Thursday, October 31, 2013

New numbers on pet ownership

Every year, the APPA - American Pet Products Association - do a survey on American pet owners. The trend for the past 40 years has been an increase in pet ownership, and the trend still holds true. 

From 1970 to 2010, the number of dogs and cats in US homes increased from 67 million to an estimated 164 million. For 2013 the number is even larger. There are 83.3 million owned dogs, and 95.6 million owned cats. That makes almost 179 million!

Here are some more interesting numbers. There are:

  • 83.3 million owned dogs
  • 95.6 million owned cats
  • 47% of US households have at least one dog
  • 46% of US households have at least one cat
  • 20% of dogs were adopted from shelters
  • 26% of cats were adopted from shelters
  • The proportion of male to female dogs is even
  • The proportion of male to female cats is skewed towards female

When it comes to shelters, the Humane Society has estimated numbers for 2013. 

During the worst period, almost 20 million dogs and cats were euthanized in shelters during one year. That number is down to around four million. (This is of course four million too many, but a clear improvement.)

There are:
  • Approximately 3,500 animal shelters in the US
  • 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year
  • 25% of dogs in shelters are pure bred
  • 3-4 million of dogs and cats are adopted from shelters each year
  • 30% of shelter dogs are reclaimed by their owners
  • Only 2-5% of shelter cats are reclaimed by their owners
~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dogvacay donating meal for shelters

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't heard about the website dogvacay.com until about five minutes ago. It seems like a neat idea though; they connect people in need of boarding with in-home pet sitters.

During October, they have a shelter-campaign. For every person signing up through this link, they donate a meal to a shelter dog.



~ Maria Sadowski ~


Keep pets safe for Halloween

Halloween is trick or treat time. I bet most dogs would think it's trick-and-treat - they do tricks for us all the time, and get treats. Halloween is different, and there are some easy things to think of to keep pets safe.

Pets should not eat human candy

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can in a worst case scenario lead to death. Xylitol is also toxic to dogs (often found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum). Not even natural treats are safe; dogs should not eat raisins. Make sure children don't get the idea to share candy with the pets.

Some dogs are known for chewing down tin foil and cellophane, so make sure all candy wrappers are disposed of at once.

Keep your pets inside or at least under supervision at all times

There are several reasons for this. Many pets are scared by strangers showing up in unusual costumes, screaming for candy. Some pets get anxious and defensive, others might run away. On that note, makes sure your dog has an ID tag on the collar, just in case.

Pets left outdoors can encounter tricksters. It's hard to believe for a pet lover, but according to PetMD some people think it's fun to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets as Halloween pranks. This is especially bad for black cats, and in order to keep them safe, they should stay inside the entire week. (Many shelters won't even adopt out black cats during October.)

Even if visitors mean well, they might give a pet candy. Avoid a trip to the emergency room, and keep them in a safe place or well supervised.

Plan your doggie-walk

On Halloween, it might be wise to re-schedule the dog walk. Go for a walk before witches, fairies, Iron Man, and pirates appear. If you take another walk late in the evening, keep an eye on the ground so your dog doesn't eat dropped candy or wrappers.

Other good ideas for the evening walk is to carry a flashlight and use a reflective leash/harness. There are dog flashlights, and collars/leashes that light up as well. When lots of people are out and about, make sure they see your dog, for everyone's safety.

Use common sense

If a pumpkin is lit up by a candle, place it out of reach for pets. If a pumpkin is lit up by a glow stick, make sure the dog doesn't eat it. (Sounds far-fetched, but some dogs are veritable vacuum cleaners.) If you want your pet to use a costume, try it on a couple of days before Halloween and make sure it's comfortable. Some pets love wearing costumes and the extra attention that comes with it, others not so much.

~ Maria Sadowski~

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cats and dogs

Cuddle like cats and dogs
The English language is filled with idioms related to pets. Like... "Fight like cats and dogs." We clearly assume cats and dogs won't like each other to the point where we think people unable to agree resemble them. 

Many cats and dogs get along just fine. I will even claim that they love each other. 

If you're thinking of introducing a new species to the household, PetFinder has a good article with tips on how to make introductions smooth.

On the same note, a couple of weeks ago, Fox News reported a heart-warming story where a rescued pit bull saved his best friend; the rescued cat.

