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It’s Pet Dental Health Month

It’s Pet Dental Health Month

Pet Bad breathe isn’t the only thing that improves with proper oral care.

By Lisa King


The condition of your dog’s teeth and gums affects not only whether his breath is stinky or not; poor dental health can influence his quality of life and even his life expectancy. Although cavities are relatively rare in dogs, they can suffer from plaque and tartar buildup, gingivitis and periodontal disease just like people. These in turn can cause painful gums, loose teeth and bone loss.

Periodontal disease can be very serious; bacteria and toxins from diseased gums can enter the dog’s blood stream and be carried to the organs. The brain, heart, liver and kidneys are the most likely organs to be affected. These toxins and bacteria can cause inflammation and infections in the organs, leading to permanent organ damage or even death.

It’s your responsibility as a dog owner to keep your pet healthy by caring for his teeth to prevent these painful and dangerous conditions. Ideally, this means brushing them every day.

This might sound like a tall order if your dog is not used to it. The trick is to get him accustomed to brushing. If he’s a puppy it will be easier, but an older dog can also be taught to tolerate tooth-brushing. Start by massaging the outside of his mouth for 30 seconds or so a couple of times a day. When he’s used to this, try massaging his teeth and gums. Let him lick a little doggie toothpaste off your finger.Never use human toothpaste.

When he will accept this type of touching calmly, get him a doggie toothbrush, either one that looks like a smaller human toothbrush or one that fits over your finger. Apply toothpaste and move the brush in small circular motions, lifting up his lip as you work around his mouth. If he gets impatient, you can skip cleaning the inside surface—most of the tartar buildup is on the outside of the teeth.

Another tool in your dental arsenal is the chew toy. Hard rubber, rawhide and rope chew toys help keep your dog’s teeth clean and his jaws strong, as well as relieving stress. You can also purchase dental treats that are designed to clean tartar off a dog’s teeth and dental rinses that you can put in your dog’s water. But as with people, there’s no substitute for regular brushing.

A well-balanced dry food is less likely to cause tartar buildup than wet food, and human food is worst of all when it comes to your dog’s dental health, so keep table-scrap treats to a minimum.

It is important that your veterinarian checks your dog’s teeth regularly. She will need to handle issues such as cysts under the tongue or tumors in the mouth. Between vet visits, be on the lookout for bad breath, increased drooling, loose teeth and swollen or inflamed gums (the tissue is red instead of pink). An apparent loss of appetite can be caused by painful teeth or gums. Any of these can indicate that your dog has a dental problem and should see the vet.

If you haven’t been taking care of your dog’s dental health or if he is simply an older dog, he might have developed tooth or gum disease. If so, it’s time for a professional deep cleaning. Your vet will need to anesthetize your dog so she can do a thorough job, including cleaning under the gum line. She will also X-ray your dog’s mouth to ensure the roots of his teeth are healthy. This procedure can cost hundreds of dollars, but it can make your dog pain-free and add years to his life.

The best approach to maintaining your dog’s dental health is prevention. Start as early as you can to brush his teeth and check the condition of his teeth and gums. Provide him with a good diet and plenty of chew toys and dental treats. Take him in for regular vet visits. A dog with a healthy mouth is a happier, healthier dog.


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.”

For the Love of Cats – Valentine’s Day Gifts for Cats

For the Love of Cats

Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your favorite feline companion(s).

By Sandy Robins


There’s no question that our pets get to celebrate the holidays throughout the year, too. However, the next one up on the calendar, Valentine’s Day, is actually a difficult one for cats to celebrate by copycatting tradition people gifts because felines neither appreciate red roses nor chocolate, which is a big toxic no-no.

So what to do?

Cats are not that easy to shop for on Valentine’s Day in terms of themed merchandise. That said, you simply can’t go wrong with anything catnip, such as a plush mouse that can be filled and refreshed with dried catnip or a fresh catnip plant.

Kitty Cat Garden

Live plants should be placed in a bright position such as on the kitchen counter. Cats love to nibble on greens and a planter with different types of seeds—such as Pioneer Pet’s KittyGarden—makes a great gift, especially in multi-cat households. The wooden planter has four separate sections for 100 percent organic oats, wheat, rye and barley seeds. They begin sprouting in four to six days. And if you keep harvesting fresh greens for your cat, it can yield quite a crop.

A small, sealed aquarium of exotic fish or even a single betta fish, as long as it’s in a sealed, sturdy bowl, makes a nice decorative feature in a room and will provide endless hours of feline entertainment.

