Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Keep your pets safe during independence day

4th of July is almost here, and for most Americans that means fun, barbecues, and fireworks. The holiday is less appreciated by most pets; what's fun for us can be outright horrifying for cats and dogs.

Fireworks and firecrackers are the biggest problems for pets at this time a year. Don't underestimate a pet's ability to flee from perceived danger. If fireworks or firecrackers scare your dog, they have an uncanny ability to get out and seek a "safer" place. Keep your pet inside, in a room where they can't get out or hurt themselves.

Make sure your pets can't bolt out of the front door if people come and go. Your yard might be secure enough for your pets on the other days of the year, but when it comes to fireworks they get astonishing abilities to climb and jump.

If your cat or dog seeks out their safe place in a crate or even under the bed, leave them be. Extreme behavior from humans - even if it's intended to calm the pet - can reinforce their sense of danger. Keep a radio or TV on as background sound to cover some of the noise from the outside.

Check that your pet's tags and microchip information is up to date. This will increase your chance of getting him or her back if they get out anyway.

Desensitize your pet to fireworks

You can help desensitize your pet for fireworks, and the following is good to keep in mind for all firework holidays:

Find a video of fireworks and play it on low volume a few times during the day. Give your dog treats, play, and cuddle while the video is playing. The purpose of this is to associate the sound with something positive.

Increase the volume slowly. Keep doing fun things every time you play it. If your dog shows fear at any time, turn the volume back down. Keep the positive reinforcement of treats and play coming.

Desensitizing doesn't always make the fear go away. When it's time for the actual fireworks, try to drown out the sound and allow your pet to hide if he or she wants to.

Some dogs have severe firework anxiety. Discuss with your veterinarian to see if anti-anxiety medication is right for your furry friend.

Other holiday dangers for pets

To start with, remember that many human delicacies aren't suitable for pets and can make them sick. If you have guests that like to feed your dog or cat it can be a good idea to provide small training treats or similar that's okay for the pet to eat.

Also be careful with insect repellants around pets. If they need mosquito repellant or similar, use a kind that is made for pets. Citronella candles, oils, and similar are harmless to humans, but can cause respiratory problems in cats and dogs.

If you spend a lot of time outside in the heat with your pets, watch out for signs of heatstroke. Read more about that here.

Do you do something special to prepare your pets for the holiday?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, June 29, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry Blue Terrier is an Irish breed used for hunting, retrieving and herding. The breed was developed by Irish commoners when the nobility began using Irish Wolfhounds to protect their grounds from poachers. The Kerry Blue Terrier could hunt undiscovered, in silence, and help put food on the tables.

These dogs have a distinctive appearance with a soft, dense, and wavy coat. They shed very little, but still require regular grooming and should be brushed and trimmed regularly.

An adult Kerry Blue Terrier is gray, but the puppies are born black and the coat fades until they're around 18 months old.

Kerry Blue Terriers are energetic and active dogs, and do best in active families. They love to dig and to chase things, and they require lots of exercise. Without both physical and mental stimulation they get bored and can become destructive. This breed was created to work, and they do best with a job to do.

A typical Kerry loves people and is devoted to the family, but owners should be aware that the breed still has a strong hunting instinct.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Bergamasco

The Bergamasco is believed to be a descendant of longhaired sheep dogs brought to Italy by the Phoenicians. This intelligent and hard working breed can be traced back almost 7,000 years.

The most eye-catching aspect of the breed is the unusual felted coat. It consists of three types of hair: a fine, dense, and oily undercoat, long hairs similar to a goat’s, and a wooly outer coat. The mats “set” at age one, and after that the coat requires little maintenance. A Bergamasco should be bathed 1-3 times per year. They shed very little, and should not be brushed.

Bergamascos are known for being very sociable and having a strong work ethic. They think independently and are very intelligent. If you want a subordinate to the other members of the family, a Bergamasco is not a good choice; they tend to see themselves more as an equal that works together with the humans.

This breed is also known for its almost supernatural hearing, and for being good judges of character. As long-time protectors of herds they can predict violence, and they are reliable predictors of approaching visitors and violent behavior.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Teaching your dog to swim

Landseers are great swimmers.
Summer can be so much fun, and most of us love playing in water. Assuming you have a dog breed physically able to swim, dogs will instinctively paddle when they enter water. Some dogs love water at first sight, plunge in, and might not want to come out again. Others are reluctant and even scared.

