Saturday, February 28, 2015

Protect your dog's paws during winter

During winter, a dog's paws may need some extra attention. The dog can get painful lumps of snow between their toes, most de-icers are toxic to dogs, and sidewalks can be covered in salt or other chemicals. 

Pay attention to your dog's paw pads. They can dry out and crack, get chemical burns, or frostbite.

Trim the hair around the paws and between the paw pads. This helps prevent snow and ice balls that can hurt the dog’s feet. Also make sure the nails are trimmed, because long nails will force the paw pads to separate when the dog walks, and this increases the risk of snow and ice building up between the pads.

If you live in an area with salt or extreme cold, you might want to consider booties for your dog. They can also help protect the dog's feet against hot asphalt in summertime, and against allergens if your dog is sensitive.

Most dogs require practice to accept wearing boots. Start with short periods of time inside the house and praise your dog for wearing them. Increase the length of time gradually, and when it's time to try outdoors, start with a short walk.

There is also paw wax formulated to serve as a barrier between paws and ground. The wax is a less effective solution than boots, but might be easier to get used to, and it's better than nothing.

Wash paws with warm water after each winter walk, so your dog doesn't get a chance to lick his or her feet. This is to protect from ingesting salt and other dangerous chemicals.

It is also important to know that dogs are susceptible to hypothermia. Use common sense and watch out for the dog shivering, appearing anxious, or moving slowly.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do you need to clean your dog's ears?

Dogs' ears are important and sensitive, and need attention. Dogs can get ear infections just like humans, but they can't tell us about it, and an infection can lead to severe problems and even loss of hearing.

To clean your dog's ears you need a cleaner and some cotton balls. You'll probably want to keep some treats at hand too. Do not use cotton swabs. They're too small and can injure your dog.

Many dogs like having their ears cleaned once they get used to it, but it can take a few tries to get that far. Be patient.

Wet a cotton ball with cleaner and start from the outside of the ear, working your way in. Wipe down the inside of the dog's ear flap, get a fresh cotton ball with cleaner, and clean further in. Stop as soon as you feel resistance; pushing further in can cause ear damage.

Give your dog plenty of treats and praise, so he or she learns that getting clean ears is an awesome experience.

If your cotton balls become very dirty it's a good idea to schedule a check-up with your vet. And, if your dog's ears smell bad, the dog scratches at them, or shakes their head, you should also contact a veterinarian.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Common hazards for cats

Many everyday things that look like fun for cats can be dangerous for our feline friends. Here is a list with some things to watch for.

There are many adorable pictures of cats playing with string. String, thread, yarn, ribbons, and rubber bands can cause life-threatening issues if swallowed. 

Wires are as tempting to many cats as string and yarn - and even more dangerous. Cats can shock themselves and burn themselves when chewing on and playing with wires.

Cats and milk are another myth. If you want to give your cat milk, get cat milk from the pet store. 

Many think cats will never fall out of windows, but they do. There's even a name for it: feline high-rise syndrome. If you have your windows open, make sure the screens are secure.

The washer and dryer don't look like fun for humans, but some cats like to hang out inside appliances. Take an extra look before starting them.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tips for moving with pets

Moving and going to a new place with new possibilities can be exiting, but also stressful. Pets like routine, and regardless of what type of pet you have they are likely to find a move unsettling. You can minimize the risk for problems through preparing, and the below tips can make life easier for both you and your pets.

If you're moving to another area, start by researching pet laws and regulations. This is particularly important if you have large dogs and move into an area with breed specific legislation. Learn about restrictions, registrations, fees, and vaccinations before you start.

Pack over time

It's tempting to procrastinate with packing and make a last minute rush, but when you're moving with pets this is a bad idea for several reasons. Packing takes more time than you think it will, and if you're stressed your pet will pick up on it and become stressed too. Many pets also react better to smaller changes over time than to tearing up the home in a couple of days.

While you're packing, make a travel kit for your pet. You'll need some food, bowls, and a favorite toy. It's also a good idea to use a different color tape for important things you'll want to find quickly in the new place.

