Thu 06, Jul, 2017
Why Dogs Love Blueberries

The four-legged canine member of your family may think grapes or garlic toast or ice cream would make a great snack – but giving in to his or her kooky cravings could be deadly for your pet, unless it’s blueberries they crave. Fresh blueberries, provide a delicious and safe alternative. Dogs can enjoy  them safely. And those little round blue-purple seasonal fruit-balls contain the same healthy benefits for our canines that they do for us humans. Blueberries – Superfood for Humans and Dogs Fresh blueberries are low in fat, high in fiber and Vitamin C and loaded with antioxidants. Studies have shown them to help prevent or reduce a host of illnesses in humans, including memory loss, hypertension, urinary tract infections and types of cancer. Blueberries can help boost your dog’s health in ways you can see. Eating them can help keep an older dog’s mind sharp and alert. They have been shown to improve night vision as well. The silicon in the berries does good things for your pooch’s pancreas, cardiovascular system and blood sugar levels. A true superfood, the berries can be enjoyed by Pet Parents and their dogs. How to Give Your Dog Fresh Blueberries If you keep a few simple do’s and don’ts in mind, blueberries can perk up your pet’s diet and help him enjoy a longer and happier life. That said, there are recommended ways to give them to your dog, as well as ways to avoid. It’s best to start off by giving […]

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Wed 07, Jun, 2017
Border collie barks and uses body language to communicate with humans.
Five Ways Dogs Use Body L

Your dog has better communication skills than you might think; new technology may help dog trainers understand how dogs use body language even more We know dogs use body language as one way to communicate with us humans, but have you ever wondered what your pet was really thinking? I’m sure you’d agree that life as a dog owner would be a lot easier if we could all read a dog’s mind. Scientists and professional dog trainers alike are researching ways to help us better understand our dogs’ wants and needs. The Duke Canine Cognition Center is a leader in such research. Dedicated to investigating “the flexibility and limitations of dog cognition,” the Center (part of Duke University’s Department of Evolutionary Anthropology) invites dog-owners in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina to enroll their pets in problem-solving game activities, with dog treats as rewards. The Center’s researchers have found that dogs have “an unusual ability to read human communicative intentions. Just like children, dogs are highly attuned to our gestures, and they can use this ability in novel situations to flexibly assess what we want.” Since a dog can probably pick up on a human’s body language and cues faster than a human can learn all the dog’s, here are five ways to help us humans catch up on our clairvoyance… How Dogs Use Body Language Watch your dog’s ear position, facial tension, tail carriage, pupil dilation and other physical clues to learn whether he is angry, submissive, calm or frightened. The wrinkles in your dog’s forehead […]

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Sun 04, Jun, 2017
Cats Need Water – 5

How a Pet Fountain Can Help Your Cat Hydrated, Healthy and Happy Ever wonder what’s up with your cat and water? If you have felines in your family, you’ve no doubt observed the curious relationship they have with water. Furballs are fascinated by dripping water taps, and some cats have even been known to jump into a filled bathtub for a swim. Have you seen the photo of the surfing cat hanging 10 toes over the nose? Too much fun! Other cats, like my cat Clarence, hate even a sprinkle of water in his face or on his fur. He’ll run like hell at just the sight of the laundry spray bottle (no, we don’t use it on him!). But then he’ll dip his paw into his water bowl if the mood strikes him. Go figure. He’s a cat. One thing’s for sure – felines need to drink an adequate amount of water every day. But how much is adequate? Experts say it depends on the size of the cat and how much moisture is in his/her food (among other factors). More specifically, two to four ounces of fresh water is considered the minimum amount for a cat to drink each day. This is especially important if your cat mostly eats dry food, which has about 70 percent less water than canned cat food. Keep track of your cat’s water-drinking habits. If there’s a change it may indicate health issues like feline urological syndrome, diabetes, hyperthyroidism or tapeworms. Your cat’s appearance […]

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Wed 31, May, 2017
The family that takes their pets to the vet together stays together.
At the Pet Doctor Office