If your dog doesn’t take to swimming immediately, here are some tips that might help them along:

Encourage the dog by going out in the water yourself and calling for them. If they follow you, reward with praise. If your dog likes to play fetch, they might follow a floating toy or tennis ball into the water. Start at a shallow depth and go gradually deeper.

Many dogs want to join in if they see people or other dogs having fun in the water. As with all training it is important to stay calm. Some dogs will never like water. If your dog doesn't want to, don't force it.

If your dog turns out to love swimming, it is still up to you to think of safety. Older dogs and puppies tire quickly, and they often don’t realize how tired they are until it’s too late to turn back. Watch out for strong currents and underwater debris that can ensnare the dog.

Many dogs who don’t like water still enjoy an outing to the beach. Non-swimmers should wear a life vest. This is particularly important for breeds such as Bulldogs who can't swim. Many Bulldogs sink no matter how much they try to paddle. If the sand is hot, protect the paws. Make sure there’s access to shade and cool drinking water, and be attentive for signs of heat stroke.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Water safety for dogs

Many dog life vests have a handle on the back, to
make it easy to lift the dog out of the water if needed.
Make sure you have the right size vest and still
keep an eye on your dog.
Many dogs love water and most dogs can swim. Dogs will paddle when they are in water, but as a dog owner you need to know that not all dogs are built for swimming.

Bulldogs are probably the worst swimmers. Some can paddle around a little and keep their heads over the surface, but many just sink. Many Bulldog breeders and rescues require ponds and pools to have fences and emergency monitors that alert if the dog falls in.

Other breeds bad at swimming includes everyone with a heavy, large chest and a short muzzle. Even if they can keep afloat for a few minutes it takes a lot of energy and they're not likely to keep their head over water for a long time. There are life-vests for dogs that can help them float and let them splash around in shallow water with supervision.

Don't try to force your dog to swim if he or she can't do it or doesn't like water. Some breeds are created for water and swimming and even have webbed feet. That doesn't mean every individual will love doing it.

It is wise to keep an eye on your dog even if he or she likes swimming and is good at it. Particularly puppies and older dog can overestimate their energy and end up in a bad situation where they can't get back to land or can't get up in the pool.

Drowning is a silent death both for humans and dogs. It doesn't necessarily make a lot of noise or a lot of splashing; suddenly the victim just isn't there. Enjoy summer, and keep an eye on your pets and kids both around the lakes, the ocean, and the pool.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Did you know dogs were special to the peoples of ancient Egypt?

Many know cats played a big role in ancient Egypt, but did you know dogs were important to the Egyptians as well? They were considered able to communicate with the Egyptian god Anubis, lord of the underworld. 

We even know some dogs' names thanks to preserved collars and reliefs. Popular names include, Brave One, Reliable, and Good Herdsman.

Dogs were highly valued, and when a dog died, the family would bury it with as much procedure they could afford, just like when a human member of the family died. The family would shave their eyebrows as a sign of their grief.

The Egyptians believed the dog could move on to a different plane after death and interact with Anubis, and for this to happen, it needed a fitting burial. What we haven't known until now is the scale of the burial grounds for pets. The catacombs of Anubis date to around 750 to 30 BC, and British scientists now believe around eight million pets, mostly dogs, were mummified and buried here.

Cats were also kept as pets, and protected against rats, mice, and snakes. They were represented by the goddess Bastet, a protector of the lands that comprised ancient Egypt.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rare breed Monday: Puli

The Puli is a Hungarian or possibly Croatian dog breed used for herding and guarding livestock. The dogs are fairly small, and easily recognizable because of their long, corded, and waterproof coat.

These dogs are active and intelligent. They may look bulky and slow, but the thick coat hides a dog that is fast, agile, and able to turn around corners like a sports car.

Many Pulis keep a playful behavior their entire life, but they can also be quite focused if they have a job to do. If you’re considering a Puli, remember that this is a herding breed, and they will herd.

This is an old breed, believed to have been introduced to Hungary more than 1,000 years ago when they migrated with the Magyars from Central Asia. The breed itself is believed to date back at least 2,000 years, and some scientists believe it may be as old as 6,000 years.

