Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter, dogs, and human food

Image from
It's that time a year again: holiday. We've written about dangers to doggies earlier on the blog, but it's worth repeating. Danger lurks in unexpected places, and Easter is a holiday with an abundance of food and candy. Never underestimate a dog's ability to get into stuff they shouldn't have!


Chocolate is good, right? Well, not if you're a dog, and during Easter, there's usually a lot of it around. Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. This is a cardiac stimulant that doesn't affect humans much, but it can be lethal to a dog. The dog can seem perfectly fine up to several hours after eating chocolate, and death can still ensue within 24 hours.

A dog that has eaten chocolate can exhibit symptoms that include: staggering, problems breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, tummy pains, tremors, fever, seizures, and coma. Milk chocolate contains the least cocoa and is the least dangerous. Dark chocolate is really bad. 

If your dog ate chocolate, or if you suspect your dog ate chocolate, don't gamble with their life: go see a vet. Most cities have pet emergency rooms open even during nights and holidays.

Cocoa Powder

Both cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are chocolate. They don't taste as good to us, but that's just because it's more concentrated. These forms are even more toxic than your run-of-the-mill candy bar, and contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. 

A small dog can get really sick from just licking chocolate icing. A twenty-two pound dog can become seriously ill or even die from as little as two ounces of cocoa powder.


Onions seem harmless, but both onions and garlic contain a substance called thiosulphate. 

This causes hemolytic anaemia, which means the pet's red blood cells burst while circulating through the body. Symptoms are labored breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarrhea, and discolored urine. 

The poisoning might not show until days after the pet ate onion. 

Onions can be difficult to watch out for because they're hidden in all sorts of food. Watch out for onion dip, chips, left over pizza, commercial baby food with onions, chinese food, gravies...


Some dogs react very badly to certain species of mushrooms. Symptoms include tummy aches, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting, diarrhea, convusions, coma and... death. Not all dogs and not all mushrooms, though.

Grapes and Raisins

Most dogs love grapes and raisins, but they're bad, bad, bad. Some dogs don't seem to react at all, others get violently ill from just a handful. Don't gamble, give your dog something else. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, and lethargy. 

(Grapeseed oil, used in many paw revitalizers, is poisonous to many other animals, but dogs don't seem to react to it.)

Macadamia nuts

These might not kill your dog, but they do have high levels of phosphorous and can lead to bladder stones. Dogs get muscle problems, weakness, and even paralysis of their hind legs. Affected dogs are often unable to rise up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Free life jacket for your pet!

Many parts of the country still battle snow and ice, but boating season is near. Our friends at want everyone to be safe, and are giving away pet life jackets!

Supply is limited, and the offer will only last as long as they have life jackets left on the shelf, so if you want one, now is the time to act.

Regular price is between $27.99 and $51.99. Now, customers only pay shipping and handling, which amounts to $9.99 for the US.

The life jackets are available in sizes from teacup to XXL, catering to everything from Chihuahuas to St Bernards. They have two layers of floatation material, quick grab handles for water rescue, and reflective strips.

Follow this link to see more information and sizing.
Call 1-800-749-9609 to order. Tell them you saw the offer on the blog!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Apple Oatmeal Dog Cookies

I found this recipe on the For the Love of Pooch website - a page I'd highly recommend for all pet lovers, especially those who want to try baking for their furry friends.


1 cup of instant oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
1 egg
1 cup of finely chopped sweet apples
2 tablespoons olive oil
0.5 cup water

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix oatmeal, flour, and baking powder
  • Stir in egg, apples, olive oil, and water
  • Knead the dough for a minute. It should be moist, but not wet.
  • Scoop out in 0.5 tablespoon increments and press into a cookie shape
  • Bake for 20 minutes


Cool the cookies thoroughly before storing. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, in the fridge for up to two months, or in the freezer for up to eight months.

Again, all credit goes to For the Love of Pooch =)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

iPad games for cats?

Does your cat like to chase the laser pointer? A couple of my dogs do, and it sends them in a running frenzy around the house, trying to catch that pesky little dot. 

