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Go Walk Your Dog; It’s Good for You and Your Pet

Walk the Dog!

Treat your canine—and yourself—to daily excursions.

By Lisa King

WalkDogCityNo matter what type of purebred or mixed breed dog you own, chances are he’s not performing the duties he was bred for: herding sheep, chasing vermin into their burrows, tracking large game across open plains. Modern life offers few chances for dogs to do their intended work, so how can owners provide the exercise and stimulation their dogs need?

The answer is simple: Take your dog for a walk. A good long walk outside won’t do you any harm. Since October began with Walk Your Dog Week, now is a good time to resolve to walk your dog more regularly.

The frequency and duration of these walks depends on many things, such as your dog’s size, breed, health and age. A young Lab or Shepherd mix can handle much longer and more vigorous walks than an elderly Pug. Ask your veterinarian for guidance and pay attention to how tired your dog is getting. In general, a young athletic dog should be walked for 30 minutes to an hour once or twice a day, while a small lapdog can get plenty of exercise from a 20-minute walk. A dog who gets enough exercise is much less likely to exhibit nervous barking and destructive behavior around the house. Walk him at roughly the same time every day if possible.

Choose a secure collar and, if desired, a harness, plus a study nylon or leather leash. Walking in an urban area requires a shorter leash so you can prevent your dog from entangling other pedestrians, while walking in an open area allows you to use a longer leash. A retractable leash can work well for both these scenarios.

Before leaving the house, provide your dog with proper identification. A tag with the dog’s name and your phone number on it plus microchipping in case his collar is lost are the ideal combination.

To make the walk more pleasant for both of you, teach your dog to heal rather than drag you along behind. If your dog persists at pulling on the leash, try using a head halter, which redirects his efforts so he can’t pull you.

DogWalkCountryFind interesting places for the two of you to walk. Your dog will find plenty of interesting smells and sights in your neighborhood, but once in a while he should get to walk someplace new, such as a park, nature trail, lake or beach. Check first to make sure dogs are allowed at the location you plan to visit. If your destination is a dog park or dog beach, make sure your dog is comfortable around other dogs before venturing out.

Walks are when many dogs relieve themselves, especially if they’re apartment dwellers. Besides marking new and old territories with urine, they’re bound to defecate while on walks. Whether you’re on a mountain trail, on a city street or in your own front yard, pick up your dog’s solid waste and discard it appropriately. Carry some type of baggies with you on every walk.

If the walk will be a long one, bring water for both you and your dog, especially in hot weather. Collapsible bowls, soft foldable bowls, receptacles that clip onto human water bottles and many other types of drinking containers are available at pet supply stores. Bring along a pocket full of your dog’s favorite treats, too, to reward good behavior.

Having a dog and walking him regularly not only gives you both much-needed exercise, it facilitates bonding. Dogs look forward with great anticipation to their walks and to spending time exploring the world with their favorite human.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

ABC’s 10 Tips on Choosing a Shelter Dog That’s Right for You

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog/Adopt a Dog Month

Shelter Dog

Many would agree that there is nothing like the love of a dog or puppy. With so many canines available, adoption has become a preferred choice for some families. Adopting a shelter dog is one of the most important decisions a family can make. Unfortunately, many base this lifestyle-changing decision on emotions having little to no knowledge about the dog’s breed, temperament, potential behavioral challenges and the financial responsibilities that come along with pet ownership.

When these factors are not considered, many of these furry friends end up either abandoned or dropped off at local shelters. Sadly, there are more dogs than homes to care for them. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters every year. One of the major reasons these four-legged friends wind up in shelters is due to untreated behavioral problems, according to organizations such as Pet Finders and the National Council on Pet Population Study Policy (NCPPSP).

October is Adopt a Dog and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. Animal Behavior College (ABC) encourages responsible pet ownership. Before you adopt, research and understand specific dog breed characteristics and cost factors beforehand, and commit upfront to providing dog obedience training, as it will create a harmonious bond and will decrease the chances of Fido ending up a shelter statistic.

