Friday, February 27, 2015

7 Roles Dogs Play in Your Life

Who's ready for some warmer weather? Is your dog's coat shedding? We've heard that means spring is coming! In midst of the cold, we thought we'd write a short, sweet and heartwarming post. There's nothing like the special bond we share with our pets.  Dogs play many roles in our lives and we thought we may share some that every pet parent can relate to.

1. Your Alarm Clock. "I've missed you so much all night I couldn't hold it in any longer! Please get up and play or feed me. I'm hungry!" Chances are you've been awakened by a wet nose, some slobbery kisses or a paw to the face. All part of the doggy alarm technique. Most dogs don't hesitate to let us know when they think it's time to get up and start the day. While it may not be the best way to be awakened, it is pretty endearing.

2. Your Personal Trainer. "Can we go for a walk now? What about now? How about a run?  I'm going to keep asking until you stop watching TV. Oh, you looked at me! That means it's working. I told you I'm going to keep asking until you...oh you're getting up. Yay let's go outside!" Did you know pet owners tend to be more fit and active than non pet owners? Dogs help us get moving, even in the freezing cold or pouring rain.

3. Your Neighborhood Watch and Home Security. "Woof! The guy across the street is home! Woof! The pizza is here! Woof! Squirrel! Woof Woof Woof! The Mailman is approaching!" Whether we like it or not, many dogs tend to be vocal about what's going on outside their house. The good thing? They watch your house for free and burglars aren't too fond of barking dogs.

4. Your Doctor. "I know you are sick, so I am going to try to refrain from ripping these tissues up all over the house." Owning a dog might be the best medicine! It's been said they lower blood pressure and cholesterol, soothe pain, so dogs can help us live longer and healthier lives. On days you do happen to be a little under the weather, they also make great snuggle buddies.

5. Your Phone Maintenance. "I am only smiling because I expect to be compensated for all the Facebook and Instagram likes you are going to get!" Our pets adorable faces keep us always aware if our phones might need some maintenance. From your battery, to your WiFi and picture uploading status to your storage usage, your dog's mere presence helps keep your technology in top condition!
6. Your Therapist. "A penny for your thoughts...actually I'll just take a treat instead...or a belly rub." They make us laugh. They listen to our problems. They listen to our secrets. Pets have also be known to ease stress, calm our nerves, help with depression and overall make us happier. How's that for therapy? It's the best and fuzziest kind!

7. Your Nutritionist. "Are you going to eat that?  Are you sure?  What about that bite? Can I have some? That looks delicious. Are you sure you shouldn't be sharing with me? That looks like a lot for you." Every snack you make. Every meal you bake. Every bite you take. They are watching you. And sometimes you feel guilty. And sometimes you give them some of your meal. See? Your dog is helping you eat less.

Next time you see your dog, be sure to thank them for all the jobs they do for you! For if it weren't for the wake up kisses, the long walks, the barks, the snuggling, the selfies, the laughter and the adorable begging, our hearts might be a little empty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why are Westies White? Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Breeds.

If you’ve been following The Westminster Kennel Club 139th Annual Dog Show you may have wondered why certain breeds are presented at dog shows with a distinct look.  As dogs were bred throughout the centuries, specific characteristics were written into their breed standards, but why?  Here are some interesting insights to why some of your favorite breeds look the way they do!

Poodle. Bred as a water retriever, a Poodle's thick outer coat can get heavy when wet, so owners trimmed the bottom half of the body to help keep them afloat. To keep their organs warm in cold waters, the hair was kept long over the chest and head. Bracelets of ankle hair were left to protect joints from rheumatism, and a topknot was used to keep long hair out of the eyes when swimming. Colorful bows were added during competitions to help owners identify their dogs. Put all that together and you get a slightly funny looking yet practical poodle!

Beagle. Before coming to the United States, Beagles went through many breeding transitions. Some were bred to be pocket sized, and some were bred based on their hunting techniques. The Beagles we know today weren't bred until the late 1800's in New York. It was the "Patch" Beagle strain where these dogs became their current size and primarily white with a very large tri-colored "spot" on their back.