With the marvels of new technology, you don't even have to hold the laser pointer anymore; there's a new video game for cats. I don't have a cat at the moment, but I think I'll download it anyway and see if my dogs want to play. :-)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rare Breed Monday - Caucasian Ovcharka

I started last week with a rare dog breed - the Xoloitzcuintli - and it seems a good way to start every week. From now on, I will attempt to have a Rare Breed Monday. Rare, in this case, will be defined as "dogs the writer never heard of." ;-)

Image of Caucasian Ovcharka from
Today's dog is the Caucasian Ovcharka, also known as Caucasian Shepherd and Caucasian Sheepdog. This is a working dog who usually guards livestock. It is known to be robust, faithful, and protective.

The Ovcharka is a big dog; the minimum height for females is 25 inches, and the minimum height for males is 27 inches. Males weigh from 110 lbs and up.

This is an extremely hardy dog who can tolerate many different temperatures and climates.

Friday, March 22, 2013

It is proven; we can read dogs' facial expressions.

Merlin, looking attentive and
interested. He is a sunshine story
in himself; saved from a shelter
in the nick of time, he now
works with search and rescue!
To a pet lover, being able to read the furry friend's facial expressions seems self evident. Of course we can see if they're happy, sad, bored, guilty, or angry, right? 

It might not be as clear to people who don't have the fortune of knowing a pet. Some people say animals always have the same facial expression. I personally disagree.

Going off on a tangent, I ran into a discussion the other day where I said, "The camel looks content." (I know, camels isn't the most common subject.)

The person I was talking to said, "How do you know if a camel looks content?"

Good question. I scratched my head and tried to explain. It's difficult to put a finger on how you know. How do you know when a human looks happy, sad, guilty, or content? It's the same thing; small facial movements, posture, eyes...

According to the British newspaper the Daily Mail, scientists have now proven that humans have evolved to be able to identify animal emotions. Humans and dogs have evolved side by side for 100,000 years, and we have learned to understand each other along the way.

The study was performed by Dr Bloom and Professsor Harris Friedman from Walden University in Minneapolis. In the study, a number of photos were shown to 50 volunteers. 88 percent easily identified happiness, and 70 percent identified anger. Funny enough, people with little or no experience with dogs were better at seeing negative emotions.

Click here to read the article in the Daily Mail, and to see some of the photos used in the study.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Unusual pets

Capybara. Image from
I mostly write about cats and dogs, because these are the pets I know most about. There's a range of other interesting pets though, and many are both clever and affectionate. 

Different states have different regulations regarding exotic pets, so check before bringing home something unusual. It's also important to be aware that animals other than cats and dogs will have other needs than cats and dogs.

The Capybara is the largest rodent in the world, and can weigh up to 140 lbs. They can be found in many zoos and parks, and live up to 12 years in captivity. They are allegedly gentle, but very fast. They probably wouldn't be suitable as a house pet, but CBS News have them on their list of unusual pets.

Chinchilla. Image from
Chinchillas are fairly common pets in some parts of the world. These are also rodents, with extremely soft fur.

Their teeth grow continuously, and they need a way to grind them down. Their temperature must be carefully regulated; they lack the ability to sweat and will overheat and suffer heat strokes if it's too warm.

They eat and drink very little, and should only be fed timothy hay. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables should be avoided.

Wallaroo. Image from
A Wallaroo is sort of a kangaroo. These cute critters are curious and bond well with their owners if they're socialized from a young age and treated well. They're mischievous, and need ample space to move around and exercise.

If you're interested in having a Wallaroo, this link leads to a good list of things to consider.

Genet. Image found on
A Genet is... It's not a cat and it's not a ferret, but it looks a little like both. According to the website, they're not related to any other domesticated animal.

They bond with a family and can be affectionate and curious pets, but they're also independent, more so than a cat. They need lots of interaction. They're also extremely fast, and can escape almost everything - even a harness.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pumpkin peanut butter dog cookies!

