Friday, July 31, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Chihuahua

Chihuahuas are generally considered the smallest dog breed. There are two main varieties: short haired and long haired.

The Chihuahua gets its name from the Mexican state Chihuahua. Pictures resembling the breed has been found on ancient paintings, and the dogs are believed to be decendent from a dog indigenous to Central America called the Techichi.

Chihuahuas are alert and energetic, but they still require little exercise, because they’re so small. A stroll for a human is a long way to walk for a Chihuahua. While they like to run and play, they also love sitting curled up on their favorite human’s lap.They make great city dogs and require little grooming.

One thing to keep in mind is that these small dogs are fragile. They need to be treated with care, and small children might be too rough and hurt the dog. They were bred to thrive in a warm climate, and many dislike cold. They tend to seek out sunshine or burrow themselves down under piles of blankets.

These dogs are clever and enthusiastic, and usually have large personalities.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Are there hypoallergenic cats?

Russian Blue
Many believe that a cat or dog breed being hypoallergenic means they can't cause allergies. That's not entirely accurate - hypoallergenic means that something has a smaller risk of causing allergies, but it can still happen. 

There are no non-allergenic cats or dogs, but there are hypoallergenic cats breeds.

Many also believe that allergies are connected to the cat's coat, but that's not always the case either. Most people are allergic against proteins from the cat's skin oils and saliva. These proteins are in turn distributed on shed fur. This means that some cat breeds - with fur - are gentler for persons with allergies than others.

The Balinese is a good example. These cats are sometimes called the "longhaired Siamese," but despite their coat they produce little of the protein that causes allergies. This is also true for the Russian Blue and the heavily coated Siberian.

Bengals certainly aren't hairless, and they produce just as much of the protein as many other breeds, but their coat is so fine that they don't have to groom themselves as much as other cats. That means their hair carries less of the protein. Another upside of the Bengal is that they shed little, so what allergens are present won't be spread around as much as with other breeds.

Cornish Rex is another breed that works well for many with allergies. They're not entirely hairless, but they only have an undercoat. Since they're less hairy than other breeds they also shed less, and cause less allergies.

The Sphynx cat is completely hairless. They have no fur that can trap allergens and shed around the house, and the allergy-causing substances stick to the cat.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Do you exercise with your dog?

"Throw the ball. Pleeeaaase!"
Many American dogs and cats struggle with their weight, probably because well-meaning owners don't want their pets to have to be hungry. It can be difficult to resist pleading eyes asking for another cookie or just a little more food. Unfortunately, being overweight can lead to a number of health problems both in humans and in pets.

To remedy the problem, make sure to always measure the amount of food you give your pets, and take any treats given during the day into account.

It's also a great idea to exercise together with your pet. Here are some ideas:

Playtime is a great opportunity for exercise and bonding. Playing ball or frisbee is fun for both dog and human.

Take your dog for an extra walk, or go a little further than usual. It might be really exciting for your dog to just go the other direction than you usually do. Regular walks are great both for dogs and people - walking gives a stronger heart, more energy, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of depression.

If you're more into jogging than walking, consider your dog breed. Some breeds love jogging, others are built for short distance sprints. Do five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down. If you're in a hot area, avoid jogging in the heat of the day, and stop if your dog shows any signs of not keeping up with you.

Dog dancing is another fun thing to try that will give both you and your four-footed friend some exercise. (Dog dancing does not mean having your dog standing up on the back legs and slow dancing with you.)The sport is also called musical freestyle, and you choreograph and train a dance routine with your dog to music.

Training for dog dancing will build a strong bond between you and your dog - and get you in shape as a bonus. Watch this video to get some ideas.


Swimming is another great workout, particularly good for dogs and people with arthritis. Swimming works many different groups of muscles, improves endurance, and improves both heart and lungs. Not all dogs like to swim, and some breeds aren't good at swimming, so make sure your dog is comfortable.

Do you exercise with your dog? What is your favorite type of exercise?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Bengal - a cat for you?

Many people are attracted to big cats, and their beauty, strength, and independence holds an irresistible allure. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and bobcats don't make good pets, but that hasn't stopped people from trying, and the Bengal was developed to create a cat with the wild look in a safe and domestic package. 

The first Bengals were bred in the 1960s, and come from small Asian Leopard Cats and domestic shorthairs. 

The typical Bengal is extremely intelligent, active, and curious, and these cats want a lot of interaction and attention. If you want a cat that spends most of the time sleeping, a Bengal is not the right choice.

