Friday, January 30, 2015

Dogs in the workplace reduce stress

Bonnie inspecting a PlexiDor dog door
An increasing number of employers allow pets in the workplace. The pets can alleviate stress and give a sense of security. Reasons not to allow pets in the workplace can be allergies, an employee with dog phobia, the workplace holding dangers to dogs, or a concern about pets disturbing the work.

Around two percent of dog owners take their pets to work on a regular basis. It doesn't sound like all that much, but it adds up to around a million dogs around the USA.

In 2012, Sandra Barker - professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth's School of Medicine - made a study at a large manufacturing company. 76 employees were included in the study, and it gave some interesting results.

Employees with no pets had an increasing stress level during the workday at an average of fourteen percent. Employees with pets who left them at home had an increase in stress with 71 percent each day. Pet owners clearly worry about their pets home alone.

Employees who brought their pets to work had a decrease in stress levels with 11 percent. This doesn't mean that stressful things don't happen to persons with a pet, but pets definitely change the way we react to stress.

What do you think? Would you bring your pet to work if you could? Would you be okay with other employees bringing their pets?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pick the right dog door size

Is your dog big or small? It's a pretty common question, yet difficult to answer. It depends on what you're used to, and it is impossible to give a straight answer without a common point of reference. It's hard enough to buy dog chews or a harness for walking and get the right size. When investing in a high quality dog door, the size needs to be right.

To make it more complicated, the right size pet door usually looks small compared to the pet. We tend to compare to humans going through human doors, but a dog will duck its head and lift its feet when going or running through, and the opening doesn't have to be as tall as the dog is.

Here are some guidelines to finding the right size PlexiDor dog door. If you have bigger and smaller pets together, the smaller pets can usually open a bigger door - the panels swing easily - but you might have to adjust the installation height so they can both get through. If you have any questions or your dog is just on the edge of the weight recommendation, call customer service at 800-749-9609.

The PlexiDor size small has an opening of 6.5 x 7 1/4 inches. This door is perfect for dogs up to nine pounds and for cats up to 24 pounds.

The medium PlexiDor dog door is great for dogs up to 40 pounds. The opening in 9 x 12 inches. Remember, the door doesn't have to be as tall as the pet, but it definitely has to be wide enough for the pet to get through.

A large PlexiDor dog door is perfect for dogs up to 100 pounds. The opening is 11 3/4 x 16 inches. Common breeds using this door includes Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Collies, and Dobermans.

The extra large PlexiDor dog door is constructed to handle the impact of very large doors hitting it at a full run. It is intended for dogs up to 220 pounds, and the opening is 16 x 23 3/4 inches.

For more information, download the PlexiDor size chart with dog breed examples and suggested installation heights, and the information chart with opening sizes and needed cut holes for door and wall installations. You can naturally also contact customer service - the PlexiDor customer service representatives have extensive experience and would love to help.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Vest can give dogs a voice

Image from
Working dogs make a remarkable contribution to society and do everything from detect explosives to warn for oncoming seizures. There are however some things most dogs can't do, like call for help

Dogs who detect explosives may know what kind of explosive they've found, but usually can't communicate it to the bomb squad. Search and rescue dogs have a hard time calling in to tell their handler where the person they're looking for is.

The FIDO vest can change all this. FIDO stands for Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations, and the idea is to use sensors dogs can activate through biting, tugging, or touching with their nose.

With the vest, a dog who detects an upcoming seizure could tug at a sensor and call 911. The search and rescue dog could stay with the person they've found while sending a message to their handler with GPS coordinates. The dog who detects explosives could tell the bomb squad if the substance is relatively stable or if it's something that's dangerous to move.

FIDO is developed by the Georgia Tech College of Computing. The vest is still in development, but the future looks bright.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dog powered scooter?

Image from
Some dogs consider a day with a good walk, a nap, and watching TV with the family the epitome of living. Others feel that sitting still is overrated. Many working breeds have a lot of energy that can't be depleted just by running around in the yard or going for a jog.

As an example, a working herding dog can run 50 miles in a day, while solving problems and keeping track of the sheep. Trained sled dogs can run over 100 miles in a day. These dogs are trained to do it and get many little care breaks during the day, but even with rest that's a lot of exercise.

Most companion dogs aren't used to running like their working relatives - and don't technically need to run like their working relatives - but many still need more exercise than the average working pet-parent can reasonably give. A dog not getting enough exercise can become frustrated, bored, and even destructive.