“Unfortunately, many dogs that wind up in shelters have never received training or guidance when in reality their behavioral problems are correctable,” said Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of Animal Behavior College. “Taking time to provide professional training will ensure many long and happy years together.”

Since dog breeds have different characteristics, it is important to choose a breed that is compatible with the individual or family’s activity level. For example, Airedale Terriers are independent, energetic dogs that have a propensity for digging, chasing and barking. Individuals who enjoy quiet evenings at home and little to no outdoor activity or exercise may find Airedales annoying and too energetic.

ABC offers the following 10 tips on choosing a shelter dog:

  • Decide what kind of dog you want to adopt by visiting your local shelter. With 25 to 30 percent of dogs in shelters being purebreds, there is a high chance that the breed you are seeking is available.
  • To help with your decision, research breeds characteristics. Determine if a particular breed is compatible with your lifestyle and personality.
  • After finding a potential adoptee, inquire about his previous living conditions.
  • Spend time interacting with the dog in an isolated area or room.
  • Observe and note his demeanor around other dogs.  Is he aloof? Does he display fear and aggression?
  • Assess the dog’s health condition by examining his eyes, teeth, hips, legs, etc. and request access to medical information.
  • Learn about ongoing medical concerns. Find out if he is taking medication or undergoing treatment.
  • Find out how long the dog has been in the shelter and the circumstances for his being there. Was he dropped off or abandoned?
  • Determine necessary follow-up services that may be needed.
  • Once you adopt the dog, make arrangements for professional training as soon as possible.

With dog obedience training playing an important role in a harmonious relationship with its owner, some shelters have volunteers from programs such as ABC’s Student Saving Lives (SSL) program to provide training to homeless dogs before they are adopted. SSL volunteers enlist more than 10 hours of training to local shelters, humane societies, or rescue organizations for the purpose of addressing behavioral and socialization concerns, giving canine companions a better opportunity of finding a loving home.

To become a certified dog trainer, obtain dog training certification, enroll in the Dog Obedience Program (DOP) or to learn more about the college or the Student Saving Lives program, visit our website http://www.AnimalBehaviorCollege.com/info.

6 Indoor Poisonous Plants To Avoid for Dogs and Cats

Many homes have a variety of indoor plants. Not only are they beautiful, but they also increase oxygen levels, decrease dry skin and remove toxins from the air. During the holidays and other occasions, plants like holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are festive and add a splash to holiday decor.

But did you know that these indoor plants as well as an assortment of others could make your cat sick?

Before bringing new indoor plants into your home, it is important to learn which plants could potentially be harmful to your pets.

Keep Your Pet’s Safe From Poisonous Plants

In the spirit of pet safety and the best interest of our loved fur-babies (cats and dogs), we have provided the 6 commonly purchased indoor plants that are poisonous to pets and we recommend that you avoid having them indoors.

National Indoor Plant – Week Sept. 15th – 19th

Plants Toxic To Dogs and Cats - American Holly Plants

Holly – Common names of the holly plant are English Holly, European Holly, Oregon Holly, Inkberry, Winterberry and American Holly. The Scientific name for Holly is Ilex opaca and it comes from the Aquifoliaceae plant family. Holly plants are toxic to cats, dogs and horses because of the “saponins” found in the plant roots. 

Clinical Signs of Illness may include: Vomiting, diarrhea and depression. Leaves and berries found on the Holly plant are low in toxicity.

 

Mistletoe – American Mistletoe is a staple in the holiday season. To kiss a loved one “under the mistletoe.” Tis the season to keep your pets safe. The “American Mistletoe” plant is toxic to dogs and cats as well as horses. What makes this plant toxic are the Toxalbumin, pharatoxin, viscumin present in the seeds. The Scientific names for Mistletoe are Phoradendron & Flavescens. This plant comes from the Viscaceae family.

Signs of Illness from Mistletoe poisoning may include: Cardiovascular collapse, dyspnea, bradycardia, erratic behavior, gastrointestinal disorders, vomiting, diarrhea and rarely-low blood pressure.