Westie. According to history, the Westie's color resulted from a tragic nineteenth-century accident that occurred while Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch, Scotland was hunting fox. The  Colonel accidentally shot and killed one of his wheaten-colored Cairn Terriers. Devastated, and determined to prevent such accidents in the future, he decided to breed a new white dog that couldn't be confused with foxes.

Saint Bernard. This breed has many distinct face and neck markings. Historically a rescue dog for mountain travelers, a white spot on the nape of the neck and a white blaze on the face are especially attractive and desirable, as are dark markings on the head and ears that resemble a mask. The white markings are said to resemble garments worn by priests and the black mask to reduce the glare from the snow.

Collie. Original Collies were closer in size and shape to today's Border Collies, and interestingly, were predominantly black. Once thought to be vicious, this breed became popular because of Queen Victoria. The Queen loved the Collie's appearance which caused breeders to consider more than the it's herding abilities. One Collie, named Old Cockie, who was born in 1867, is credited with the characteristics of the Collies known today, and she is believed to be responsible for introducing brown coat color to the breed.

Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Ridgeback has many European ancestors such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, and Bloodhounds — with a half-wild native dog kept by the Khoikhoi, a pastoral people in South Africa. This dog had a distinctive ridge of hair along its back, and breeders in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) noticed that dogs who had this ridge tended to be excellent hunters.

Great Danes. Originally bred to hunt boars, Great Danes were first called Boar Hounds! Similar to herding dog's tails that were cropped to prevent injury from livestock, owners cropped Great Dane's ears  to prevent boar tusks from tearing through them. Today you can find their ears cropped  or floppy since these gentle giants wouldn't be too great at hunting boars these days.

Bulldogs. Bulldogs are now a very calm and lovable breed but did you know they used to be a butcher's assistant? Used as sporting dogs, Bulldogs were used for "bull baiting," which was a spectator's sport. A common practice in bull slaughtering, a bulldog’s short, flat nose enabled them to breathe easily while endlessly holding onto a bull's snout with their teeth. This was thought to tenderize the meat.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

11 Foods for a Healthy Mouth

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, an entire month dedicated to your pet's teeth! As a pet parent you are probably most familiar with dental chews and teeth brushing as a way to care for your pet's mouth, but what about everyday foods that can help improve your pet's health? We've compiled a list from Animal Wellness Magazine of 11 foods and supplements that can help support healthy teeth and gums for your dog or cat.

1. Bee Propolis. This ancient supplement has significant anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial benefits. It’s excellent for infected gums and mouth ulcers for both dogs and cats. 

2. Raw Bones. Chewing on raw meaty bones does a great job of cleaning your pet’s teeth and helping to prevent the tartar formation. Raw bones also contain probiotic bacteria and enzymes fight and kill harmful bacteria before it takes hold and multiply, causing gingivitis and other infections.

3. Coenzyme Q10. This powerful antioxidant that not only supports cardiovascular health but also helps keep gums healthy. Consider adding it to your pet's diet for long term dental support. 

 4. Cranberries. This fruit contains numerous biologically active compounds. Research shows that pure cranberry juice may be powerful for fighting cavities. Many of the special substances found in cranberries may not only inhibit the formation of plaque, but can also stop the bacteria sticking to surfaces.

5. Dill. This herb has potent antimicrobial properties and helps to fight infections. Dill is a delicate herb, so always store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel; better yet, keep it in a glass of filtered water, ready to be snipped and added to your pet’s daily diet.

6. Fennel. Fennel has many nutrients, is packed with vitamin C, has anti-inflammatory effects, and will also help freshen breath, aid in digestion and fight gingivitis as well as protect the liver.

7. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE).  As one of nature’s antiseptics, this can be used both topically and internally. GSE helps your pet's body resist bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. 

8. Green Tea. With a rich source of nutrients, green tea is recognized as being beneficial to oral health. In humans, it has been shown to help prevent cavities and help enamel. Check out decaffeinated freeze-dried green tea solids, commonly called green tea extract.

