loaded with beta-carotene, which aids in cancer prevention, reduces inflammation and regulates Vitamin A. Vitamin C boosts basic immune functions, and the presence of Vitamin E also helps maintain healthy skin and coat.

Pumpkin is also high in fiber, which is vital to your dog's digestive health. A small amount of canned or fresh pumpkin puree is often recommended for dogs with upset stomachs, and it is even known to help dogs who suffer from motion sickness. Stay away from pumpkin pie mix, as it is loaded with sugar. Fruitables (http://fidodogtreats.com/fruitables) offers a variety of pumpkin-based treats that dogs enjoy.


*Thank you to FidoDogTreats.com and Daily Dog Tips for this information.

20100904

Dog Park Safety Tips (from VPI Pet Insurance)

September 4, 2010

Off-leash dog parks are becoming increasingly popular in cities across the nation, and for good reason: they're a great place to let your dog run around, play and socialize! But keep in mind, dogs will be dogs - which is why owners need to be extra vigilant about common dog park-related injuries and diseases.

1) Sprains. Playful, excitable dogs are prone to accidents at the park - they can trip in a hole while running or maybe play a little too enthusiastically with a pal, resulting in sprained joints. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your dog to avoid these types of accidents.

2) Lacerations. Sometimes event he friendliest wrestling match between dogs can turn into a tussle. Cuts and scratches are common dog park injuries, so keep your pooch away from aggressive dogs and look out for foreign objects like fallen branches that could cause harm while dogs are at play.

3) Toxins. Be aware of any chemicals used by park maintenance crews, like fertilizers, snail bait or pesticides. If these chemicals are in use, visit another park or return another day. If you suspect that your dog has been in an area where chemical treatments have been used, clean this feet and legs thoroughly with soap and water, and watch carefully for signs of exposure.

4) Invaders. Regular flea and tick preventative treatment is critical for every dog, especially those that frequent dog parks. Also, be a good park patron by picking up after your dog and reminding others to do the same; internal parasites, viruses and bacteria can be easily transmitted by contact with fecal matter from other dogs.

5) Overheating. No matter what time of year, always have plenty of water on hand to quench your dog's thirst and prevent overheating. Be sure to take frequent water breaks so your dog can stay hydrated. If your dog shows any signs of overheating such as excessive panting, vomiting or sluggishness, contact a veterinarian immediately.

*Thanks to VPI Pet Insurance (www.vetpethealth.com) for the above tips.

20100801

FIRST AID IN THE FIELD (Entry #9 - The First Aid Bandana)

August 1, 2010

In this series, we have covered what you should do for various injuries that your dog may sustain. The problem is, unless you thoroughly commit this information to memory or have a computer near by, you still may not know the correct procedure to follow should an emergency occur.

Problem solved - I recently discovered the First Aid Bandana by Wag'N Pet: http://www.wagn4u.com/pet_first_aid_bandana.html. As the official product description states, this nifty item is a very useful resource in emergency situations, and covers topics such as Cold Injuries; Heat exhaustion and heat stroke first aid; Bleeding first aid; full list of situations requiring emergency veterinary care; choking management; insect, spider and snake bite first aid; burns; seizure response; and the ABCs for Cats & Dogs Diagram (which covers opening the airway, rescue breathing and CPR techniques). Summarizes symptoms and treatment.

Take this $8 bandana with you on your pet-accompanied hikes. In the unlikely event that an emergency occurs, you'll be very glad you had it.

20100731

P&G Expands Recall of Dry Pet Food

July 31, 2010

(Courtesy of PetSitUSA)

P&G is expanding their recent recall, which is due to possible salmonella contamination. P&G will have people available to answer questions 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. The number is 877-340-8823.The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) (NYSE:PG) is voluntarily expanding its recall to include veterinary and some specialized dry pet food as a precautionary measure because it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. No salmonella-related illnesses have been reported.

Iams Veterinary Dry Formulas
All dry sizes and varieties
Best By Dates: 01Jul10 – 01Dec11
All UPC Codes

Eukanuba Naturally Wild
All dry sizes and varieties
Best By Dates: 01Jul10 – 01Dec11
All UPC Codes

Eukanuba Pure
All dry sizes and varieties
Best By Dates: 01Jul10 – 01Dec11
All UPC Codes

Eukanuba Custom Care Sensitive Skin
All dry sizes
Best by Dates: 01Jul10 – 01Dec11
All UPC Codes

For a full list of the affected products, click here: http://www.iams.com/iams/en_US/data_root/html/recall_message.html

The affected products are sold in veterinary clinics and specialty pet retailers throughout the United States and Canada. No canned food, biscuits/treats or supplements are affected by this announcement.

These products are made in a single, specialized facility. In cooperation with FDA, P&G determined that some products made at this facility have the potential for salmonella contamination. As a precautionary measure, P&G is recalling all products made at this facility.

Consumers who have purchased the specific dry pet foods listed should discard them. People handling dry pet food can become infected with Salmonella, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with surfaces exposed to this product. Healthy people infected with Salmonella should monitor themselves for some or all of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever. Rarely, Salmonella can result in more serious ailments including arterial infections, endocarditis, arthritis, muscle pain, eye irritation and urinary tract symptoms. Consumers exhibiting these signs after having contact with this product should contact their healthcare providers.

Pets with Salmonella infections may have decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, pets may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

For further information or a product replacement or refund call P&G toll-free at 877-340-8823 (Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM EST). Media Contact: Jason Taylor 513-622-3205

Again, P&G will have people available to answer questions 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. The number is 877-340-8823.

20100721

The Benefits of Feeding Yogurt

July 21, 2010

You've probably heard about the health benefits associated with humans eating yogurt, but did you know that your dog can benefit, as well? It's true. Yogurt not only improves the digestive health of your canine friend, but 1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon per day can also help ward off infections in the body due to high yeast, such as ear and skin infections. Additionally, feeding yogurt helps to build a strong immunity and can ease the negative effects associated with taking antibiotics.

You can buy yogurt from your local market (our dogs prefer vanilla, rather than plain), but be sure to get the fat-free variety. If you want to stretch your dollar to make a little go along way, here is a recipe:

1) Preheat oven to its lowest setting, then turn the oven off, leaving the door closed.

2) In a heavy pot or double boiler, heat 1 gallon of milk (low-fat) to almost a boil, then remove from heat source and let it cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (about the temperature of a baby's bottle).

3) Stir a small amount of the warmed milk into 8 ounces of yogurt (be sure it contains live cultures) until blended. Gradually continue to stir in small amounts of milk until the mixture becomes thin, then pour the mixture into the remainder of the warm milk and stir until blended.

4) Pour the milk-yogurt mixture into plastic containers and cover with lids. If you prefer, leave the mixture in a covered pot, then transfer it to containers later.

5) Place in the warmed oven overnight. Leave the oven light on to provide warmth (if necessary, prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to keep the light on).

6) Refrigerate the finished yogurt in the morning. This yogurt can be used to start the next batch.

I am a firm believer in the benefits of yogurt. My old Labrador, BlackJacks, suffered with severe, chronic ear infections for 7 years. After a strong round of antibiotics, we started giving him a tablespoon of yogurt every day. BlackJacks lived for 8 more years without another ear infection.

Many dogs can be prone to sensitive stomachs. With our dogs, I have found that a bit of yogurt helps with their digestive issues, by providing beneficial bacteria called probiotics.

So, grab a couple of spoons and share a tasty yogurt treat. Not only will your furry best friend be healthier, but I'm willing to bet he'll be a tad bit happier, too!