Many solve the problem through going for a ride on a bike with the dog running to the side. It takes some training, but works great for some. Others tend to end up dragged along the side of the road at first sight of a squirrel.

Dog Powered Scooter is an attempt to solve the problem. Dogs who like to pull things and run can get exercise while the person steers and controls the brakes. The system is intended for young or middle age dogs with high energy levels, and for blind dogs that normally can't just run. The dog needs to be 35 pounds or over.

See more about this product on the company's website: and naturally use common sense.

Would you try a dog powered scooter with your dog? What do you think of the idea?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rare Breed Monday: Perro de Presa Canario

Image from Wikimedia
The Perro de Presa Canario is a large dog with a long history that stems back to the Roman empire. The breed originated in ancient Rome where they fought in the Roman conquest of Britain. Later, they were bred to be hunting dogs and guards. 

During more modern times, the Presa was imported to the Canary Islands as a farm utility dog. They worked livestock and protected cattle from wild animals.

The Presa is known for being docile and affectionate, but they are strong and can be quite stubborn. They are also known for being intelligent and learning new things with ease, but just like all dogs they require socialization and training. A minimum of basic obedience training makes life easier for everyone.

While the breed tends to distrust strangers, they generally accepts a person once their human does. They are popular in obedience contests, agility, dock diving, and other working trials.

Perro de Presa Canario is an impressive breed. The dogs should be strong, bold, and steady. Traditionally, the ears will be cropped - this was done to prevent injury from working cattle - but today ear cropping is against the law in many countries. They don't need a lot of grooming, just an occasional brushing and bath. When it comes to exercise, a good daily walk is usually enough.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, January 23, 2015

Russian hero cat saves infant

Masha the cat, image from the New York Post.
There are many stories about hero dogs, but there are smart and caring cats too - something proven by Masha the cat who recently saved an abandoned infant from Russia's harsh and unforgiving winter.

The two month old baby was left in a box together with some supplies, and the cat discovered him long before any human residents did. She climbed into the box to keep him warm, and meowed to get  help.

Masha is a communal cat cared for by local residents, and she's known to be quiet and friendly. Her meowing eventually got attention from one of her humans who thought she must be injured.

The baby was rushed to a local hospital, and thanks to Masha he is unharmed. Without her, he might very well have died from the cold. Masha, well, she is hailed as a hero and is getting spoiled with her favorite foods.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 22, 2015

In dog we trust - at least in Pinellas County in Florida

The English language has a quirk where the words DOG and GOD are remarkably similar. This has inspired numerous internet memes, and doesn't usually cause any problems. That is, until a rug manufacturer recently got it wrong. 

A sheriff's office in Pinellas County, Florida, intended for their rug to say, "In God We Trust" - the official motto for the state of Florida. Instead, the rug said, "In Dog We Trust." The funny thing is that no one saw the error for two months.

By now, the rug has been replaced, and the misprinted one will be auctioned off for charity. Many dog lovers have already asked to buy it.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dog takes bus to dog park

Eclipse is a 2 year old black labrador, resident of Seattle, and when her owner was slow on getting on the bus to the dog park, she decided to just go ahead on her own. 

Eclipse usually goes with her owner, but one day he was too slow for her liking, so she got on the bus and got off at the dog park. Luckily, one bus stop is right by their house and the other right at the dog park. Her owner catches up with her at the park - and then they do it all again.

By now, all the buys drivers know her, and the commuters enjoy the company - even though some don't understand at once why she's so eager to look out the window. Eclipse needs to keep track of the surroundings, so she'll know where to get off.

Read more here.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

AKC recognizes four more dog breeds

Just before the New Year, the American Kennel Club sent out a press release announcing that it recognizes four more dog breeds, bringing the total count of recognized breeds up to 184. This means that the dogs can compete in AKC events nationwide. 

The new breeds are:

  • Bergamasco - an Italian sheep dog with origins that can be traced back nearly 7,000 years. The Bergamasco is known for being highly intelligent and having a strong work ethic. The Bergamasco joins the herding group.

  • Boerboel - a farm dog from South Africa known for being intelligent, hardy, protective, and willing to please. The Boerboel does everything from being a friend and babysitter to protect against predators. The Boerboel joins the working group.

  • Cirneco dell'Etna - an Italian breed that has been present in Italy for at least 2,500 years. This is an independent hunter traditionally used to hunt together with a ferret. The Cirneco joins the hound group. 

  • Spanish Water Dog - which joins the herding group. This is a lively, hard working, and clever breed that was originally created as a farm dog used for herding, hunting, and helping fishermen. 