In Hungary, the Puli would often work together with the Komondor. The Puli herded and guarded the sheep at day, getting help from the Komondor if large predators attacked. The Komondors would keep guard at night, patrolling the area around the flock.

Pulis are generally black, but they can also be white, gray, or cream.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, June 19, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Papillon

Papillon is the French word for butterfly, and the breed gets this name from the long hair on the ears that resemble butterfly wings. Some Papillons have drooped ears, and they are called Phalène, which means moth.

The Papillon is a type of Spaniel, and this breed is one of the oldest toy spaniels, stemming back to around the year 1500.

These dogs are energetic, clever, and self-assured, and they learn new things easily. This is an active dog breed and they’re happiest when they have something to do. Many do very well in agility or other dog sports. There are individuals who like to nap with their owner, of course, but the typical Papillon would much rather be running around with a toy than sitting still.

Papillons tend to be reserved around new people, and just as with all dog breeds, it’s a good idea to socialize them well from a young age.

Grooming is fairly easy, because Papillons don’t have an undercoat. They should be brushed regularly and have a bath every now and then, but other than that they require little grooming.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fun facts about the Pekingese

The Pekingese is a charming little dog associated with the emperors of China for millennia. They are also called the lion dog, for their brave hearts.

  • While the Pekingese doesn't look much like a wolf, they are genetically amongst the breeds closest to wolves

  • Thee breed stems back to the Han dynasty, roughly 2,000 years ago

  • The Pekingese, the Tibetan Mastiff, and the Lhasa Apso were all bred to resemble stylized Chinese lion images

  • Emperor Lingdi of Han (ruled 168-189) made his favorite Pekingese a member of the nobel cast.

  • In the time of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) nobody outside the Imperial palace was allowed to own or breed a Pekingese. If an ordinary person happened to cross paths with one of the dogs, he or she had to bow.

  • At one period in history, the Pekingese were bred down in size so their owners could carry them concealed in their sleeves. They were called "sleeve dogs."

  • Three dogs escaped the Titanic: two Pomeranians and one Pekingese.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Service dogs can hold a big impact on autistic children

Autism is a neurological disorder that impacts social, communicative, and cognitive functions, and the disability is becoming increasingly common. In 2012, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 88 children in the US has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

It is difficult to compare this number against previous decades, because the criteria for what counts as Autism has changed. According to the Autism Science Foundation, in the 1980's, autism prevalence was reported as 1 in 10,000. Even with different measuring criteria, it's a stunning difference to 1 in 88. Autism is almost five times more common among boys than among girls.

Many children with autism are non-verbal, or don't use the skill to actively communicate with other people. In short, a child with autism does not connect well with the surrounding environment. That doesn't mean the child doesn't want a connection.

Luckily, it can be easier to connect with a dog than with other people. The organization Autism Service Dogs of America says, "A child who connects to a dog connects with the world." They explain that a dog serves as a physical and emotional anchor for the child, and even provides a focus through which a child with autism can connect with other children. 

The dogs also helps kids deal with emotions, and while many children with autism dislike being touched by another person, they can enjoy touching a dog. Some children tend to wander away, and in this case the service dog can be trained to track the scent of, hold, retrieve, or find the child. 

the MIRA Foundation in Canada recently made a study on the physiological impact of service dogs on children with autism, and found that their stress levels dropped significantly with the presence of a dog. Most likely, the stress levels in the parents dropped as well...

If you want to read more about service dogs and children with autism, there are many great resources on the Internet. I visited Autism Service Dogs of America, Pawsitive solutions, and 4 Paws For Ability.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dogs understand human behavior

One more thing dog lovers have long suspected is now proven by science: dogs know when a person is mean to their human, and they don't like it.

Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan sat up three groups with eighteen dogs and their owners. Each dog watched a situation that involved their owner and two strangers.

In the first group, the owner had problems opening a box, asked for help from a stranger, and was rejected in a brusque manner. In the second group, the stranger helped the owner. The third group was a control group where the owner didn't interact with either stranger.

When the situation was over, each stranger offered the dog a treat.

In the group where the owner was rebuffed, the dogs tended to take a treat from the neutral stranger but avoid the "bad guy." In the other groups, the dogs treated the strangers equally.