Super Cat Paper

Cats love crumpled paper and paper bags. So the feline paper items from Supercat—available in pet specialty stores and online—make great gifts for cats. Not only do they enjoy the sounds of the crinkly paper, but the products are infused with catnip to increase their enthusiasm!

Nothing says love quite like treats. This is a time to splurge and head for the pet store and purchase a variety of different flavors. However, it’s really important to know whether your cat likes her treats soft and chewy or crisp and crunchy. Some cats really enjoy treats that are crunchy on the outside with a soft center.

For cat lovers and pet parents, a nice coffee mug is always a welcome gift. If you simply Google “cat + coffee mug” a slew of fun designs will pop up. Even Grumpy Cat has her own mug, channeling Garfield and protesting that she hates Mondays …

The website Cafepress.com has a slew of fun cat-themed merchandise, including magnets, aprons, jewelry,, mouse pads and iPad covers. You name it there’s a variety of slogan and paw prints on everything imaginable. The craft site Etsy.com is another great place to explore.

For The Love of Cats

I can’t let this Valentine’s Day opportunity slip by without mentioning my cat book, which is aptly named “For The Love of Cats.” It’s a coffee-table collectible with beautiful illustrations by the talented Mark Anderson. The book is an alphabetical collection of fun rhymes and interesting feline factoids that cover everything from why the ancient Egyptians loved cats to the many “features” cat’s whiskers have. It’s available at www.SandyRobinsOnLine.Com.

While gifts are fun, there is no substitute for spending quality time with your favorite feline (or canine) and dispensing lots of extra hugs and kisses on Valentine’s Day. With love in the air, this is undoubtedly the best way to show your feelings to your pets.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

 

What to Know When Reading Cat Food Labels

Reading Cat Food Labels

How to determine what is really in your pet’s food.

By Sandy Robins

There is no question that reading cat food labels is not straightforward; in fact it can be very frustrating to the average cat owner. Cats are meat eaters (carnivores), meaning they require two to three times the amount of protein than omnivores, such as humans, do. Consequently, they rely mainly on nutrients found in animals—high protein, moderate fat and minimal carbohydrates—to meet their dietary needs.

For the layperson, the key is to look at the first three ingredients listed on the can packet or bag. By law, pet food ingredients must be listed on the label in descending order by weight, with the protein at the top of the list. However, it’s important to remember that the moisture content affects weight. So ingredients that are moisture-heavy, such as chicken or lamb, are listed higher on the ingredient list than the same ingredient that is added in a dry form.

In addition, similar materials listed as separate ingredients might out weigh other ingredients that precede them on the list. For example, chicken might be listed as the first ingredient, then wheat flour, ground wheat and wheat middling. In this instance, although chicken appears to be the predominant ingredient, when added together, all three wheat products could weigh more than the poultry. It gets more complicated because for a food to be called chicken, the ingredients have to be 95 percent or more of the total weight of the product. Then there are a variety of fancy names that crop up on the shelves—e.g., dinner, platter, delight and formula—that in fact means only 25 percent of the content is that particular ingredient.

A word about protein and feline basic nutritional needs: Proteins are the basic building blocks for cells, tissues and organs. They can be either animal-based (e.g.,chicken, lamb, turkey, fish and eggs) or plant-based (soy, vegetables and cereals). In addition, cat food often contains byproducts of animals or plants—the parts that people don’t normally eat. But don’t necessarily be put off by this. If a cat catches a bird it will eat everything—intestines, bones and all.

The type of meat products that most closely resemble what a cat would catch for itself in the wild comes from birds(chicken, turkey, duck and quail)and game animals(buffalo, ostrich, deer, and bison).Animal-based proteins also contain complete amino acids, such as taurine, arginine, cysteine and methionine. These are essential for cats because their bodies don’t synthesize them in adequate amounts. In particular, taurine is crucial to a cat’s diet and a deficiency is serious because it can cause blindness and fatal heart disease.

Cats also catch fish in the wild, so fresh fish can be an excellent addition to their diet. Fish is high in iodine and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids that promote healthy skin and fur.

Because ingredient definitions and designations are standardized, it is difficult to determine the quality of ingredients. Ingredient quality can only be determined from laboratory analysis and animal feeding tests.It is up to the pet owner to  research various food manufacturers’ websites to get an idea of what they are offering. Once you’ve narrowed down the field, you should then discuss the diet with a very knowledgeable pet food retailer or, better still, with your cat’s veterinarian.

Since the pet food recall of 2007, cat food ingredients have come under scrutiny more than ever before.Accordingly,companies are going to great lengths to discuss their quality, such as human-grade contents.And inline with human food trends,organic ingredients are growing in popularity.