AKC started in 1884 with a mere nine breeds, and adds breeds to the list when they meet the club's requirements. This includes a minimum amount of the dogs around the USA, and a related breed club.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 19, 2015

Breed spotlight: Japanese Spitz

The Japanese Spitz was developed in Japan in the 1920s by breeding other Spitz type dogs together. It started with white German Spitz dogs that were bred with other dogs from around the world.

The Japanese Spitz was exported to Sweden in the early 1950s and is still a common breed there. From Scandinavia they went to England, and has since spread around the world.

An average Japanese Spitz is active, smart, and loyal, and they are known for being brave and devoted. Despite their small size they’re alert watch dogs and tend to bark at stranger. They are generally good with children, and enjoy being active with their family. The breed was created to be companions, and they want to be close to their people.

This is a healthy breed with a life expectancy of ten to sixteen years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, January 16, 2015

Excessive scratching can indicate a food allergy

There is an ever raging debate of what dogs should and shouldn't eat. Dogs are scavengers by nature and most dogs will munch down on almost anything, but that doesn't mean everything that gets in their way is good for them. Food allergies are fairly common amongst dogs, and a pet can develop an allergy at any age.

The most common allergy in dogs is flea bites. The second most common is created by inhaling allergens, such as molds and pollen. Food allergies come in on third place.

Allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to something that's not really a threat; the immune system believes something is foreign and should be eradicated. This is normally an important defense mechanism that protects the body, but when it comes to an allergy the immune system reacts to something that wouldn't otherwise be a problem.

Dogs are most often allergic to beef, dairy products, chicken, eggs, corn, soy, and wheat. To develop a food allergy, a dog must be exposed to the same ingredient for at least a couple of years.

Symptoms include excessive scratching, paw licking, paw chewing, repeated ear infections, rashes, and stomach problems. Some dogs with food allergies scratch until they lose all hair in an area.

If your dog develops a food allergy, he or she needs to stay away from that specific ingredient. In order to find out what causes the problem, you will need to feed the dog something completely different from what they've eaten in the past.

The dog should eat the new food for two to three months. During this time there can be no treats or tastes of human food. Once the dog is free of symptoms, add back one ingredient at a time to see if and when the immune system reacts.

Does your dog have a food allergy? How did you find out?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter dangers: salt and other chemicals on the ground

Spreading salt on the road
If you live in a climate with snow and ice, there will be chemicals on sidewalks and driveways. Many places even distribute salt on the roads. The idea is to melt ice so feet and vehicles can get traction. While this is good for traffic, it can be bad for pets. 

Some products are relatively safe for pets, but don't count on everyone using the pet friendly version.

When your pet walk on roads and sidewalks treated with salt or other chemicals, their feet can get irritated, and the chemicals can get into small abrasions in the foot pads. Another danger is the pet licking their feet and ingesting the chemicals.

If your pet accepts wearing booties, this is a good solution for keeping snow, ice, and chemicals away from the feet.

If your pet won't wear booties, keep an eye on his or her feet while you're walking, and make sure to clean the paws as soon as you come home from a walk. It doesn't have to be difficult; just dip a rag in warm water and wipe them off.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter dangers: Frostbite

Many pets like snow and can have a lot of fun in cooler weather, but pet owners should know that cats and dogs can get frostbite and are affected by cold, just like we are.

Frostbite happens because the body diverts blood to the core systems when body temperature decreases. This leaves the skin susceptible to freezing, which uses tissue damage. Frostbite can appear anywhere on the body, but footpads, nose, ears, and tail are at highest risk.

When you've been walking your pet in the cold, check the body, and watch for him or her licking or chewing on the skin. Frostbite needs to be treated and covered.

Do not apply heat directly to the skin. You can use tepid water on the skin, and non-electric blankets to cover your pet. In severe cases of frostbite a veterinarian must remove the tissue, or even a limb.

Needless to say, don't leave your pet outside in the winter. Many think dogs and cats don't experience cold like we do, and that it's okay to keep them outside. If it's cold outside, take your pets in.

Many northern/arctic breeds have better protection against the elements than regular dogs. That doesn't mean they don't need or deserve shelter against the cold.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Winter dangers: Antifreeze is toxic to pets

At this time a year, most of the USA and other northern countries are covered with snow and ice, and cars need to be protected against freezing. Unfortunately, antifreeze is very toxic to pets, and this is a concern even for pet owners who don't have a car.