Two coyotes had gotten hold of the cat. One held her head, and the other the tail. The article reports that the dog fought them off, and kitty could be rushed to the vet. He's still guarding, ready to deal with the coyotes if they return and threaten his best friend again.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Hovawart

Image from akc.org
The Hovawart is a very old working dog breed from Germany. The name stems from an old form of German, and translated to today's language it would mean "Watcher of the farm." The Hovawart was first described in text and paintings in medieval times.

These dogs are outstanding watch dogs. They make great and devoted family dogs, but tend to be reserved towards strangers. As all working dogs, they require training and meaningful activity.

A Hovawart works with people and not for people. They do very well with search and rescue, tracking, and other types of work - as long as they're motivated. They possess the ability to think and act independently, and require an experienced handler.

Hovawarts are medium sized dogs with long coat. They can be black, blonde, or a combination of black and gold.

To learn more about this breed, visit the Hovawart club of North America.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 25, 2013

Canine PTSD

A few weeks ago, I wrote about dogs helping people with PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder. On the other side of the coin, dogs can suffer from PTSD as well.

Allpetnews.com reports that from approximately 650 military dogs deployed with American combat forces, nearly five percent have come down with symptoms of PTSD. These dogs have been subjected to gunfire, explosions, and other combat scenarios.

Military veterinarians say some dogs become clingy or aggressive, they might refuse to enter areas where they used to be comfortable, or become hyper-vigilent and set off alarms whether there's something to worry about or not.

Dogs affected should be taken off their patrol duty, given lots of exercise, play time, and gentle obedience training.

Just as people, dogs don't have to go to war to enter a state of extreme stress. Causes can include natural disasters, car accidents, and physical or emotional trauma.

If you want to read more about dogs with PTSD, treatment, and management, these websites might provide a good starting point:




~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dogs around the world: Swedish defense

Dogs perform an important job for organizations all over the world, and it might be interesting to get a glimpse from another culture. The website forsvarsmakten.se - the Swedish armed forces - mentions breeding and training of dogs for the Swedish defense.

These dogs do everything from assist with patrolling to search for explosives or missing persons. The dogs trained here are used both for the military and the police.

Every year, selected dogs produce 35-40 litters of German Shepherd puppies. (It's important to note that Sweden does not have the same problem with overpopulation of dogs as the US. If they didn't breed working dogs, there wouldn't be any working dogs.)

Sixteen people work full time with planning the breeding, caring for the dogs, finding foster homes, and so on. From these puppies, the  most suitable are chosen. They go to foster homes when they're between 8 and 10 weeks old, and they stay in the foster home until they're a year and a half.

Don't worry; the puppies not chosen for service are placed in good homes.

At eighteen months, the dogs are considered old enough to go through a suitability test. This test makes sure the dog is stable and mentally suited to perform at the level needed. Each year around 250 dogs go through the test, and around 60 will move on to training.

Most of the dogs that don't get approved stay with their foster homes, or go to another good home. There are usually more people wanting dogs than dogs available.

Image from forsvarsmakten.se

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Will petting a cat really stress it out?

A few days ago, headlines appeared all over saying, "Petting your cat can stress it out." Cat lovers, you can relax. It's fine to pet your cats.

According to National Geographic, there has been a study on stressed cats. That much is true. Unfortunately, the results have been misreported. What the study really says is that if a cat is already anxious of something, you can pick up on that when you stroke it.

These cats aren't stressed because they are being stroked. They're stressed because of something else in their lives, and a twitchy, nervous reaction to being touched might indicate that something is wrong. 

Cats are experts in hiding their feelings, and any clue to something being wrong is valuable.

A cat that spends most of its time hiding might be stressed. A kitty doing that can't relax unless it is in an easily defendable position. 

If you're interested in cats, read more here.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Make me invisible to the pesky mosquitoes!

I think most people would agree mosquitoes are annoying. According to sciencedaily.com, they're also more deadly to humans than any other animal. Their bites transmit diseases that kill around one million people around the world every year.

In the US, they transmit heart worms to dogs and cats, spread encephalitis, and the West Nile virus.

Thus far, we handle it through spraying ourselves with DEET, and give our furry friends various heart worm preventatives. It's not fool proof. Some dogs are sensitive to the active substances in heart worm medications, and mosquitoes are learning to ignore DEET.

Female mosquitoes suck blood to obtain protein needed to produce eggs, and they can smell a person from over 100 feet away. The new approach to mosquito control is to impair their sense of smell. They can't bite us if they can't find us!
 