This is important, not just because it shows our dogs understand us and want to side with us, but also because they understand enough about human behavior to know when someone causes trouble.

According to NBC News, this study will be published in Animal Behavior.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Chow Chow

The Chow Chow comes from Asia and has been traced back to China’s Han dynasty, over 2,000 years ago, and it is considered one of the oldest recognizable breeds. It is also believed to be the model for the “Foo dogs” - the traditional stone statues that guard Buddhist temples.

Many recognize the Chow Chow because of its blue tongue - a trait it only shares with the Shar-Pei. No other dog breeds have blue tongues. This is a sturdy dog with a dense double coat. Chow Chows are generally serious, dignified, and intelligent. While devoted to family members, they are often uninterested in strangers.

These dogs are adaptable and do well in all sorts of living arrangements. They don’t need extensive exercise, and with regular walks they can do very well living in aparments. They are also a healthy breed, but they do require regular grooming. Many Chow Chow owners spend a couple of hours each week brushing their dog.

Depending on gender, a typical Chow Chow weighs somewhere between 45 and 70 pounds, and requires a large PlexiDor dog door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, June 12, 2015

Does your dog chew on things?

From time to time even the most well behaved dog falls for the temptation to chew on something, and it's hard not to yell at the poor pooch when coming home to find a favorite pair of shoes, the TV remote control, or a pair of headphones chewed to pieces. Of course, disciplining a dog after the fact has no impact besides scaring the dog - and possibly causing new problems - so there's nothing to do but clean up the mess.

Why is chewing on shoes, sofa cushions, and other things so irresistible to dogs?

When talking about puppies, they explore the world through sight and smell, but also through putting things in their mouth. They're much like human babies, and tasting and chewing things is one of their favorite ways to learn about the big world around them. It is also important to know that puppies teeth for about six months. Chewing helps the teething process, and makes the sore gums feel a little better.

If you have problems with a teething puppy chewing your things, try to freeze a wet wash cloth and offer it for chewing. Just remember to keep an eye on the dog so he doesn't swallow any of it.

Doggy adolescence takes place right after the puppy stage, and this phase can last up to two to three years of age depending on breed. At this time there's a lot going on in a dog's body. Doggy teenagers have a lot of energy, get bored easily, and might even want to try to bend the rules. It's a hard time in a dog's life, and many humans are unprepared for it.

Many young dogs are surrendered, because their owners aren't ready for coping with a large, furry teenager. The cute little puppy they brought home is gone, and while the dog might have an adult body, it's not yet mature.

Of course, adult dogs sometimes chew as well. When a pair of favorite shoes are gone, or a piece of furniture gets a new design-by-dog, it's easy to think they do it to spite us. That's not it.

Common reasons for chewing include:

  • The dog was never taught what's acceptable to chew
  • The dog is bored, or insufficiently exercised
  • The dog suffers from separation anxiety
  • It's a fear related behavior
  • Chewing can be a call for attention

Whatever the reason, remember the dog doesn't do it to spite you. Take responsibility for your things and keep them out of reach. Books, shoes, clothes, remote controls, trash, and smilier must be stored out of reach. See it from the bright side - this is a great opportunity to declutter!

Invest in some good chewing toys. Many dogs love to chew antlers. They're expensive to buy, but if you get a good size antler it will last for a while. If the dog loses interest, soak the antler in some broth and it will be as interesting as when it was new.

Regardless of what type of chewing toys you choose, make sure they don't look like forbidden objects. That is, don't pick toys that look like shoes, and don't offer old socks and shoes as toys. Set the stage for success and make it easy for your dog to understand what's allowed.

Many behavioral problems, not just chewing, stem from boredom, lack of interaction, and lack of exercise. Spend some extra time with your dog. Time with you will give mental stimulation, and help your doggie learn what's acceptable. If he or she tends to slink away and chew on things, use a leash and confine your dog when you're busy.

Is your dog getting ample exercise based on age, fitness level, and breed? Do you provide something to do and think about? Consider investing in puzzle toys, spend some time learning tricks together, go jogging, or enroll in a training program. A tired dog is a good dog, but exercise alone won't do the trick. Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation.

If time is a problem, use the things you normally do with your dog as entertainment. Mealtime can, for instance, become exercise. Try mixing kibble with some soft dog food, peanut butter, some mashed banana, or even some Greek yogurt and freezing it in a Kong. Instead of gobbling down the food your dog will have to work for it, which will make doggie tired.