“A question we often get from pet parents is ‘how do I know if this food is organic?’” said Pete Brace, vice president of communications and pet parent relations for Castor & Pollux, a manufacturer of natural and organic food for pets. “There are strict labeling requirements around organic that enables pet parents to know the differences between products.”

A product with 70 to 94 percent organic ingredients can state on its label, “Made with organic…” but it cannot include the USDA logo, according to the USDA’s National Organic Program. However, those ingredients must still be certified by an independent third party. Products with 95 to 100 percent certified organic ingredients can use “organic” in the product name and bear the USDA logo. Both categories of organic products must include the name and contact information for the certifying agency on the back of the package.

Another growing trend is for single ingredient foods, which definitely makes it much easier to read a label.

Finally, you can read labels all you want, but the big question is whether you cat will eat the food.Pet food manufacturers, especially those whose products are grown and manufactured in the USA,try hard to be very transparent about what they are offering and are happy to talk to pet owners and discuss their concerns. So, once you have narrowed down the field, don’t be shy to ask for a sample directly from the manufacturer. Any company that proudly stands by what it sells will be only too happy to oblige.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Top 8 Toy Presents for Dogs

Dogs Can Expect Plenty of Cheer this Holiday Season

Top 8 Gifts for Dogs in 2013

By Stacy Mantle

Don’t forget to buy your canine companions presents this holiday season.

According to a poll from Petside.com, just over half of American pet owners will buy gifts for their pets this holiday season and they’ll spend an average of $46 doing so. Toys and treats top the list as favorite pet gifts, but new bedding, clothing, leashes or harnesses and grooming products make up 12 percent of Santa Paws’ gift list.

Here’s a look at our holiday favorite gifts and stocking stuffers this year.

Dog Harness - Great Holiday Present for Dogs

Wacky Paws Travel Harnesses

1. Wacky Paws Travel Harnesses
When it comes to traveling with pets, you want something colorful and lightweight. This harness comes with a detachable pouch for easy storage of keys, phone and doggy bags while on your walk. They range in size from extra small to extra large and make the perfect harness for active pets. You can choose from light pink, deep pink, green, and blue. MSRP: $39.99 – $54.99

Dog Treat Presents for the Holidays

Honest Kitchen Treats

2. Honest Kitchen Treats
Have your pets been extra good this year? Treat them with a festive, limited-edition container of Holiday Quickies! These one-ingredient treats feature dehydrated haddock, making them grain-free with no fillers or by-products. These healthy treats make the perfect stocking-stuffer for dogs who deserve the purest, most delicious treats this holiday season. MSRP: $9.99

Dog Tote Bag - Holiday Presents

Sherpa Park Tote – Dog Tote Bag

3. Sherpa Park Tote
Fashion meets function for pets on the go. This stylish carrier unfolds into a blanket for lounging on the grass with your pup. Lined with cozy faux lambskin, the carrier also features a side window with privacy flap. Pets can enter from the side or the top with easy zippered access. The entire carrier is machine washable for easy cleaning on the go. MSRP: $54.99-69.99

Dog Bowl Present for the Holiday Season

Top 8 Dog Presents – Loving Pets Milano Dog Bowls™

4. Loving Pets
Every dog should receive a new set of bowls this holiday season, and Loving Pets has a large selection of colors and designs to fit any personality. Milano Bowls™ are dishwasher-safe, resistant-to-bacteria and veterinary-recommended. The fashionable outer shells can be easily matched to your pet’s personality and consider this adorable treat jar from Loving Pets. Loving Pets brings new life to veterinarian-recommended, stainless-steel treat canisters by combining a stainless-steel interior with an attractive poly-resin exterior. MSRP: $14.99

Top 8 Dog Gifts for 2013 - Cycle Dog Collars

Cycle Dog Collars

5. Cycle Dog Collars
If you’re looking for something unique, consider an earth-friendly collar from Cycle Dog. These collars are made from recycled bicycle tires and are some of the softest, longest-lasting collars we’ve ever seen. Each collar features a latch-lock, stainless-steel buckle (which is more than 400 percent stronger than plastic buckles) and even contains a “pup-top bottle opener” for easy opening on the road. Perfect for dogs who are as active as their owners. Choose from a large variety of fun colors and designs. MSRP: $25.00

 