Update your pet's ID

There are many things to remember when moving. Make sure you don't forget to update microchip information with your new contact information. If the worst happens and your cat or dog are lost, the microchip will help you get them home.

Also make sure that your pet has a good collar that won't slip off. The collar should have an ID tag with your information.

Before you move in

Go through your new home before moving in and make sure it's safe for your pet. If you're moving to a house with a yard, check the fence for any holes or gaps your pet might get through. Check for leftover poison and other things that can be dangerous.

Stay safe on moving day

If you can, leave your pet with a friend or family member. You don't want your pet to make a break for it while people go in and out with furniture and boxes.

Some pets are frightened by new environments, others are confused or hyperactive, or just roll with it. Start small - most pets are more comfortable getting used a smaller area first. Give your pet the things they're used to, like their bed, toys, and other comfort things to make it feel like home.

Have you moved with your pets? How did they take it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 23, 2015

Breed spotlight: Bloodhound

The Bloodhound is an old breed, and depending on who you ask it might come from France, Belgium, England, or Scotland. We don’t know exactly how old the breed is, but it is mentioned in writings from the third century AD as a dog unrivaled for scenting power and determination.

The ancestors to the Bloodhound are believed to stem from the Mediterranean countries, and came to western Europe from Constantinople. At the time there were two strains; black or white. The black dogs were known as the Chien de Saint-Hubert and were bred by monks at the Saint-Hubert Monestary in Belgium. The white dogs became known as Southern Hounds. The breed reached its modern form in England.

Bllodhounds are tireless workers for law enforcement, and they are so good at tracking a scent their work has been accepted in courts of law. They can detect a scent trail left several days ago, and the average bloodhound has around four billion olfactory receptor cells. The average human has around five million.

These dogs are affectionate but often shy and sensitive. They enjoy company, both from other dogs and humans, and they’re known for being easygoing. They require regular brushing, and all the wrinkles must be kept clean.

A Bloodhound can weigh up to 110 pounds, and will require a large or extra large PlexiDor dog door depending on the individual.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 20, 2015

Barking good pumpkin peanut butter cookies

The weekend is almost here and many of us hit the kitchen to stir up something extra good. If you fall into that category, why not stir up some weekend goodies for your dog while you're there. These pumpkin peanut butter cookies are easy to make, and bound to be popular with the dogs.

What you need:

1 can of canned pumpkin (make sure it's not pumpkin pie mix)
0.25 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
0.5 teaspoon cinnamon
2.5 cups flour

If your dog is sensitive to gluten, choose a flour that is not wheat.

What to do: 

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until well blended. The dough will be soft and sticky.

You can roll the dough out on a floured surface and make cookies with cookie cutters, or roll little balls that you can flatten into cookies.

Bake on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper in 350 degrees F.

To make chewy cookies, bake for around 20 minutes. To make crunchy cookies, add 5-10 minutes depending on your oven.

The cookies can be stored for three days. If you want to keep them longer you should freeze them.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Maine Coon Cats are Cool Cats

Image from Wikimedia commons
The Maine Coon Cat is the official cat of the state of Maine. It is a long-haired breed that has developed naturally, which resulted in sturdy cats able to survive the varying climate of the American northeast.

A typical Maine Coon Cat will have a rugged appearance. The coat is designed to protect against all sorts of weather and will be uneven with three distinct lengths. The cats have a long and furry tail they can wrap around themselves for added protection against weather, and large and furry paws that allow even large individuals to walk on top of snow.

These cats are large. Males average between 15 and 25 pounds, and females between 10-15 pounds, but they can be even bigger. Most Maine Coon cats don't reach their full size until they're between three and five years old.

Maine Coon cats are known for being clever and friendly, and they're good with kids and pets. Some say they're like dogs in a cat body; this is one of few cat breeds that like water, and they can be trained like a dog.

The average Maine Coon wants to be part of everything, and the only way to stop that is to close the door.

Have you had a Maine Coon cat?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dog goes to visit owner in the hospital

When Nancy Franck went to the hospital for cancer surgery she surely missed both her family and her two dogs Sissy and Barney. After about two weeks, Sissy had enough of the separation.