Some behavioral problems might require professional help. If your problem is with separation anxiety, consider seeking a behavioral specialist.

If you catch doggie chewing on your best shoes, interrupt through making a loud noise. You can, for instance, put some coins in an empty plastic bottle and shake it. Then, offer a suitable toy, and give plenty of praise when your dog takes it.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Watch out for your pets in the heat!

Summer is here in most part of the country, and with summer comes sun and heat. There is a number of things pet owners need to be aware of during summer.

Pavement gets hot. If it feels too warm when you press your palm against it, it's too warm for your pets to walk on.

Schedule your walks for mornings or late in the evenings when the pavement has cooled off. If you have to take your dog for a walk in the middle of the day, consider training him or her to wear booties that help protect the paws.

The temperature in a car rises quickly. It can read deadly levels within minutes. Don't leave your pet or child in the car. Check out this experiment by a police officer closing up his vehicle in the sun.

Another important thing to know is that dogs can’t sweat. They pant to cool themselves off, but it’s not the most efficient system. Another risk for dogs is that they’re generally eager to please their owners and will not stop playing or even indicate that something is wrong until it is too late and heatstroke is a fact.

When it comes to cats and dogs, the pets most susceptible to heatstroke include:

  • Pugs, Bulldogs, and other short snout dog breeds
  • Persians and other cats with flat faces
  • Sick and elderly pets
  • Cats and dogs with heart conditions
  • Dogs who exercise in hot weather
  • Dogs who have airway problems or snore
  • Overweight pets
  • Cats and dogs who recently relocated to a hotter climate
  • Any pet who has had a heatstroke before. They are at higher risk of getting it again.

Heatstroke is a real problem. It can lead to kidney failure, liver failure, brain damage, swelling of airways, lung damage, seizures, muscle damage, bleeding disorders, and even death.

Make sure your pets have access to a cool area. If you don’t have AC, use fans to increase the circulation in the house. Always make sure your pets have access to cool water.

Pet doors allow cats and dogs to come back inside when they want to. An energy efficient dog door or cat door such as the PlexiDor dog doors and cat doors will ensure that the heat stays outside.

Symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • A blank stare or anxious expression
  • Heavy panting and possible raspy breath
  • Bright red gums
  • Salivation
  • Throwing up
  • Stumbling, falling, or collapsing
  • Elevated temperature
  • Lying flat on cool surfaces
  • Pet’s skin feels warmer than normal
  • Seizures

If your pet shows any signs of heatstroke, hose them down so their panting slows. Small animals can be sprayed with a spray bottle of water set at a fine mist. The water helps prevent the body temperature from raising further.

Call the vet. Heatstroke is serious and this is not a time to apply a wait-and-see approach.

When you go to the vet, keep the AC on in the car to keep the pet as cool as possible. If you don’t have air-conditioning, make sure to keep the windows down. Just watch the pet so they don’t jump out of the car!

At the vet, treatment can include intravenous fluids, blood tests, and oxygen. Severe cases of heatstroke require hospitalization up to ten days.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Basenji

The Basenji comes from Africa and has roots amongst the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. This elegant hunting dog is sometimes called "The Barkless Dog" because they tend to yodel when excited instead of barking.

Basenjis are independent dogs that think and make decisions on their own. They are very intelligent but can be difficult to train, because they might not see the point in whatever they're asked to do.

Besides yodeling they have some other habits that separate them from most dogs: they don't like rain and wet weather, and they tend to clean themselves like a cat would. They also love to climb.

When it comes to temper, the average Basenji is clever, alert, energetic, and curious. They tend to become emotionally attached to one person. They accept other family members and are generally loving and patient with children, but there’s one person that is “theirs.”

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Animals can see other things than humans

Many believe dogs and cats are color blind. This isn't true; they see colors, but they see another range of colors than we do. This difference in how we perceive the world goes further than just color vision. Cats and dogs see much better in low light conditions than we do, and they can see other wavelengths where the human eye perceives nothing.

Cats, dogs, birds, bees, fish, mice, reindeer, bats, hedgehogs, ferrets, and some reptiles can see ultraviolet light. If you imagine a rainbow, ultraviolet would be below the inner purple band. A human eye sees nothing there, it looks like the rainbow ends at purple, but many animals might see more.