Translated to dog people, a Bengal cat is like a Border Collie in cat shape - if not properly stimulated the Bengal will get bored, and they're quite able to open drawers and cabinets to see what's inside, or dismantle things to see how they work.

Bengals love to climb - the higher the better - and they love playing with water. Don't be surprised if your Bengal wants to join you in the shower. Unlike many other cat breeds, Bengals like to learn tricks and games, and enjoy puzzle games.

Each cat is an individual, but the average Bengal gets along fine with dogs. They are affectionate, energetic, and overall healthy.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher stems from the town of Apolda, Germany, and the breed was first created in the late 18th century. The creator, Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, served as tax collector and he needed a companion that had to be strong, fast, loyal, and intelligent.

To reach his goal, he bred many different kinds of dogs together including the Beauceron, Rottweiler, Greyhound, Great Dane, and the Weimaraner. The exact mix of dogs is unknown today.

The dogs are known for a their loyalty, intelligence, and high trainability. They are considered working dogs, and many serve as police dogs and military dogs. Their energetic, fearless, and obedient nature make them perfect for the job. They also make fantastic canine athletes.

These dogs have a short coat and only need minimal grooming. They do need plenty of exercise - they are considered very active and need something to do to stay healthy and happy.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dog Breed Spotlight: Great Pyrenees

The Great Pyrenees is a majestic, confident, and smart mountain dog with waterproof coat and immense calm. The breed is believed to have come to Europe from central Asia around 1,000 BC.

These dogs tend to work independently, and they might not always do what you tell them to do. They’re not amongst the most active of dogs, but they do need exercise to stay happy and healthy. They also need weekly brushing to keep the coat in good condition.

While these dogs are known for being calm and friendly, they are also very big. It is wise to enroll in puppy school and teach the dog good manners from a young age, just to make sure you’re walking the dog and not the other way around.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Signs you're becoming a dog person

Dogs have a way of changing our lives, sometimes in ways no one could anticipate. 

Here are 20 funny signs you might be turning into a dog person:

  1. Your home is littered with antlers, rawhide toys, squeaky toys, Kongs, stuffed animals, sticks, and ropes.
  2. You're getting used to sleeping on the very edge of the bed, and from time to time the dog almost pushes you down on the floor.
  3. Even if you wash your windows, the smudges reappear within minutes. You're considering giving in and just calling it nose art.
  4. When you walk around the neighborhood you know the names of all the dogs you meet - but you can't name one of your neighbors. 
  5. You bake things for your dog in the shape of bones or paws.
  6. Clothes, furniture, floors, and everything else are covered in hair - and it's okay.
  7. Your pockets, backpack, and purse all contain empty plastic bags. At least once in your life, you've pulled something out of your dog's butt that wouldn't come out on its own.
  8. You know the groomer's first name and might even have taken him or her out to coffee.
  9. Your dog has more expensive toys and a pricier bed than anyone else in the household.
  10. If someone mentions they have a dog, they're instantly attractive.
  11. If someone says they don't like dogs - or your dog doesn't like a person - you can't trust him or her.
  12. You love toll booth workers, drive throughs, and delivery men who acknowledge your dog and offer at treat.
  13. You're not too worried if the humans in a movie will survive, but might not even watch if there's a chance the dog will die.
  14. Seeing other dogs makes you squeal and want to run over to pet them.
  15. You think holidays with fireworks are awful.
  16. On your dog's birthday, you make a special cake, and you wrap Christmas presents for your pooch every year.
  17. On your birthday, you get dog related gifts like sweaters or mugs.
  18. Some words must always be spelled out, whether the dog is present or not. "I need to go O-U-T and W-A-L-K to the neighbors."
  19. If you have to leave for a conference or other reason, you miss your dog more than your family or friends.
  20. You avoid having people over, because the dogs get so dang excited and it's easier not to.
Bonus: You know nothing could ever be as special as your dog, and he or she knows all your secrets.

Are there some quirky things you do for your dogs? Did we miss anything on the list, or is there something you think is particularly crazy?

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dogs in the navy?

Venus the bulldog steering the HMS Vansittart. Image source:
Cats at sea might not come as a big surprise - they are excellent hunters and good at keeping pest populations at bay. Dogs have also been popular, and many four-legged marines have served in the United States sea services.

The dogs build morale and provide relief from the monotony of being at sea for months at a time. They have also served a practical function through warning for dangers, and leading patrols onto foreign shores.