Nancy's husband let the dogs out, and all of a sudden Sissy was gone. She had never run away before, and he looked everywhere. Except the hospital. Sissy had never been there, and it seemed a faraway and unlikely place.

That is, until a security guard called about the miniature schnauzer. Sissy strolled through two automatic doors and ran across the lobby. Security footage allegedly shows her uncertain of which elevator to take.

Her bravery did not go unnoticed; she was allowed to see Nancy for a bit.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Photos from the 2014 dog food contest winner


The 2014 PlexiDor dog food contest was over on the last of November, but while we announced the winners we didn't share many photos. Here is what happened with the 2014 mountain of food:

Penny Hamilton in Colorado won first prize with her dog Prince coming out of an innovative tunnel leading to their elevated deck.

When asked what she thinks about pet doors she said, "Our dog and we love the freedom that our pet doors gives. We live in Colorado high mountains so we made an 'airlock' with two pet doors. Our smart dog, rescued from a high kill area, just bounds through 'his' pet doors to our elevated deck with is elevated to keep him safe from mountain lions, bears and other mountain critters."

1,000 pounds of dog food is a lot, and Prince would have a lot of chewing in front of him to get through all that. Penny chose to donate her prize to a local animal shelter and dog food bank where her generosity will feed many hungry dogs.

The contest is back. Take the opportunity to enter at - maybe the Black Gold truck will be coming to you later this year!

Winner of 2014 dog food contest
Penny Hamilton and Prince with their prize

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 16, 2015

Presidential pooches

Many US presidents have had dogs. George Washington had American Staghounds and Coonhounds, Ulysses S. Grant had a Newfoundland, and Abraham Lincoln had two dogs and two cats. He allegedly once remarked that his cat Dixie was smarter than the whole cabinet.  Today, the Obama family includes two Portuguese Waterdogs, Bo and Sunny. 

Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese Water Dog is a working dog originally developed to help fishermen. The dogs would herd fish into nets, retrieve broken nets, and act as couriers between ships and shore. They're known for being loyal, active, and athletic. They have a water proof coat and are considered good for people with allergies.

Other well-known presidential dogs include Fala, a Scottish Terrier that belonged to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Rumors have it that Fala was left behind on a visit to the Aleutian Islands, and that Roosevelt sent ships back to get her.

This splurge with taxpayers' money outraged the public, but he turned it to his favor with a speech. "You can criticize me, my wife, and my family, but you can't criticize my little dog. He's Scotch and all these allegations about spending all his money has made his little soul furious." This speech came to be known as the Fala Speech, and is believed to help secure his re-election.

Lyndon B. Johnson had less luck with his pets. Someone snapped a photo of him picking up his Beagles by the ears. This turned into a scandal that changed his image.

Other pets have also been popular amongst the residents of the White House. Theodore Roosevelt probably had the largest menagerie, and allegedly kept everything from from a small bear to a garter snake. Andrew Johnson would feed a family of white mice that played in his room.

If you were president, what pet would you have?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 13, 2015

The PlexiDor dog food contest is back!

The 2014 PlexiDor dog food contest was a success - and a lot of fun. So much fun, in fact, that it will be a yearly recurring event. 

The contest page for 2015 just opened. Just like last year, the prizes are:

1st prize: 1,000 pounds of dog food
2nd prize: $50 Dunkin Donuts gift card
3rd prize: $25 Dunkin Donuts gift card

All you have to do is visit, answer an easy question, and share a photo of your dog using a dog door. It can be any dog door - it doesn't have to be a PlexiDor. 

If you want to see the submissions from last year, just follow this link. There are some great pictures there!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Make dog biscuits for your furry valentine

It's almost Valentine's day, and whether you celebrate it or not, your furry friend would surely appreciate some home made biscuits. Here are easy and fun recipes your pet will love. Both should be given in moderation, of course.

For dogs

The recipe is not good for dogs who have problems with gluten.

What you need:

  • 1 cup flour 
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brewer's yeast
  • 1.5 tbs vegetable oil
  • 0.5 cup beef broth

What to do:

Mix flour, wheat germ, and yeast. 

Pour the oil into another bowl and mix in the flour-mixture and stock, alternating between them. Doing this makes mixing the dough much easier than if you dump the whole thing in at once.

