Friday, October 17, 2014

Canine Diabetes and Hayley

Over the past few months, Hayley has developed a peculiar habit of growling or barking when any member of our family sits down to eat. While she has never turned down a treat, this new desperation for food was a sudden change. At first, I attributed her odd new behavior to her advanced age. 

But then Hayley’s desperation for extra bites of food grew stronger. She began to scour the living room after school to scout out the kids’ backpacks and break open the zippers to scavenge through the remnants of the day’s lunch. Coupled with that was a more disturbing new pattern: she began having accidents in the house.

Read the rest on ASPCA Parents...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Should You Take Your Dog On Vacation?

For many, summer means vacations. When you are single and live alone, you can be ready at a moment’s notice. Throw in a dog or two, and you have some serious considerations to mull over before you even think of packing.

Even when you have a family, planning for a vacation becomes more complicated when you share your life with a dog. Should you leave him at a kennel? For many, that is out of the question. The indecision causes quite a few dog owners to bring their dog with them. It is not any easy decision no matter which way you decide.

For many, summer means vacations. When you are single and live alone, you can be ready at a moment’s notice. Throw in a dog or two, and you have some serious considerations to mull over before you even think of packing.

Even when you have a family, planning for a vacation becomes more complicated when you share your life with a dog. Should you leave him at a kennel? For many, that is out of the question. The indecision causes quite a few dog owners to bring their dog with them. It is not any easy decision no matter which way you decide.

However, there are some questions to ask yourself before you commit to answering the ultimate summertime question of pet owners: should you bring your dog on vacation?

1. Does your dog adapt well to new situations? If not, your fun trip may quickly escalate into a bad memory.

2. Do you have a responsible friend or relative who would enjoy taking your dog while you’re gone? If so, that’s always the safest bet!

3. How active is your dog? If you have a dog who requires a lot of activity, a vacation inside a hotel might be anything but fun for your pup.

4. Is your destination pet friendly? Many hotels allow pets but it’s certainly not the majority. Check ahead to see what they offer.

5. How much time will you spend in places where you can’t take your dog? Will you spend the majority of your time at a beach house or in the woods where your dog can accompany you or will you be spending hours on long lines for sightseeing tours, rides, and attractions? 

6. Is your dog old? A sunny getaway may not be pleasant for an older dog who would prefer to just lay around in air-conditioning. 

7. Does your dog love being in the sun and soaking up the summer? Or is does she get easily winded or overheated when the temps go up? If you have a breed that has special temperature concerns, it is probably best for your dog to stay home in a cool place than traipse after the family on vacation.

8. Have you explored non-traditional boarding? Look for services that set up owners and host families for a fee, like a kennel.If your dog loves people and new situations, a five star boarding experience just might prove more enjoyable than a five star hotel.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Is Your Dog A Senior? The Answer May Surprise You!

Is Your Dog A Senior? The Answer May Surprise You!
There are countless articles and books on puppy care, but considerably less advice is available about caring for senior dogs. Senior dogs are wonderful, special beings and they have earned their right to enjoy a comfortable life, yet sadly many senior dogs are left to fend for themselves when they outgrow their cuteness. Older dogs comprise a considerable part of animals shelters because many people simply do not want to adopt senior dogs. Even those of us who lovingly vow to care for our dogs from puppyhood to old age often miss the signs (or unintentionally refuse to believe) that our precious pups are reaching their golden years.
First Things FirstI still call my black lab, Django, “puppy”. Even though she will be turning 4 this fall, I still recall adopting her like it was yesterday and while she is nowhere near a senior, she is far from a puppy. It is difficult for many owners to think of their pups as getting older but the more we prepare ourselves for our dog’s senior years, the more we can provide them better health and comfort.
Is your dog a senior or close to being one? On average, small dogs become seniors when they are about 7, but unfortunately, larger dogs age earlier. A big dog is usually considered old when they turn 6. Check out this chart from the American Veterinary Medical Association and see where your pup falls.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Can’t Sleep? You Might Wanna Blame Your Dog

Insomnia is a widespread issue among today’s culture. We all have too many things on our minds, our to-do lists, and our plates. While worry and restlessness are definitely an impediment to a good night’s sleep, did you know that your beloved pooch might also be responsible for your lackluster days after fitful nights?
A new study by the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine presented this week at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies says that pets (dogs and cats) pose a problem to many pet owners who have trouble sleeping. 
About 10 percent of the sleep center’s patients say their pets that slumber in their beds at night keep them from sleeping well. The most common causes are “whimpering, wandering, snoring, the need to ‘go outside,’ and even seizures.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pooch-A-Palooza Festival Expected To Draw Over 8,000 Attendees

One of the best parts of being a dog owner is getting to meet other people who love their dogs just as much as you do. There is nothing like a group of like-minded people getting together. I've always thought that animal lovers are a special breed. Our bond runs deep. It's one of the reasons why I was excited to hear about a great festival taking place this September, Pooch-A-Palooza. 

