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Archive for May, 2011

Summer Lovin’ And Your Pooch

May 30, 2011

photoSummer has arrived, and that means plenty of fun in the sun with your dog. However, the heat of the day can be harmful to your pet’s health. Since dogs have a higher internal temperature than humans, they can get hot really fast. So while you would love to do some summer outdoor activities together with your dog, it’s important to remember to protect him from the heat. Not being careful can lead to heat exhaustion for your canine companion.

So what are some of the things you can do to keep your dog safe during the summer?

Never in the car

For starters, never leave your dog in your car. More dogs have died of heat exhaustion in parked vehicles than from any other situation. Cars can get extremely hot in a short amount of time, so leave your pooch at home instead.

Of course, you will still have to take your dog out to exercise, but pick cooler times of the day to do so. People love running with their pets and usually think that canines have no difficulty dealing with the heat, which is completely untrue. Decrease the risk of heat exhaustion by running during the cooler times of the morning or evening. Avoid hot pavements as well as they can burn your dog’s paw pads.

No chaining

Always bring water and a collapsible water bowl on walks and hikes to keep your dog hydrated. You can also wrap a wet bandanna or cool pad around his neck before going outside to help him stay cooler and prevent heat exhaustion. If you’re going to be out in the sun with your dog, apply sunscreen to his nose. Since this part of the body is not protected by hair, it is very vulnerable to sunburn.

Another way to keep heat exhaustion at bay is to brush your pet on a regular basis, especially if he has a thick coat. Also, when the temperature peaks, keep your dog in a cool and safe place. Give him lots of water, and see to it that there is always a fresh supply at home which he can easily access.

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Memorial Day For Man’s Best Friend

May 27, 2011

Did you know that thousands of dogs have served alongside our country’s military forces for many, many years? The United States began training canines for combat not long after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Dogs for Defense, a civilian volunteer group which was later officially recognized by the military, established a reception and training center in Fort Royal, Virginia.

Red Cross dogs

photoOver ten thousand dogs from the US and thousands more Red Cross dogs from different nations were in action during World War II. Dogs in battle continued to serve through the Vietnam War, and at the end of the conflict, our military left in Vietnam about 2,800 of the 3,000 canines that served.

Prior to being deployed overseas, dogs were stationed in army camps and underwent an intensive 12-week training period, often as patrol and sentry “soldiers”. It has been found that the best breeds for war dogs are German shepherds, Belgian shepherds, Airedales, Rottweilers, Dobermans, giant schnauzers, and collies.

Dogs have been used in battles since the beginning of time, with Assyrian temple carvings showing great dogs in combat. Canines were also present at fights in the Middle Ages as well as the Siege of Corinth.

In modern times, France trained dogs to search for injured men during World War I, and soon other countries followed suit. The British used dogs as messengers while the Italians had them deliver food to mountainous areas. By 1915, the Germans’ 6,000 dogs had rescued over 4,000 wounded men. Between 1914 and 1918, more than 7,000 canines were killed in action.

Deployed dogs

Currently, there are dogs serving in the War in Iraq, with several in the Gulf assisting American and British soldiers. Most are guard dogs that help protect the British military, though they may also be used to guard Iraqi prisoners of war. Other canines are tasked to look for bombs and weapons.

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Your Dog Has Allergies, Too

May 25, 2011

Is your dog itching? It could be allergies. But what’s causing it? There are several possibilities, but once you know the cause, you can take action to give your pooch some relief.

Year-round canine allergies

photoFood. Food allergies are actually rare in dogs, with only about 15 percent of canines being allergic to food. A dog may be sensitive to a protein source in his food or the protein of grains like wheat, soy, or corn. Try feeding your pet food with a different grain content or protein source for six weeks and see if there’s any improvement.

Mold. If you live in a humid place or if your kitchen and bathroom are unventilated, mold spores could be the culprit. Where moisture is present, so is mold. To prevent mold from growing, decrease the humidity in your house by turning on the air conditioner on a regular basis, repairing any leaks, running the exhaust fan after showering, and using the one over the stove when cooking.

Other animals. Male and long-haired cats produce more of the allergen FelD1 than female and short-haired felines. This protein is present in cat saliva and their anal sacs. Cat allergen, which sticks to walls and furniture, stays active for at least 10 years. The best solution is to bathe your cats regularly.