Mix well and roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut out cookies with a cookie-cutter - heart shapes looks great for Valentine's day.

Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheet at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Brush with broth and flip over, bake for another ten minutes.

The biscuits should be allowed at least 40 minutes to cool and dry.

For cats

What you need:

  • 7 ounces of mashed sardines
  • 1/4 cup dry non-fat milk
  • 0.5 cup wheat germ
What to do:

Mix all ingredients and roll the dough into small balls. You should get roughly two dozen little balls from the dough. 

Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees F until the cookies get color.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cats and boxes

The Internet is filled with images of cats and boxes. Cats sitting in boxes, sleeping in boxes, and even tigers in boxes. 

If you're a cat lover you have probably seen your cat in at least one box. But, what is it about boxes that's so much fun?

A study made at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands points towards boxes reliving stress. Sitting in a box creates a feeling of safety. In the wild, a hideout like the box would provide safety from predators and a place to relax.

Another theory builds on cat's affection for warmth. The box might provide shelter from cool drafts, and the layered cardboard would help keep the cat warm.

If you have a cat, do they like boxes?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pet doors and security

The PlexiDor security plate is
virtually impossible to get through.
Security is a concern for every home owner, and some people worry about making a new opening in a door or a wall. The PlexiDor dog doors come with lock and key, and with a steel security plate that can be attached when leaving the home.

Normally, the steel security plate is screwed onto the PlexiDor aluminum frame. It's easy to do, but for those who want to use the plate every day, there's now a helpful accessory.

The Sliding Track system makes attaching the security plate a breeze. The tracks are attached to the interior frame, and the security plate slides down the track into place. The system comes with all hardware, and mounts in minutes.

With the sliding track system,
the PlexiDor security plate
is attached within seconds.

Once the plate is slid into place, a flip lock at the top ensures that the plate stays down where it's supposed to.

The tracks are made of strong, durable aluminum and comes in Silver, White, or Bronze. They are available for door sizes Medium, Large, or Extra Large.

There is also an electronic version of the door that will only open for pets with the right key. The key is attached to the pet's collar and works with RFID.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Breed spotlight: Belgian Shepherd Dogs

Belgium is a physical small country in Western Europe that is home to a range of dog breeds. The Belgian Shepherd Dogs are a specific group popular both as companion dogs and working dogs due to their versatility.

There are four breeds in the group: Groenendael, Laekenois, Malinois, and Tervuren. There are similarities in body shape and temperament, but they are all separate breeds.


The Groenendael was originally used for herding, as watchdogs, and as companions, but they quickly became famous for catching smugglers for Belgian customs. It didn't take long until Groenendaels served as police dogs in both New York City and Paris, and while other dog breeds struggled during the word wars, the Groenendael did very well.

Today, this is a popular breed for search and rescue, therapy work, and guide dogs. Needless to say they do great in dog sports such as agility, tracking, and obedience.Groenendael


Many who see a Malinois for the first time thinks its a German Shepherd. They look a little alike, but the breeds are quite different.

The Malinois is popular for police and military work - they are intelligent, strong, confident, and eager to work. This is also a popular breed for dog sports such as obedience, sledding, herding, and tracking.



The Laekenois is clever and alert, and can be quite protective of family and property. This breed was originally developed to tend to flocks and guard, and these properties remain in the breed.



The Tervuren is an elegant and devoted dog that often excels in obedience and agility competitions. Many who see these dogs believe they're German Shepherds with long hair, but the Tervuren is a different breed. They're outstanding herders that also do great jobs as therapy dogs and guide dogs.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 6, 2015

Have you seen the PlexiDor awning?

PelxiDor Awning White 

The easy to install PlexiDor awning creates a roof for the pet door and prevents rain, sun, and snow from entering the house. This accessory comes in three sizes, perfect for the PlexiDor pet doors. 

The awnings are made from durable aluminum with a baked-on finish that will last for many years. They are available in white or bronze.

  • The small awning is 12" wide and 8" deep. 
  • The medium awning is 16" wide and 12" deep. 
  • The large awning is 23 1/4" wide and 16 5/8" deep. 

