What Causes Sterility in Dogs?

By Ruthie Bently

Not every dog is capable of creating progeny to leave behind. Either the male or female can be sterile. What causes a dog to be sterile or to become sterile? Canine sterility can be caused by a myriad of things. Some causes of canine infertility can happen to either sex, and some are gender specific.

A female dog comes into heat twice a year for approximately three weeks. A first heat can occur between the age of six weeks and fifteen months, depending on the dog’s breed. Normal heat cycles occur at six month intervals, but can occur from five to eight months apart. If there is more than one female dog in a household, one is dominant and their heat cycle can control the cycles of the other females in the household. Many professionals suggest waiting until a female is over two or has had several heats, as she may not be able to carry the puppies to term. A male dog doesn’t come into “season” like a female, but if he is sexually mature he is capable of fathering puppies.

There are several reasons a female dog might be sterile – she may be too young to have a heat cycle, or it may have irregularities. If her heat cycles are too close together, a female may be sterile. A gynecological exam enables you to make sure your dog is healthy to breed.

A male dog may suffer from low sperm production count, which is known as azoospermia. The dog may not be old enough to produce enough sperm. They may have had an infection that affected their ability to produce sperm. They may just need more time. Your veterinarian can perform a test to determine how much sperm is being produced. A dog’s sexual organs may be under developed or may not have developed properly. He may suffer from hyposexuality and not be attracted to the female. A male dog can also suffer from orchitis, which is an inflammation of the testicles. If not treated in a timely manner, it can lead to sterility.

The food your dog eats may not supply the nutrition they need to be able to reproduce properly. By feeding a premium quality dog food like CANIDAE ALS, which is nutritionally complete for all life stages of your dog, you can prepare your female so she will be healthy if she is to be bred, or your male so he has the stamina he will need. You should also see fewer problems with your female conceiving puppies. Your female should have fewer problems with her pregnancy and after she has whelped the puppies. 

Either gender of dog may be too immature or inexperienced. There may be psychological issues due to previous attempts to mate, or the timing could just be bad. Either dog may be tired, stressed or under the weather. There are some problems that may be caused by health concerns. They may have had an infection that has rendered them sterile (Brucellosis). A dog may have hypothyroidism, which is a lack of the hormone the thyroid gland secretes. The thyroid gland is a member of the adrenal system, which controls the reproductive systems of an organism. Your veterinarian can perform a blood test to determine if thyroid replacement medication is indicated.

If you are not ready to breed your female, there are options. If you choose not to breed your female, you can have her spayed. You will not have to worry about heat cycles, or guarding her against the male dogs in the neighborhood that may come to visit her. If you are going to breed your dog, but want the option to control when and what dog, there is hormonal birth control available for dogs. It comes in an injectable form that is administered every six months. It is also available in a pill form that is administered just before a female comes into heat.

No matter what causes a dog to be sterile, before following any course of action a responsible pet owner should speak with their veterinarian to discuss the best health options for their dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Fun Differences Between Dogs & Cats

The Top Ten Differences Between Cats & Dogs:

10. Dogs come when you call them. Cats take a message and get back to you when they are good and ready.

9. Dogs will let you give them a bath without taking out a contract on your life.

8. Dogs will bark to wake you up if the house is on fire. Cats will quietly sneak out the back door.

7. Dogs will bring you your slippers or the evening newspaper.Cats might bring you a dead mouse.

6. Dogs will play Frisbee with you all afternoon. Cats will take a three-hour nap.

5. Dogs will sit on the car seat next to you. Cats have to have their own private box or they will not go at all.

4. Dogs will greet you and lick your face when you come home from work. Cats will be mad that you went to work at all.

3. Dogs will sit, lie down, and heel on command. Cats will smirk and walk away.

2. Dogs will tilt their heads and listen whenever you talk. Cats will yawn and close their eyes.

1. Dogs will give you unconditional love forever. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you've ever made since the day you were born.

Black Cats and Halloween

By Julia Williams

The jubilant holiday known as Halloween is a great time to be a kid – or a fun-loving adult. Halloween is not, however, a particularly good time to be a black cat. Like ghosts, bats, jack-o’ lanterns, skeletons and witches, black cats are a classic Halloween symbol. The difference is that black cats are also living beings. This opens the door to all sorts of problems for the black cat, ranging from teenage mischief to outright cruelty, to people using real black cats as part of their “spooky” Halloween décor.