With new dog food recalls yesterday, it seems prudent to write about something to make for our furry friends. Here are some cookies most pooches love, and they're easy to make. 

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Cookies 


2.5 cups whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons peanut butter (unsalted and unsweetened)
0.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  • Whisk together flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. 
  • Add water as needed to help make the dough workable. The dough should be dry and stiff. 
  • Roll dough into a 0.5 inch thick roll. 
  • Cut into 0.5 inch thick pieces. 
  • Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.

About the recipe

Regular white flour is bad for dogs, but whole wheat has fibers and proteins good for dogs. It shouldn't be a major part of their diet though, so if they eat a lot of cookies you might want to cut down on kibbles and food with grains as their main ingredient.

Pumpkins are great for pets. They contain a lot of water and fiber, and helps keep the digestive system working well. Pumpkins are often recommended as a remedy for upset tummies. Most dogs will gladly eat canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and cooked fresh pumpkin. (When using the canned version, make sure it's just pumpkin and not pie filling...)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Awnings for pets?

A pet door isn't much different from a regular door or window, and even the best door can let some of the outside world come in as a pet enters or leaves the house.

The PlexiDor Awning is a stylish way to prevent rain, sun, snow, and wind from entering through a pet door. As a bonus, it also provides some shade.

The awning is made from aluminum with a baked-on finish in white or bronze. It's a one size fits all design, 23 1/4" wide by 16 5/8" deep.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Xoloitzcuintli - I didn't fall and slip on the keyboard, I promise!

There are many rare and regional dog breeds, and even in this line of work, I still come across new ones. Like the Xoloitzcuintli. I didn't stumble and fall on the keyboard, or press random letters to come up with a cool word; Xoloitzcuintli is the name of the world's oldest and rarest dog breed.

Xoloitzcuintli image from
According to the AKC website, the Xolo is the first dog of the Americas, and came across the Bering Straits together with the first humans migrating over here some 3,000 years ago.

The exotic name comes from the Aztec God Xolotl, and their word for dog: Itzcuintli. They are also called "Mexican Hairless" and "Tepezcuintli."

The dogs are believed to safeguard a home from evil spirits and intruders, and have a reputation as healers. The Aztecs allegedly believed the Xolo helped guide souls to the afterlife.

There are three sizes: toy (10-14 inches at the shoulder), miniature (14-18 inches), and standard (18-23 inches tall). The breed is known to be calm, tranquil, loyal, and intelligent, and they make great companion dogs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kittens and puppies make us smarter!

This might sound like a good excuse for yours truly to sneak in some extra cute photos or a new dog at work, but the statement is backed by scientific research. 

According to, scientists from Hiroshima University performed tests on 132 university students. Participants were divided into groups with tasks measuring performance, focus, and handling numbers.

Those who looked at pictures of cute baby animals outperformed those who saw images of neutral objects and adult animals, and not in a small way. Scores improved up to 44%

Being a pet lover I am biased, of course, but I'd like to think the study is true. So, take a moment to stare at this adorable picture. It might make your entire day better! :-)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Most popular dog names

There are lists for everything, and it's easy to find statistics of the most popular human names. To be fair, they usually give different results, but the lists are there... The website went a little further, and compiled a list of the most popular dog names in the US in 2012.

Female Male
1. Bella 1. Max
2. Daisy 2. Buddy
3. Lucy 3. Charlie
4. Molly 4. Rocky
5. Lola 5. Cooper
6. Sophie 6. Bear
7. Sadie 7. Bentley
8. Chloe 8. Duke
9. Coco 9. Jack
10. Maggie 10. Toby

The website points out some interesting trends. The name Bella has been the number one name for girl pooches since 2006, and the first Twilight book was released in fall 2005.

Max has been the number one name for boy dogs for the past seven years and is still going strong.

Is your dog's name on the list?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Can I put a dog door through the wall?

PlexiDor with aluminum wall tunnel.
This is a common question, and you most certainly can. PlexiDor has wall kits that can be used for stud, brick, block, or cement walls. The wall kit comes with an aluminum tunnel that connects the interior and exterior frames.