20100714

The 4-1-1 on Heartworm Disease

July 14, 2010

The sad truth, according to the American Heartworm Society, is that only 55% of dogs in the U.S. are on heartworm prevention medication, which means 27 million dogs are at risk of acquiring the disease. Out of that 27 million, it is estimated that 80% - 90% will acquire the disease. If not treated in time, heartworm disease has a 100% fatality rate.

HOW CAN YOUR DOG BECOME INFECTED? When Adult Heartworms reproduce, millions of microfilaria (baby heartworms) result. Microfilaria circulate in the blood of the host (infected animal). A mosquito bites the host, thereby ingesting the microfilaria. The mosquito then feeds on your dog, transmitting the infectious microfilaria into your dog's blood stream. The microfilaria molt in your dog's tissues for 3 - 4 months. Once the Microfilaria become worms (reaching up to 14 inches in length), the worms migrate from the tissues to the heart and surrounding blood vessels, where they mature to adulthood and the cycle continues. Adult heartworms cause severe heart and lung damage in canines.

IS THERE A PREVENTATIVE AND HOW DOES IT WORK? Yes. There are monthly heartworm preventatives. And it is much easier and cheaper than treating the disease after your dog has developed adult heartworms. Heartworm preventative kills the molting microfilaria in your dog's tissues. The preventative must be given monthly, otherwise it may be rendered uneffective. It is important to note that the preventative does NOT kill adult or near-adult heartworms. It is also important to note that if your dog currently has heartworm disease, consult your veterinarian before giving the preventative. Giving a heartworm positive dog a preventative prior to completion of treatment for the disease can prove to be fatal for your dog. For this same reason, all dogs should be tested for heartworm disease prior to beginning treatment.

CAN HEARTWORM DISEASE BE TREATED? Maybe. It depends on the stage of the disease. Stages 1 & 2 carry the best prognosis for survival (95% or more). Stage 3 patients have a fatality rate of 5 -20%. Statistics for Stage 4 patients are contradicting. Treatment involves killing the heartworms, which unfortunately, can also kill your pet. Dead worms can clog small blood vessels, causing your dog's organs to fail. Since vessels constrict during excitement and exercise, it is imperative that your dog stay calm, and possibly confined, during the months of treatment. The treatment is extremely expensive.Your pet's hair, even if a double-coat exists, will not protect your pet from the disease-carrying mosquitoes that pass along . Heartworm-positive pets have been found in all 50 U.S. States. If you value your pet's life, heartworm preventative is an absolute must. Your four-legged best friend will thank you.

* A special thanks to my brother for suggesting this topic.

20100713

My Recent Craigslist Post

July 13, 2010

The following is a ad I recently placed on Craigslist. It is too important not to share. If you're interested in my help, please contact me at PattyWhackDogs@gmail.com.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO RE-HOME YOUR PETS! I can help you. I browse the pets section of Craigslist frequently and am saddened by the many individuals who feel they have to give up their beloved pets. While it's true that many people are unable to keep their dogs due to a move or financial reasons, it seems that many others are unable to keep their pets due to behavioral problems, or a fear of potential behavioral problems, such as when a baby is on the way. This is the same reason why a staggering number of healthy pets end up in shelters, of which more than 67% (9.6 million) are euthanized annually in the United States.

The truth of the matter is that there is often an easy fix to most behavioral problems. Believe it or not, a vast number of dogs with these problems are dogs who have never learned basic training. It is not the actual command that makes such a difference. It is the teaching that is so important. When you teach your dog basic commands, he realizes that actual communication between the two of you is possible. Once this realization is made, it is much easier for you to communicate to him what you expect of him. In other words, your dog will begin to understand what is and is not appropriate behavior. And you will learn how to relay this information to him in an appropriate way.

I can help you keep your dog. If you are willing to learn how to communicate with your dog, I can teach you how. I am a dog training who is attending Animal Behavior College in the fall. I am not yet certified, but I feel that I can't wait until then to offer my services, as the current need to keep these wonderful animals in good homes and out of shelters is too important not to put my knowledge and skills to good use. Because of this, I am volunteering my time to help you out. If I have enough interest, I will be holding weekly hour-long group classes in public parks. There is currently no cost for this, I just ask that each dog have a separate handler, and that the dog be up-to-date on his rabies shot. Those attending the classes will also receive literature and hand-outs detailing everything covered in class that day, as well as information on low-cost spay/neutering and low-cost vaccinations.

If you have specific behavioral issues that you feel would not be appropriate for a group class, please contact me and we can discuss whether I may be able to help you and your dog. I will do an assessment of your dog and if your situation is over my head, I will be honest with you and tell you my thoughts. Even if you decide not to use my services, I urge you to consider finding someone else who can help you in your situation.

Your dogs are part of your family. They didn't ask you to bring them home, but they came willingly with the innocent expetation of having a forever home and a permanent family to call their own. Don't you think you owe them the chance to learn how to be the kind of dog that would make you proud?

(The attached pictures are two dogs currently on death row for no other reason than their owners couldn't care for them anymore for one reason or another - and they were dropped off at a shelter. You can see in their eyes that they are terrified. Please don't let this be your dog.)





BBQ Beef Bones

July 7, 2010

Summertime is the time for weekend cookouts and picnics. Why not let your four-legged friends partake in the paw-lickin' fun? PupDog Bakery in Illinois Amish Country has a great recipe to try.

Ingredients:
- 3 cups 100% whole-wheat flour - medium or fine grind. (For dogs with wheat allergies, you can substitute oat, rice, or potato flour at about 2 1/4 cups)
- 3/4 cup beef broth (low-sodium, no msg)
- 1/3 cup non-fat powdered milk (optional)
- 1/3 cup shortening, or 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 egg
- 8 oz can of organic, low-sodium tomato sauce
- 2-3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (you can use regular baking molasses, but blackstrap has significantly higher calcium and iron)

Directions:
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2) Combine all dry ingredients.
3) Add the shortening or oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
4) In a separate bowl, add egg to the broth, and beat by hand until smooth.
5) Pour the wet mixture into the dry, and mix by hand. Combine all the dry ingredients until a ball of dough is formed. If it seems too dry, add water (one teaspoon at a time) until dough pulls away easily from the sides of the bowl and your fingers. If the ball is very sticky, then its too wet, and you may add a little more flour (one teaspoon at a time) until desired.
6) Roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick, and cut using a bone-shaped cookie cutter.
7) Lightly spray or grease a cookie sheet; cookies may be placed close together. Bake approximately 15 - 20 minutes or until brown on bottom. Remove from the oven, and let cookies cool.
8) To make the sweet and savory BBQ sauce, add 1/2 teaspoon of molasses to the entire can of tomato sauce and mix well. The molasses will give the sauce a delicious-looking brown color.
9) Lightly brush cooled cookies with the sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
10) Bake the treats at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the edges of the bones begin to darken slightly. Let the treats cool overnight.

Alternate Version:
For BBQ Drumsticks, use chicken broth instead of beef broth, and cut into drumstick shapes. You can also use vegetable broth for a meatless treat.

This recipe makes about a pound of treats.

Independence Day, Noise Sensitivity & Safety Tips

July 2, 2010

As we all know, fireworks = loud, booming noises. These noises can be very startling for some of our four-legged friends. Have you ever wondered why one puppy may grow to fear loud noises while another completely ignores them? According to Chris Cos-Evick, writer for DogFancy magazine, there are three contributing factors:

1) Genetics. "Some breeds, specifically hunting and sporting breeds, were developed for their ability to ignore loud noises," says Cheryl Smith, behavior lecturer and owner of Forever Friends Dog Training School in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She believes this partly explains why Labrador and Golden Retrievers often adapt well to large families."