It can be hard for responsible pet owners to fathom how such things could occur, because we’d never dream of doing them ourselves. It’s not hard for your local animal shelter to imagine, though, because many of them have seen it firsthand. The threat of danger to black cats on Halloween became so prevalent that a decade or so ago, many shelters instituted a policy that still stands today: no black cat adoptions during the entire month of October.

Before the ban, many shelters saw an increase in black cat adoptions just before Halloween. They also noted that many of those same black cats were returned to the shelter after the holiday, often with vague excuses. One can reasonably assume that these thoughtless humans simply wanted a “cool” Halloween decoration for their house or their witch’s costume. These types typically regard pets as property rather than living beings that would be traumatized by being adopted for a few weeks and given up once the holiday was over.

Ritual sacrifice stories involving black cats crop up in newspapers now and then, and although some people maintain these are mainly myths and “urban legends,” many others beg to differ. “There are satanic sacrificial rituals that still exist in our country and around the world,” said Karen Buchan, Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control. Her shelter not only imposes a ban on black cat adoptions in the weeks before Halloween, but also on any Friday which falls on the 13th of the month.

Pet owners who have black cats are also cautioned to keep them indoors around Halloween. If someone really wants to obtain a black cat for Halloween – for whatever reason – and they can’t get one from the shelter, it’s not inconceivable that they’d pick one up off the street. As long as the black cat continues to be associated with Halloween, it’s wise to err on the side of caution.

So how did the black cat become associated with Halloween? It’s not known for certain, but there are many different theories. One says that the Celtic Druids came to be viewed as witches by the Church. It was believed that witches could shapeshift and usually disguised themselves as cats. Black cats in particular were thought to be witches “familiars” (beings that aided witches in performing witchcraft). Some even believed that black cats were actually reincarnated witches.

It stands to reason then, that when our Halloween celebration evolved to include the iconic “wicked witch,” the black cat came along for the ride. In fact, black cats and witches are two of the most popular Halloween costumes year after year.

Another theory suggests that black cats may have become linked to Halloween as a result of folklore and superstitions. Even now, some otherwise intelligent people still believe that “all black cats are evil.” In the United States and many European countries, some people think that seeing a black cat signifies the coming of bad luck. Since I have two black cats in my family, I must be more like the Irish and the British, who generally consider it a sign of good luck when a black cat crosses their path.

Black cats will probably always be linked to the Halloween holiday. How it came to be is anybody’s guess, but it’s unfortunate for the black cats of the world. Halloween is a dangerous time to be a black cat – I’m keeping mine safely inside my home, where they belong.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Oreo

It's been two years now since I lost my Oreo-boy to congestive heart failure, secondary to Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.  I can't believe it.  Here's a tribute page I created for him...





Miss you, baby.

How to Desensitize a Scared Dog

By Linda Cole

Dogs can show a fear of storms, fireworks or loud voices. Their fear can be mild to severe and when a storm is on the horizon, your dog may disappear or hunker down until the storm has passed. Fear of storms or loud noise adds stress to their life and yours. Sometimes it's hard to understand dog behavior, but once we do, we can set up a program to desensitize a scared dog and teach him there's nothing to fear from thunder or loud noises.

Fear of loud noises is only one type of fear dogs can show. Some become anxious around strangers or other dogs. I had a dog who didn't like to be around men. Some dogs are scared of objects like vacuum cleaners or grooming combs, and some dogs don't want their paws touched for any reason. Since dogs can't tell us why something scared them, the only thing we can do is pay attention to our dogs during stressful times to figure out what is scaring them. Desensitization is one way to help change a dog's behavior and help him get rid of his fear.

The last thing you should do when your dog is scared is tell him everything is alright, because you're telling him it's okay to be fearful. By ignoring his reaction to thunder or loud noises, he sees you remaining calm and nothing bad happened to you, so it must be okay.

When you desensitize a dog, you're setting him up to succeed and rewarding him using positive reinforcement when he's not showing any fear. To help a scared dog get over his fear of thunder or loud noises, you need to introduce him to low levels of sound using a recording of a thunderstorm or fireworks. Reward him throughout the process only when he stays calm. Gradually increase the sound to a level he will accept before moving on to the next level. Once he learns nothing bad is happening to him and he gets a treat when he stays calm, his fear will begin to diminish and he will begin to accept the noise as normal sounds.