Dogs and Cats Can Be Poisoned in Injesting Poinsettias

Poinsettias – A very common house plant that grows well indoors or outside is the beautiful poinsettias. This plant’s leaves carry Irritant Sap which is deemed poisonous to cats, dogs and if injested even children are susceptible to illness. The Scientific name for Poinsettias is Euphorbia pulcherrima. This plant comes from the Euphorbiaceae family.

Clinical Signs of Illness may include: Irritation to the mouth, vomiting and upset stomach.

Plants That Can Poison PetsCyclamen –  Also referred to as Sowbread has pretty flower pedals in a pink and red shade. This plant is deemed toxic to both cats and dogs. Its Scientific name is Cyclamen spp. This plant is in the Primulaceae family. Toxic principles of the plant are the terpenoid saponins found in its roots.

Clinical Symptoms of Illness include: Salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. Systemic fatal abnormalities may include heart rhythm off-beat, seizures and possibly death.

 

Dieffenbachia – Comes from the plant family Araceae. This plant is toxic to dogs and cats. What makes it a toxic plant for pets is Insoluable calcium oxalates and proteolytic enzymes. Common names for the Dieffenbachia plant include: Charming Dieffenbachia, Giant Dumb Cane, Tropic Snow, Dumbcane, Exotica, Spotted Dumb Cane and/or Exotica Perfection. The Scientific name is Dieffenbachia.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms may include: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, lips. Signs may also include: excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

 

Poisonous Plants That Can Be Harmful for PetsPhilodendron – Comes from the plant family Araceae. This plant is toxic to dogs and cats. What makes it toxic is Calcium oxalate crystals. The Scientific names for Philodendron is Philodendron spp. 

Clinical Signs of Symptoms include: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, lips. Signs may also include: excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

If you suspect your dog or cat is ill from eating a toxic plant, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com or call 800-213-6680 for more information. To learn more about toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs and cats, the American Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals (ASPCA) has a comprehensive list.

For more information regarding all indoor/outdoor plants that may be harmful to your pets click here.

Why You Should Adopt a Senior Pet

Older Pets Rule!

By Lisa King

If you’re in the market for a cat or dog, why not consider an older pet? There are many advantages to passing over those irresistible puppies and kittens and taking a closer look at mature cats and dogs.

Most people who go to shelters are looking for younger pets. In fact, pets over the age of five have a difficult time getting adopted, even if they’re far from elderly. These animals have so much to offer, but they tend to get passed over. Here are just a few reasons to take home an adult or senior pet.

SeniorDog

Consider adopting an older dog as he or she will be already house-trained and ready to settle down in his/her new home.

  • You know what size the pet will be, since he’s full grown. With mixed-breed puppies, adult size is always a guessing game.
  • It’s easier to assess the pet’s temperament accurately since his personality is fully developed. Shelter staff can tell you whether the dog or cat you’re interested in likes to cuddle, is kid-friendly, or will get along with your other pets.
  • If you choose an adult dog, you’ll avoid the tedious process of house-training your puppy and attending puppy obedience classes, and usually won’t have to worry about chewing, digging or other destructive behaviors. Adult cats may already be trained not to scratch furniture.
  • With both dogs and cats, you won’t need to puppy- or kitten-proof your home. Older dogs and cats tend to be less active and inquisitive.
  • Older dogs and cats are easier to train since they are calmer and more able to focus than puppies and kittens. Remember that pets can be taught new tricks at any age. Most older dogs already know how to walk on a leash and obey simple commands.
  • A dog or cat who has lived in a home with people before is better socialized and more adaptable. They have better manners than young pets and know what’s expected of them.
  • Bringing a mellow older pet into a home with existing pets is far less disruptive than bringing home a rambunctious kitten or puppy, especially if the pets you already have are older, too.
  • An older pet can be left alone all day while you’re at work. They don’t need close supervision as a puppy or kitten would. They are usually happy to entertain themselves or doze away the day.
  • If you’re elderly yourself, you’ll have a lot more in common with an older dog or cat who is low-key and doesn’t require strenuous exercise.
SeniorCat

A senior cat is perfect for someone looking for a relaxed companion who won’t tear up the furniture or do late-night sprints in the hallway.