People. Just like cats, humans put out allergen. It can be found in our skin, which flakes off all the time. Your dog may be allergic to you or another family member. The remedy for this is allergy shots.

Other dogs. Dogs that spend plenty of time outdoors can carry pollen on their fur. A shake is all it takes for it to spread around the house. Again, keep everybody clean.

Seasonal canine allergies

Seasonal allergies are the most common cause of dog itching and scratching. A scratch test at your vet’s clinic, which normally costs a few hundred dollars, is the best way to figure out what’s behind your dog’s seasonal allergies. You can also ask yourself what you’re allergic to. For some reason, people and pets are usually allergic to the same things.

Otherwise, you can do some detective work by watching your local TV news’ weather segment. An allergy report will tell you which pollens or mold are a problem that day. Track the daily pollen count and observe when your dog is scratching to get a good idea of what’s to blame for the allergy.

In general, the earliest spring pollens come from trees, followed by grass pollen. Flower pollen and large pollen are typically not an issue, but insects are a seasonal problem as well.

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Dogs As Members Of The Family

May 23, 2011

photoDoes your pooch receive holiday and birthday gifts from you, sleep in the bed with you, have health insurance, and appear in family portraits? Millions of Americans treat their dogs as part of the family, pampering them with homemade treats, dressing them up on special occasions, and bringing them along on family vacations.

Canines definitely have a lot to offer to the family unit. They can play the roles of companion, child, sibling, helper, and protector. We love them because they are never too busy to share a moment, whether happy or sad, with us.

According to a survey done by the American Veterinary Medical Association, 63 percent of homes in the U.S. include pets. We don’t mind spending our dollars on specialized foods, squeaky toys, comfortable beds, and even pet insurance policies to ensure our dogs lead happy and healthy lives.

Dogs as siblings

Many believe that dogs play an important role in the lives of children, especially those who come from broken family environments. Whether it’s through sharing a bag of popcorn or playing a few rounds of fetch together, dogs help fill in the lonely spaces for children. Kids draw significant emotional support from canines, and research even suggests that children with dogs have higher development scores. A lot of kids go to their dogs when they have problems about family, friends, or school because they know their pets will love them unconditionally.

Dogs as children

Young couples who have yet to start a family and elderly couples whose human kids have left home often treat their dogs like children. Because dogs are innocent, dependent, and never grow up, they make wonderful kids. Several dog owners spoil their pets by providing them with gourmet treats and throwing birthday parties for them, among others.

Dogs as companions

Loving and being loved is essential in our lives. That love can come from a human or a canine. Dogs make us feel needed, accepted, and loved, through easy and difficult times alike. That’s what family is all about, and we treat our dogs like family because they treated us like family first.

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How to Behave Around an Assistance Dog

May 20, 2011

A service animal is a dog or other animal trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability. Disabled individuals have the right to be accompanied by a service animal in any public place.

How should you act if you come across them?

Here are some tips for approaching a service canine and his human partner.

• Don’t touch the dog without permission. You could distract the animal and prevent him from doing his job. Keep in mind that the dog is working and may be in the middle of
following a direction or command. Most assistance canines need to be “released” from work mode before they can interact with others.

• Speak to the handler and not the assistance dog. Most people do not mind talking about service canines and their dog if they have the time.

• Never feed the dog as he may be on a special diet. Moreover, assistance dogs are generally under a feeding schedule. Food is a great distraction, so do not give any to a working dog.

• Don’t whistle or make sounds at the dog as these can be dangerous distractions as well.

• Don’t make assumptions about the human partner’s intelligence, capabilities, or feelings. While offers of help may be appreciated, it is best to ask first. More often than not, the individual and his dog can complete the task by themselves.

• Don’t be scared of the dog. Working canines from accredited programs are carefully tested and chosen for the right temperament. They have also been professionally trained to conduct themselves properly. Approach an assistance dog calmly and always speak to their human partner first before addressing or touching the animal.

• If you are a business owner, some employees and customers may feel nervous or uneasy about an assistance dog in your establishment. Reassure them that the dog has undergone training and has a legal right to be there under the Americans with Disabilities Act. People with assistance canines deserve the same respect as anyone else. You can ask the dog to leave if he is not behaving.