Anytime throughout the desensitizing process when your dog reacts in a negative way, that tells you things are moving too fast. You will need to go back and repeat the exercise until your dog is completely comfortable listening to the sound that scares him. Have him focus on you by giving him simple commands like sit, lay down, etc. while playing the tape. Play games with him, read a book to him, groom him and talk quietly as you stroke his coat with a comb. Dogs react to pleasurable stimulus and when his mind is in a relaxed state and he sees you staying calm, those scary noises suddenly aren't so bad. When he stays calm, always reward him with praise and a treat, like CANIDAE Snap-Bits™. If he becomes scared while you're talking to him, playing with him or grooming him, stop what you're doing until he calms down. Only reward the behavior you want your dog to learn.

Moving too fast can have a negative result that could allow the dog to become even more fearful. Let your patience control your every move when you're trying to change dog behavior by desensitizing him. It can be a long process that can take months to help him get over his fear of loud noises.

If you have a dog who displays aggression when he's scared, enlisting the help of an animal behaviorist is recommended. Aggression, especially if it's severe, can be dangerous for you and for your dog. Sometimes it's best to let a professional handle an aggressive dog issue. Ruthie Bently has a great article on “Medical and Behavioral Causes for Canine Aggression.”

Dogs will instinctively do one of three things when they're scared. They will run, freeze or fight. When working with a dog to desensitize him, it's important to take things slow and easy. Make sure he can succeed with each step you take and reward him every time. Positive reinforcement is a powerful training tool that can help a dog overcome his fear. There is no set time limit on when you're done desensitizing your dog. It all depends on his level of fear and how long he's been afraid.

Desensitization can also work for other dog behavior issues, such as being afraid of other dogs or people, dogs who don't like their paws touched or those with grooming issues. Fear can cause a dog to become aggressive, and an aggressive dog is apt to bite. So take things nice and slow, stay patient and calm to help your dog learn there's nothing to fear from loud noises.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The Best Pet Costumes Ever

Happy Halloween!
For your Halloween gift from Kelly and I, check out these great costumed pet pix from "Hello Kitty, Teen Wolf & More: The Funniest Costumes for Pets ," The Huffington Post.











Does wearing Halloween costumes embarrass pets? Experts disagree, according to this Houston Chronicle report.

Live Animal Sports Team Mascots

By Suzanne Alicie

There are many animals that are known for their jobs, including the famous Bud Light “spokesdog” Spuds Mackenzie, the Taco Bell Chihuahua and the Geico gecko. These are popular advertising animals that are easily recognizable. For sports fans, there are some animals that are even more recognizable. Those are the live animal sports team mascots that are known and loved by fans across the country.

A sports team mascot often travels with the team and spends time with the players, coaches, cheerleaders and sports fans. Some of the most well known real live sports mascots are beloved by college teams such as the University of Georgia Bulldogs. The bulldogs are represented by Uga, an American bulldog. There are several college teams that use live animals as their sports team mascots. Dogs, alligators, mules and bears are all out there representing their teams, interacting with fans and boosting morale and spirit for their teams.

When it comes to working animals, being a sports team mascot sounds like a pretty good deal. These animals have trainers, and caretakers who look after their nutrition, exercise and health care, as well as handling travel arrangements and appearances for the mascots. Special care is given to these mascots because they are live animals, and they deserve to be treated well – even sports teams can be responsible pet owners. Animal mascots are respected and well cared for by all who are involved.

The college football tradition of a live animal mascot is one that often leads to having a mascot which makes no sense to the team. For example, the University of Tennessee Volunteers has a costumed human mascot who looks much like one would expect Davy Crockett to appear, but with no explanation or reason the Volunteers also have a live animal mascot in the form of Smokey, a blue tick hound. Nevertheless, most fans believe that having a live mascot which makes no sense, is better than having a costumed human mascot that does.

The Louisiana State University Bengal tiger named Mike V (as in 5) recently passed way at the age of 17. This is quite old as far as tigers go. However, L.S.U. didn’t cave in to the pressure to not obtain another live Bengal, and they now feature Mike VI as the L.S.U. mascot.

A mascot is chosen for their ability to represent the spirit of their team. Uga for example, always puts on a great show at games, straining at his leash to “get” an opposing team member. Live college football mascots are a fun and traditional part of college sports and the animals that are chosen are beloved by fans all across the country. They receive fan mail and their photos appear on many promotional items. Live animal mascots are very well cared for “super stars” for their team and their fans. 

So who is your favorite live animal sports team mascot? I am not really a sports fan, but I personally like Uga.