These animals are in shelters through no fault of their own. Owner-surrendered adult dogs and cats are usually the victim of circumstances, like a move to a no-pet home or a change in jobs, or a life event such as divorce, marriage, or a new baby. If you adopt an older pet, you not only acquire a loving and grateful companion, you save a life and reduce euthanasia, because older pets are the ones who are put down when they’ve overstayed their welcome at crowded shelters.

You might be concerned that an older pet will end up costing you a fortune at the vet. Before you adopt, get a veterinary report that details the pet’s issues. The shelter should be able to provide you with one. Some agencies offer assistance with vet bills for a periods of time after adoption, so ask at the shelter or rescue where you adopt your pet. Keep in mind that your adult pet won’t need spaying, neutering or puppy or kitten shots.

There will be an adjustment period for any new pet you bring home. While some pets move right in as if they’ve always lived with you, others take time to adapt to new surroundings. This is especially true if the pet has been in the shelter for any length of time, which is a very stressful experience. Be patient and loving and things will work themselves out.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”


On a Mission To “Save Them All.”
Save Them All - Pet Adoption OnlineIf you are looking to adopt a pet, please consider Best Friends. Best Friends Animal Society is here to save animals from shelter euthanization and cruelty by finding them forever homes. These cats, dogs, birds, horses and more are all living beings that deserve the chance to enjoy their life. At Best Friends volunteers and staff are hard at work daily to find animals in high-kill shelters and rescue them for the chance at finding them a forever home! Visit: www.bestfriends.org

Alternative Pet Care & Therapy

Holistic Therapy for Your Pets

By Stacy Mantle

When it comes to the health of our pets, we want to make sure they receive the best care. Natural-based care has been around for thousands of years and some of the newer treatments have found ways to combine traditional practices with modern medicine.

According to the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), holistic (or integrative) veterinary medicine is “the examination and diagnosis of an animal, considering all aspects of the animal’s life and employing all of the practitioner’s senses, as well as the combination of conventional and alternative (or complementary) modalities of treatment.”

Please remember that none of these practices should be administered at home or without the supervision of a veterinarian certified in his or her practice. Treatments can be just as deadly as they are effective when used improperly. For information on any of these treatments or to locate a holistic veterinarian near you, visit American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association at http://www.ahvma.org/ Here are three alternative therapies you might want to consider exploring for your pets.

 

Low-level Laser TherapyLaserTherapyDog

Low-level laser therapy is used by alternative-care practitioners as a way to ameliorate joint pain and treat soft-tissue injuries in pets. The theory behind the therapy is that at lower levels, the laser’s light can still stimulate cells and increase blood circulation, which can in turn reduce pain signals. Recent advances in this technology have made laser units available in most veterinary offices. This can be an effective treatment for dogs, cats and horses with arthritis, tendon damage, dysplasia and inflammatory joint or soft-tissue conditions.

For more information on laser therapy, both low- and high-level, visit the American Animal Hospital Association website.

 

Essential Oils

When it comes to skin conditions and natural calmants, there are few things more effective than essential oils. Lavender and chamomile can be very calming when diffused into the air and oils such as rosemary and melaleuca can be very effective in treating skin conditions. However, oils can be very dangerous and should not be used on or around pets unless under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Oils come in a variety of purity levels, which are measured by therapeutic value. Generally, the more expensive the oil is, the higher its quality (though this is not always true). Only pure oils should be used around pets. When used correctly, essential oils can be an effective treatment for many different ailments in any species.

 

Acupuncture

AcupunctureDog

Acupuncture has been around for more than 3,500 years and over a quarter of the world’s population uses it today. This alternative treatment was developed in China and is most often used for treating pain. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that Chi, a vital force that flows throughout the body, travels along channels of energy flow called meridians. Small-gauge needs are inserted into specific pressure points along the meridians to release the flow of energy a disease has blocked. Acupuncture has been used for everything from blocking pain to stimulating appetite. Today, many holistic veterinarians and pet owners stand by the benefits of use on pets. If you or your pet has a natural aversion to needles, you may want to explore acupressure instead.