On the image to the right, Venus, the naval mascot of British Destroyer Vansittart sets the course. The photo is from 1941.

In the US, the English Bulldog has been a mascot of the marines since the first world war. It was unofficial until 1922, when a dog named Jiggs got the official duty. 

Nowadays, the mascot is called Chesty. It is always a pure bred English bulldog. The name stays the same for generations, and a long line of Chestys have gotten their name from legendary Lt Gen Lewis B 'Chesty' Puller Jr who served in World War II and the Korean War. He is thus far the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses.

If you want to see more dogs at sea, the US Naval Institute has an excellent collection of old images here.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PlexiDor Electronic Pet Door for Security and Convenience

Whenever security and pet access control are priorities, the PlexiDor® Electronic pet door is the preferred choice of pet owners worldwide. The door is perfect for both dogs and cats. It is secure and dependable, durable and easy to use, and restricts access for pets without a key.

The door has a composite panel that slides up and down like a miniature garage door. When inactive, the panel acts as a security door.

Using state-of-the-art RFID technology, the sensor reads the pre-programmed code to automatically open and close only for pets equipped with a programmed collar key. Other animals have to stay outside!

The collar key is waterproof and weighs only 0.4 ounces. It snaps onto the pet’s collar. The door can be adjusted to control how long the panel stays open. The PlexiDor® electronic plugs into a standard household power outlet or can be hardwired. It is easy to program and even easier to use.

How it works

The PlexiDor® Electronic reads the collar key’s code and opens only for your pet. The panel unlocks when the key is within range, and slides up like a miniature garage door. If the door attempts to close when there’s something in the way, it will open again and sound an alarm. Your pet will not get stuck in the door!

PlexiDor® Electronic Pet Doors are covered by a five year limited warranty. Any defective part will be repaired or replaced without expense to the customer, including standard shipping charges, for five years from the purchase date. Local labor is not covered.

The door is available in white or bronze.

This door accomodates dogs up to 125 pounds and all cats.
Visit or call 800-749-9609 for more information!

PlexiDor Electronic pet door seen from the outside.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dog Breed Spotlight: Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is one of the most popular breeds in the USA and around the world. These dogs are intelligent, eager to please, and hard workers – a combination that makes them perfect guide dogs, assistance dogs, and search and rescue dogs.

Golden Retrievers stem from Scotland, where the breed was created as a hunting companion well suited for the climate and terrain. The breed as we know it today took shape in the late 1800s. They’re generally good at whatever they do, and take tasks seriously.

These dogs are active and energetic, and require daily exercise. Golden Retrievers have a joyful approach to life, and they love to be part of an active family that takes them hiking, jogging, and lets them play every day.

An average Golden Retriever weighs between 55 and 75 lbs, and needs a Large PlexiDor dog door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Shar-Pei

The Shar-Pei is a wrinkly dog with triangular ears and a blue-black tongue. There are only two breeds in the world with blue tongues: the Shar-Pei and the Chow-Chow. Both these breeds stem from China.

The origins of the Shar-Pei are unknown, but there are images on pottery in China from the Han Dynasty (206 BC) with strong resem- blances to the breed. The breed was originally kept as diverse farm dogs in the countryside, used for hunting, herding, and guarding. The dogs were bred for intelligence and strength. The unusual skin and coat stems back to this time too; the loose skin and prickly coat helped the dogs fend off wild animals.

The Shar-Pei is known for being calm, independent, and loyal. These dogs are devoted to their family, but can be reserved amongst strangers.

Puppies have many wrinkles, but the dogs “grow into” their skin as they mature, and adults generally only have wrinkles on the face, a few on their shoulders, and some at the base of the tail. The wrinkles need some extra care, make sure to keep the skin clean and dry.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Good to know for pet owners: Sago Palms are dangerous to dogs

Image from
Some things are evidently poisonous or dangerous, and it's easy to understand pets and people should stay away. Other things, equally lethal, don't exactly announce the danger.

Sago palms are common in gardens, and even indoors as potted plants. (They're not technically a palm, but look enough like one.)

Every part of this plant is poisonous, both to animals and humans. The seeds are considered the most toxic, but even the roots contain the poison cycasin.

To make things better, dogs allegedly love the taste and smell of them.

Sago Palm Seeds
Some common signs that a pet has eaten Sago Palm include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, coma, seizures, and lack of coordination. Untreated, the poison leads to liver damage, liver failure, and death.