Hear Doggy Ultrasonic Plush Dog Toys

Hear Doggy Ultrasonic Flat Dog Toys

5. Hear, Doggy Ultrasonic Toys
If your dog loves plush squeaky toys, but you have no love for the sound of squeaky toys, the Hear, Doggy! Plush ultrasonic line of pet toys is for you. Hear, Doggy! toys are tuned to an ultrasonic range of 24 to 28 KHz (out of human hearing range) and are available in a variety of characters, both plush (stuffed) and flat (unstuffed). Select designs feature Quaker Pet Group’s proprietary Chew Guard™ Technology, a unique manufacturing process that adds a super tough, durable mesh liner inside the plush as well as reinforced, double-stitched seams. MSRP: $11.99 – $17.99

Dog Bone Toy - 8 Great Holiday Gifts for Dogs

Busy Buddy® Bristle Bone®

6. Busy Buddy® Bristle Bone®
This is a great toy for heavy chewers. Made from durable nylon and rubber, each Busy Buddy toy includes natural rawhide treat rings that encourage chewing. Soft bristles help keep teeth clean as dogs chew, and the natural rotation of disks help keep their attention. These fun toys will keep your dogs busy for days at a price you can afford. MSRP: $6.99 – $19.99

ThunderWorks Thunder Sweater - Dog Sweater by ThunderShirt

ThunderWorks ThunderSweater

7. ThunderWorks Thunder Sweater
We all know the ability of ThunderShirt to ease a dog’s fear and anxiety, particularly in stressful situations (such as storms, having company over or the holidays). ThunderShirt’s patended design is based on the principles of T-Touch and applies a gentle, constant pressure around your dog’s torso, which has a calming effect during stressful situations. Now when you have holiday visitors, you can leave your Thundershirt on your pet and simply snap the stylish ThunderSweater over the shirt for a quick jaunt outdoors in cold, snowy weather. The new ThunderSweater offers all the calming benefits of ThunderShirt, but with added warmth. (Each ThunderSweater includes a ThunderShirt.) MSRP: $59.95

Duck Dynasty Dog Toy

Duck Dynasty Dog Toy

8. Duck Dynasty Dog Toys & Apparel
If you’re looking for a creative and unusual gift for your four-legged friend, we reckon you ought to join the Duck Dynasty revolution. A&E’s show has taken the world by storm and we know you’ll be as happy as a duck-huntin’ dog with afun selection of fashionable coats, T-shirts bearing the favorite slogans of Uncle Si, plush duck toys (shown) and yes, dog beards. Cat-bearding is so 2013; bring in 2014 with a dog beard and Duck Dynasty hat fashioned after your favorite duck commander. Toss a pair of dark Doggles on your dogs, and you’ll be ready for the New Year with “family-certified, redneck approved” duck gear from America’s first family of duck callers. MSRP: $9.99 – $19.99

View Our Top 8 Cat Holiday Gifts


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

 

Top 8 Cat Holiday Gifts – Cat Presents for the Holiday

Our Top 8 Cat Holiday Gifts

When it comes to giving presents, your cats can be at the top of the list.

By Sandy Robins

Top * Cat Presents for the Holiday 2013

If the toys don’t “wow” your cat, she might play with the boxes they’re wrapped in.

More than 35 percent of cat owners spoil their furry companions with gifts during the holiday season. There’s a wonderful selection of fun ideas in all price ranges and sizes, from stocking stuffers to sculptured cat trees designed to put your feline in purr mode.

Here are our top eight gift ideas:

Cat Gifts for Christmas 2013

Catnip Stogie

1. Catnip Stogie
The room will be smoking with revved up feline action when your cat gets her paws around a stogie of compressed catnip. It’s made from 100 percent organic catnip compressed into a roly-poly shape that’s easy to pick up and toss around. MSRP:$5.99.

Cat Tree Lookout

2. Cat Tree Lookout
You cat can enjoy a simulated outdoor scratching and climbing experience with a cat tree that has a real bark and sisal scratching surfaces and place to snooze amongst some silk leaves, which will also provide endless enjoyment for playing hide and seek. Various designs, styles and shapes are available. MSRP: $119 – $1,299

Top 8 Holiday Gift Ideas for Cats

Frolicat’s Pounce Automatic Cat Teaser

3. Pounce Automatic Cat Teaser
The Pounce is an automatic, rotating, hide-and-seek cat toy featuring Marshal Maus, who zips around the circular path, zooming forward, reversing direction, hiding under obstacles and occasionally twitching back and forth. The unpredictable movement stimulates your cat’s natural instinct to hunt, chase and pounce on prey. It has various speeds and an automatic shut off button after 10 minutes. MSRP: $30.95

Top * Holiday Gift Ideas for Cats

Sherpa Pet’s Leopard Cat Tote Carrier

4. Leopard Cat Tote Carrier
Designed for small- and medium-sized cats, this durable carrier has a flexible frame and tightly woven wire mesh offering excellent ventilation and ensuring that claws won’t get caught in the material. It includes a machine washable faux lambskin liner, offers both top and side entry and has three roomy zipper pockets. It’s also available in black. MSRP: $73