The waiting room at the vet’s is the place pet-crazy people from all walks of life find common ground The waiting room at the pet doctor is one of the few places where people of different backgrounds and beliefs seem to get along harmoniously. Pet parents’ love of animals provides a common bond missing in so many other areas of life these days. Growing up in Southern California, where weird is normal (just ask anyone outside the state), I never really noticed the differences between other people in the veterinarian’s office. As a kid I was more interested in the different pets than their people. But later, as an adult, when I lived in Nashville for a few years and felt a little out of my element socially, I discovered the menagerie of pet parents at the vet’s was just as fascinating as the pets. When my cat Clarence was just a kitten and needed a checkup, a co-worker of mine recommended a local pet vet. As I walked into the waiting room with Clarence, it seemed the pet parents were right out of Central Casting. There I was, a Californian living in Music City. I’m sure the locals thought I was just as weird as I thought they were. It sometimes seemed hard for a West Coast Yankee to really get to know born-and-bred Bible Belt Southerners beyond the surface hospitality they offered. But at the vet’s office these distinctions didn’t matter so much. It was almost as fun to watch as the intergalactic bar scene […]

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Fri 19, May, 2017
Sleeping bulldogs enjoying dog dreams.
Dog Dreams Interpreted by

What’s up with dog dreams? Body language offers clues By Barry Alfonso When your dog dreams, where does he or she go? What do you think your dog dreams about? You’ve probably seen your canine companion twitch, quiver, whimper and/or move his paws while he’s sleeping. When I was a kid, our family dog Sampson did all those things, much to our amusement. Sampson – part bulldog (like the dogs in the adjacent photo) and part who-knows-what-else – would make chewing motions and snort a little while his eyelids twitched, as if he were reliving some exciting (or upsetting) moment from his waking day. Sometimes I’d stroke Sampson’s back to let him know everything was alright. Usually he’d quiet down after a few minutes, though sometimes the dreams would last longer than that. When he’d finally wake up, he seemed able to shake off whatever he had gone through in his doggie dreamland. Dog Dreams, People Dreams and REM Recent research by Dr. Stanley Coren (a dog trainer and psychologist who teaches at the University of British Columbia) sheds new light on this fascinating subject. He has found that the brain wave patterns of dogs are similar to those of humans. Like people, dogs have dreams when they enter the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage – you can tell they’ve reached it when their eyelids flicker and tremble. While we cannot know with absolute certainty, it is likely that dogs dream about ordinary dog activities and that their dream experiences are reflected in […]

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Fri 05, May, 2017
Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat - the Feline Mystique
The Feline Mystique ̵

Is there anything in this world quite like the bond between people and cats? Not to diminish the bond between dogs and their humans, but the feline mystique is just different from a canine’s. As Pet Parents, we love, honor and cherish all our furry family members equally. From their kittenhood into their noble elder years, cats invite our affection, respect and honor. But our feline furballs remain especially mysterious and fascinating, even after they’re gone and all we have are cherished memories. It’s no surprise the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats. Ordinary Egyptians were forbidden to own domesticated cats until sometime in the first millennium B.C., though; before that, Pharoahs kept them to themselves. From a practical point of view, the Pharoahs needed cats to chase mice away from the palace food supply. More significantly, ancient Egyptians saw felines as a personal connection with the divine. Egyptians worshipped the cat-goddess Bastet (or Bast) as a protector of the home and the nation. They held a cat’s life to be sacred on Earth and in the next world. The family cats were mourned and mummified when they passed on, just like the human relatives. In more recent, less enlightened times, cats – especially black cats – were associated with witches and sorcerers and voodoo curses. While we doubt that, there is an air of the supernatural about felines! Cats sometimes do seem like creatures from another planet – which makes their friendship all the more meaningful to us. And all the more […]

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Sat 29, Apr, 2017
A Maltese dog performs tricks indoors. (Photo by Ed Yourdon)
Five Fun Indoor Dog Exerc

A dog that licks and chews his paws, legs or other parts of his body is – well, just being a dog. However, when your pet’s grooming behavior becomes a chronic habit, it can lead to serious injury and irritation. Beyond inflammation to the topical area, obsessive behavior like this can be an indication of something more serious than a sore foot or a minor insect bite.