If you believe that your pet has eaten parts of a sago palm, contact your vet immediately. As little as one seed can be deadly.

To read more about the Sago Palm, check out these pages:

The Sago Palm grows slowly, a feature that
makes it popular with landscape architects

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dog breeds of the world

It isn’t possible to put an exact number on the dog breeds of the world, because many varieities can be recognized by one breed registration group but not by another. The World Canine Organization is the largest internationally accepted registry of dog breeds, and they have more than 340 breeds.

Dog breeds aren’t scientifical classifications; they’re groupings based on similar characteristics of appearance and behavior. Some breeds have existed for thousands of years, and others are fairly new.

Many scientists believe the first dogs were domesticated around 16,000 years ago, but others claim evidence points as far back as 32,000 years. In the latter theory, modern dogs would be related to an ancient type of wolf that is the ancestor of both dogs and modern wolves.

When choosing a dog, the breed matters to a certain extent. Many people believe that dog breeds mostly have an impact on the outside of the dog, but through the ages breeds have been created based on wanted behaviors such as hunting and herding.

It is important to pick a dog that fits the family’s lifestyle. If you want a dog with a special look but the breed characterics seem difficult to handle you might want to look for a mixed breed dog.

Dogs are individuals, just like people, but being aware of a breed’s average energy level, exercise needs, or grooming needs can prevent future problems.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Never replace pet door flaps again!

When asked about pet doors, many pet owners mention the hassle of replacing flaps. Regular rubber or plastic flaps tend to break with wear and tear. Sunshine and other extreme weather can make the material brittle, and many dogs like to chew on them. 

If you recognize yourself in this experience, read on and learn how you'll get away from having to replace flaps in your pet door.

The PlexiDor dog doors and cat door are equipped with shatter resistant panels. The cat door has one small pane, and the dog doors have saloon style panes that open and close so easily that large and small pets can use the same door.

The panels open with a gentle push and close automatically through heavy-duty springs concealed in the frame. The panels close without banging, so they won't disturb the family or scare the pet.

Since the panels are made from a specially formulated shatter resistant thermo-pane hardened acrylic, they can withstand much more than a regular flap - and they keep weather outside. Each panel is surrounded by a high density nylon weather seal.

Many other pet doors are made from plastic, but the PlexiDor frame is made from anodized aluminum that won't rust, bend, crack, or warp. The frames come in silver, white, or bronze.

If you have any questions about the PlexiDor, don't hesitate to call customer service at 800-749-9609.  Or, visit the main website for more information.

If you have a pet door, do you consider replacing flaps a problem? How often do you replace them?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Groenendael

The Groenendael - or Belgian Sheepdog - is a working dog from Belgium. This breed is elegant, strong, intelligent, and easy to train.

The breed stems back to the 1800s and were originally used as herders, watchdogs, and companions. Their smarts and versatility soon made them popular outside the country of origin, and early on the Groenendaels served as police dogs in Paris and New York City, and they were famous for catching smugglers for Belgian customs.

Many other breeds declined during the world wars, but the Groenendael’s usefulness allowed them to thrive. During WWI they carried messages, served as ambulance dogs, and even pulled machine guns. During WWII they guarded military installations and watched for intruders.

In today’s world, not many need a herding dog, but the Groenendael still excels. Many work in search and rescue, as guide dogs, and as therapy dogs. They also do very well in dog sports such as obedience, agility, and tracking.

This is a high energy breed that likes to have a lot to do. They need exercise, but are able to relax in a home environment, and they’re known as devoted and gentle companions that do well with children.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Beagle

The Beagle is a sturdy hunting dog with cheerful personality. They are friendly, merry, enjoy the company of both humans and other dogs, and they make great family pets. They also have one of the best developed senses of smell of any dog.

Beagle-type dogs have existed for at least 2,000 years, but the modern breed comes from Great Britain where it was developed around 1830. They’re popular in film, TV, and comic books, and Snoopy is no doubt the most famous beagle.

This breed is easy to care for. They don’t drool, they don’t “smell like dog” and they shed little. Beagles are generally healthy and have an expected life span of 12-15 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fun comparisons between dogs and humans

Dogs and humans don't look particularly similar, but we still have a lot in common. We have many differences too, that go deeper than the fur. Here are some fun comparisons between dogs and humans.

  • A human has 20 milk teeth and 32 permanent teeth.
  • A puppy has 28 milk teeth, and most adult dogs have 42.