Top 8 Cat Toys for Presents This Holiday Season

Crazy Tail Cat Toy

5. Crazy Tail
Toys that mimic the thrill of the hunt hone a cat’s hunting skills and offer great exercise opportunities. The Crazy Tail is a battery-operated toy that can be attached to a doorknob. Switch it on and the string tail flies all over the place; it’s ideal for multi-cat households. Two AAA batteries are included. MSRP: $18.99

Holiday Tips - 8 Presents for your Cat

SuperCat’s Catnip-infused Paper Bag for Cats

6. Feline Stationary For Fun and Games
The SuperCat™ range of feline stationary items include papers bags, post-it note-styled catnip crumples and scratch ‘n sniff stickers all infused with catnip bubbles that release the irresistible scent as the cat scratches on the surfaces or plays with the paper items. There are catnip markers that can be used to “draw’ on all surfaces, too. MSRP:$3.99 -$8.99

Cat Food Bowls - Top 8 Gifts for your Cat

Loving Pet’s Vintage Black Double Diner for Cats

7. Loving Pet Vintage Black Double Diner for Cats
A vintage-styled brushed metal double diner in a fishbone pattern will add a decorative touch to your kitchen and provide your cat with stylish, but practical dinnerware.The raised diner keeps bowls off the ground to discourage pests and prevents them moving around as your cat eats or drinks. The removable bowls are stainless-steel, bacteria-resistant and dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. The stand has a rubber bottom for skid-resistance; it’s perfect for food and water. MSRP: $16.99

Cat Presents for the Holiday - Top 8 Gifts for Cats

The Purrfect Cat House by NekoNapper

8. NekoNapper—The Purrfect Cat House
The NekoNapper is a cozy pet house that wil lquickly become a popular feline snooze zone. It offers privacy as well as a nice lookout to keep an eye on household activity. It’s sturdily constructed but lightweight, so it’s easy to move around the home. MSRP : $70

 

View Our Top 8 Toy Presents for Dogs


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips

Keeping Your Pets Safe During the Holidays

By Lisa King

Dog & Cat Safety for Pets During The Holidays

Few cats can resist the temptation of shiny, dangling ornaments.

 

In my last column, I outlined how to keep your dog safe at Thanksgiving. The concerns at this American holiday are mostly about food, but Christmas offers a whole new set of dangers for dogs and cats. When making decorating decisions this season, keep your pets’ safety in mind. Here are some guidelines to follow.

A lot of your precautions will depend on the personalities of your pets.

  • How well-trained is your dog?
  • Is he food-motivated?
  • Is your cat a jumper and climber?
  • Is she likely to try to climb the tree and knock off ornaments?

In any case, place your Christmas tree in a corner to reduce its accessibility to pets. Secure it to the ceiling or a high curtain rod with string or fishing line so your pets can’t knock it over. Move furniture away from the tree so cats can’t use themas launching pads to jump on the tree. If possible, put the tree in a room with a door so you can shut pets out when you leave the house. You can also put a folding gate around the tree to keep dogs away from it— of course; your cat will just scoff at this barrier.

When trimming the tree, leave a foot or two at the bottom of the tree undecorated. Don’t use edible ornaments; chocolate, candy canes, and popcorn and cranberry garlands can be tempting to dogs especially. Hold the tinsel—if swallowed, it can cause serious intestinal problems. Fake snow and flocking are toxic to pets as well. Use mostly unbreakable ornaments if you can. Sparkly, glittery ornaments are very appealing to cats. Don’t leave ornament hooks where pets can swallow them. Clean up any broken ornaments promptly.

Why Candles May Not Be Safe for Cats

Never put real candles on a tree. In fact, be careful where you put any candles. Don’t put them where a cat can knock them over. Don’t leave pets unattended in a room with lit candles; when you leave the room, blow them out. Make sure your fireplace has a sturdy screen that keeps pets from getting too close.

Keep the area around the tree vacuumed. Both real and fake pine needles can perforate intestines. Use a large, sturdy tree stand and cover it up, since the water inside contains pine resin and possibly flame retardant and other chemicals.

If your cat tries to climb the tree, put foil around the bottom of it and wrap some foil around the base of the tree. Cats dislike walking on foil.

Many other holiday plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Mistletoe; holly; amaryllis, narcissus, and other plants that grow from bulbs; and to a lesser extent, poinsettia, are all on the verboten list. Keep these plants out of your dog’s reach. If you have a cat, keeping things out of reach is more problematic, so perhaps you should forego buying these plants all together.