Held at the Topsfield Fairgrounds in Topsfield, MA on September 6th and 7th, this two-day outdoor festival is expected to draw over 8,000 people. The goal is to bring together dog overs and dogs in a safe and fun environment while also helping raise money for animals:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sibling Rivalry: Keeping the Peace Between Your Dogs and Cats

Django, as a pup, before Hayley schooled her in cat behavior
Here an excerpt from my latest on ASPCA Parents:

We are a multi-pet family. We have two dogs, three cats, two turtles, a frog and some goldfish. Like our human children, our furry children sometimes have trouble getting along. I have to admit that it is easiest to soothe arguments between my human children because we can talk things through. However, when my geriatric cat, Lily, struts across the living room, a place that my three-year-old Labrador claimed as her private territory, there is no time to talk before Django springs up and runs after the little old lady. Sometimes, I see the potential conflict before it happens and say, “Django, be good.” This nearly never works. Of course, my husband just has to say, “Hey,” and she will stop in her tracks.
In all other ways, Django is the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever had—she just will not relent in her pursuit of our cats. She doesn’t bite them or act in a vicious way, but simply runs after them. Hayley, our aging Chihuahua, used to do the same. In fact, it was she who indoctrinated Django at just eight-weeks-old to treat the cats as nothing more than an eternal game of tag partners. But now as Hayley has slowed down, she doesn’t run after the cats anymore. Perhaps she believes she has taught Django well and doesn’t have to do more than supervise.
Read the full post on ASPCA Parents...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

German Shepherd Video Shows Why The Breed Is So Special

When I was growing up, we always had a dog (or two) in the house. My first memory of a dog was a beautiful black and gold German Shepherd named Mindy. She was already a senior when I was very young so my memories with her are, unfortunately, brief. After her, we had Bambi, a black shepherd who I spent most of my childhood with, playing with her day in and day out. She was a no nonsense type of dog, and also the sweetest you could ever want as a best friend.
It’s not surprising that my first dog as an adult was another black shepherd named Roxy. Roxy was my heart. She was the kindest dog I have ever had. She was protective of my kids but loving to all. She has been gone for about five years and I still miss her greatly.
It’s funny how you can attached to a certain breed. German shepherds are easy to get attached to, of course. They are intelligent, fast learners who very quickly ingratiate themselves into a family. They are incredibly strong yet fun-loving, adore kids and have a keen sense.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Standing Up For Animals In Everyday Life

  Standing Up For Animals In Everyday Life

It's a beautiful, sun filled day, one that I thought might never come after the long, harsh winter we've had here in New York City. I'm in the third hour of my son’s baseball double-header and all I can see before my eyes are Rawlings cleats, Rawlings gloves and baseball uniforms issued from our league. In school, it's a different story. On gym days, all you see are Nike sneakers. Nearly every kid in my son's class has Nike gear except for my son. 

I made it a point to never again buy another Nike product when the company endorsed convicted dog fighter Michael Vick as their spokesperson. Being a pet writer, I have read numerous horror stories of the devastation that was incurred upon countless dogs that were tortured in his multi-million dollar dog-fighting ring that spanned six years. After that, it was inconceivable to comprehend how a company that prides itself on family values could ever want such a person to represent them. My kids agreed with my vow to not patronize a company or anyone that would support dog fighting, and we have.

Sometimes, it is more difficult to stick to our promise.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Benefits of Companion Animals for Assisted Living Residents

The Benefits of Companion Animals for Assisted Living Residents
8-year-old black Labrador, Lula Bell, is one of the many dogs that work at Sunrise.
Enjoy this guest post from Sunrise Senior Living about the many ways that dogs are helping elderly residents.

It’s important for people to continue to share bonds with animals as they enter their golden years. For over thirty years, cats and dogs have been an integral part of Sunrise Senior Living communities, allowing seniors to maintain the comfort and companionship of a pet. Community animals encourage residents to stay physically active, promote socialization and even offer health benefits.

Residents decide how involved they want to be. Many take turns sharing walking, feeding and play time responsibilities with fellow residents, and in some communities, residents become the official dog walkers. Pets help make socializing easier for residents — they promote interaction with other people by helping them leave their rooms or homes.

Besides providing comfort and companionship, community animals also offer health benefits. Studies have shown that pets provide benefits including: lower blood pressure; lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as healthier heart rates; increased physical activity that helps promote healthier joints and flexibility; reduced stress levels. Even talking or cuddling with a pet helps ease chronic pain from arthritis or migraines. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, seniors with companion animals are more active, cope better with stress and are healthier overall than their pet-less counterparts.