  • Most humans can't hear beyond 25 yards.
  • Dogs can hear sounds 250 yards away, and they have twice as many muscles for moving their ears as people do. 

  • Humans have a visual range of 180 degrees.
  • Dogs have a visual range of 250 degrees. On the other hand, we have a larger range with clear focus, and less peripheral vision.

  • A normal breathing rate for an adult is 8 to 16 breaths per minute.
  • Dogs take between 10 and 30 breaths per minute.

  • Most humans' hearts beat 70 to 80 times a minute.
  • A dog's heart beats between 70 and 120 

  • Humans cool off by sweating.
  • Dogs cool off by panting, and through the pads of their feet.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tips for dog training

There are many great TV-shows, magazines with dog training tips, blogs, and Facebook posts helping dog owners on the way to well behaved dogs. It's still easy to miss the basics, because we forget that dogs are dogs. 

Here are three good dog training tips that can help you and your best friend achieve whatever it is you want him or her to do.

1. Tell your dog what you want them to do

This sounds like a no-brainer. If I want the dog to sit, I say sit, right! The problem usually starts when the dog does something we don't want. It's easy to say "no," but that doesn't convey what you want your dog to do.

For example, if your dog jumps on someone and you say "no" or "don't jump," it's clear to most humans that it means "do something that's not jumping." A dog doesn't get that. They might try jumping higher, or to the right instead of to the left. In this example, telling the dog to "sit" would give a much better result.

Another example, if your dog is begging for something you're eating and you say "no" or "don't beg" a human would know it means, "Go do something that's not begging for my food." The dog might try begging from the other side or pawing at you. Telling the dog to go lie down can give a much better result.

2. Be consistent

Everyone in the family needs to use the same rules and commands. This is more difficult than it seems. If one family member opens the door when the dog jumps on it and another family member refuses to open until the dog sits, best case scenario the dog will figure out what works with each person. If one family member allows the dog on the sofa, another says, "no" and the third says "down" the dog will be confused.

It is also important to be realistic. It takes time to change a behavior. It's never too late to re-learn, but it might take some time, especially when it comes to things that are natural for dogs to do, such as barking, jumping, and digging.

3. You will get what you reinforce

A philosophy of "do as I say, not as I do" will not work on a dog. If your pooch keeps doing something you don't like, you might have reinforced the behavior without meaning to. For example, if a dog gets scared of something and you comfort them, the perception of the situation being unusual and scary is reinforced. Another good example is when a dog brings you a toy and barks to make you throw it. If you give in, the dog will know that barking is a great way to get play time. The next time when you say no the dog might try barking more, and if you throw the toy again they'll know persistence in barking pays off.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Car safety for pets

Many dogs love to go for a ride in the car, but cats usually aren't as impressed. Whether they like it or not, it's sometimes necessary. Here are some tips on keeping your pets safe in the car.

To keep your pets safe, let's start with some common mistakes that can prove fatal:

  • Keep pets out of the front seat. If something happens and an airbag deploys - even with your pet in a crate - it can cause injury.
  • Don't let pets stick their head out the window. Sure, dogs love to stick their head out the window of a moving car, but debris and gravel can hit them and cause severe injury. Remember the tiny rock that made a big dent on your windshield? Imagine that hitting your dog's face.
  • Never transport your pet on the bed of an open pickup truck.

There is a lot of debate whether pet safety harnesses for cars work or not. There are dog restraints and seat belts that definitely keep your dog from roaming around and distracting the driver, but they haven't been proven to protect dogs in a crash.

The safest way for your dog to travel is in a crate anchored by a seatbelt or similar.

When it comes to cats, they should definitely travel in a carrier. Keep the carrier in the back seat and secure it with a seat belt.

If you're going further than a spin around town, take plenty of rest stops, and if possible, bring a human buddy to keep an eye on your furry friend. That way you can run in to use a restroom or buy a snack without having to worry.

There are many dangers involved with leaving pets in cars, such as temperature and the risk of theft. Every year, cats, dogs, and even children are stolen from cars, sometimes along with the vehicle.

Speaking of temperature, even if it's just 72 F outside, the temperature inside your car can reach over 110 F in less than an hour. If it is 85 F outside, the temperature inside passes 100 F in less than 10 minutes. Most pets handle cold better than heat, but that can be dangerous too.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, July 6, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Siberian Husky

The Siberian Husky is an energetic working breed that originated in north-eastern Siberia. They are clever and good with children, but require a lot of exercise and get bored quickly. Left to their own devices without anything to do, Huskies tend to make something up to entertain them.