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Sugar-Free Ingredient Can Kill Your Dog

May 18, 2011

photoAn increasing number of dogs are ingesting xylitol through sugar-free gum and other sources. This is bad news because if left untreated, the pet will likely die, according to veterinarians. Symptoms include a weak appearance, vomiting, or extreme lethargy. A dog’s blood sugar can drop within 30 minutes of consuming xylitol and a pet can go into a coma.

Be cautious

The symptoms of xylitol poisoning can be observed anywhere from half an hour to 12 hours. The longer the pet goes without help, the worse the condition becomes. A dog’s liver can fail, which is a life-threatening situation.

In San Diego, California and San Marcos, Texas alone, there has been at least one or two incidents of xylitol poisoning every week for the past two to three months. If a dog has eaten sugarless gum, he needs to be taken to the vet right away. Your vet may induce vomiting to improve the situation. He will then watch your pet’s blood sugar for 12 to 24 hours and check the liver after two or three days.

Xylitol, which is found in fruits and also produced by the human body, has been shown to stop plaque growth and tooth decay in sugar-free gum. Humans absorb it slowly so it has little or no effect on our blood sugar or insulin levels. With dogs, however, it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, leading to a release of insulin and sudden plummet in blood sugar. This can cause liver failure, bleeding, and death.

Just two pieces of sugarless gum can be harmful or fatal to a 20-pound canine. One cup of pudding can be dangerous to a 90-pound pet. Aside from gum, xylitol is an ingredient in just about anything sugar-free, such as baked goods, candy, energy bars, brownies, cookies, muffins, Jell-O, ice cream, pudding, and toothpaste.

There are several products that contain xylitol, so be sure to keep these out of your pet’s reach for his safety.

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Canine Accessories 101

May 16, 2011

Want to make your dog the hippest canine on the block? There are many ways to do that – the canine accessories market is a big one, with endless options for the fashion forward pooch.

photoIf you’d like to add some bling to your pet’s wardrobe, there are some things you need to know first when it comes to the relationship between dogs and accessories.

Bring the bling

For starters, not all dogs will be too keen on sporting canine jewelry. While you’ll probably be able to get away with a rhinestone studded collar, your pet might not be open to putting on a tiara. In addition, accessories may not be suitable for younger puppies as they will be curious and likely chew on jewelry items. Worse, they could even swallow them!

Now with those in mind, let’s take a look at the different accessories you can dress your dog up with!

Collar. Most dogs should be fine with a bejeweled collar since they’re used to having something around their neck.

Necklace. From a collar, your dog can easily transition to sporting a necklace. A simple canine necklace is similar to a collar and shouldn’t bother your pet.

Pendant or ID tag. Once you feel that your dog is ready, you can add a pendant or ID tag to her collar. Though keep in mind that not all dogs like having something dangling from their collar or necklace, so remember to watch your pet to make sure she’s not trying to chew it off.

Hair bow. It’s best to start with a bow if you’d like for your pet to wear hair accessories. Due to its light weight it can get your dog to get used to having something on her head. Eventually you can try letting her wear a bow with a gem or other adornments.

Hair clip. Because a hair clip is more substantial and heavier than a bow, it can take your pooch a while to get used to it.

Tiara. Tiaras are the heaviest of all canine hair accessories – your dog will definitely know that it’s on her head! Not all pooches can wear a tiara as it needs to be placed into the fur with a hair comb; thus, tiaras are most suitable for long-haired dogs.

Be sure to send us photos of your pooch in their cool accessories!

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How to Prevent and End a Dog Fight

May 13, 2011

photoIt’s something that no dog owner wants to happen but can’t always avoid – you’re walking your pet or you’re at a dog park and then all of a sudden, a dog fight breaks out. Just like humans, dogs don’t always get along with each other. So in the event of a dog fight, would you know what to do?

Most people don’t have a game plan for if a dog fight happens. The worst time to think about how to handle a fight is when one has already broken out. It’s really not a matter of if, but when. Thus, it’s important to be prepared.

Tips for preventing and stopping a dog fight

One of the simplest ways to protect your pet from a fight when you leave the house is to keep him on a leash with a well fitting collar.

When you want your dog to meet another canine, reduce the chances of a fight by making the introductions on neutral ground such as a dog park. Don’t do it at one of the dog’s homes – the host canine may feel a need to guard his territory.