Whichever method of alternative therapy you choose to try on your pets; be certain you only rely on the advice of those well-trained in such matters. The Internet is rife with bad advice that can potentially cause further harm to your pets. In medical matters, it is always best to rely on veterinarians and those professionally trained in holistic practices.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Foods that are Safe to Give to Your Dogs

People Foods for Dogs

By Audrey Pavia

Most dogs love bananas, which is good since they're a people food dogs can eat.

Most dogs love bananas, which is good since they’re a people food dogs can eat.

Before the days of commercial dog food, dogs ate whatever they could catch, and whatever their humans were willing to share. With the development of the pet food industry, dogs now have their own special diets designed to provide them with all the nutrition they need to stay healthy. But that doesn’t mean your dog can’t enjoy—and even benefit from—certain types of people food.

Prior to even considering giving your dog foods typically enjoyed by humans, consider his weight and health. If your dog is overweight, it’s not a good idea to supplement his regular diet with anything that might contribute to his overall calorie intake. If your dog suffers from allergies and is on a special allergy diet, giving him human foods might aggravate his condition.

That said, the following foods are safe to give dogs as an occasional treat:

  • Vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, green beans and squash, either raw or cooked
  • Cooked lean meats, such as chicken or turkey (without the skin or bones), beef or pork
  • Fruit such as bananas, blueberries and apples
  • Plain yogurt

It’s best not to give dogs simple carbohydrates such as bread or crackers because their systems are not designed to digest this type of food.

As long as your dog is not overweight, you can give him an occasional treat of eggs or cheese. Cook the eggs (scrambled is best) and serve in moderation. Avoid using oils or butter since these fats might upset his stomach. When giving cheese as a treat, select cheeses that are low in fat. String cheese is a particular favorite of dogs and can be easily broken up into small pieces as a training reward.

Some people-foods can be harmful to dogs because of chemical compounds they contain. Do not give the following to your dog:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raisins

Remember when giving your dog treats of people food to always use moderation. A few bites here and there are enough. Too much people food given all at once can make your dog sick and upset his nutritional balance.

Whichever people foods you give your dog, remember to not feed him directly from the table--you'll encourage begging if you do.

Whichever people foods you give your dog, remember to not feed him directly from the table–you’ll encourage begging if you do.

Keep in mind that if you feed your dog while you are sitting at the table eating your own meal, you will create a beggar. If you’d rather not have your dog staring at you whenever you eat, place people food in his own dish when you are serving him his regular meal.

If you plan to use people food as a training treat, keep it in a plastic bag in your pocket, and offer it in moderation when your dog performs a behavior you’ve asked for. Cut the food in small pieces about the size of a dime so you don’t give him too much. This will help keep him from gaining weight or getting an upset stomach.

Remember when giving your dog people food, the choice of food item and the amount you give is most important. Always use moderation.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Why Dogs Act Aggressively Toward People and Other Dogs

Reasons for Aggression in Dogs

By Stacy Mantle

Dog aggression can stem from a variety of causes, and once you understand them, you can start learning the solutions.

Dog aggression can stem from a variety of causes, and once you understand them, you can start learning the solutions.

The stories show up in the news nearly every day—someone was attacked by her dog, another dog was attacked by a dog or a child was bitten by a dog. The public begins to think that all dogs are vicious, trainers look at the ways they could have been avoided and animal lovers rise to the defense of the animal.

More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, according to the American Veterinary Association of America (AVMA). Considering there are 70 million dogs in the USA, these stats show we need to do more on all levels; from educating the public on how to work with animals to teaching children how to recognize dogs’ body language and signals.

Under most circumstances, bite cases can be summarized into three categories:

  1. A lack of veterinary care for dogs suffering from a medical condition
  2. Children who have not been taught to read animal behavior
  3. Multi-dog households with owners who are not trained in working with multiple pets

Pet aggression can stem from a variety of causes. These are the more common reasons for aggression in dogs. Once you understand the causes, you can start learning the solutions.