2) Socialization. "The brain develops more neurotransmitters with exposure to stimuli," Smith says. That means your puppy needs ongoing varied experiences to accept life's noises.

3) Negative Association. Consistently banging the crate or clapping loudly to startle a puppy into stopping undesired behavior can create a lasting negative sound association.

Overall, consider your lifestyle before choosing a breed, socialize well, and stop undesirable behavior through training to help your puppy avoid noise sensitivity. For dogs sensitive to noise, you may reduce the reaction by playing music or a television fairly loudly in the background.

For more information regarding how to keep your dog calm and comfortable during Independence Day celebrations, visit my previous blog entry here: http://www.sweetsamuraikennels.blogspot.com/2009/07/fourth-of-july-fireworks-fright.html.

For ASPCA tips on how to keep furry friends safe during this holiday, visit my previous blog entry here: http://www.sweetsamuraikennels.blogspot.com/2009/06/fourth-of-july-safety-tips-from-aspca.html

June 25th is Take Your Dog To Work Day!

June 20, 2010

Did you know that the fourth Friday of every June is "Take Your Dog to Work Day"? In 1988, Pet Sitters International began designating this day to help increase awareness for homeless pets. The rationale is that when businesses open their doors to employees' pets, non-pet owning co-workers will be inspired to adopt a best friend of their very own after witnessing the joys of the human-canine bond firsthand (according to Petcentric.com).

Not-so-surprisingly, employees are not the only ones to benefit from having pets at work. The employers benefit, as well. Studies have shown that allowing pets in the work place decreases absenteeism and smoking, while simultaneously increasing productivity, creativity, and amicable relationships between employees, their co-workers, and their supervisors.

If you plan to participate in this event, TakeYourDog.com provides 7 tips to ensure a safe and fun day:

1) DO AN OFFICE CHECK. Check with management and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid, or opposed to you bringing your dog to work for this one special day.

2) PUPPY-PROOF YOUR WORK SPACE. Remove poisonous plants, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as correction fluid, permanent markers, etc. Any office items in question should be placed out of your dog's reach.

3) BATHE AND GROOM YOUR DOG BEFORE HIS OFFICE DEBUT. Be sure his shots are up-to-date. If your dog appears sick, don't bring him to the office. Dogs who are aggressive or overly shy should not accompany you to work. Instead, consider bringing a favorite picture of your pooch.

4) PREPARE A DOGGIE BAG. Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant (just in case). If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a portable kennel for your dog's comfort and your peace of mind.

5) PLAN YOUR PET'S FEEDING TIMES CAREFULLY. Be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

6) AVOID FORCING CO-WORKERS TO INTERACT WITH YOUR DOG. Dog lovers will make themselves known. To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given. Remember that chocolate, candy, and other people food should not be shared with dogs.

7) HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY. Although most dogs enjoy Take Your Dog To Work Day, your pet may not. Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated, or withdrawn, consider taking him home. Most companies allow for this on this special day. Never, under any circumstances, leave your pet alone in a vehicle while you work. Consider enlisting the help of a professional pet sitter from www.petsit.com/locate.

For more information on how to make Take Your Dog to Work Day as successful as possible, visit www.TakeYourDog.com.

Buckle Up For Safety!

June 17, 2010

According to the American Pet Products Association's 2009-2010 National Pet Owner survey, 56% of respondents said they do not restrain their dogs while driving. Another poll cited 62% as the number of unrestrained pets.

This is simply baffling to me. In an age where seat belt laws are the norm for humans, why do we, as pet parents, not realize that our four-legged friends need just as much protection? Maybe its because there are simply not enough affordable canine auto restraining devices. Maybe its a lack of education. Maybe a little bit of both, or a little of some other reason.

PetAutoSafety.com gives us something to think about - Seven reasons why you should restrain your pet in a vehicle:

1) The dog won't be able to distract the person driving the car. Distractions can be very dangerous to the driver. Some dogs are naturally well-behaved in the vehicle, but many dogs have to be trained in car-riding decorum. Why not train them in the pet auto seat belt instead?

2) Sudden unexpected stops won't cause the dog to fly forward into the dash, the back seat, or onto the floor, causing injury. A dog's nose is very sensitive. Hitting their nose on the dash or back of the seat can be a very painful experience.

3) The dog won't be able to put his/her head out of the window. Did you know that even a tiny spec of flying debris can do serious damage to the dog's eye or nose? Many dogs love to put their heads out of the window, but it can be an equally pleasant experience if they are sitting in a pet auto seat belt by an open window. He won't be able to put his head out, but he can still get a whiff of the multiple odors zipping by.

4) Not only will the dog not be able to put his head out of the window, he won't be able to get his body out either. Dogs are instinctive creatures and if something catches their attention, such as another dog, a squirrel, or other animal, they may go after it without a thought. Perhaps your dog is too smart to do this, but why take the chance?

5) Many dogs will run or even bite if frightened. What if you and your pet happen to be in a serious auto accident? Your dog is going to be terrified. If there is a means of escape, the dog may get out of the car and run. And where is he most likely to run? It would be a terrible thing to survive an auto accident only to get hit by a car. Even if there is no way for the dog to escape, he may need medical attention. An injured dog may react defensively by trying to bite someone who is actually there trying to help. A dog that is already restrained, however, is easier to muzzle and therefore, easier to attend to.

6) A pet auto seat belt can actually be quite comfortable once the dog gets used to it. Dogs can have a difficult time laying down in a seat because of the turning, speeding up, slowing down, and stopping movements of the car. Many dogs can brace themselves better by standing or sitting. With a pet auto seat belt, a dog can stand, sit or lay down comfortably and not have to worry about bracing themselves against car maneuvers.

7) Last but not least, a pet auto safety belt shows you to be a responsible and caring pet owner, as well as a responsible driver. Friends and strangers will be impressed with your thoughtfulness and foresight. They in turn may consider getting a pet auto seat belt for their dogs. You can be indirectly responsible for saving another dog's life.

We found wonderful little seat belts that hook directly to our dogs' harnesses. We found them on E-bay for approx. $3 each. It is necessary to note that these should NOT be hooked to your dog's collar - only a harness will do.

For more pet travel safety tips, visit: www.petautosafety.com or www.pawstoclick.com.

Cool Down With Dogsicles (Blueberry Flavored)

June 14, 2010

As avid readers of my blog know, I am a big fan of Dog Fancy magazine. And the latest issue contains a couple of tasty treat recipes that you furry friend is sure to love. June promises to be a hot month for Tennessee residents. I wouldn't be surprised if your state's forecast is the same. So, why not help your four-legged family member cool down the tasty way - with dogsicles!

You Will Need:
- 12 paper cups (like Dixie cups) in 3 oz size for small dogs / or 8 paper cups in 5 oz size for large dogs
- Saucepan
- Blender

Blueberry-sicles Ingredients:
- 1 tablespoon flaxseed
- 1 teaspoon anise or fennel seed
- 24 ounces organic, greek or goat milk yogurt
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey

Directions:
Put the flaxseed and anise or fennel seed into a blender. Blend until the seeds are ground. Add yogurt, blueberries, water, and honey to the blender. Blend to combine.

Assembly:
1) Arrange paper cups in a shallow pan that will fit in your freezer. Carefully spoon or pour the chicken-sicle mix into the cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Fill just half full for very small dogs. Carefully place the tray in the freezer and allow to freeze completely overnight.
2) To serve, remove from the freezer and offer it to your dog, preferably outside, to minimize any mess. Peel off the paper cup and put the popsicle in your dog's bowl.