  Click here to see more.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Did you know that aging dogs can suffer dementia?

As different as dogs and humans look, there are big similarities between the species, and dogs are affected by many diseases humans get. A dog's brain is also a lot like a human's, and aging dogs can get a disease that resembles Alzheimer's.

The disease is called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, and around half of all dogs over age of ten will exhibit at least some symptoms.

Just like humans with Alzheimer's, dogs with CDS will appear disoriented and forgetful. The dogs may get lost in familiar areas such as the yard or house, don't know how to get out if they're behind furniture, or be unable to find the door.

Other symptoms include an increase in pacing around, a decrease in purposeful behavior, and an increase in overall sleep.

All these behaviors can be cause by physical changes too, so it is important to see a vet and make sure your dog gets the right diagnosis.

Not all dogs will get the disease, just like not all humans are affected by dementia. You can decrease the risk by providing mental stimulation, a healthy diet, physical exercise, and plenty of interaction.

If your dog is diagnosed with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, there are drugs that can improve the symptoms and give your furry friend a better quality of life. There is, for instance, one drug created to treat Parkinson's in humans that have worked very well on dogs with CDS.

Have you had a dog that became more forgetful with old age?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lost dog home again after 18 months

Dozer - image from Fox31 Denver 

Dozer is a well trained German Shepherd who knows how to open and close doors, turn on lights, and many other useful things. When Dozer was stolen from Richard Brower's back yard a year and half ago, Brower would stop at nothing to find him. 

The search went on for months, and Brower took help from all his friends - they approached everyone in the area walking a German Shepherd, hoping it would be Dozer.

After eighteen months with no sign of Dozer, Brower pulled up his computer and searched for German Shepherd for sale. The first link took him to a website where a photo of his dog looked back from the monitor!

Brower sent the photo to family members and got on the phone with the shelter. Dozer came home that very day.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

These common items are toxic to dogs

Many things lying around the house seem perfectly innocent to us humans. Unfortunately, our everyday foods and medications can be lethal to pets. Here is a list with five groups to keep out of reach.

1. Prescription medications - anti-inflammatory medications, pain medications, Tylenol, antidepressants, and blood pressure medicine are just a few examples of drugs that should be kept safely out of reach. You might not think that your cat or dog will eat something tasting like Tylenol, but some pets eat everything. Others like playing with the packaging and accidentally ingest some of the medicine too.

2. Insecticides - naturally keep any bug poisons, ant traps, and similar out of reach. Also be careful with flea and tick products. Pay attention to dosage, and never apply a product intended for a dog on a cat - even if the weight range seems to fit.

3. Miscellaneous household products - laundry pods, detergent, antifreeze, lawn products, and other household products are toxic not just to people but to dogs. The laundry pods are particularly dangerous to both pets and children because they look like toys or candy.

4. People food - some people food is fine for pets, but some things can be deadly. For instance chocolate, grapes, raisins, alcohol, avocado, xylitol, and macadamia nuts.

5. Plants - many think pets will know better than eat a plant that's bad for them, but this isn't true. Sago palms, tulips bulbs, daffodil bulbs, azaleas, and rhododendrons are just some examples of plants that should not be ingested by a pet.

If you think your pet has eaten any of the above - or something else that might be toxic - call your vet at once. The faster your pet gets treatment the better.

Has your pet eaten anything toxic? What did you do?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dog of the month: Bernese Mountain Dog

The Swiss Mountain Dogs are hardy breeds who thrive in cold weather. There are four varieties of Swiss Mountain Dog: Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Appenzeller, and Entlebucher Mountain Dog. The Bernese is the only one with a long and silky coat, and probably the most known of the group.

These dogs are smart, strong, and agile, and were historically developed as farm dogs. They worked cattle and watched over the farm. Today, they excel at agility, tracking, herding, obedience, and therapy work.

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for being good natured, self assured, and friendly. They require a lot of exercise and can move much faster than most people expect when seeing a dog this size. Bernese Mountain Dogs have a gentle and easygoing manner, and they love to be close to their family. They're usually patient and affectionate and do well with children.

~ Maria Sadowski ~