Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Summer Heat And Health Hazards For PetsThe dog days of summer provide lots of opportunities for fun with your dog (camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking and backpacking, to name a few) but also bring a unique set of health hazards and risks pet owners should be aware of; including, but not limited to: dehydration, burned pads, parasite infestation, heat stroke, leptospirosis, and seasonal allergies.
One of the best ways to keep your dog safe in the summer time is by providing lots of cool, clean, fresh water. Consider preparing low sodium chicken broth or yogurt ice cubes, and introducing canned dog foods (best when frozen in a Kong!) to increase the moisture content in your dog's diet.
Under the summer sun, asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature which can burn a dog's paws. To avoid scorched paws, walk your dog very early in the morning or in the late evening when the streets have cooled off. If you must walk your dog during the day, dog booties can protect his feet. Always put your hand down on the asphalt for about thirty seconds - if you must pull your hand away because the street is too hot, it is too hot for your dog to walk on without hurting his paws. If you don't want your hand on the street for thirty seconds, your dog probably does not want his paws on it for thirty or more minutes of walking.
Summer is the season for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes; pests which can prevent at a minimum minor discomfort to your dog and at worst may be life threatening or cause self-mutilating behaviors. Feeding your dog a high quality diet, without preservatives, chemicals, or large amounts of unnecessary grains will build his immune system, making him generally more resistant to parasite infestation. There are a wide variety of preventatives on the market, including chemical spot on treatments, repellent shampoos, essential oils, and flea/tick collars; talk to your vet to see what she recommends for your dog. Cleaning your house frequently and keeping your dog well groomed will also reduce the risk of parasite infestation.
Heat stroke is a serious risk to dog's health which can be fatal. You can prevent heat stroke by restricting his exercise during the hottest hours of the day (early morning or late evening are the best times for exercise during the summer), by making sure he is well hydrated, providing air conditioned places for him to relax, providing opportunities to swim, cooling mats, and by never leaving your dog unattended in the car during summer heat.
Many dogs die annually in hot cars. Even if your windows are cracked or you park in the shade, heat can build quickly in a car in the summer, turning your car into an oven. Here is a great chart illustrating how quickly cars can heat up on summer days, even with cracked windows. If it's 95 degrees at noon and you leave your windows cracked, the temperature in your car may still rise as high as 113 degrees. This is a recipe for disaster for your dog. If you must leave your dog in the car for any period of time, the air conditioning should stay on. Leaving a dog to die in a hot car is not just a health risk for your dog, but may be cause for animal cruelty charges in some area. The solution? Don't leave your dog in a hot car.
Leptospirosis is contracted through bodily fluids or tissue and can be caught transmitted through direct (as in the case of a bite or ingestion of flesh) or indirect contact (through water sources, food, etc.) with an infected animal. Stagnant waters are a common source of leptospirosis bacteria. Lepto can cause permanent health problems or death if not treated quickly. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, trembling/shaking, lethargy, anorexia, tenderness of joints and muscles, and increased water intake. If you suspect your dog has lepto, get him to a vet right away, an emergency vet if need be.
There are vaccines for lepto but they do not prevent all strains and can cause significant adverse reactions. Talk to your vet about weighing the risk of infection with the risks associated with the lepto vaccine.
Your dog may be allergic to one or more seasonal allergies, which include fleas, grass and various plants, and mold allergies. If you suspect your dog may have seasonal allergies, is very itchy and perhaps losing fur, a visit to your vet is recommended. Here is a great website where you can learn more about the various kinds of allergies affecting dogs and treatments for canine allergies in any season.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Small Sassy Charmer
By Christine Adkins | Big StockNo, it's not a rat, nor a toy - it's a dog, a real dog, with teeth and attitude. Tiny in size but large in spirit, the Chihuahua is one of those highly evolved breeds that has managed to convince most humans that it should be carried around everywhere. Of course for a Chihuahua simply walking down a sidewalk or hanging out in the kitchen can be a risky business. At less than six pounds, a little buddy subjected to a careless misstep by a human can be badly injured. However most Chihuahuas are very affectionate anyhow and prefer cuddling close to their humans.