The Science of the Growl

June 11, 2010

Austrian and Hungarian researchers offered an interesting theory regarding a dog's growl in the April issue of Animal Behaviour (Vol. 79, Issue 4). The Question: Do dogs use context-specific agonistic vocalization when communicating? The Answer: It seems so.

According to a publication of the scientists' findings, they recorded several sequences of growls from various dogs in three different contexts: during play, guarding a bone from another dog, and reacting to a threatening stranger. The researchers discovered that play growls differ acoustically from the other two agonistic growls. Additionally, when a recording of a food-guarding growl was played in front of another dog that was tempted by an unattended meaty bone, the dog steered clear. This was not the case when the recording of the stranger-alert growl was played.

In summary, dogs understand the nuances of growls. Additionally, the researchers and scientists suggest that acoustic modulation of growls, which most human ears cannot register, may very well convey both honesty and deception in dogs. How intelligent our four-legged friends are!

So, pay close attention next time your pooch uses her voice. Can you figure out what she is trying to say to you?

Cool Down With Dogsicles (Chicken Flavored)

June 7, 2010

As avid readers of my blog know, I am a big fan of Dog Fancy magazine. And the latest issue contains a couple of tasty treat recipes that you furry friend is sure to love. June promises to be a hot month for Tennessee residents. I wouldn't be surprised if your state's forecast is the same. So, why not help your four-legged family member cool down the tasty way - with dogsicles!

You Will Need:
- 12 paper cups (like Dixie cups) in 3 oz size for small dogs / or 8 paper cups in 5 oz size for large dogs
- Saucepan
- Blender

Chicken-sicles Ingredients:
- 1 quart chicken broth (low sodium) or water
- 1/2 pound boneless/skinless chicken breast (thawed)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled & minced (optional*)

Directions:
Put the chicken broth (or water), chicken breast and garlic in a large saucepan. Boil until the chicken is cooked through and soft (about 20 minutes). Remove the pan from heat. Carefully remove the chicken breast and cut it into very small pieces, or shred it using either two forks or a food processor. Return the chicken and juices to the pot. Allow to cool completely.

Assembly:
1) Arrange paper cups in a shallow pan that will fit in your freezer. Carefully spoon or pour the chicken-sicle mix into the cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Fill just half full for very small dogs. Carefully place the tray in the freezer and allow to freeze completely overnight.
2) To serve, remove from the freezer and offer it to your dog, preferably outside, to minimize any mess. Peel off the paper cup and put the popsicle in your dog's bowl.

If your dog likes this dogsicle, try inventing more flavors on your own. Yogurt with chopped apples with a dash of cinnamon? Cooked skinless turkey in broth with shredded carrots? Over-ripe bananas with a spoonful of peanut butter blended with apple juice? You can even freeze your dog-friendly leftovers such as lean meats and chopped vegetables in broth (no onions). Just spoon your creation into paper cups and freeze. How cool is that?

COOKING FOR CANINES - Entry #4 (Canine Consumption No-No's)

May 2, 2010

When cooking for your pooch, there are certain common foods that you should absolutely never-ever-ever add to the meal. Just like every one of us has seen our dogs eat something that would make us sick to our stomachs, we often eat things that could make our dogs very sick, sometimes fatally so. Since many Japanese Spitz tend to have finicky stomachs, they can be more uniquely sensitive to certain food toxins. It is because of this that you should keep a mental note of which of the most common human foods you shouldn't feed your dog.

Alcohol - Alcoholic beverages and foods containing alcohol should never be given to dogs. Alcohol attacks a dog's central nervous system. Clinical signs of toxicity: Decreased coordination, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and abnormal blood acidity resulting in coma and possibly death.

Avocado -Avocados contain a toxic ingredient called Persin, which is a fatty acid derivative. Clinical signs of toxicity: Difficulty breathing, diarrhea and vomiting, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart, possibly resulting in congestive heart failure and death.

Caffeine - Caffeine and Coffee beans contain methylxanthines, a cardiac stimulant. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and possibly death.

Chives - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Chocolate - Most dog owners know that chocolate is bad for their dogs, but they don't understand why. Chocolate contains substances called theobromine & methylxanthines (also foundin cacao beans). Clinical signs of toxicity: Early on, your dog may become excited, agitated, nervous or hyper. Your dog may also have muscle tremors, vomiting, increased thirst and diarrhea. Your dog may also feel very hot. From there, symptoms could progress to coma. Some dogs have died almost immediately, presumably due to fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Coffee - Caffeine and Coffee beans contain methylxanthines, a cardiac stimulant. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and possibly death.

Garlic - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Grapes / Raisins - Though grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs, especially if ingested in large quanities, the exact toxic agent is still unknown. The most likely suspect is a form of fungal toxin. Clinical signs of toxicity: Kidney failure, possibly resulting in death. Note that dogs who already have certain health problems may show more severe signs of poisoning.

Leeks - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Macadamia Nuts - This is one of the scariest poisons because even the smallest of quantites can cause temporary paralysis, and, similar to grapes, the exact toxic agent is currently unknown. Clinical signs of toxicity: Weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, hyperthermia, and paralysis. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk
- The toxic agent in milk is lactose. Dogs do not possess significant amounts of lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Clinical signs of toxicity: Diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Onions - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Potato Leaves & Stems - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Note that the actual potatoes are fine, but you should avoid the skin, as it can contain poisonous alkaloids (Solanum). Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Rhubarb Leaves - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Salt - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Clinical signs of toxicity vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

Shallots - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Tomato Leaves & Stems - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Note that actual tomatoes are fine, though some dogs may be sensitive to the acid tomatoes contain. Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Xylitol - Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods, human toothpaste, and some breath mints. Though it is not something one would typically add to homemade dog food, I felt it was important to include it in this list due to its harmful nature. Xylitol causes insulin release in dogs. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels), possibly resulting in liver failure. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough - Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture, if large amounts were ingested. Additionally, as the dough rises in your dog's stomach, the yeast ferments. The fermentation results in alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity (See Alcohol above). Because the risks diminish after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. Clinical signs of toxicity: Distended abdomen, abdominal pain.

It is important to note that this is NOT a complete list of human foods that are toxic to dogs. So, before adding a new ingredient to your canine's dinner recipe, make sure that the ingredient is safe by checking it out here: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/.

It is also important to note that many dog food recipes on the internet and in canine cook books can contain foods that may be toxic. I have found many recipes online that contain onions and garlic. So, don't blindly follow recipes that you find.

IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR PET HAS BEEN POISONED BY A TOXIC INGREDIENT, CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. If your vet is unavailable, these three national pet-poison information centers may be able to help. All charge a flat fee.

COOKING FOR CANINES - Entry #4 (Canine Consumption No-No's)

May 2, 2010

When cooking for your pooch, there are certain common foods that you should absolutely never-ever-ever add to the meal. Just like every one of us has seen our dogs eat something that would make us sick to our stomachs, we often eat things that could make our dogs very sick, sometimes fatally so. Since many Japanese Spitz tend to have finicky stomachs, they can be more uniquely sensitive to certain food toxins. It is because of this that you should keep a mental note of which of the most common human foods you shouldn't feed your dog.

Alcohol - Alcoholic beverages and foods containing alcohol should never be given to dogs. Alcohol attacks a dog's central nervous system. Clinical signs of toxicity: Decreased coordination, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and abnormal blood acidity resulting in coma and possibly death.

Avocado -Avocados contain a toxic ingredient called Persin, which is a fatty acid derivative. Clinical signs of toxicity: Difficulty breathing, diarrhea and vomiting, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen and sac around the heart, possibly resulting in congestive heart failure and death.