While you can control your own pet, you can’t know when you’ll meet an aggressive dog outside. To abort a dog attack, use the shake can technique. You’ll need a clean, empty soda can and about ten coins. Place the coins in the can and seal the top with tape. Should you come across a dog bearing teeth, throw the shake can on the ground in front of him. Often, this will be enough to discourage an aggressive canine.

If an aggressive dog charges at your pooch when you’re outside, back away slowly and pull your pet gently along with you. Don’t pick up your dog and run off. The aggressive dog will chase you if you turn your back.

To stop a dog fight that’s already started, throw some cold water on the dogs. Surprising them may cause them to cease fighting. Never step in and try to break up the fight – you could get bitten and make the dogs more aggressive toward each other.

Of course, our hope here at Porch Potty is that, that doesn’t happen.  Your safety and the safety of your sweet dog are of utmost importance to us!

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Is Your Puppy Graduating?

May 11, 2011

For many of us, our dogs are our children.  So, by show of hands – who has graduates this year?

photoHas your pooch recently graduated puppy kindergarten? Here are some fun ideas for your beloved pet’s graduation party.

* What’s a party without guests? This is a great opportunity for your puppy to socialize, so invite his fellow graduates and friendly neighbor dogs.

* Get a cake from a doggie bakery, or make one yourself. You can find plenty of dog cake recipes on the Internet. Top the cake off with a candle that looks like a dog, a bone, or a fire hydrant!

* If you’ll be having human guests, be sure to feed them, too! Serve cupcakes and other party food with dog themed plates and napkins.

* Don’t forget to take lots of pictures! You’ll want to look back on this event in the future.

* Make graduation hats for all the graduating canines to wear.

* You can also prepare goodie bags filled with treats for the dogs to take home.

* Get balloons with paw prints on them, or stamp plain balloons with dog themed patterns. Use these to decorate the party area.

* Blow bubbles! Dogs love chasing and chomping on them. Be sure to use a solution that’s especially formulated for canines.

* If the puppy graduation party is taking place in the summer, serve doggie smoothies to keep the dogs cool. Again, you can look for recipes online.

* You can also turn the graduation party into a pool party. Get a kiddie pool for the dogs to splash around in. Remember to tell the owners to bring their own towels.

* Have games like puppy races, tag team Frisbee, or musical sit/stay! Musical sit/stay is similar to musical chairs. Play music, and when it stops, the owners will have their puppy sit/stay. The last one to do so is eliminated.

* Give your pet a new treat and/or toy to congratulate him for completing puppy kindergarten!

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The Teen Years And Your Dog

May 9, 2011

Adolescence is an important stage in your dog’s life. If you disregard his development during this time, you will soon find yourself having to deal with a restless, bad mannered, inadequately socialized pooch.

The rebellious teenager?

Household etiquette may eventually decline, especially if you start taking toilet training and other good behavior for granted. However, if you taught your pet well as a puppy, the drift won’t be apparent until his sunset years, when housetraining particularly tends to deteriorate.

Basic manners may take a nosedive when your dog reaches adolescence. Reward training your pooch when he was a pup was a piece of cake – he followed your commands and looked up to you with absolute respect and attention. But now he’s developing adult interests, like chasing squirrels, sniffing pee and poop on the grass, checking out other dogs’ rear ends, and rolling around in all sorts of stuff. These new interests may quickly become distractions to training, and suddenly your once obedient dog won’t sit or stay when you tell him to.

photoYour pet may also tend to bite more as he gets older and develops more powerful jaws. Frequently feeding him kibble and treats by hand, allowing him to wrestle with other canines, and occasionally checking and cleaning his teeth are the best ways to make sure that your adolescent dog maintains a soft mouth.

During the adolescent years, socialization usually goes downhill. If your dog doesn’t get out often and rarely meets strangers, his desocialization may happen rapidly. He may have been a social butterfly at five months old, but by eight months he has become distrustful and lacking in confidence. A previously affable dog may unexpectedly be spooked by a household guest.

Keep in mind

Your adolescent dog must continue to meet unfamiliar people on a regular basis, or else he will gradually desocialize. Proper adolescent socialization leads to successful adult socialization; it’s an ongoing process.

In addition, socialization among canines diminishes during adolescence and usually at an alarming rate, especially for very small and very large breeds. After all, you can’t expect a dog to be friends with every other dog. Like people, dogs have good friends, casual acquaintances, and individuals they’re not too fond of. It’s also natural for dogs, specifically males, to quarrel.

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