The Chihuahua is an old breed with an obscure history. Most believe that it originated in Mexico with the Mayans, Toltecs and Aztecs, but other less favoured theories suggest Egypt, Malta, or even China. Certainly the indigenous people of Central America kept small dogs that the rich seemed to revere enough to want buried alongside themselves after death. The dogs were apparently ritually sacrificed after their masters died, under the belief that the sins of the master were then transferred to the dog, ensuring safe passage of the (human) soul to its final resting spot.
The poor also revered these dogs but tended to appreciate them while still lively enough to eat. Following his arrival on the shores of Mexico in 1517, Hernando Cortes found enormous markets with "daily more than sixty thousand souls buying and selling," where all kinds of animals were to be found for sale, including birds, "rabbits, hares, venison, and small dogs which they castrate for the table." Some vendors even specialized in the breeding and trafficking of dogs, and certain types were considered more delectable than others.
The Spaniards who conquered the great Aztec societies likely had smallish dogs on their ships as ratters, and these may or may not have interbred with the native dogs.
Much of the early evidence of the possible Chihuahuan ancestry in the New World is inferred from old manuscripts translated from Spanish, from clay figurines, or from other archaeological artifacts on which dogs were engraved. A key to interpreting skeletal evidence is the presence or absence of something called a molera, which is a soft spot on the top of the head similar to the one found on newborn babies.
Among modern-day breeds it is considered unique to Chihuahuas (though it is not found on all individuals). The molera, if present, can be felt by gently stroking the top of the head.
What is known is that in the mid-1800s, American visitors to Mexico became enthralled with a certain tiny type of dog they found living with the peasants there. The name "Chihuahua" is derived from one of the northern Mexican states from which some of these dogs were obtained. Brought to the United States, the little fellows gradually gained popularity as pets. They began to be exhibited at dog shows, and in 1904 the American Kennel Club (AKC) granted them recognition as a breed.
While small, in modern Chihuahua is a compact, solidly built dog that gives a general impression of alertness and balance. It has a round, apple-like skull with low-set, flaring ears and a moderately short muzzle that should emerge from the skull at a 90-degree angle (i.e., there should be plenty of stop.) The eyes should be wide-set, large and round but not protruding.
There are two coat varieties, smooth and long, and both shed. Smooth coats may or may not have an undercoat; long coats may be either flat or curly and usually have an undercoat. Often with long coats there is fringing on the ears and feathering on the legs. All colour and patterns are acceptable in both coat types.
Dogs heavier than six pounds are considered outside the AKC breed standard but otherwise there are no restrictions on size. There are also no official sub-groupings within the breed (i.e., while some individuals may be especially tiny, there is no "Miniature Chihuahua").
The temperament of the Chihuahua is described as terrier-like. These are spirited, curious, confident dogs, feisty and brave. Many seem to come into the dog park thinking they're the biggest studs in town. What can be comical is that a much larger dog will often back down from a charging Chihuahua - though from fear or sheer disbelief is not clear. Chihuahuas are excellent watchdogs, loyal and quick to defend their homes and families; however this brave temperament can be a liability in a city where predators like coyotes are common, as the little dogs can easily be snatched and borne away (as can cats who have learned to stand their ground against dogs).
Playful, intelligent and deeply affectionate, Chihuahuas like little more than to cuddle with their humans. They tend to be excellent apartment-dwellers, as they can get much of the exercise they need indoors and often seem to prefer the comforts of home to the great outdoors. (Concrete? No thanks. Up! Up!) Forget "couch potato" - these are lap potatoes. But it is more than a simple matter of a comfort-loving temperament. Keeping Chihuahuas, especially those with single coats, warm in cold or wet weather is something that needs to be taken seriously. All else being equal, small dogs have a lower tolerance for cold than large ones through the basic geometric fact of their body surface (heat=radiating area) being large relative to their volume (furnace power). Raincoats are sweaters are well worth considering.
Chihuahuas do like their food, and it is easy to overfeed them since they are so small. A single piece of kibble is relatively big to a six-pound dog, and treats designed for Labrador-sized beasts are veritable banquets. It is always kinder to keep a dog's weight down to its proper level and particular care must be taken with the tiny breeds.