Caffeine - Caffeine and Coffee beans contain methylxanthines, a cardiac stimulant. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and possibly death.

Chives - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Chocolate - Most dog owners know that chocolate is bad for their dogs, but they don't understand why. Chocolate contains substances called theobromine & methylxanthines (also foundin cacao beans). Clinical signs of toxicity: Early on, your dog may become excited, agitated, nervous or hyper. Your dog may also have muscle tremors, vomiting, increased thirst and diarrhea. Your dog may also feel very hot. From there, symptoms could progress to coma. Some dogs have died almost immediately, presumably due to fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

Coffee - Caffeine and Coffee beans contain methylxanthines, a cardiac stimulant. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and possibly death.

Garlic - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Grapes / Raisins - Though grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs, especially if ingested in large quanities, the exact toxic agent is still unknown. The most likely suspect is a form of fungal toxin. Clinical signs of toxicity: Kidney failure, possibly resulting in death. Note that dogs who already have certain health problems may show more severe signs of poisoning.

Leeks - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Macadamia Nuts - This is one of the scariest poisons because even the smallest of quantites can cause temporary paralysis, and, similar to grapes, the exact toxic agent is currently unknown. Clinical signs of toxicity: Weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, hyperthermia, and paralysis. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk
- The toxic agent in milk is lactose. Dogs do not possess significant amounts of lactase, which is the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Clinical signs of toxicity: Diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Onions - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Potato Leaves & Stems - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Note that the actual potatoes are fine, but you should avoid the skin, as it can contain poisonous alkaloids (Solanum). Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Rhubarb Leaves - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Salt - Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Clinical signs of toxicity vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.

Shallots - Onions, Chives, Garlic and Shallots (as well as close relatives to this group of vegetables, such as leeks) contain a significant amount of N-propyl disulfide and thiosulphate. This causes the red blood cells to burst while they circulate in the body, which can cause anemia. Clinical signs of toxicity: Gastrointestinal irritation, blood in the urine, rapid heartbeat, excessive panting, lethargy, and anemia-related symptoms.

Tomato Leaves & Stems - Rhubarb Leaves, Tomato Leaves and Potato Leaves are some of the most dangerous plants for dogs to ingest. The leaves of these vegetables contain soluble calcium oxalates, which, when ingested, can lead to death of not treated fairly quickly. Also known to cause bladder stones. Note that actual tomatoes are fine, though some dogs may be sensitive to the acid tomatoes contain. Clinical signs of toxicity: Excessive drooling, tremors and kidney failure.

Xylitol - Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods, human toothpaste, and some breath mints. Though it is not something one would typically add to homemade dog food, I felt it was important to include it in this list due to its harmful nature. Xylitol causes insulin release in dogs. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels), possibly resulting in liver failure. Clinical signs of toxicity: Vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough - Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture, if large amounts were ingested. Additionally, as the dough rises in your dog's stomach, the yeast ferments. The fermentation results in alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity (See Alcohol above). Because the risks diminish after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. Clinical signs of toxicity: Distended abdomen, abdominal pain.

It is important to note that this is NOT a complete list of human foods that are toxic to dogs. So, before adding a new ingredient to your canine's dinner recipe, make sure that the ingredient is safe by checking it out here: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/.

It is also important to note that many dog food recipes on the internet and in canine cook books can contain foods that may be toxic. I have found many recipes online that contain onions and garlic. So, don't blindly follow recipes that you find.

IF YOU SUSPECT YOUR PET HAS BEEN POISONED BY A TOXIC INGREDIENT, CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. If your vet is unavailable, these three national pet-poison information centers may be able to help. All charge a flat fee.

Educational Articles on Veterinary Care

March 7, 2010

In 2003, my lab, BlackJacks, developed a quick-growing tumor on his face. His vet ran some tests, performed a biopsy, and discovered it was cancer. It was a scary time for all of us. And one thing that made it worse: I had no idea what the vet was talking about. I didn't understand the medical lingo and terminology. This lack of understanding added to my fear. If only I had known about an awesome website, provided by Purina, that allows individuals to search for and learn about various medical problems / procedures that you may have to deal with during the life of your dog.

The website (http://pethealthlibrary.purinacare.com/) provides articles, and sometimes videos, all designed to educate you. Did you know, for example, that a dog may show signs of an upcoming seizure for minutes or even hours before the seizure actually occurs? The website also contains tips on care at various stages of your pet's life, articles on emergency treatment, and a glossary of technological advances in veterinary medicine.

Hopefully your dog will never have to deal with anything quite as scary as cancer, but if something scary does come along, at least you now have a tool that can provide answers to some of your inevitable questions.

COOKING FOR CANINES - Entry #3 (The Balanced Diet)

March 4, 2010

The evolutionary diet of wolves and wild dogs historically consisted of almost all protein. This was when the main concern was procreation. Since the canine evolved into more of a domesticated companion, the concern became longevity. Science has taught us that there is a myriad of benefits in feeding fruits and vegetables to your dog, not the least of which is a long and healthy life.

Even so, when preparing a meal for Rover, you'll want to make sure it contains no less than 45% - 50% protein, as protein is still a very important part of the canine diet.

A simple formula to follow is this:

- 50% protein (beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, etc.)
- 25% fresh or frozen vegetables/fruits (carrots, broccoli, green peas, celery, zucchini, melons, apples, bananas, pears, etc.)
- 25% starch (oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, etc.)
- calcium - 1/2 teaspoon per pound of fresh food (ground egg shells, seaweed, bone meal, oyster shells, etc.)

Meats
Japanese Spitz can have sensitive stomachs at times. Our dogs, for example, get an upset stomach if they eat certain rich meats like lamb and buffalo. If your dog has an overly sensitive stomach, poultry may be the best option for you. Eggs are a great healthy alternative as well. Fish has beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, however, it is better to stay away from albacore tuna due to its high mercury content.

Vegetables
Always feed a variety of different vegetables to keep the meals interesting and to ensure your dog is benefiting from the different nutrients various vegetables provide.

Non-starchy vegetables will need to be cooked or pureed to be digested by your dog. Whole and/or raw vegetables won't hurt your dog, but they don't provide the needed nutritional benefit. A vegetable's cell wall is made of a "protectant" called cellulose, and has to be broken down to reach the nutrients on the inside. We, as humans, do this by chewing. We have flat molars, which are made for exactly this. Dogs, however, have sharp, scissor-like teeth, made for tearing through raw meat. They use the "Bite and Swallow" method of eating, rather than chewing their food. This is why it is necessary to cook or puree the non-starchy vegetables you feed. Doing this will break down those cell walls, freeing the nutrients for absorption into your dog's body. The best way to cook non-starchy vegetables is by steaming because fewer nutrients are lost this way.

Starchy vegetables should always be cooked before feeding them to your dog. The best way to cook these vegetables is by baking or microwaving.

Fruits
Fruits can be fed raw. Overripe fruits are the easiest for your dog to digest. In the summer time, our dogs like when I blend various fruits in my blender and freeze them in muffin tins. Please remember that you should NEVER FEED GRAPES OR RAISINS TO YOUR DOG, as they are known to cause kidney failure, which can be fatal.

Calcium
It is very unfortunate that calcium is often overlooked in the homemade canine diet, because no diet is complete and balanced without it. High-protein foods, which make up the majority of your dogs homemade diet, contain large amounts of phosphorus. Balancing the calcium-phosphorus combination is vital. If calcium and phosphorus are not properly balanced in the diet, the body pulls calcium from the dog's bones to make up for the deficiency, leaving them weakened. There should always be more calcium then phosphorus. The recommended ratios for dogs range from 1-to-1 to 2-to-1 calcium to phosphorus.