This ability has developed because of different needs in different species. A bee may need ultraviolet vision to discern colors and patterns that lead it to nectar. Reindeer are believed to have developed ultraviolet vision to discern polar bears and other threats that blend in with the white snow.

So, why can't humans see ultraviolet light? Our eyes allow us to see in higher resolution than the animals, which in turn means that we can see details better. The downside is that we don't see well in low-light, and that we see a smaller spectrum than many animals.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, June 8, 2015

Rare Breed Monday: Aidi

The Aidi is an energetic working breed that developed in Sahara. It is considered a Moroccan dog breed, and it is also called Atlas Mountain Dog or Chien de l'Atlas.

In its homeland, the Aidi often protects herds of sheep and goats. They are also good at tracking scents and hunting. When used for hunting, the Aidi is usually paired with a type of hound called Sloughi that chases down the prey the Aidi tracks.

Most of these dogs are still hard workers. Many still perform their traditional tasks, but others are doing very well as police dogs.The breed is gaining popularity as pet as well.

A typical Aidi is highly protective, alert, powerful, and always ready for action. As many working dogs, it does best with an experienced owner and a job to do. They need ample amounts of exercise, long daily walks, and prefer to have a large yard.

These dogs can come in a variety of colors and color combinations. They’re considered healthy, and have an average life span of 12 years. A typical Aidi weighs around 50-55 lbs, and requires a large PlexiDor dog door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, June 5, 2015

Teach your pet to use a pet door

If you're planning to get a pet door for your furry friends and they've never had one before, you need to know how to train them to use it. Most pets take to their dog door or cat door quickly. Pets love to go in and out, and will enjoy being able to move at will.

That said, some pets are intimidated by pet doors at first, but with a little patience your cat, dog, or even mini pig will learn to use the door. Most pets learn in between five seconds and five days.

The PlexiDor is different from traditional cat flaps and dog doors in many ways. The most important difference from the pet's point of view is that your cat or dog can see through the panel. Many cats and dogs like to lie just inside the door and peek out at what's happening outside. Being able to see through also makes it easier for many pets to learn to use the door - they can see the outside, and they want to get there.

If the pet doesn’t take to the door, try propping one of the panels open and tempting the pet with a treat. If the pet is still reluctant, start with propping both panels up.

Never force your cat or dog through the door, and give praise once they do come through. Be patient - they'll get it.

For the electronic door, it usually works well to put a treat on the bottom lip of the pet door. The dog or cat approaches to get the treat, and the collar key triggers the door to open. It doesn’t take long for the pets to figure out that the door will open when they come close to it.

 ~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Xylitol appears in unexpected places; read the labels

Xylitol is a popular sweetener that replaces sugar in everything from breath mints to chewing gum. It has beneficial properties for humans, but unfortunately, Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Up until now this hasn't been much of a problem, because the sweetener has mostly occurred in things no one would give dogs anyway.

Lately, Xylitol has appeared in new forms of candy, and as a sweetener in peanut butter and other forms of nut butters.

This is a real problem for pet owners. Dogs love peanut butter and unless the pet has an allergy, peanut butter is considered perfectly safe. People use it for everything from covering pills to baking cookies for their pets. Read the labels. If the product contains Xylitol, do not give it to your dog.

How toxic is Xylitol to dogs?

There are many examples of substances that are a little toxic and a dog can eat some of it without serious consequences. Xylitol is not one of those.

According to the website Preventive Vet, "Ingestion of as little as 0.1 gram (g) of xylitol per kilogram (kg) of body weight (0.1 g/kg) can cause a rapid and dangerous drop in a dog’s blood sugar (a condition called “hypoglycemia”). Hypoglycemia can show as staggering, appearing disoriented, collapse, weakness, and seizures. Just slightly more than that, approx. 0.5 g/kg xylitol ingestion, can lead to debilitating, and sadly often deadly, destruction of a dog’s liver cells." 

So, what does that mean?

1 pound is 0.45 kilo. That means that if your dog weighs 10 pounds, it weighs 4.5 kilos.