Regular antifreeze has a sweet scent and taste, and is quite attractive to dogs and cats. Some manufacturers have changed their solution to remove the sweetness and make the liquid less appealing to pets, and some make "pet safe" versions, but all of these variants are still dangerous to pets. Pet safe antifreeze is less toxic than regular, but it still toxic.

If you're walking your dog and see a puddle on the ground, don't let him or her walk through it or drink from it. It's a good idea to always wipe off the pet's feet when you get back home - they will lick themselves clean, and can ingest antifreeze in the process.

Needless to say, keep these types of products out of reach for pets and children, and clean any spills immediately.

If you suspect or know that your pet has ingested antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or pet ER immediately. Minutes matter, and quick treatment can save your pet from severe illness and even death.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 12, 2015

The dog's sense of smell

Most dog owners know their furry friends have a fantastic sense of smell, but how good is it really? Put into numbers, the dog's nose is truly amazing.

Dogs have a sense of smell around 1,000 better than a human's. A human has around five million cells able to detect smells, and the average dog has over 220 million.

The part of the brain that interprets smell is four times larger in the average dog than in the average human.

Some dogs can smell termites, natural gas buried under 40 feet of dirt, and dead bodies under water.

Dogs trained for the task can detect cancer while it is still too small to be detected by any medical equipment. They can also find lung cancer through sniffing a person's breath.

A dog's nose print is unique - as unique as a human finger print - and can be used for identification.

The dog's nose is generally wet, because this makes it able to collect more tiny droplets of smell in the air.

Besides the nose, a pair of average dog ears also outclass humans. A dog can locate the source of a sound in 1/600 of a seconds, and can hear sounds four times further away than a human.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Peanut butter dog biscuits

The weekend is near, and many want some special treats to celebrate Friday. Here is an idea if you want to stir something yummie together for your four-footed friends too.

What you need:

  • 1 cup peanutbutter. Crunchy is extra good.
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup oats (old fashioned)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients and beat them - in a mixed or with a wooden spoon -  until you get a stiff dough. Pat out the dough to about 1" depth and make cookies. You can cut the dough into squares or use a bone shaped cookie cutter for extra cuteness.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip the cookies over and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let the cookies cool completely. You can store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Consider adopting an older dog

If you've decided to start the new year with getting a dog, consider whether you really want a puppy or if an older dog would fit you better. Puppies are adorable and it is hard to resist puppy breath and puppy kisses, but many who get a puppy are unprepared for the work.
Most people do okay with their puppies as long as they're small and cute, but things change when the dog grows into a teenager with puppy temperament and mischief in a grown body. Depending on breed this stage can last up to the age of three.
If you have the time and energy to raise a puppy, it's a rewarding job. If you answer no to the around the clock job of caring for a little one, consider visiting a local shelter or rescue and give an older dog a chance. (Shelters and rescues have puppies too, by the way.)
There are many adult dogs to choose from, and depending on your life style you might want to rescue a senior.
Many dogs who end up in shelters and rescues are there through no fault of their own. In many cases the owner’s family, living situation, or financial situation changed, and the pet finds itself homeless. When it comes to seniors, they're often dumped when the family gets a puppy. Older dogs are often the last to be adopted – and the first to be euthanized.
When you see a pet in a shelter, remember that the dog is stressed, confused, and afraid. Many shut down and become shy and unresponsive, others are hyper alert, ready for any chance to get away. The personality can change a little when you get home and your new pet settles in, and this process can take a couple of weeks until he or she figures out that they’re home and safe. Once the dog has settled in, you’ll have a devoted friend.
When you adopt a grown dog you know important things like their final size and grooming requirements. Older dogs are far less likely to be destructive chewers than younger dogs – and if they chew on something it’s a training problem and not a teething problem. Older dogs are also more likely to be house trained than puppies. If the older dog isn’t house trained or has accidents in the new home, they have the physical and mental ability to “get it” quickly while a young puppy just can’t hold it.
Older dogs require exercise just like younger dogs, but they might not have the super-explosve energy that wants you to play ball for five hours and then run a marathon. Seniors often like to chill out.
Many believe older dogs can’t learn new tricks. This isn’t true. Training is great mental exercise for your furry friend, and it helps build the bond between you.
To find your new best friend, visit local shelters or rescues, or check!
Have you adopted an older dog? Would you consider getting an older dog?
~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why do people look like their dogs?

It is well known that people tend to have a similarity to their pets. That doesn't necessarily mean that we share their appearance, but a dog owner and their dog often look like they belong together. This could be "one of those things" but several scientific experiments have proven that test subjects can pair people with their dogs.