If Chihuahuas have a negative reputation, it is often that they seem "snappy," "yappy" or "sharp." In part this is probably due to their strong attachment to their humans (they are not particularly drawn to strangers) and the fact that everything else in the world is so big. It can also be a result of poor breeding. However a large factor in the behaviour of any dog derives from the attitudes of its human caregivers. With a dog that can be carried around like a baby and whose bite is a joke (though from personal experience, a Chihuahua bite is not always funny), owners are often overindulgent and can lack a sense of the need for training. A Rottweiler must be trained. A badly behaved or poorly socialized Chihuahua, on the other hand, is unlikely to get an owner into much trouble.
But underneath it all, a Chihuahua is not really all that different from other dogs - and is happier with consistent training, fair guidelines and discipline, and a clear sense of who is alpha in the household. (And it's not the dog.) Chihuahuas are extremely trainable dogs, capable of learning all kinds of cute tricks, but at the minimum they will give their owners much greater pleasure if taught basic manners as all dogs should be. If not, Chihuahua owners will likely find themselves being trained by their clever companions instead.
The Chihuahua is a great city dog and a fine little buddy. Contrary to the beliefs of many, it is a true dog if treated as such, and will reward a loving human family with great charm, loyalty and affection. Tiny breeds have special needs (for example, they cannot be left outdoors) but are easier to keep in countless ways. If your lifestyle suits a Chihuahua, a Chihuahua may suit you. But be prepared to buy new colour coordinated clothing as he will probably want to be in your arms a lot.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Hotel Indigo offers a Canine Cocktail Hour every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the summer. Featuring fun snacks for pets and owners, your pup can have a quick bite to eat while you sip on a signature Indigo martini.
Hotel Palomar features the Very Important Pet package, which includes a personalized greeting and collar tag, plus treats, a bed and bowl in the room. The Palomar also offers grooming, pet-sitting and relaxing Atlanta dog spa services.
For a third pet-friendly Atlanta hotel option, visit the Loews Hotel. The Loews Loves Pets policy includes a personalized gift bag for your dog or cat upon arrival. Additionally, owners have access to a pets-only room service menu, area pet services and Atlanta pet supplies.
When your travels take you away from home treat your furry friend to greendog™ - Atlanta's first eco-friendly pet retreat. On the greendog™ "Urban Farm" pets are treated to organic foods and soaps, green cleaners and lots of attention. The personal eco-den features plush lounging areas, individual privacy gates and a large playspace. In addition to boarding, the eco- and pet-friendly greendog™ also offers daycare and grooming services.
If your pet likes to get out and about, Atlanta offers plenty of tail-wagging activities. For the baseball fans, the Atlanta Braves host Bark in the Park at Turner Field. Featuring tons of splash pools and room to run, the Braves Coca-Cola Sky Field is turned into a pet playground.
Atlanta dog parks are the best places for your pooch to mix and mingle. The newly renovated Piedmont Dog Park offers three acres of in-town, leash-free running trails and green space. Your four-legged friend can follow Petey the Piedmont Pup on Twitter for daily updates and latest happenings.
Looking for a top-notch Atlanta pet store? Two must-visit Atlanta dog boutiques for any pampered pet are found in Buckhead and Virginia-Highland. CityDog Market offers state-of-the-art supplies for DIY grooming including elevated stainless tubs and pH-balanced soaps, as well as eco-friendly toys. The Virginia-Highland pet supply store Glamour Paws is a full-service pet spa which uses organic grooming products and offers a la carte services to keep your pet looking their best.
Neighborhood shop owners love your pets, too! Take your furry friend for a stroll around Virginia-Highland or Decatur, where shops leave water bowls by their doors and many owners will keep a box of treats handy for the cutest customers.
Monday, April 25, 2011
The Simple Life: Camping—The Ultimate Dog-Friendly Vacation
Camping is the original dog-friendly vacation. Unlike hotels and busy sightseeing jaunts, the great outdoors always provides respite for people who want to get away and bring the dog as well. Camping is also inexpensive, relatively close to home, and with a little planning can be pulled off without a hitch. Most owners used to traveling with their dogs are already hard-wired for the sort of preparations needed to jump into the wild. But there are some extra precautions one should take before letting Lucy off the leash.
First, make sure you can let Lucy off the leash. Some campers are shocked to discover that the dog-friendly campground they found online doesn’t allow their 15-year-old Golden Retriever off-leash, ever. It doesn’t matter if he’s a CGC-toting therapy dog or Cujo’s succubus — all dogs must be on leash at all times. If you planned on letting your dog leap off the docks into the lake, chase balls on a beach or sprawl in front of the campfire, you may end up with a pouting Les Miserables extra on a time out. So call ahead and make sure the park or property’s idea of camping with dogs matches your own.