The bottom tunnel section is sloped to prevent water from entering. The tunnel won't rust, has no sharp edges, and is easy to keep clean.

Remember, the part with the lock and such goes on the inside of the house. (It's easy to look at it and think it's the outside, but you want to be able to lock from the inside, right?)

See those extra holes in the frame below? They're for the steel security plate - either for fastening the plate directly into the frame, or for attaching the sliding track system that allows the security plate to glide smoothly into position.

The PlexiDor as it will look on the
inside of a door or a wall.

There are wall kits available for all size PlexiDors, from the smallest to the electronic. The doors presented on this page all have the silver frame, but they are also available in a durable, baked-on white or bronze finish.

Wall mounted PlexiDor seen from
the outside of the house.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How smart is a dog, really?

When seeing dogs in movies and TV commercials, some of them are pretty fantastic. The tricks have required extensive training, of course, but how smart is the average pooch, really? 

Stanley Coren at the University of British Columbia asked the same thing. According to the website, a number of tests on dogs have given astonishing results.

Testing dogs on language revealed that the average pooch is on par with a 2-year-old child, able to learn around 165 words, including signals and gestures. Testing dogs on arithmetics gave even more interesting results; they trump a 3-4 year old and most dogs can count at least to four or five. They also have good social and spatial skills.

Border Collies, Poodles, and German
Shepherds top Coren's list
of smart dogs.
The smartest dogs are, according to Coren, Border Collies, Poodles, and German Shepherds. One Border Collie has been tested on 1022 words. In comparison, 1,000 words make up 75% of the Oxford English Corpus; a measurement of which words are really used in everyday situations.

Now is a good time to point out that the smartest dogs don't necessarily make easy pets. Someone clever enough to figure out everything you say will also be smart enough to make up plenty of mischief, get bored easily, and know exactly how much they can get away with. =)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Warm dinner for doggie?

Do dogs want warm food too? WarmUps Pet Food thinks so, and opens up with the question, "Ever notice your dog is the only member of your family not getting a warm meal?" Right there, guilt set in, and I imagined my furbabies munching down the same dry kibble night after night.

My dogs are generally rather well behaved. It's true that some furniture have been dog designed and the food bowls have teethmarks, but that's generally from new arrivals, before they settle down. Thus, I didn't think much about the WarmUps container in my tote bag. I put it all on a chair and forgot about it, until I heard a weird noise from the kitchen.

Dogs tried to help themselves to
the WarmUps. Teethmarks all
over the lid; busted!
Someone made a valiant attempt to get in and taste the WarmUps before they were even done!

To make the WarmUps one simply mixes the contents with warm water. Not too warm, around finger warm. The result resembles oatmeal and can be poured over or mixed in with the dog's regular food.

There are currently four types to choose from:

Do they work? I honestly haven't tried for long enough to tell, but I do know my dog liked it. Check out the video to see Princess Bonnie try it out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pet door sizes

The other day, the blog featured a post about finding the right pet door size. After getting some feedback on that, I think I need to explain a little better.

The PlexiDor shouldn't be mounted
flush with the floor.
The door does not need to be as tall as the pet. It has to be wide enough to let the pet through, of course, but it doesn't have to be as tall as the pet. 

Why? I don't expect the dogs to crouch to get through, do I? Not at all. Check out the image to the right of a Collie standing in a door. The door isn't flush with the floor. It could be, but you want a small hole to keep weather outside.

Generally, the pets duck their heads a little while going through the door, and they lift their feet to step over the threshold. Thus, if you measure your pet and think, "Oh no, there's no door tall enough for my dog" it will probably still work.

If you have larger and smaller pets together, the panels on the PlexiDor swing so easily smaller dogs and cats can usually open even large doors without problems.

To make sizing easier, we have put together a convenient sizing chart, see below. Some breeds have great variations in size, of course, so see the breed examples as general guidelines.