Ingestion of 0.1 grams of Xylitol per kilo body weight is dangerous. So, if your dog weighs 10 pounds (4.5 kilos), eating just 0.45 grams of Xylitol is dangerous.

You can count up from that. If your dog weighs 20 pounds, eating 0.9 grams of Xylitol is dangerous. And so on.

What to do if your pet eats Xylitol

If you think your pet has ingested Xylitol, call your vet, emergency vet, or the Pet Poison Helpline at once. They will ask you questions about your dog and about what he or she ate, and tell you what to do.

Has your pet eating anything toxic? What happened?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Three of the top cancer symptoms in dogs

There are many things we don't want to think about, whether it comes to ourselves or our pets. Cancer is definitely one of them. Today many types of cancer can be treated, and the sooner treatments are started, the better the chances.

Cancer is one of those elusive illnesses that can have many symptoms. Here are some of the most common symptoms in dogs. Many of these symptoms are the same as in people. Keep your eyes open, your common sense turned on, and seed veterinary assistance when needed.

If your pet shows any health issue it's always better to see the vet. It's better to go there one time too many when it's not needed than to overlook a serious problem.

An enlarging lump

If your dog has one or more lumps that are getting larger or changing, see your vet. A lump doesn't have to be cancer, but either way it should be dealt with.

Swollen lymph nodes

Several illnesses causes swollen lymph nodes, and they should all be treated. The lymph nodes are located throughout the entire body, but are most easily detected behind the dog's jaw or knee.

Weight loss

Unless your furry friend is on a diet, weight loss is cause for a trip to the vet. There are many things that can cause weight loss, but the reason should be investigated.

Other important signs

Other important signs include:
  • The dog's stomach rapidly enlarging
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Dry cough that won't go away
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy and depression

Have you had a pet that got cancer? What symptoms did you see?

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cats are masters a hiding illness

To a human, hiding illness can seem counterproductive. If we're sick, we go see a professional and get help. To animals, showing illness is the same as showing weakness, and most pets are experts at disguising physical problems. This is particularly true for cats.

The sooner a problem is detected the faster and better it can be treated, and as cat owners it is important to keep a watchful eye for any changes in behavior. If your cat starts acting atypical, it's a good idea to see a vet. Just to be on the safe side.

Here are some of the most common – but subtle – signs of illness in cats: 

Unexplained weight loss or weight gain

When you see someone every day it's hard to notice changes in weight, and this is true for cats as well. Weigh your cat once a month, or make a habit out of taking and comparing photos on a monthly basis. Also keep track of how your cat eats. If he or she has always been neat and suddenly starts making a mess there might be a dental problem.

Changes in behavior with others 

If your cat has enjoyed playing with other cats regularly and starts avoiding them, something is most likely wrong. The other way around can also be true; if your cat has always been a loner and suddenly starts seeking attention, something might be wrong.

If your cat suddenly slows down from being energetic, or drastically increases activity, it’s a good idea to visit the vet. Sudden increases in activity in older cat can be a result of a thyroid problem.

Altered habits

If your cat suddenly changes their sleeping pattern or grooming habits, it’s time to see the vet. Also watch for a change in the cat’s voice and smell. Be particularly alert for foul breath.

Has your cat been sick? How did you notice?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, June 1, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Rottweiler

Rottweiler puppy
The Rottweiler is a large and robust breed that enjoys having a job to do. These dogs are confident and smart, and they often work as service dogs, therapy dogs, herding dogs, or police dogs.

This is an old breed with roots back to ancient Rome. The dogs are believed to have arrived to Europe with Roman invading forces. When they reached Germany, people there appreciated the dogs' herding and guarding instincts, and bred them to enhance these traits. Rottweilers have herded animals in Germany for at least 2,000 years. They almost became extinct during the Industrial Revolution, but a breed club was formed in the early 1900s and brought the dogs back.

Rottweilers adore their families and are generally patient and good-natured. As with all breeds, early training and socialization helps create a well-balanced dog that adapts well to different people and environments.

These dogs need a lot of exercise, but very little grooming.

The size varies between the genders. Females generally weigh between 77 and 105 lbs and do well with a large PlexiDor dog door. Males weigh between 110 and 132 lbs and need an extra large PlexiDor dog door. Households with dogs of many sizes should naturally choose the larger door; the panels swing open easily and a smaller dog can use a larger door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~