Pain Aggression

One of the most common causes of aggression in pets is a result of the dog being in pain. Since associative learning is a dog’s most important way of learning, it can result in long-term damage to the dog and the owners. The most obvious solution is to have the dog medically evaluated.

Multi-dog Households

If you have more than one dog in your home, you are five times more likely to be bitten than a home with only one dog. This is largely due to owners reaching in to break up fights between dogs. This is a problem that can only be solved by educating owners on how to live within a multi-pet household. Fortunately, there are many good sites that focus solely on this problem, and plenty of material that you can share with family members.

Side Effects from Medication

There are hundreds of medical conditions that can stimulate biting behavior in pets. In many cases, pets have sustained damage before they were even brought them into a home. But more commonly, aggression can be caused by side effects from prescription medications. Check with your veterinarian and pharmacy to learn which types of medications are most likely to encourage aggressive behavior.

DogBiteInfographic

Fear Aggression

Just as screaming or striking out at someone who surprised you would be considered a perfectly normal response, dogs react with the same instinctual response. Since children are fond of “sneaking up” on a pet, this is one more reason why most bites occur in kids. Threatening a dog, negative training methods or lack of socialization can cause a pet to react in fear.

Children

From 2010 to 2012, there were 359,223 reported bites in children. 57 percent of these children were between the ages of 5 to 9. Sixty-six percent of these injuries were to children 4 years and younger. This is just one more reason it’s so important to teach children how to understand dogs at a very young age or keep them separated from dogs until they can learn how to read them. There are many child-friendly books, diagrams and infographics that are free to download and available from a variety of sources. Simply search on “Body language of dogs” and print one out. It’s free and it could save a child or a pet’s life.

Behavioral Aggression

Behavioral aggression can include everything from resource guarding to frustration aggression. Dogs are naturally territorial and if your pet perceives you as the cause of a resource being withheld, you could be at risk for a bite. This is one more reason it’s so important to socialize and train pets. Dogs learn by association and once they have successfully used a negative reaction (biting) to obtain results they want (food or a toy), they will begin to do it more often. Dogs learn by association, which is why it’s so important to integrate positive training approaches.

Genetics

There is a lot of controversy about breeds that bite. Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is rampant on a global level, particularly in regards to the “bully breeds.” While it’s true that many bites occur from bully breeds, the facts are rather skewed. Often, a smaller dog’s bite is not reported because of the minor damage smaller dogs inflict. However, a large-breed bite is nearly always reported due to a larger bite radius and therefore increased damage. Bully breeds tend to get most of the blame due to selective breeding in the world of dog-fighting. It’s important to remember that there is no “inherently vicious” breed of dog. There are only dogs who have been bred, trained or taught to become vicious.

Education is the key to preventing dog bites. By training yourself, your children and your friends who have pets on how to interact with animals, you will be helping to decrease the number of bites and the number of animals who enter the system and are destroyed.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com

Keep Your Dog Cool with Homemade Frozen Treats

Tasty Frozen Snacks for Dogs

By Lisa King

DogIceCreamHot weather is dangerous to humans and animals alike, and climate change means that longer and hotter summers are on the way. Keeping pets cool is an owner’s responsibility, but confining a dog to an air-conditioned house all day just isn’t feasible. Both you and your dog are going to want to spend time outdoors, so while you’re enjoying the pool, barbecuing or working in the garden, make sure your dog has a way to stay cool and be near you.

We have all seen photos of lions and tigers in zoos licking giant “bloodsicles” during heat waves. These effectively cool down the animals’ bodies so they don’t suffer as much from the heat. You can do the same for your dog without resorting to freezing blood. 

If you have a large dog or multiple dogs, freeze water or salt-free chicken stock in layers in a large plastic container and drop in small toys and treats as each layer freezes. Once it’s fully frozen, run a little hot water over the container and slide the block of ice out onto a flat pan or plate. Set it in the shade where your dog can reach it. He will be able to see the treats and toys and will happily lick away the ice to get to them.