9. Oats. Low in starch and high in minerals, especially potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium, oats are also rich in vitamins B, E and G. They are a nutritive food and support strong teeth while also serving as a nerve, blood, and hair tonic.

10. Parsley. As one of the world’s most concentrated food sources, parsley has potent antimicrobial properties that make it the perfect breath freshener. Parsley can be fed as a whole food, solution or as a cool tea. It can be added to your pet's regular diet, where it is quickly and easily absorbed.

11. Wild Strawberries. The acid in this fruit cleans the teeth while the seeds act as an abrasive to scrub the surface. For centuries wild strawberries have been mashed into a paste and used to remove tartar, clean the teeth, and alleviate toothaches.

Don't forget that a dental routine beyond just food is important for healthy gums and teeth. Morris Animal Inn offers dental chews and teeth brushing to keep your pet on track, even when they are away from home! Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure about introducing any new items into your pet's diet. They can help you figure out the right dosage and balance that will best suit your dog or cat.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

11 Ways to Participate in Responsible Pet Owners Month

February is National Responsible Pet Owners Month. Including a dog or cat in your family can be incredibly rewarding, but "parenting" a happy, healthy pet is also a large commitment! What does it mean to be a responsible pet owner? Here are 11 things to consider:
  1. Training. Last month was National Train Your Dog Month, and we can’t stress enough the importance of training your dog! With simple manners training, you can help reduce behavior problems, and strengthen the bond between you and your pup!
  2. Nutrition. Feed your pet a well-balanced and nutritious diet. There are many quality dog and cat food choices on the market today. With a little research you can find a lot of information on food, and the food that would be best for your pet. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian. Great nutrition sets the foundation for a long, happy and healthy life for your pet! 
  3. Clean Up After Your Pet. Whenever you take your dog for an outing, make sure you bring some bags to pick up after your dog. This helps prevent the spread of diseases, and assures a clean environment for everyone to enjoy. Do the same for your cat. Be sure to clean their litter box often so they have clean space to do their business! 
  4. Grooming. Groom your pet as often as required for their specific breed. Keep your pet's coat clean with regular trimming (if needed), brushing and baths. Keep your dog or cat’s nails at a comfortable length
  5. Hygiene. Beyond grooming, good pet hygiene calls for clean ears and teeth free from plaque and tartar. February is also National Pet Dental Month. One of the most common problems veterinarians see in pets is dental disease, and, unfortunately, these issues can get serious if untreated.
  6. Exercise. Give your pet plenty of exercise.  Proper exercise cannot only keep your pet healthy, but also help many behavior problems that are caused by pent up energy.
  7. Update Identifications. Current ID tags on your dog or cat’s collar can help ensure that they get home safe and sound if they should wander out of your sight. If your pet isn't microchipped, consider it! If your pet is ever lost, a quick scan will provide rescuers with important phone numbers and addresses to help them reunite you with your pet.
  8. Go to the Vet. It is important to schedule an annual veterinary checkup to stay informed about your pet's health. 
  9. Travel Safely. You wouldn't ride without using a seat belt and neither should your pet! From crates, to harnesses, to safety nets, there are many options on the market to keep your pet safe in the car. 
  10. Pet Proof Your Home. Dogs and cats are curious by nature, so there’s always the possibility that they’ll get into something they shouldn't! Because of this, it’s important to avoid bringing potentially hazardous products into your home. Being educated about the dangers of certain houseplants and choosing more “bio-friendly” products are usually a good place to start.
  11. Teach Children to Respect Animals. Teach by example! Children learn by the lead of others, so show them that you care about animals. Always supervise young children around dogs and cats. Teach children the proper way to approach and greet a dog or cat and to always ask the owner before approaching a strange dog.
Of course pet parenting continues beyond February, but this month is a great time to think about all the ways you can continue to enrich your pet's life!

Source: Fido Friendly & 2MillionDogs.Org