Scientists have found chemical compounds that could be incorporated in clothing, lotions, and bug spray in the future. The research seems promising. Sciencedaily reports, "If you put your hand in a cage of mosquitoes where we have released dome of these inhibitors, almost all just sit on the back wall and don't even recognize the hand is in there."

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Lagotto Romagnolo

Image from dailypuppy.com
The Lagotto Romagnolo is an Italian breed. The name means "Lake dog from Romagna,"and the breed can be traced all the way back to the 15th century.

These dogs are generally intelligent, cute, cuddly, and good with kids. They love to dig - many owners give them a sandbox - and they need exercise as well as mental stimulations. Most Lagottos love water.

They also have a very well developed sense of smell and a natural gift for searching, and they are often put to work searching for truffles. According to the AKC, they are the only purebred dogs recognized as specialized truffle searchers.

The Lagotto Romagnolo is believed to be the founding breed from which all water dogs descend. They are rare; there are about 500 in the entire United States.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fun dog facts

For Friday Fun, here are ten fun facts about dogs you might or might not know. =)

  • The Greyhound is the fastest dog on Earth, and can run 45 miles per hour.
  • 45 is also the percentage of US dogs who sleep in their owner's bed.
  • The world's oldest known dog was an Australian cattle dog who lived to the age of 29 years and 5 months.
  • Dalmatians are born white and develop their spots as they grow.
  • Three dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic. Two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.
  • The Pekingese was very important in ancient China. The emperor's last line of defense was a small Pekingese hidden in his sleeve.
  • The smallest dog in the world - according to the Guinness book of world records - was a Yorkshire Terrier who at the age of 2 weighed only 4 ounces.
  • 70% of Americans sign their pet's name on greeting cards.
  • Hyenas aren't dogs. They're more closely related to cats.
  • Spiked dog collars were invented in ancient Greece as a means to protect dogs' throats from attacks.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

An average dog sleeps 13 hours a day

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Toothy grins!

Caring for teeth is clearly important, whether they're in a human's or a pet's mouth. Here are some toothy facts I bet you didn't know!

Image from upsidedowndogs.com
Human children have 20 baby teeth that fall out, and 32 adult teeth that succeed the baby teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth and adult dogs have 42.

So, each of my dogs have 10 teeth more than I do. I guess that's fair - they have bigger mouths as well.

What about other animals? Say... a shark?

According to sharkwatchsa.com, a white shark has about 24 exposed teeth on their top and lower jaws respectively. Behind these 48, a white shark can have 5 more rows of developing teeth! When the shark loses one main tooth, a developing tooth rotates in and replaces it.

Alligators have a similar system. An alligator has an average of 80 teeth in the mouth at any one time, and when one falls out, another one takes its place.

Going back to mammals, dolphins have a surprising amount of teeth. An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin has between 80 and 100 teeth. The short-beaked common dolphin has around 240.

240 teeth sounds like a lot, but that's nothing compared to a snail. Some snails have just a few teeth, but others have thousands. I'm sure glad snails don't eat humans. Or dogs.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

The world's tallest dog

Image from guinnessworldrecords.com
Dogs come in many shapes and sizes. Zeus is the biggest of them all. He is a Great Dane from Michigan, and he holds the world record for tallest dog ever.

He  measures 44 inches from foot to withers, and is the same size as an average donkey. If he stands on his hind legs, he reaches 7 feet 4 inches.

As you can imagine, a dog that size requires quite a bit of food. He weighs 155 pounds and eats around 12 cups of food every day. He's too big to ride in the back of a car, and his family had to buy a van to be able to transport him.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Congratulations to Elle, 2013 winner of the Hero Dog Awards!

Elle, 2013 winner of the
Hero Dog Awards.
Image from huffingtonpost.com
The American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were created in 2010 and celebrates the bond between dogs and people. Dogs are nominated in eight categories, each category has one finalist, and when it all is over, one dog wins the award along with money for a charity.

This year's winner is Elle, a five year old Pit Bull who works as therapy dog. She, amongst other things, teaches children about dog safety, and helps teach them to read.

Children and dogs often establish a bond difficult to reach with other humans. A dog doesn't judge if a child stumbles on a word or pronounces it wrong. Reading aloud to a dog can be a great help with building confidence and get over the first bumps. Elle takes part in a middle school program, where kids take turn reading to her for twenty minutes at a time.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

See a PlexiDor at Pet Fest 2013

If you live in Texas and want to see a PlexiDor pet door in real life, there's a great opportunity coming up October 19-20, at PetFest just north of Houston. 