Commercial frozen dog treats are available at pet supply stores and some supermarkets. These are handy, but can be pricey. If you want to save money and be certain of what your dog is consuming, make healthy frozen treats for him at home.

frozendogtreatsThe principles behind making frozen treats are simple: Use foods your dog likes and that are safe for him and combine them in imaginative ways, and then freeze them in ice cube trays (the silicon ones make popping out the treats easy). There are even trays designed for dog treats in which the holes are bone-shaped. You can also freeze treats in small Dixie cups, disposable plastic cups or cupcake liners.

Never add salt or sugar to your dog’s treats. Don’t use grapes, onions, avocados, chocolate, macadamia nuts or anything else on the ASPCA list of foods hazardous to dogs.

Give your dog his frozen treats outside; he is bound to make a mess as the treat melts. Keep in mind that these treats do have calories, so don’t overdo it.

Here is a list of suggested ingredients for frozen dog treats:

  • Plain nonfat yogurt
  • Peanut butter (the natural kind without sweeteners or salt)
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Melons
  • Chopped apples or applesauce
  • Canned pumpkin purée (avoid pumpkin pie filling)
  • Grated carrots
  • Cooked ground or shredded meat or poultry
  • Salt-free chicken stock or beef stock
  • Grated cheese (low salt)

The easiest treats to make involve putting a few berries or pieces of chopped fruit (such as banana, melon or apple) in the bottom of each section of an ice cube tray and then filling the tray with yogurt or one of the combinations below. This gives your dog a sweet and healthy treat. For a low-fat savory treat, put a little leftover unseasoned meat or chicken and a pinch of cheese in each section and fill with salt-free stock.

Here are some ideas for combinations your dog will like. If the mixture seems too thick, thin with a little stock or water.

  • Combine peanut butter with a little yogurt or applesauce.
  • Mix pumpkin purée with peanut butter.
  • Pumpkin is also tasty mixed with plain yogurt.
  • Mashed bananas are delicious mixed with yogurt, peanut butter, or a combination.

This isn’t gourmet cooking. Keep the combinations simple and appealing to your dog. While you and your guests are enjoying frozen margaritas on the deck, he’ll feel as if he’s joined the party.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Dog Safety in the Car

On the Road with Your Dog
By Lisa King

Harness For Your Dog - Car Ride Safety for Dogs

Sleepypod’s Clickit™ 3 Point Safety Harness

Traveling by car with your dog can be rewarding for both of you. Sharing a vacation is much more enjoyable than kenneling your dog and going without him. With a little careful planning, you can minimize problems and maximize fun. Before you hit the road, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is my dog accustomed to riding in the car? Does he enjoy car travel?
  • Does my dog get carsick?
  • Is my dog very active or generally calm?
  • Is my dog crate-trained? If so, is my car large enough to accommodate his crate?
  • Are there dog-friendly motels or campsites along my route and at my destination?

The answers to these questions should guide you in making your travel preparations. Before departing, do an online search for dog-friendly accommodations and make reservations. It’s increasingly easy to find lodging that welcomes canine guests, but some places have size or breed restrictions.

The safest way for a dog to travel by car is in a crate. If your dog is crate-trained, this should be an easy solution. The crate should be large enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around and lie down. Make sure it is well-ventilated. Put a crate mat or other absorbent material on the bottom of the crate and give your dog chew toys (preferably non-squeaky) to keep him from getting bored.

A crate also makes a great bed for your dog at your destination, whether it’s a motel, a friend’s or relative’s house or a campsite.

If you have a large dog and your car is too small for a suitable crate, put an absorbent blanket across the back seat and secure him to the seat belt with a tether. These are available in many configurations; check online dog supply sources. Never give your dog unrestricted access to the front seat or let him hang his head out a window.

To get your dog used to car travel, take him on short trips to destinations other than the vet’s. Drive him to a dog park or to pick up the kids. That way, he will associate car travel with positive things. Never leave him alone in the car on a warm day, either around town or on your trip.