Uga VII: Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Could Your Dog Ace the “Canine Good Citizen” test?

By Julia Williams

Having a well-trained feline is not something most cat owners care about. Not because cats can’t be trained – they certainly can – but it’s really not necessary for everyday life. Dog owners, on the other hand, do need to make sure their canine buddy is well trained and well behaved. Trained dogs make better companions, and the training process helps you build a stronger bond with your dog.

Many pet owners use the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen® (CGC) certification program as the first step in training their dogs. Passing the 10-step CGC test ensures that your dog has good manners both at home and out in the world. Having a well behaved dog makes you a better neighbor, and makes it more likely that your dog is welcomed in your community.

What is the Canine Good Citizen program?

The American Kennel Club started the CGC program in 1989 as a way to promote responsible dog ownership and to encourage the training of well-mannered dogs. A dog and his owner (or handler) must take a short behavioral evaluation consisting of ten objectives. Dogs who pass earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate from the AKC, which some owners use after the dog's name, e.g., “Rover, CGC.”

Many other countries have developed similar programs based on the AKC’s CGC Program. A CGC Neighborhood Model has been established, police and animal control agencies use CGC for dealing with dog problems, some Therapy Dog programs use the CGC as a screening tool, and some 4-H groups use the CGC as a beginning dog training program for children.

Benefits of the Canine Good Citizen program

Working with your dog to teach the CGC skills gives you an introduction to the world of obedience training. Dogs that have a solid obedience education are more fun to live with, because they behave better in the presence of people and other dogs. Many dog owners find working with their dogs to obtain their CGC so enjoyable that they decide to explore other AKC training programs. The Canine Good Citizen program lays the foundation for all other AKC activities, including obedience trials, agility, tracking, and performance events.

Before you and Fido take the Canine Good Citizen test, you will need to sign the Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. The AKC believes this is a key part of the CGC concept, and signing the pledge means you agree to take care of your dog's health needs, safety, exercise, training, and quality of life. You also must agree to be a responsible pet owner by doing things like cleaning up after your dog in public places, and not letting your dog infringe on the rights of others.

CGC Test 1: Accepting a friendly stranger - demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The dog must not show resentment or shyness, and must not break position.

CGC Test 2: Sitting politely for petting - demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. He must not show shyness or resentment.

CGC Test 3: Appearance and grooming - demonstrates that your dog will allow being groomed and examined. Must also appear to be healthy (proper weight, clean, and alert).

CGC Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead) - demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog and should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to their movements and direction changes.

CGC Test 5: Walking through a crowd - demonstrates that your dog can move politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. He should not jump on people or strain on the leash.

CGC Test 6: Sit and down on command, and staying in place - demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down, and will remain in place.

CGC Test 7: Coming when called - demonstrates that your dog will come when you call him.

CGC Test 8: Reaction to another dog - demonstrates that your dog can behave politely around other dogs.

CGC Test 9: Reaction to distraction- demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with distracting situations.

CGC Test 10: Supervised separation - demonstrates that your dog can be left with a trusted person, and will maintain training and good manners.

Who can participate?

Both purebred and mixed dogs are welcome in the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program. Dogs do not have to be registered with the AKC or any other canine organization to earn their CGC certification, and there is no age limit for the CGC test – a dog is never too old to be a good citizen!

Local specialty breed clubs, AKC judges, 4-H leaders, therapy dog evaluators, veterinarians, vet techs, groomers, private trainers, kennel owners, animal control and police K-9 officers can all give the CGC test. You can use the AKC website to find an evaluator in your area.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Wednesday Pet Roundup!

* From the AP, a proposition on Missouri ballots would create stricter laws for commercial dog breeders, calling for restricting numbers of breeding pairs, enlarging living quarters, requiring veterinary care and creating a misdemeanor crime for "puppy mill cruelty." A good start? Or not hardly enough?

* How long is the world's longest cat? According to Fox-11 online--and the Guiness Book of World Records-- 48 and 1/2 inches from nose to tail. The record-holder is Stewie, a five-year old Maine Coon Cat.

* The Washington Post tells us about a Maryland company, Dogs Finding Drugs, which is renting their drug-sniffing dogs to parents who want to locate their teens' stashes.

* Ever felt the need to thoroughly analyze the rate at which a wet dog must shake in order to shed droplets of water from its coat? Want to hear a scientist thoroughly discuss this phenomenon on NPR? Or would you just like to see cute video of the wet dog shake?