These dogs are active and resilient, and were originally bred to pull heavy loads over long distances in a harsh and cold climate. Huskies like to run, jump, and dig, and they need exercise every day.

The first Huskies come to North America were imported as sled dogs, but rapidly gained popularity as pets. They have a thicker coat than most breeds, and this serves them both in summer and in winter as the coat protects against arctic cold as well as reflects heat in the summer.

Siberian Huskies are pack dogs. That means they love being part of a family. They generally get along well with other dogs and they’re gentle with children, but they don’t like to be left alone.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy the holiday!

This is a holiday big on fireworks, and while you're celebrating, keep your pets in mind. They don't associate the noise and bright flashes with something fun and happy; most pets are terrified of fireworks.

This is the day of the year when the most pets are lost all around the country. Even normally calm cats and dogs can panic and run in an attempt to reach safety.

Keep your pets inside, even if they're used to being outside. Don't underestimate a frightened pet's ability to flee; they can suddenly scale high fences, or bolt through a small opening in a door or a window.

Make sure they have ID-badges on their collars, and that they're microchipped. Naturally, don't leave them in the car. If you go to see a fireworks display, leave them at home.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fun coloring pages and activities for dog-loving children

Need something fun for the kids for the holiday? Here are some fun coloring pages and activities, courtesy of Craft Diva Stacey. Nothing for the dogs today, but pictures of dogs. :-)

To download the pages to your computer, right-click and save as.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Dogs and toys

Toys are important to modern day dogs, especially to those who are home alone and spend their days waiting for their humans to return home. Toys can provide comfort, keep your dog from being bored, and prevent behavioral problems.

It is important to pick toys appropriate for the dog's size and energy level - a toy being available in a pet store doesn't mean it's suitable for all dogs. A calm small dog has completely different requirements than an energetic large dog. Toys that are too small can be dangerous too - they might be swallowed, or choke the dog. Use common sense.

To be on the safe side, remove all strings, ribbons, eyes, and other parts that can be chewed off and swallowed. Also look over your dog's toys from time to time - many toys are great when they're new, but should be tossed out when they're getting worn. Rope toys, for instance, are great until the dog gets the knots open. After that they become a dangerous pile of string.

Soft toys made for children should not be used by pets. The filling can be very dangerous, and has even killed dogs. Not even pet-safe fillings are made to be eaten.

Many dogs who spend most of the day alone like to have a comfort toy, like a piece of dirty laundry that smells of you. It can be an old T-shirt, a blanket, or a towel. Pick something sturdy and be prepared for it being destroyed by excessive bedding, sniffing, and carrying.

If your dog tires of toys quickly, try rotating them on a weekly basis. You can make kits with a variety of toys and change them once a week - this makes old toys like new. Some toys can be refreshed too. Antlers, for example, are pretty expensive, and many dogs tire of them after a week. Try soaking the antlers in some chicken broth - it will make them interesting again.

The most important thing to your dog is having some of your time and attention. Take some time to toss a ball or a frisbee, or play hide-and-seek. Hiding small treats and teaching your dog to seek them can be fun for both, and helps your dog use both mind and nose.

What's your dog's favorite toy?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Pets are good for humans' health

Pets are great company and become a part of the family, but our animal friends have even more benefits. Here is a list with five important bonuses for human health.

Pets make us move more

The average dog owner moves more than the average person without a dog. Daily walks or other forms of exercising with a dog helps us stay in shape and staves off a number of health problems.

Pets reduce stress

Pets know when we need them, and they're always there for us. If anyone doubts the benefit, consider the large number of therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. Pets even help people cope with severe problems such as post traumatic stress disorder. Pet owners are known to adapt better to stressful situations than people without pets.

Pets give strong and healthy hearts

Cats, dogs, and other pets help improve heart health. The American Heart Association reports that pets help reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases. They also help lower cholesterol.

Pets protect against allergies

This might sound counter-intuitive since many people are allergic to cats and dogs. However, children being exposed to pet dander early in life develop a protection against future allergies. A child under the age of one who is exposed to two or more cats or dogs has a significantly less risk of developing allergies as they grow up.

Pets help us make friends

Walking with a dog leads to more conversations with other people, which in turn battles loneliness and isolation. Young adults with pets are more connected to their communities and relationships. Older persons with pets have more vivid social lives.

Besides being great company, what do you think is the biggest benefit of your pet?

~ Maria Sadowski ~