Pet Safety When Wrapping Gifts

When you wrap packages, shut your pets out of the room. If a dog or cat swallows a ribbon, your vet might have to remove it surgically. Pets can also run into trouble around bits of wrapping paper, Styrofoam and sharp scissors. Put the presents under the tree at the last moment so your pets aren’t tempted to explore them. Empty cardboard boxes, however, make fine playthings for cats.

After you’ve opened presents, clean up all paper and ribbons right away. Small gifts like toys and jewelry that a pet might swallow should be put away quickly, too.

If you have guests over, make sure purses and coats are in a room inaccessible to pets. Dogs have been known to root around in purses and take out vials of medicine.

The best way to ensure a safe holiday for all involved is to think ahead of time about your pets’ safety and take appropriate precautions. A new Christmas toy or two can also provide a distraction and a reward for good behavior.


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.”

Can Your Dog Herd?

Can Your Dog Herd?

By Audrey Pavia

AKC Herding Dog Breeds

If your dog has what it takes, you could train him to compete in herding trials.

 

Ever notice your dog trying to round up the kids while they are playing in the backyard, or move the cats around the kitchen in an orderly manner? If so, your dog is exhibiting more than just weird behavior. Depending on his ancestry, he might be letting you know that he has a good dose of herding instinct in his blood.

Thanks to two organizations devoted to preserving dogs’ natural working instincts, you might be able to find out if your dog has what it takes to herd more than just kids and cats: he might be able to learn to herd livestock.
In the days when the majority of dog breeds were being developed, agriculture was the way most dog-owning families earned a living. Farmers and ranchers needed the help of their dogs to manage an assortment of livestock, from ducks to horses. As a result of this early breeding, a vast number of dogs still possess the herding instinct that was bred into them generations ago.

To see if your dog has the inborn ability to herd and has the potential for advanced training, have his herding instinct tested. Not only it is fun to watch your dog’s instincts really kick in the first time he’s asked to work sheep or ducks, but you might decide to train him for competition, which can be loads of fun.

Herding Dog Breeds

The American Kennel Club, which registers purebred dogs, has designated 51 breeds as having herding instincts. Any AKC-registered dog from one of these breeds is eligible to be AKC herding-instinct tested. These breeds include the Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Bearded Collie, Belgian Tervuren, Bernese Mountain dog, Border Collie, Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Collie, German Shepherd, Giant Schnauzer, Old English Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Rottweiler, Samoyed, Shetland Sheep dog and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, among many others.

AKC Herding Test for Dog Breeds

At an AKC-sanctioned herding test, your dog will enter a pen with a tester and some livestock, usually sheep or ducks. The judge will let your dog interact with the livestock, gauging how he handles them. For a dog to pass a herding instinct test, he must show an interest in the livestock without being aggressive, and must show a propensity for driving and fetching the animals.

After your dog is tested, you’ll be given a card with the judge’s comments on your dog’s natural instincts. The card will indicate whether your dog passed or failed.

If your dog passes the test, you’ll receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club in the mail. You can then take your dog’s herding abilities even further by training him to work.

Registering A Herding Dog with the AKC

If your dog is not registered with the AKC, is not a breed considered eligible for herding testing with AKC or is a mixed breed, you can still have his herding instinct tested. The American Herding Breeds Association (AHBA) provides herding capability tests to all dogs, designed to determine whether a dog has the instinct to herd livestock. Dogs who have shown to have the needed instinct can go on to be trained for competitive AHBA events.

For more information on herding instinct testing and herding competitions, visit the AKC at www.akc.org or the AHBA at ahba-herding.org.


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.

 

Pet Safety During the Holidays – Keep Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

Keep Your Dog Safe at Thanksgiving

By following a few rules, you can prevent an emergency trip to the vet for your animals.

By Lisa King

Keep Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

Pet Safety During the Holidays

During the holidays, especially on Thanksgiving, which is food-focused, keep in mind that although canines and humans area both omnivores, their digestions and dietary requirements are very different. Those roasted pearl onions you love can make your dog anemic. Your favorite chocolate cream pie will make her very sick. And cooked poultry bones can splinter and cause abdominal perforations.