* Cute pig alert! Check out the piggie in wellies from Life magazine!

* More cute. Cute puppy alert!

Responsible Pet Care is a Lifetime Commitment

By Linda Cole

So many pets find their way to shelters for one reason or another. Sometimes an owner decides that they can’t or don’t want to take care of their pet any longer. For most responsible pet owners, every single day spent with our pet gives us an unconditional love that's hard to beat. Deciding to bring a pet into your life is a commitment that should never be done lightly, and if you do decide to offer a pet a home, it's should be for the pet's lifetime. Responsible pet ownership means promising to take care of the pet through sickness and health – in good times and bad – for the life of the pet.

When you decide you are ready to share your home with a pet, it's important to make sure the pet is the right match for your lifestyle. But the first thing you need to consider is if you are ready for a lifetime commitment of responsible pet care. Adopting a dog or cat means you have considered the expense for a lifetime of quality pet food, veterinary care, vaccinations, spaying or neutering, toys, beds, leashes, collars and any other expense that may be associated with your pet. Taking care of a pet isn't cheap, but every dollar spent is well worth the investment because they will give you a lifetime of love, loyalty and companionship no matter where you live, who you hang out with, what your income level is, or how nice (or clunky) your car is. A pet will stick with you through thick and thin, and it's only fair we do the same for them.

Circumstances beyond our control can change plans and lives in the blink of an eye. An illness, loss of a job or having to relocate because of a new job can leave a pet owner with few options. Sometimes that lifetime commitment must be broken and heartbreaking partings have to take place for owners who truly love their pets. The bond we share with our pets is strong, and they know more than they get credit for. But circumstances can sometimes rule out keeping a pet, and there's nothing you can do.

Unfortunately, there are pet owners who have never made a lifetime commitment to their pet. They see pets differently and have no problem getting one for a short time before giving that pet away and then getting another one, repeating the cycle every few years. Pets are not fashion statements! They are living beings with feelings. They feel pain and will mourn the loss of another pet or their human. Dogs and cats love being with the people they trust and respect. They are there when we're sad, happy, angry, or when we just want to be alone.

Pets ask no questions, they make no judgments, spread no rumors and tell no secrets. Dogs and even cats will put their life on the line to protect us. The least we can do for them is be responsible pet owners and give them a lifetime commitment for a happy, safe, healthy and balanced home. Julia Williams wrote a great article for this blog, “23 Ways to Be a Responsible Pet Owner,” that has some good advice for taking care of our four legged friends.

When you bring a dog or cat into your home, you're making a commitment to care for and love that pet for up to 15 years or more. Dogs require exercise, some more than others, and both cats and dogs want and need our attention. They want to spend time with us just because of who we are. There are things to consider before bringing a pet into a home, but once you do, it'll be the best decision you ever made.

Responsible pet care is a lifetime commitment. Pets aren't something to be discarded because they don't match the living room curtains or because they don't do what you say. If you don't take the time to train them, how are they supposed to know what you expect from them? Pets are pretty good at reading our body language and understanding our moods, but they can't read our minds –well, I don't think they can, but sometimes I wonder. Pets are not something you get to impress the neighbors or family members and you don't get rid of them just because they have an accident on the living room rug or develop a behavioral problem.

A pet should be forever; a lifetime commitment to love, honor and protect a dog or cat with the best pet care possible. A pet would never consider giving us away for any reason, and they give us a lifetime of unconditional love with no questions asked.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

What am I missing?

I'm looking at some of the newly posted pages on Daisy Trail and they're gorgeous.  But...but...all I see are the embellishments, not the pictures that the embellishments surround.

Or completely simple pages that are equally gorgeous in their simplicity, but...but...the picture's so small on the page that it's barely noticeable and, so, it doesn't seem to be the focal point.

I know that for some, this is more an art form than simply scrapping pictures and memories, and to each his own.  But more and more, I feel that ornate doesn't suit me - unless it's a special page for a challenge or some such - my point in my scrapping is to preserve the memory and, for that, I can't put so many embellishments and "stuff" on my pages that the memory (picture) is secondary to the "stuff."  