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Thu 27, Apr, 2017
Four Reasons Why Your Dog

A dog that licks and chews his paws, legs or other parts of his body is – well, just being a dog. However, when your pet’s grooming behavior becomes a chronic habit, it can lead to serious injury and irritation. Beyond inflammation to the topical area, obsessive behavior like this can be an indication of something more serious than a sore foot or a minor insect bite.

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Fri 02, Sep, 2016
Dog passing over the rainbow.
Dog Memorial Urn Honors a

The story of man (and woman) and dog goes back some 15,000 years to the dawn of civilization. It’s a tale of friendship, devotion and enduring love. And like all true love stories, it never gets old. The loyalty and affection of dogs is so much a part of our lives, it’s easy for us to take it for granted. But it’s good to be reminded of how remarkable this bond across the species is. From the moment that our ancient ancestors welcomed the first wolf-like creature into their lives, dogs have astonished humans with their intelligence, sensitivity and faithfulness. We celebrate the dog as man’s best friend. We become more human by being their friends as well. Studies have shown that adopting a dog lowers a person’s cholesterol, improves self-esteem and eases stress. A dog-owner gets more exercise, feels safer and less lonely. Simply put, our lives are made better by sharing them with dogs. A true friend is never forgotten. We remember fondly the dogs in our lives long after they’ve left us. It’s only right to want to keep their memory close. They remind us of quiet walks to the park, fun times playing catch in the backyard, peaceful moments curled up on the sofa at night.  Whether your friend was a big, lovable St. Bernard, a plucky little Chihuahua or anything in between, the bond survives even when the pet is gone. The connection between man and dog may have begun for purely practical reasons. Humans […]

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Fri 26, Aug, 2016
A mixed Labrador female dog runs after the chew toy the dog trainer is holding.
What Makes a Good Dog Tra

What makes for a good dog trainer? Love and affection for animals seems to be the most basic quality needed. Positive dog training and rewards-based training are always the best approaches. Early dog trainers like Karen Pryor recognized that rewarding a four-legged pupil with a clicker sound to designate the animal has acted properly on the cue, and using a reward such as a dog treat worked very similarly to training a dolphin. Along with some verbal praise, positive dog training can work wonders. “Practical Training” by Stephen Hammond (published in 1882) was among the early training guides that advocated such a method. Methods for dog instruction became a bit more formalized and exacting in the early 20th century as the need for service dogs increased. Konrad Most’s “Training Dogs” (1910) reflected new discoveries in animal psychology at the time. Many of the book’s basic principles are still in use today, though some of the advice about using “compulsive inducements” (like switches and spiked collars) seem overly harsh and antiquated by modern standards. Leading dog trainers like William R. Koehler have emphasized the need for standardized, reliable cues in dealing with dogs. Positive rewards combined with encouragement support the dog’s positive behavior – with rewards, not harshness. Good dog trainers apply these methods with the individual capacities and temperaments of the dogs – and their owners – in mind. Every situation is different and some dogs simply learn faster than others. But start with the premise that every dog is a […]

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Sun 21, Aug, 2016
Our Feline Family Member

Our tabby cat Clarence – more properly, Mr. Clarence – came into our lives 10 years ago last summer. He is full-fledged member of the family in all respects – in fact, he is in many ways the center of the household. He is as quirky, dignified and lovable as his name suggests, a gentleman with definite needs and a heart full of affection. My wife named him Clarence because we needed a nice, strong name to yell out when he committed some minor annoying act (knocking over papers, scratching on the carpet) to get attention. He does this when he thinks his feeding schedule is running a tad behind. Once he has had a meal or a treat, though, he is content to plop himself down on the rug or curl up beside us on the sofa. If left to his own devices, Clarence would be a rather overweight kitty. As it is, we help manage his hefty but not obese size by throwing an all-natural product suggested by his vet across the living room for him to chase. He seems to enjoy running after them. This limbers him up for more sustained play, like leaping into the air to catch a plastic ribbon or batting a rubber ball around the room. Clarence has many endearing habits, like grunting loudly when he stretches or lying on his back with his front paws curled up.  He is talkative and will modulate his meows according to the volume of my voice. […]

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