I have found the easiest way to add calcium to our dogs' food is by grinding clean, dry eggshells in a clean coffee grinder. The shells are ground into a fine, easy-to-absorb powder. If the shells are kept dry, they will last indefinitely and there is no need to refrigerate them. 1/2 teaspoon of ground eggshell provides approx. 1,000 milligrams of calcium. This is the amount you should add to every pound of fresh food. If you feed a combination diet, add only enough calcium to match the fresh food portion of the diet.

If you choose to use oyster shells or bone meal to add calcium to your dog's diet, look for brands that state they have been tested for lead and found to be safe. Lead is a harmful contamination that is often found in these items.

IMPORTANT: Do not add more calcium than necessary. Even though adult dogs typically excrete excess calcium, calcium can bind many other minerals, which decreases the nutritional value of what you feed. Also, puppies less than 6 months old have less of an ability to control how much calcium their bodies absorb. A calcium excess in puppies can lead to skeletal problems such as hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy, and osteochondrosis. Lastly, pregnant females who are given an excess of calcium can develop a life-threatening condition called eclampsia when they begin nursing. It's fine to increase the calcium after the puppies are born, just don't increase calcium prior to whelping.

Discount Prescription Drug Program for Your Pets

February 24, 2010

It can be hard, in these tough economic times, to figure out a way to pay for quality health care for your four-legged family member. Did you know that the National Association of Counties sponsors a discount prescription drug program that helps you save money, not only for your human family members, but for your pets, as well?

Almost 1/2 of all counties nationwide participate in this program, which is free to residents of those counties who do not already have prescription drug insurance or whose medication is not covered by health insurance. There are no age nor income requirements, and there are no medical condition restrictions. On average, an individual can save 23% on prescription drugs a the nearly 60,000 retail pharmacies also participate, including CVS, Rite Aid, and Wal-Mart. Simply present the drug card, along with the prescription from your veterinarian.

For more information on this program, or to see if your county participates, visit http://www.naco.org/.

COOKING FOR CANINES - Entry #2 (The Combination Diet)

February 21, 2010

You may want to feed your dog a homemade diet. But you might be hesitant because you don't have the knowledge or resources, or even the time to figure out the proper nutritional combination for your dog's breed and weight. The good news is you have another option: The combination option! You can improve your dog's nutritional intake, as well as give her a tastier variety, simply by mixing commercial food with fresh foods.

The first thing you need to do is decide what combination ratio you will feed. This will help you determine how much fresh food to feed your dog per day. You can replace up to 1/4 of your dog's diet without really having to worry about balancing the foods that you add. This is probably the best option for individuals with limited time.

If you decide to substitute 1/2 of your dog's diet with fresh food, you'll have to feed a variety of different foods to provide needed vitamins and minerals. Foods such as meat, eggs, dairy, fish, and small amounts of liver, along with various fresh fruits and vegetables is a good start. It is important to remember that if you substitute 1/2 of the diet, you will have to add additional calcium (1,000 milligrams per pound of added fresh food / 80 milligrams per 1.6 ounces of fresh food).

To estimate what 1/4 of your dog's diet is, you will need to multiply your dog's weight (in pounds) by 8. Then, divide that number by 100 to get the ounces of fresh food to add. In other words, if your dog weighs twenty pounds, use this formula: 20 x 8 = 160 ÷ 100 = 1.6. So, for the average 20 pound Japanese Spitz, 1.6 ounces of fresh food would be 1/4 of her diet. 3.2 ounces of fresh food would be 1/2 of her diet. It is important to remember that this is just an average. If your dog is extremely active, you'll want to add a little more. If your dog lays around all day, you'll want to add a little less.

Freshly prepared foods provide added nutrients and a variety of flavors that your dog is sure to appreciate, especially if your dogs are as finicky as mine.

Indoor Brain Games - Entry #3 (RC Chase)

February 17, 2010

Still not warm enough for outdoor play? Is it raining and dreary outside? Play this indoor game to relieve some of your pooch's boredom.
For a special treat, purchase a sturdy remote-controlled car or truck and steer it around the house as your dog chases it. This game can get crazy, so make sure your dog doesn't crash into too many objects of fall down the stairs.


* A special thanks to DogWorld for providing the above game.

Dogs in Weddings

February 14, 2010

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought it would be fun to discuss the increase in the number of couples who are allowing their pets to participate in their weddings. According to Maryann Mott, writer for DogFancy Magazine, "Animal-friendly nuptials aren't surprising. Many single people live with a dog long before finding their future spouse, so it only makes sense they'd want their best friend to play an important role on the big day."

If you and your future spouse are considering including your dog in this very special occasion, you will definitely need to make a few preparations:

  • Ask wedding venue and/or place of worship, and reception hall if dogs are allowed.
  • Check with your photographer to see if he/she is OK working with animals.
  • Find a caregiver to watch your dog during the wedding, reception, and honeymoon. It is unrealistic to think that you will have the time and presence of mind to properly watch over your dog during these times.
  • Determine what role you want your dog to play in your wedding (i.e., ring bearer, bride's maid, usher, etc.). You may want to consider hiring a canine coordinator for your wedding, like Connie Formosa, owner of "Help I Have a Dog" in North Bergen, NJ. Her services include teaching your dog to walk nicely down the aisle, sit pretty for photos, and greet guests politely. Formosa says that a dog with absolutely no obedience skills needs to start his/her training at least four months in advance. A dog with obedience skills in place may just need about six weeks of practice.
  • Shop for canine wedding accessories or apparel. These range from tuxedos and satin bows to retractable leashes with embellishments.

Have fun with your dog on your wedding day and don't stress. Your dog can sense your mood. If you are anxious, your dog could become anxious, too. Make sure this is a joyous occasion for both of you!

COOKING FOR CANINES - Entry #1 (Introduction)

February 10, 2010

In 2009, my husband and I decided to weigh the pros and cons of putting our dogs on a homemade diet. The pros were significant - by cooking for the dogs and using human-grade ingredients, we could be sure that our dogs were only consuming FDA-regulated food. As I'm sure many of your know, there is no requirement for pet food products to have pre-market approval by the FDA. Plus, many pet food products come from other countries such China, the source of the massive 2007 pet food contamination, which resulted a hundreds of needless pet deaths.

The cons were, well, complicated. Granted, I briefly worried about the amount of time it would take to cook for the dogs. But that was an easy fix - it would only take about an hour every other weekend. I would just make a big batch of food and freeze half. My biggest concern was making sure that the food I make constitutes a well-balanced, healthy diet.

So, I researched. And then I researched some more. I came to the conclusion that, by combining 50% fresh ingredients with 50% high-grade, dry kibble, I could be comfortable that my dogs are safely getting the balanced nutrition that they need.

In this blog series, Cooking for Canines, I'll discuss everything I've learned, and continue to learn in my research. I'll discuss the importance of protein, calcium, and fruits & veggies, as well as the best sources. I'll discuss what you should never introduce into your dog's diet. I'll discuss money-saving and time-saving techniques. By the end of this series, hopefully you will better be able to determine whether cooking for your dog is right for you.

A Clean Bowl = A Healthy Dog

February 6, 2010

Have you ever wondered how often you should clean your dog's food and water bowls? Have you ever wondered about the proper method of cleaning those bowls? The answer is not quite as simple as one would think.

The Type of Bowl to Use
First, let's discuss the best type of bowl to use. Always use a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Plastic bowls have small groves that promote bacteria growth. Similarly, when cleaning your stainless steel or ceramic bowl, do not use an abrasive sponge, as this will cause small scratches/grooves in the bowl, making it easier for algae and bacteria to collect and grow.