Second, be aware that while some parks and campgrounds may not mention any prerequisites for canine reservations on their land, they may make certain demands when you show up. Make sure you have proof of rabies vaccination (vet documentation, not just tags) and any other paperwork that proves your animals are sound. Some parks demand it and will turn you away without it.
Third, keep in mind that even though you are staying in the wilderness for a few days, certain civilities still apply. When it comes to cleaning up after your dog, a good rule to follow is the public bathroom rule: If you are expected to use a toilet, then your dog is expected to have a plastic bag. If there hasn’t been a bathroom in sight for three days on a backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail, the Ziplocs can probably stay in your pack.
Most of all, enjoy this time with your dog. You may not realize it in your nature-loving haze, but by choosing to camp you’re giving your dog the gift of you. He can be around you all day—hitting the trails or cooking dinner back at HQ. The constant quality time, undistracted by cell phones and Facebook, will be savored by your companion. I have a hunch it will be savored by you as well. A little escape is good for the soul and great for your dog. After all, nothing comes between you and that tennis ball now.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Happy Easter to all the pups out there!
Fido's Fondness For Chocolate: A Deadly Passion
Easter baskets full of chocolate are for kids, not dogs.
Baskets of chocolate bunnies, chicks and eggs are here. Happy Easter!
Enjoy the treats, but beware pooches with sweet-toothes.
Simply put, chocolate can be poisonous to dogs: It contains caffeine and theobromine, which are deadly to canines.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate are said to be beneficial to humans, but due to the high theobromine content it is even more lethal to dogs than milk chocolate.
Dogs that ingest chocolate may vomit, urinate excessively and have diarrhea, leading to dehydration.
Once the theobromine is absorbed by the canine’s system, it stimulates the central nervous system and can cause rapid heartbeats and hypertension.
A poisoned dog could also have seizures and tremors. These affects vary depending on the size of the dog and the amount of chocolate ingested.
If your dog does get into an Easter basket, contact your vet immediately. Without veterinary attention, chocolate poisoning can lead to death.
So go ahead and enjoy your basket of delights this Easter, but don’t be tempted to give in to Fido’s begging.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Healthy snacks for your dog
By Laura Scott and Elizabeth Pask
1. Herring. Cooked herring is a wonderful source of essential fatty acids (EFA). EFAs can be beneficial in skin and coat condition and they are thought to be beneficial for arthritic pets.
2. Squash. Cooked or raw, spaghetti squash is a fun vegetable that is very high in beta carotene, which is beneficial for eyesight.
3. Pasta. Plain, cooked noodles like penne or tortellini make a great treat. Cook a bit extra next time you’re making pasta for yourself and freeze it. Your dog will probably love it straight from the freezer. If your dog does not have a wheat allergy, pasta can be a great special treat.
4. Peppermint. Peppermint extract or plant leaves can be included in dog cookies. It is a strong-smelling herb so a little bit can go a long way. Peppermint has long been thought to be beneficial in treating stomach problems.
5. Chicken broth. Low-sodium, home-made chicken broth can be a great treat to add to your dog’s regular meal, or can be mixed with kibble and frozen in a Kong to provide a long-lasting treat.
6. Cinnamon. Initial studies have indicated that cinnamon may have anti-cancer and
anti-bacterial benefits. Cinnamon can be included in dog cookies.
anti-bacterial benefits. Cinnamon can be included in dog cookies.
7. Pomegranate. High in antioxidants and vitamin C, pomegranate can be fed as a juice or as the whole fruit.
8. Cheese. A favourite of most dogs, cheese is an excellent source of calcium and protein.
9. Tuna. Next time you make a tuna sandwich, save a little for your dog, add the water (not oil) to his regular meal, or add the tuna juice to your next batch of dog cookies and make tuna snaps.