Doggie-Do-Rite from Houston is a family owned company that has been a dealer and installer of PlexiDor dog doors and cat doors for over ten years. They will display the doors at PetFest 2013, held in Old Town Spring, 20 minutes north of Houston.

The people at Doggie-Do-Rite are experienced and know the ins and outs of most pet doors available on the market. The company owners share their life with several pets, and put an emphasis on keeping pets safe and happy.

PetFest is an event dedicated to finding homes for animals in shelters and rescues in Houston and surrounding areas. The festival offers fun, entertainment, and education while helping raise money, volunteers, and foster homes in order to save as many pets as possible.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: White Swiss Shepherd

Image from picstopin.com
The White Swiss Shepherd is a family and working companion dog that's cheerful and quick to learn. They're known for being particularly friendly with children, and attentive to any threats to the family. The name comes from Switzerland being the first country to officially recognize the breed.

This is a young breed, emerged from white coat lines of German Shepherds. They often have longer fur than German Shepherds, and they sometimes only have a single coat.

White Swiss Shepherds are highly intelligent and possess a well developed sense for loyalty, which makes him them one of the most versatile working dogs. They have self confidence, they like exercising with their human family, and they are both playful and curious.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pets are welcome!

As society changes, pets are evolving into family members - a process called humanization - and a steadily increasing number of people chose to travel with their loved furry friends. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 61% of hotels in the US now permit pets. 


Image from bestwesternsedona.com
On the website Travelocity, more than 20,500 hotels are listed as pet friendly. The Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group estimates more than 100,000 pets stay in their 60 hotels each year, and 99% of these pets are dogs. The Essex Resort and Spa in Vermont has between 10 and 15 animals each night, and that makes up around 10% of their business.

Going back just a few years, pets could be allowed at a hotel, but people weren't encouraged to bring them. This has also changed.

Today, many hotels welcome furry visitors with water bowls, pet-icures, dog Reiki, pet sitting, and more. It's not just a gimmick; many hotels get a decent extra income from catering to pets. On the other hand, pet lovers can bring Speckles and Fido, and having the pet by one's side provides company, comfort, joy, and freedom from worry.

If you're looking for a pet-friendly hotel, the websites petswelcome.com, bringfido.com, and tripswithpets.com can assist in finding the right place.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cure for cat allergies?

Many people are extremely allergic to cats, and despite all our technological prowess, this has been a hard problem to solve. Sensitive people can be affected by entering a house where a cat resided years earlier.

Allergy to cats is the most common pet allergy. The symptoms can develop within minutes or take hours to appear, and some people get severe asthma flare-ups after coming in contact with a cat.

This summer, researchers from the University of Cambridge found an interaction between a protein in cat dander and a common bacterial toxin, and this causes the human immune system to respond. The immune system overreacts to a perceived danger, but it's not really a harmful virus or bacteria. It's just minuscule particles from a cat's skin.

Knowing what causes the problem is a big step in the right direction when it comes to treating allergies. The researchers have already been able to prevent an allergic response, and this research might be applicable to allergies to dogs, nickel, and dust mites as well.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Doggie remote control

Nowadays everything comes with a remote control. Having a TV without a remote is unthinkable, but also stereos, computers, garage ports, and even cars have remotes. So, why not get one for the dog?

According to an article on sciencedaily.com, a research team in Alabama has shown search and rescue - or other working dogs - can be trained to respond to remote controls giving off tones and vibrations with a 98% obedience accuracy.

Controlling a dog through a smart phone or similar device sounds like pure laziness, but the idea isn't really aimed for people who'd rather stay in the sofa than take Fido for walk.

Dogs are great at finding people, detecting explosives, searching for drugs, and many other important tasks. The dogs are generally smaller, lighter, and more agile than their human handlers, and can go to many places a human might not be able to reach.

The research might also be useful for dogs with impaired hearing, for dogs working in noisy environments, and for service dogs where their human might not be able to communicate.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monitoring dogs can give clues to how elderly humans are coping.

Man's best friend can serve
as a discreet health barometer.
UK scientists have put significant amounts of work into creating a high-tech, waterproof dog collar able to collect data about common dog activities. The collar can register when dogs bark, chew, drink, nap, sniff, and much more. The collar makes it possible to remotely monitor dogs and spot changes in their behavior that might indicate illness or boredom.