The Water Bowl
Now that you have the right type of bowl, lets discuss the water bowl. Common sense says that any container that holds standing water for any period of time will breed bacteria. A common bacteria that can grow in water bowls is a reddish/pinkish slimy substance called Serratia Marcescens. This pink slime will grow in any moist location where phosphorous containing materials or fatty substances accumulate. Sources of these substances include soap residues in bathing areas, feces in toilets, soap and food residues in pet water dishes. It is important to note that Serratia will not survive in chlorinated drinking water from the tap, unless the water has been left standing long enough for the chlorine residual disinfectant to dissipate. Serratia has been found to be pathogenic to some, having been identified as a cause of urinary tract infections, wound infections, and even pneumonia.

Clean and disinfect the water bowl EVERY DAY, without exception.

The Food Bowl
Various factors determine the frequency at which you should clean your dog's food bowl. For instance, if you feed a raw food diet, you should wash and disinfect the bowl immediately after each use, so as to prevent salmonella poisoning.

If feeding homemade or a wet food, such as canned, you should wipe the bowl clean after each use, but you only need to wash and disinfect once per day.

If feeding a dry food or kibble, you can probably get by with washing and disinfecting the bowl once every other day. Of course, if your dog slobbers a lot while eating or makes a point to lick the bowl clean, you should probably go back to washing every day.

The Cleaning
A study published in the Canadian Veterinarian Journal sought to find out the best way to kill bacteria in food bowls. Scientists rubbed seven steel bowls and seven plastic bowls with a thin residue of food tainted with various bacteria, such as Salmonella. A quick rinse of warm water for 15 seconds ranked the worst. It was essentially as bad as not cleaning the bowls at all, even if wiped with a paper towel afterward.

The best method was this: Start with a warm water rinse, then scrub with dish soap (using a non-abrasive sponge), before immersing the bowl in a 10% chlorine solution for five minutes. It also doesn't hurt to run the bowls through your dishwasher once a week. To read more about the study, visit http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/.

Alternative
Now I know what you may be thinking. We are a fast-food nation. I don't have time to wash my own dishes, much less my dog's food & water bowls! If you simply cannot wash your dog's bowls daily, you might want to consider having extra bowls on hand. If you keep 6-8 stainless steel bowls in your cabinet, just switch them out each day. You will only have to wash them twice a week.

Making sure your dogs always have clean bowls may cost a little more money and/or time, but the overall cost is minimal compared to the amount of time and money you will spend if your dogs contract a bacteria-related disease because his bowls are dirty. Isn't your four-legged best friend worth it?

Indoor Brain Games - Entry #2 (Laser Pointer)

February 3, 2010

It's early February and still quite a bit chilly outside. Maybe it's too cold for you to take your dog for that much needed brisk walk. If so, how about playing the below game to help your dog get that much-needed stimulation.
If your dog craves a more rousing game, get its attention by shining a laser pointer at the floor or low on a wall. Let your dog go wild chasing the red dot all over the house, over chairs and under beds. Be sure and let your dog "capture" the dot every now and then, and watch your dog's confusion as it ends up on top of his paws.

Never shine the laser in your dog's eyes because it can cause serious permanent damage to his vision.

* Thanks to DogWorld for providing the above game.

Keeping Up with Pet Food Recalls

January 30, 2010

If you're anything like me, every time you feed your dog commercial dog food, you think about the many pet food recalls that have taken place this past decade. It can be overwhelming at times to try to keep up with the numerous recalls. Not only do you have to figure out where to go to locate the information, but you have to determine whether the information you have obtained is accurate.

Well, I have good news! The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have joined forces to launch a new food-safety consumer website (http://www.foodsafety.gov/) that, fortunately, includes pet food recall information. The website is updated with the latest announcements from the federal government, as well as tips on how to handle food safely, and news from key agencies. Visitors to the website can sign up to receive e-mail and/or RSS alerts on recalled and potentially unsafe food.

TEACHING BASIC COMMANDS - Entry #12 ("Wait")

January 27, 2010

Anyone who has owned a puppy knows how wild and unruly they can be. Sometimes they seem hyper and uncontrollable. Unfortunately, many follow bad advice and punish unruliness, not realizing that the key to managing a rowdy puppy lies in teaching self-control, even if the puppy is in an excited state.

One of the best ways to teach your puppy self-control, is to teach her the "Wait" command. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing your puppy's crate. When it is time for your puppy to come out of the crate, after waking up in the morning, for example, she is most likely very excited and ready to charge through when you open the crate door. Control this impulse by tossing a few tasty treats into the crate as you open the door. Then place your hand on her chest and say "Wait".

Now, gradually eliminate giving the treats and blocking her exit. Also, you will need to gradually transition the placing a hand on her chest, to holding your hand up, palm facing toward the puppy, and moving it from side to side. This will now be the hand-command for "Wait". Eventually, your puppy will learn to wait just by verbal and/or visual command.

Remember, expect only a few seconds of compliance at first. Then, increase the time as your puppy gains self-control. When it is time for your puppy to exit the crate, give her permission to do so by saying "Go" or something similar.

Once you teach your puppy to wait before exiting her crate, you are well ahead on teaching Wait for other uses. For example, you may want your dog to wait for permission to go through open doors or gates. In this case, start with your puppy on a leash beside you and close the door. Now, say "Wait", while looking down at your dog and using the hand signal, and reach for the door knob. If your puppy moves when you do that, drop your hands to your side, wait 5 seconds and try again.

When your puppy no longer moves as you reach for the door knob, try opening the door about an inch. If she moves, close it (be sure not to close it on her nose). Now, work on this until she waits. Now, release her & give her permission by saying, "Go" as you open the door. As your puppy's Wait improves, you can open doors gradually wider before releasing her to go through.

Practice this command every time your puppy exits her crate and every time she enters and exits the house, fenced-in yard, and car. Eventually, you will be able to open a door or gate all the way and your dog will wait politely for permission to go through.

To Chip or Not to Chip? Is this Really STILL a Question?

January 23, 2010

Recently, one of my favorite magazines, "Dog World", recently had an informative article on microchipping pets. If you're still on the fence about whether microchipping your dog is worth the $50 - $75 it typically costs, maybe the following article will help you decide:

Pets with microchips have a much greater chance of being reunited with their owners, a new study showed. Researchers found that the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was 2 1/2 times higher than the rate of return for all stray dogs that had entered animal shelters.

"This is the first time there has been good data about the success of shelters finding the owners of pets with microchips," says the study's lead author Linda Lord, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D., an assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University in Columbus. "We found that shelters did much better than they thought they did at returning animals with microchips to their owners."

In the study, 53 shelters in 23 states kept monthly records about microchipped dogs and cats that were brought to the facilities. In all, owners were found for 72.7 percent of microchipped animals. Lord's findings were published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (July 15, 2009, Vol. 235, No. 2).

Veterinarians implant the microchip - about the size of a grain of rice - under the skin between the pet's shoulder blades. The chip contains a unique number that is revealed when the pet is scanned by a microchip detector. The number corresponds with the pet owner's contact information, which they provide when they register with the chip manufacturer.

"In the study, the biggest reason owners couldn't be found was because of an incorrect or disconnected phone number in the registration database," Lord says, adding that pet owners can also list the number with third-party registries, such as the American Animal Hospital Association's microchip website (http://petmicrochiplookup.org/). "The chip is only as good as my ability as a pet owner to keep my information up to date in the registry," Lord says.