Canines do have something in common with sharks, however. Most dogs will eat pretty much anything. My sister has found everything from wine corks to rubber bands to Legos in her Chesapeake Bay Retriever’s poop. When the dog ate a bunch of grapes and half an onion left on the counter, the vet had to induce vomiting. If your dog is a land shark like this, you must be extra vigilant at Thanksgiving if you want to avoid spending the day at the emergency vet clinic. Here are some tips to keep her safe:

  • Make sure your kitchen garbage container has a tight-filling lid. There are plenty of tempting morsels being thrown away this time of year—yummy stuff like turkey bones and skin that your dog would love to get at.
  • Carefully dispose of all the plastic bags, clips,and ties that the turkey came in; they smell of meat and are very appealing to dogs.
  • Don’t put appetizers on low coffee tables. A dining table, counter or something of similar height should be safe, unless you own a large dog. In any case, don’t leave food unattended.
  • Exercise and feed your dog on her normal schedule. Take a long walk before guests arrive so she’s tired out and not too active.
  • Buy her a new and interesting toy—perhaps one you can fill with treats—to keep her happy while you eat your Thanksgiving feast.
  • When guests are coming and going, be sure your dog can’t run out the door.
  • Put her bed in a quiet room where she can retreat if the party gets to be too much for her.
  • Ask your guests not to feed your dog human food, no matter how adorable she is when she begs. Provide safe treats that guests can give her.
  • Put leftovers away in the fridge promptly. If you’re in a postprandial stupor, you might not pay attention to what your dog is scavenging off the table.
  • Keep decorations out of your dog’s reach. Wreaths, bunting, scented candles, decorative gourds and small pumpkins are all tempting to a curious dog.
  • Many types of flowers are poisonous to dogs. Keep arrangements well out of reach.

Here are some holiday no-nos that are either toxic, too fatty or otherwise dangerous to your dog:

  • Xylitol or other artificial sweeteners
  • Chocolate
  • Onions, garlic, shallots, or other members of the allium family
  • Butter, turkey skin, or other fats
  • Raw turkey
  • Cooked poultry bones
  • Uncooked bread dough
  • Raw fish
  • Raw eggs
  • Foods with lots of herbs
  • Gravy
  • Corn on the cob
  • Marshmallows
  • Grapes and raisins
  • All alcoholic beverages
  • Coffee, tea or anything else with caffeine in it

Your dog can have a few treats on the big day. It’s OK for her to have small amounts of these foods:

  • Turkey meat
  • Plain mashed white potatoes
  • Plain sweet potatoes
  • Plain green beans
  • Plain carrots
  • Plain loose corn
  • Cranberry sauce (if it’s not too sweet)
  • Pumpkin pie (hold the whipped cream)

If you want to give her a bit of turkey, put a few pieces of well-cooked skinless, boneless white meat on top of her regular food.Do the same with small amounts of the other allowed foods. Whatever you do, don’t feed her from the table. That will encourage her to beg at dinner every night.


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.”

Taking Your Cat to the Vet – Petropolitan by Animal Behavior College

Taking Your Cat to the Vet

You can make a stressful event less so with these feline transportation tips.

By Sandy Robins

Cat Carriers - Traveling with Your Feline

It’s no secret; cats, carriers and cars do not add up to a fun time. The mournful meows en route can be very stressful on the driver too. Usually the destination is the vet’s office, which exacerbates the situation. And some cats are so anxious they pee inside the carrier, which just makes the trip even more uncomfortable for all concerned.

What to Know About Cat Carriers

It’s really important for your cat to understand that the carrier is not a big bad box.The best way to do this is to leave it open around the house and allow her curiosity to take over and initiate detailed explorations.

If your cat is so freaked out by your existing carrier, it might be a good idea to donate the one you have to an animal shelter and start over with a new one that has no bad associations. The latest designs offer additional ventilation and wider windows so they can look out at their surroundings.

If you are not planning on using it for air travel, consider purchasing a round carrier. Cats like to sleep curled up “in the round” and this could help her feel more at ease. Alternatively, a dog carrier could offer more comfort, as often they are a little roomier than those designed specifically for cats.

There are lots of things you can do beforehand to help make the journey less stressful for her, too. Start by adding some Rescue Remedy to the water bowl the night before. This is a tasteless calmative to help ease travel stress.

It’s also a good idea to spray the carrier just before a trip with a pheromone spray.

Research has shown that cats (as do dogs) communicate with each other via certain pheromones. A mother cat is able to calm her kittens through the natural pheromones she emits. Thus, products that mimic these pheromones can help a cat of any age feel more secure in the carrier and cope better while in the car.You can also consider placing a favorite toy in the carrier for comfort.

My Ziggy gets very stressed when we travel to the vet’s office. Consequently, I bought him a ThunderShirt, now available in different sizes for felines. The ThunderShirt works on the swaddling principle that mothers use to calm small babies and toddlers, and it has definitely made a difference for him. He still meows a bit, but he no longer emits long mournful meows and seems much calmer when we get to the destination and back home.