10. Barley grass. Barley grass is high in antioxidants and can be a treat for dogs when
lawns are covered by snow. Barley grass is marketed as “cat grass” in many pet stores.
lawns are covered by snow. Barley grass is marketed as “cat grass” in many pet stores.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
From court to couch
By Marian Buechert | Photograph Deborah SamuelThere is nothing stuck-up about the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Despite being named after a king and boasting one of the most unquestionably uppercrust pedigrees of any breed, the Cavalier is far too full of affection for everyone to stand on formality. Indeed, should you attempt to follow courtly protocol and sweep one a deep and respectful bow, you would swiftly find yourself with a faceful of friendly spaniel licking your cheek and begging for a undignified romp on the floor.
Perhaps this is the secret behind the long love affair between the Cavalier and the British monarchs. Surrounded by propriety and stiff etiquette, sycophants and servants, the royals must have delighted in the unassuming and unrehearsed antics of their little spaniels. Who could doubt the honesty of a gaily wagging plumed tail or glance of pure love from those soulful Cavalier eyes? The many celebrities of today who cherish their Cavaliers may feel the same way. Certainly, the list of the breed’s adherents is impressive: Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra, Princess Margaret, Diane Sawyer, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Amanda Bynes, Liv Tyler, and Courtney Cox all had or have one, and the TV blockbuster Sex and the City featured a Cavalier named Elizabeth Taylor as the canine sidekick of character Charlotte York.
Small companion spaniels closely resembling the Cavalier appear in artworks dating back hundreds of years. Titian featured them in several of his works, including Venus of Urbino (1538) and Clarice Strozzi (1542). In England, they modeled for Landseer, Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Van Dyck, appearing in many portraits of the wealthy and blue-blooded. At least three Stuart kings owned the breed, most notably Charles II, who was almost never seen without one or more of them at his side. The long-nosed spaniels fell out of favour under William and Mary, when flat-faced breeds resembling the rulers’ Pug dogs were fashionable, and breeders began producing toy spaniels with flat faces. Confusingly, these were called King Charles Spaniels, a breed that still exists today in Britain (in the US, they are called English Toy Spaniels).
In the 19th century, however, Queen Victoria’s favourite pet during the early part of her reign was a small, long-faced spaniel named Dash. The young queen loved to bathe and dress up her adored Dash, and upon his death, she wrote the following epitaph for him:
Here lies Dash, the Favourite Spaniel of Queen Victoria
His attachment was without selfishness,
His playfulness without malice,
His fidelity without deceit.
Reader, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of Dash.
Perhaps because of Victoria’s patronage, spaniels like Dash survived the much higher popularity of their dome-headed, shortfaced cousins and finally achieved British Kennel Club recognition in the 1940’s, when they were christened Cavalier King Charles Spaniels to distinguish them from the previously recognized King Charles Spaniel. The breed now ranks 23th in popularity in the US and will likely keep climbing as the demand for compact, friendly, adaptable dogs continues to grow.
Undoubtedly, the Cavalier excels on all these accounts. At 12 to 13 inches in height, she can be tucked into a carrier or under an arm, yet she is not fragile or dainty. Whether greeting family or a stranger, the essence of her personality is “Hello! I love you!” and as long as she is near people, she is a happy soul. In her book, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (Kennel Club Books; 2004), Juliette Cunliffe writes: “The amenable Cavalier…will adapt readily to a regular short walk around the block, a longer walk with a free romp in the park, or merely a good energetic game with a ball in your backyard. At other times of day, the Cavalier will be quite content to join his owner watching the TV, curled up on the sofa.” The breed sports a silky, medium-length coat in either black and tan, “ruby” (a solid, rich red), tricolour (black and white with tan markings), or red and white. This last pattern is called “Blenheim” after the ancestral home of the dukes of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, where the red and white Cavalier was particularly prized.
While the Cavalier is a charming and mostly low-maintenance pet, the breed has its share of health challenges, including high incidences of heart and hip problems. Syringomyelia, a painful neurological disorder, is common in Cavaliers, as is “flycatcher’s syndrome,” which leads to obsessive/compulsive behaviours such as snapping at imaginary flies or tail-chasing.
The website cavalierhealth.org provides extensive information on these and other health issues; anyone planning to buy a Cavalier should browse the site and question prospective breeders about their health policies and breeding practices. Today, the Cavalier may find repose upon a cozy couch rather than on the silken cushions of her courtly past. But one thing has not changed. As Queen Victoria wrote of her own darling Dash, these sweet-natured spaniels still “live beloved,” reigning supreme over the hearts of everyone from seniors to “sex and the city” girls.