This in itself is a great idea. Who doesn't want to know what the pooches are up to when their owners are away? Monitoring the dogs isn't the main idea behind the project, though.

The next step is to connect dogs' health and behavior to the the owners. A dog's wellbeing generally reflects that of their human, and changes in the dog's behavior can be a warning system that an elderly person struggles to cope with everyday life.

Dr Cas Ladha from the Newcastle University in the UK says, "A lot of our research is focused on developing intelligent systems that can help older people live independently for longer."

Few people would agree to be monitored with cameras, but monitoring the family pet is less intrusive, and can still give valuable information.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Volpino Italiano

Image from solocane.it
The Volpino Italiano is a small Italian spitz. They look a bit like a tiny American Eskimo, and the breeds are related. European spitzes have been traced back to 4000 BC, and many of these breeds have developed side by side through the centuries.

They Volpino was allegedly the dog of Michelangelo. The breed was traditionally extremely popular in Italy, but still nearly died out during the mid 20th century. A conscious effort was made to save them in the mid 1980's, and today there are around 2,000 Volpino Italianos around the world.

These dogs are friendly and energetic. They're known to be attached to their families, intelligent, lively, happy, and playful.

Even though they are so small, Volpinos have been used as guard dogs in the past. Their role was to alert the large mastiffs to an intruder. Bark and get help!

In America, the AKC has declined recognizing the Volpino due to its similarity to the American Eskimo. The UKC on the other hand recognizes them as their own breed.

Volpinos generally weigh between 9 and 12 pounds, and reach an average height of 11 inches. It's a hardy breed with a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 4, 2013

Hypoallergenic dog breeds?

Hypoallergenic means that something has a smaller incidence of causing allergic reactions. It doesn't mean that the food, pet, rug, whatever never causes allergies. The word hypo means lower than normal.

So, are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?

Not really. There are hairless dogs and dogs that shed very little, but allergies aren't necessarily connected to the pet's coat. Most allergies are caused by proteins in a pet's saliva and dander.

A study at the Henry Ford Hospital has analyzed dust samples collected from almost 200 homes. Sixty dog breeds were involved in the study, and eleven of the breeds are considered hypoallergenic.

The conclusion? There is no significant difference between breeds in how much allergens are produced. There can, however, be a difference between individuals of the same breed. Thus, a person with allergies can be able to have one specific pet, even if they're allergic to other individuals of the same breed.

Mila, PlexiDor office dog
and ambassador of fun!
Most dog lovers will argue that pets are good for children. This is true when it comes to allergies as well; exposure to a dog early in life will provide a certain protection against developing dog allergies.

Some tips to battle allergies:
  • Bathe the pet often. This reduces the amounts of allergen related proteins on both the dog itself and in the air. If a person in the household is allergic, bathing the pet at least twice a week can minimize the allergic reaction.
  • Clean and vacuum often. Use air filters, and consider constricting the pet to certain rooms, so the allergic person can have a safe haven.
  • Smaller dogs might produce less allergens than larger dogs.

To read more about this subject, check out these links:

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dog funnies!

Image from http://dog-shame.com
I've seen some great Internet-memes lately, like, "I was going to do something great today, and then I was distracted by Facebook." 

In my case, that would be, "I was going to write a great and serious blog post, but I got sidetracked by Pinterest."

I took a peek at our board Dog Shaming, and it made me giggle so much I want to give everyone else a chance to laugh too. 

Here are some of my favorite dog- and cat-shamings. I don't think the pets are all that ashamed of whatever they did, but some of the signs sure are comical.

~ Maria Sadowski ~


Image from dumpaday.com 

Image from dogshaming.com

Image from fb-troublemakers.com


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Joy!

Dogs have an ability to express joy that surpasses most other species. I saw this video on Facebook, and it's so cute, funny, and filled with joy I have to share it!


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dog of the month: American Cocker Spaniel

The first Spaniel in America came across with the Mayflower in 1620, and since then, the American Cocker Spaniel has grown notably different from its English cousin. This is a happy breed that normally gets along well with people, children, other dogs, and other pets.

This breed prefers to be around people; they do not like to be alone. American Cocker Spaniels usually weigh between 24 and 30 lbs, and have a medium life span of 10-11 years.