A feasible theory is that people seek out pets that have something in common with themselves. Women might be more likely than men to have toy breeds, and men might be more likely to have large dogs. It seems reasonable that we would seek out pets that resemble us.

Funny enough, the ability to match strangers with their pets remain even when the typical hints are ruled out.

Recently a Japanese scientist set out to solve the mystery. Previous experiments have proven test subjects' ability to match photos of humans and dogs by looking at their faces along with the ability to rule out fake pairs. This time, he presented hundreds of students with the faces of 40 humans and 40 dogs.

Some students got the entire faces, and 80 percent of this group were able to pick out the real life pairs. Other groups got photos with a part of the faces blacked out, and the group that only saw the eyes of both humans and dogs were almost as good at making pairs as the group shown the whole faces. A full 74 percent could pick out the right pairs when shown only the eyes.

This result was so astounding that he did the experiment again, and in the second try 76 percent of participants could pick out the pairs of dogs and owners when shown only the eyes.

The next step will be trying to figure out what in the eyes show that two beings belong together.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sunshine story: dog comes home after taking a 2400 mile road trip

Penny is a 7 month old Vizsla who just came home after the adventure of a life time. She got lost in Royal City late December, and while her owners did everything to find her - including creating a Facebook page dedicated to finding her and bringing her home - Penny was on a road trip.

A kind truck driver saw her and picked her up, and she tagged along with him all the way to Pittsburgh, Pa. When his job was done he took Penny to an animal clinic where they scanned her microchip and were able to contact their owners.

Of course, Penny's adventures weren't over, because by now she was far from home. The puppy's luck held and Alaska Airlines flew her home for free.

Make sure your pets have identification, and that your name, address, and phone number are updated. Even the most well behaved pet can get distracted by something that looks fun to follow.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dog of the month: Akita

The Akita is a working breed from Japan, known for its loyalty. The breed is actually designated as a national monument, and when a child is born in Japan the family often receives an Akita statue that symbolizes happiness, health, and a long life.

The Akita is an ancient breed that thrive on human companionship and can be quite silly when around the family. They are independent thinkers, but they're also miserable if they're not allowed to be with their people.

These dogs are quite big - around 24-28 inches at the shoulder - and the typical Akita is powerful, alert, dignified, and courageous. They're known for their strong protective instincts, but unless an intruder breaks into the home they're generally quiet. They are often used as hunting dogs in Japan, and the breed is nick-named the "Silent Hunter."

The Akita is popular for performance sports and therapy work.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, January 2, 2015

Five tips for a healthy 2015

If you're making some New Year's Resolutions for yourself, you might want to make some for your pet too. Dogs and cats age much faster than we do, and your everyday habits can have a big impact on their health and life span. 

Here are five tips for giving your pet a long and healthy life.

1. Go for an annual checkup

This might not seem like a great idea when your cat doesn't want to get into the carrier and hides under the bed, but both cats and dogs benefit from annual vet checkups. If anything is wrong you want to find out as quickly as possible, because early diagnosis mean more efficient treatment and lower cost.

Your vet can give valuable advice about things like feeding and dental health, and help you stay on track with vaccinations.

2. Get into the grooming groove

Grooming helps keep your pet clean and good looking. It helps build a bond between human and pet, and it can help alleviate your own stress. It's also important in order to detect any health issues early, and to prevent health issues. Clean your pet's ears and trim nails as needed.

3. Care for the pearly whites

Around 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats over the age of three suffer from periodontal disease. This can lead to dental issues, of course, and can affect the pet's internal organs. Use dental treats, ask your vet for a dental checkup, and find a tooth cleaning habit for your pet. There are special toothbrushes for cats and dogs, and special toothpaste.

4. Exercise and play

All pets need daily exercise. Luckily, we do too, and physical activity done together is good for everyone. Inactivity leads to both physical and mental issues such as boredom, frustration, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

If your pet is a senior or obese, consult your vet on how to best get going. Otherwise, make room for play every day, take a brisk walk with your dog, go to the park, go swimming, or find whatever you like to do together.

5. Think about your pet's food

High quality pet food - and getting the right amounts of it - can stifle many health problems. Cats need to eat meat. There are many nutrients cats can't create on their own, and if they're denied these nutrients through food they will fall sick. Both cats and dogs need food that is appropriate for their age and activity level. If you feel uncertain, talk to your vet.

~ Maria Sadowski ~