If your cat simply can’t control her bladder, it’s a really good idea to line the carrier with a puppy pee pad to absorb the accident and keep her dry and the carrier from smelling. Put a second one in a carrier pocket so that you have a fresh liner for the journey home.

The safest place for a carrier is on the floor of the front passenger seat or the floor area of the back seat. In this position, if you break suddenly, there is nowhere for the carrier to fly forward. However, this means your cat can’t really see what happening. Consequently, playing music on the journey can help keep her calm. There are even music modules specially designed to fit into a carrier to block out car and traffic noises.And don’t forget to talk to her, too. The latest research done by scientists at the University of Tokyo has shown that cats react to their owner’s voice.

However, if all this doesn’t help, there is the possibility that she suffers from motion sickness. Seek advice from your veterinarian. There are prescription products to ease the situation.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

 

Wintertime Indoor Fun for Dogs

Wintertime Indoor Fun

Entertainment options abound for dogs—and their owners.

By Stacy Mantle

Indoor fun for dogs - Dog Treadmill

Winter is nearly upon us and for many that means making adjustments in order to keep our pets safe and warm during the colder winter months. Here are several indoor activities that can help keep cabin fever at bay.

Teach Dogs New Tricks

Winter is a great time to hone your training skills. Not only does training provide mental stimulation for your pets, it helps cement the bond with your dog and gives you both something to focus on besides going outside. If you’ve thought about implementing clicker training, this is a great time to start.

Puzzle Toys for Pups

Puzzle toys are a fantastic way to keep a dog’s mind engaged, which tires them out more quickly. These types of toys also encourage sedentary dogs to become more active, even when left alone. Interactive toys range from squirrel trees to puzzle boxes, and the rewards can vary from plush toys to pet treats (be sure to use a low-cal treat). There is really a toy for every activity level, so do a search—you might be surprised by what you find.

Make Feeding Time Fun

Make feeding time more interesting with an interactive pet feeder. These feeders engage pets’ primal instincts by allowing them to “hunt” for their food. Interactive feeders, such as those available from Nina Ottoson or Aikiou, keep dogs interested during mealtime while decreasing their eating rate—something that is physically and emotional important.

Treadmills for Pets

You may not think of your dog as the “running” type, but she may just surprise you. Winter provides a great opportunity for implementing interval training into your dog’s workout. Dog Tread carries a wide selection of treadmills designed especially for pets. If you’re in an area where rain and snow prevail, this is probably the system for you. To step up the power level, try adding a K9 FIT Vest™, which comes with various sized weights that you add or decrease as your dog gets in shape. 

Building up Balance for the Pet’s Body & Mind

The best way to tire out your dog is to engage her mentally and physically. Balance balls can do the trick.Sometimes referred to thera-balls, exercise balls, fitness balls, gymnastics balls or Swiss balls;these are a great tool for working on balance, core strengthening and endurance. If you have an agility dog, this is going to be an especially valuable activity for your pet. Best of all; it can all be done indoors (under proper supervision, of course). Dog Tread carries a wonderful line of balance toys for pets, as does Fit Paws USA, and there are other companies that offer innovative balance equipment for pets. 

Experiment in the Kitchen

If you’re as bored as your dog during the cold and dark winter months, consider experimenting with some new recipes. There are many great ways to integrate leftover holiday food (such as pumpkin puree or turkey) into recipes that are healthy and easy to make.

Scavenger Hunts for Dogs

Scavenger hunts can be entertaining for you and your human kids, as well as your pets. This is very easy game to set up. Simply put your dog outside or in another room while you “hide” the treats around the house. Start out with easy hides (such as in the corner of a room), then move into the “high value” hides (under a box or the couch). Be careful you don’t inadvertently enforce bad habits while playing. Hide treats and toys only in areas where your dog is allowed.

Doga (Dog Yoga)

There is nothing more relaxing in winter than a morning yoga session. You can integrate your dog into this healthy routine by simply encouraging her to participate. Practice simple stretches together and when your pet lies down for a rest, use the time to interact with her—it will help make your own morning yoga that much more valuable as petting animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease stress.

Grooming the Pet

A grooming session can do wonders for your pet when the cold, dry air of winter is taking its toll on her skin. Consider purchasing some pet-friendly Bath Salts from DERMagic for a gentle exfoliating scrub that will remove dandruff and help loosen dry skin, preparing it for an invigorating shampoo. This is not only great for your pets, but will help keep you warm and relaxed during the cold winter days.


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