Visit the Plexidor website for more information on the different doors and sizes. The website also holds a convenient dealer locator

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Funpak - No, I didn't miss a c ;-)

FunPak Dog Bone Packaging
One product at Global Pet Expo I really liked, even though I don't have a use for it myself right now, is the FunPak dog bone packing material from RNS Packaging. You know all those little squishy-soft thingies that surround electronics and fragiles in many shipping boxes? They come in the shape of a bone.

It might not be the most practical invention in the history of humanity - we already have packing material - but it's cute, and gives that thoughtful extra little touch. I might be an extreme dog lover and a bit loopy compared to some other people, but if I ordered something dog related, opening a box filled with these would sure make me smile.

According to the manufacturer, FunPak is 100% natural and completely biodegradable. They can fill orders from 1 cubic foot to 1 million cubic feet, and from what I hear, more shapes will be available soon. One cubic foot isn't all that much - it would be just the right amount to pack a present!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Clever brush!

Global Pet Expo held many clever products, and the self cleaning retractable bristle brush was definitely one of them. A press of a button and the brush is smooth. Another press, and it has a large number of stainless steel bristles.

The brush comes from Rinse Ace and is easy to clean and store. I've been trying it on our American Eskimo - a dog with extreme amounts of hair - and it seems to work well.

I like that the brush can be stored without getting entangled in everything else; I've even had brushes ruin other things in the same drawer and that's not likely to happen with this one. I also like that the hair comes off without putting up a fight.

A word of caution: many bristle brushes are very sharp, and this one is not an exception. My dog barely even notices the brush, but a pet with a thinner coat would probably appreciate a light touch.

Besides brushes, Rinse Ace also has a number of cool pet bathing products, like quick-connect sprayers for a standard shower head, shampoo mitts, bathing mats, and a pet hair-snare for easier cleanup.

From all the things I saw at Global Pet, this brush is one of the products that will stay with me the longest.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

PushClean cleaning

Cleaning usually isn't much fun, but necessary. Many pets have a tendency to get both themselves and their humans into sticky messes, and when out and about, clean water can be a rare commodity. The PushClean towelettes caught my eyes at the Global Pet Expo, presenting an elegant solution to the problem.

The PushClean is a small container, just a little larger than a quarter. It's both sturdy and small enough to fit in a purse or even a pocket.

When I opened my first one, I pushed where it says "push" and not much happened. The towelette is separated from the liquid inside the container, so one has to push pretty hard. Then, magic! It's always fun when something happens, and seeing the towelette grow is... fun.

The finished product is thin but fairly big, and sturdy. I've been trying to rip it, and it doesn't tear. It's made from bamboo, and smells good. 

To make things even better, the towelettes are biodegradable. The manufacturer says bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, and can produce 35% more oxygen than trees.

There are eight different kinds of towelettes:

  • Pet
  • Hand
  • Leather Cleaner and Conditioner
  • Makeup Remover
  • Intimate
  • Insect Repellent
  • Odor Remover
  • Stain Remover

They can be purchased directly from the manufacturer at a reasonable price, and can be private labelled for resellers. I don't know if I personally would use it all that much for my pets - my dogs are pretty clean and if they get into a mess it will be bigger than I could handle with a towelette - but I can think of at least a dozen other uses. I like that the product is so easy to bring and fits in my purse. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Military grade dog doors

Besides the PlexiDor - our residential pet door - we also manufacture a dog door for kennels and professional applications. The BiteGuard KennelPlex is a guaranteed chew proof door, designed to withstand the rigorous day-to-day activities of professionally trained working dogs.

Leafing through the January-February issue of K-9 Cop Magazine, the BiteGuard has made it to second place on the editor's top ten list!

The BiteGuard comes with a 5 year commercial warranty as well as a 90 day money back guarantee. If the panels are destroyed by chewing within five years of purchase, they will be replaced free of charge.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dog of the month: Landseer

The Landseer is a Canadian dog breed. Some kennel clubs consider it a black and white version of the Newfoundland, but others recognize it as a separate breed. They're known for being gentle and serene, and they love to swim.

Landseers excel at rescue drowning people, and have been very popular with fishermen. They have, amongst other things, been used to tow nets to the shore.