* Thanks to Dog World magazine for the above article.
** Thanks to http://www.petsvcare.com/images/microchippic.jpg for providing the above picture.

Indoor Brain Games - Entry #1 (Hide-and-Seek)

January 20, 2010

We have had quite the cold spell in Tennessee this past month. A look at The Weather Channel tells me that most of the U.S. has weather that is just as miserable. Even so, it is important for your dog to get his exercise. Studies show that dogs who exercise regularly (both body and mind) are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems, such as excessive barking, chewing, and separation anxiety. But who wants to go outside for exercise in sub-zero temperatures? Fortunately, Dog World has provided some suggestions for fun/safe games you can play inside with your pooch if the weather is unbearable, one of which is the first entry in this new series.

Hide-and-Seek, Version #1
Dogs love nose games. Their keen sense of smell provides lots of options to occupy their minds & bodies. To play this game, you first need to place your dog in a DOWN position and tell him to STAY. (See the "Teaching Basic Commands" blog series for help with these commands.) If your dog does not know these commands, have someone else hold him. Now hide in another location in the house. Initially, you can hide in the next room to make the game easy, but once your dog picks up on the game, hide farther away in the house to make it challenging.

Once you've hidden, call your dog. Stay absolutely still and try not to giggle as you hear your dog running from room to room making loud sniffing noises. When your dog finds you, go crazy with delight, give him a little treat and tell him what an amazing search-and-rescue dog he would be.

I must say that our dogs absolutely LOVE playing the above game. And what a great way for them to practice the Sit/Stay command!

Hide-and-Seek, Version #2
For a different hiding game, take out a package of tiny treats, as well as one big bonanza goody, such as a nice meaty bone or a large chewy treat. Put your dog in his crate or in a room. Once you're out of sight, start walking around the house, dropping a small treat every few feet. At the end of your treat trail, hide the bonanza goody under a towel, behind the drapes, in a shoe or under a couch cushion - anywhere challenging.


Then go back, release your dog and walk with it to the beginning of the food trail. Watch as it follows your tasty path throughout the house - nose to the floor and ears perked - and ultimately discovers his jackpot.

*Thanks to DogWorld Magazine for the above games.

Animal Relief for Haiti

January 16, 2010

Major animal charities worldwide have formed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH). Donate to your favorite today and specify ARCH to help desperate companion animals, strays, and millions of goats, chickens, and other farm animals, which also helps the people who love and care for them. These organizations are working non-stop to plan and implement support of every kind as soon as possible, and some are on the ground on the island right now. Please join the effort by supporting it with your donation. No amount is too small.

Founders of ARCH (international organizations you may not have heard of but you can trust):
http://www.ifaw.org/
http://www.wspa-international.org/

Organizations with roots in the USA:
http://www.americanhumane.org/
http://www.aspca.org/
http://www.bestfriends.org/
http://www.hsi.org/ (international arm of Humane Society of the United States)
http://www.kinshipcircle.org/ http://www.uan.org/ (known as the founder of EARS, Emergency Animal Rescue Services)


*The above provided by SunbearSquad.org.

Obesity in Dogs - Part 2

January 13, 2010

I just found the neatest little charts designed to help individuals who are trying to assist their canine friends in shedding a few of those unwanted pounds. Thank you DogChannel.com!!!


To print out your own copy, click here: http://dogchannel.com/images/newsletter/default.htm , then click on the "Chart" link at the 3rd bullet point.

Obesity in Dogs - Part 1

January 11, 2010

If you have watched television anytime in the past 48 months, you've probably seen a story or report on Obesity in America. Yes, it's true. The epidemic is spreading and we Americans seem to be at our fattest yet. But did you know that a large majority of American dogs are also a part of this epidemic? The modern dog has access to the best nutrition and health services in history. Nevertheless, the count of overweight dogs is on the rise.

Dogs have to rely on their humans to provide them with the best and most nutritional choices possible. Let's face it, if you give a dog the choice between a cheese burger and a nutritional kibble, he'll choose the the cheese burger every time. Of course, if you give a human the choice between a cheese burger and a carrot stick, most would probably choose the cheeseburger, as well.

The problem, it seems, is a lack of knowledge on the subject of nutrition, and how the lack of it can adversely affect your dog's (and your) body. Did you know that overweight dogs are at a greater risk of injury and complications during surgery? Their heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and joints are more stressed. Obesity in dogs can cause heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems (especially in extreme heat and during exercise), and diabetes. Overall, a dog's life is not only shortened, but his quality of life is greatly decreased.

How To Determine if Your Adult Dog is Overweight or Obese
It is best to ask your vet to help you determine the ideal weight for your Dog. However, the old standby is this: Can you feel your dog's ribs? If so, then then your dog is fit. However, the ribs should not protrude, as this could be a sign of malnourishment or disease. Now, if you're still not sure whether your dog is overweight, ask yourself this:

Does my dog have no waist?
Does my dog have a rounded stomach?
Does my dog have a thick fat covering the ribs that is soft and movable?
Does my dog have prominent folds of skin that sway when he walks?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, your dog is most likely overweight.

How Did Your Dog Get This Way?
There are many things that can cause a dog to be overweight. Obesity is how the body responds to too much energy saved as fat. Obesity in dogs is affected by the correlation between genetic factors, exercise, food management, and stress. Dogster.com breaks it down for us like this.

Obesity is affected by:
Food - Leaving a bowl of food out for your dog all the time is a sure path to obesity. So is giving your dog a caloric treat every time he asks for it.
Activity Level - Our society has moved away from plowing fields to plowing through the potato chips while sitting on the sofa. If we do exercise, it is at the gym. And too often, the daily mile dog walk turns into a quick run around the block just so Fido can do his business.
Illness - Certain conditions exacerbate canine obesity, such as hypothyroidism, Cushings Disease, Pancreatic Cancer, and pituitary problems.
Reproductive: Feeding a neutered or spayed dog an average amount can cause obesity. They need about 1/4 less than average.
Breed - Some breeds are more likely to become overweight or obese. These include Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Basset Hounds.

How Can I Help My Dog Loose Weight?
Dogster offers the following suggestions for helping your dog shed those pounds. However, BEFORE ANY CHANGES IN DIET OR LIFESTYLE, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN.

FOOD:
Feed your dog two - three times per day. Ask you vet for advice on the amount, but in general, a dog needs 35 calories per pound per day to stay at her ideal weight. Avoid weight management foods, as they tend to be high in carbs and low in protein. Remember that treat calories are included in the daily calorie intake. Try small pieces of microwaved chicken, carrots, celery, a dab of peanut butter, or a small piece of low-fat cheese.

ACTIVITY LEVEL:
On average, a dog needs 30 minutes - 1 hour of exercise per day. This doesn't mean you have to run five miles with him. In addition to walks, dog parks provide good exercise, as does throwing a ball in the back yard. Remember to start slowly and build up gradually.


Here, I would like to interject and stress the importance of discussing an increase in activity level with your vet before you make the change, especially if you have and older or elderly dog. The last thing you want to do is cause more harm than good, as older dogs have greater stress in their joints, arthritis, and more brittle bones.

HEALTH:
Your vet can determine if an illness is causing or contributing to your dog's obesity. He can also prescribe a medication that suppresses a dog's appetite and blocks fat absorption, if appropriate.


The Good News
Canine Obesity can be treated and it doesn't have to be a death sentence for your beloved companion. Please remember, that treatment should be done slowly and under the supervision of your veterinarian. It is not safe for your dog should to shed more than 1 to 1-1/2 pounds per week.

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***Please note that all of the above apply ONLY to adult dogs.***