Your dog should have a checkup at the veterinarian’s before you leave. Make sure all his vaccinations are up to date, and carry proof with you. Now is the time to ask about motion-sickness medication if your dog gets carsick. If the trip will be long and your dog is very active, ask the vet about a mild sedative.

Some carsick dogs respond well to natural motion-sickness preparations, many of which contain ginger and mint. Antihistamines such as Benadryl can help calm a nervous dog, but don’t give him human medications of any kind without checking with your vet first.

Here are a few supplies you should have with you no matter what your destination:

  • Plenty of water and a spill-proof water dish.
  • Your dog’s usual food and a spill-proof dish for that
  • His medications, if any
  • If he’s not traveling in a crate, bring his familiar bedding along
  • An identification tag with your cell phone number on it. If he’s micro-chipped, make sure the microchip company has your cell number.
  • A collar and sturdy leash.
  • Favorite toys—chew toys, plush toys, fetch toys.
  • Plenty of poop bags.

As you travel, stop every hour or so to allow your dog to get out, walk around, drink water, and relieve himself. He should be on a leash at all times when he’s not in the car. Always clean up after him.

Once you get to your evening’s destination, play a game of fetch with your dog if possible or take him on a long walk to let him stretch his legs. He’ll sleep better if he’s gotten some exercise.

A dog who reacts to outside noises by barking can get you tossed out of a motel. Playing low music or running a fan or white-noise machine can help calm your dog. Give him a treat-stuffed chew toy to distract him. That mild sedative can come in handy in this case, too.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

Keep An Eye Out For Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Beat the Heat – Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

By Audrey Pavia

Protect Dogs for Heat Stroke

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Especially for dogs. Pet owners are home a lot more, spending time barbecuing in the backyard and going on family outings. Dogs get more quality time with their people, and some lucky pups even get to go on road trips.

While summer offers plenty of opportunity for dogs to be outside having fun, it also poses some risks. Heat stroke and dehydration are dangers dogs face when the weather is hot. Unlike humans, dogs don’t cool themselves by sweating, but mostly through panting. This is not a very efficient way of cooling the body in hot weather, making dogs particularly susceptible to overheating.

Some dogs are even more prone to heat-related illness, including older dogs, dogs who are under the weather, and breeds with short muzzles, such as bulldogs and pugs.

You can do a lot to help protect your dog from suffering in the summer heat by keeping him cool, and recognizing potential signs of distress.

Making sure your dog stays hydrated will go a long way to ensuring his comfort during the summertime. Water is essential at all times of the year, but particularly during the summer when hot weather saps moisture from your dog’s body. Make sure your dog always has access to plenty of cool, fresh water so he can keep himself hydrated. If he’s outdoors, drop ice cubes in his water bowl frequently to keep the water chilled.

Dogs love to be outside during the summer, but it’s crucial your dog be able to get out of the hot sun when he’s had enough. Be sure he has a shady area where he can cool off when he needs to. On particularly hot days, keep him indoors in the air-conditioning.

Of course, never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. On a hot day, the temperature inside a car can quickly rise to more than 120 degrees, which can be fatal to your dog.

If you are hiking or playing with your dog outside, keep an eye out for these signs of heat stroke:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing, including heavy panting
  • Tongue and mucous membranes are a bright red color
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rectal temperature over 104 degrees F (100-102 is normal)

If your dog shows any signs of heat stroke, get him out of the heat right away. If possible take him into an air-conditioned building. If his temperature is higher than 104, put him in a bathtub of cool (not ice cold) water. Take his temperature again in 10 minutes. Once his temperature is back to normal, make an appointment with a veterinarian to have him examined. Heat stroke can sometimes cause damage to internal organs.

Signs of severe heat stroke include staggering when trying to walk; seizures; dark red, purple of blue gums; and coma. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, wrap him in cool wet towels and rush him to a veterinarian immediately.

By taking the right precautions and keeping an eye out for heat stroke, you can make sure your dog has a safe, fun and happy summer.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.