JMHO and YMMV!  :-)

PPOM Adds a Deeper Dimension to Hospice Care

When I train new hospices about the Pet Peace of Mind program, I try to explain that the program is an extension of hospice care, not just a program that feeds and cares for pets. By helping pets, the program helps patients too, sometimes in ways that are difficult to explain. This month's story is a good example of this concept and comes from Hospice of Humboldt in California. Pet Peace of Mind Coordinator Kathleen Kistler tells the story:

"This month began with Nurse Marian Reeves relating to me a distressing story of an impoverished patient and her family. This family consisted of the patient, her husband, three teenagers, two cats and two kittens, all living in a single room. Marian told me that very day, the patient watched helplessly as one of the kitttens died, gasping for breath as its life ended. The patient was distressed and grieving, not only because the kitten died, but because she was afraid she might die the same way. We began to think of how we could use Pet Peace of Mind to make the situation better for the family. First, we loaded some cat food and litter for Marian to take to the family that afternoon. A few days later, I called the family and arranged to have the cats spayed and neutered, as well as have their vaccinations updated. We also made plans to continue to provide food, litter and flea treatment for all three. A local rescue organization, Bless the Beasts, offered to help and even gave us discounted services. Carole Beaton took care of picking up the cats and boarded them the night before the surgery to make sure they were fasted properly. She also returned them to the family, all on her own time."

Imagine this patient facing her own fears about dying as she watched her kitten take its last breath. Imagine the helplessness the hospice nurse felt as she comforted this woman. The patient needed to know that hospice would be there for her when she died, not just because of the words they said, but because of their actions. By going above and beyond to care for the family pets, the hospice modeled the care they intend to give this patient and her family when they need it most, at the time of her death.

Howling Halloween Tips for Pets

Sunday is Halloween. Here's Kelly in her lovely red wig (dressing up like her sister, who is a redhead.) You may be preparing costumes for the kids, stocking up on the good candy to hand out, or just planning on just hiding in a dark room and avoiding the whole thing. Either way, the candy, the knocks on the door, and all that excitement is sure to take a toll on the dog.

From Christy Howard for boston.com, here are some Safety Tips for Pets on Halloween.

1. If your dog is staying home to "help" you hand out treats, keep your dog in another room during trick-or-treating hours. If I let ours greet every kid for three hours, they would be so tired they probably wouldn't get up the next morning.

2. Give your dogs a new treat or toy to occupy their time; you don't want the dog to feel like they are being punished.

3. If you are dressing up your dog in a costume, they should be able to walk without any interference to their gait. This also means you need to be able to put a leash on the dog. You have to watch that the costume doesn't interfere with the collar or leash area.

4. Make sure the dog's vision is not impaired while wearing the costume.

5. If you are taking your dog out trick or treating, make sure you watch your dog so they don't ingest any dropped candy or that people don't feed your dog candy. Aside from the fact that chocolate is toxic to dogs, the wrappers of even candy without chocolate can be harmful if ingested by your dog.

Thank you Christy for your great article. Check out the complete article for more.

And here's a tip of my own:
Before trick or treaters arrive, we take the screen out of our screen door. That way we can just hand out the candy through the open part, and the bottom half of the door is solid so Kelly won't accidentally slip out an open door.

What are your Halloween tricks and treats for your pets?

My embossing challenge page...

Sheesh, I spend more time entering challenges than I do working on either Oreo's scrapbook or my cruise scrapbook!  LOL!  That...must...end!

Anyway, here is a page I created for the Embossing Challenge at Scrapbook Flair:




The orchid is mine, cut out in DSA2 (each part of the flower) so I could get each piece embossed.  The pic is from a cruise my mom and I took last Christmas.  The embellishments and background are from a kit called For My Mom by Collab Girls Creations.  I love their kits, they're chock-full of elements!

Humor: How to Make Your Cat Do What You Want

By Tamara L. Waters

If you have a cat, you already know that making it do anything is next to impossible. Can it be done though? Let's find out. Here are a few tips on just that— try them if you dare!

Exert Your Authority

One of the first steps in making your cat do what you want it to do is to exert your authority. Make sure your cat knows you are the boss. You must make this clear from the very beginning and never allow your kitty to forget that you are in charge.

Remember, most cats don't go along with this step willingly. They will allow you to think you are in charge, but the reality is that you really aren't. Your cat will go along with this fantasy as the mood suits him or her in an effort to raise your self-esteem. Rest assured though, when kitty allows you think you're in charge, you will feel like the king of the world!

Train Your Kitty

After you’ve made it clear to your cat that you are head honcho, you will need to train them. Training involves teaching your cat and making sure your authority is not challenged and that your cat respects you.

You can train your cat using treats, affection and a stern voice. If you tell your kitty enough times to stay off of the kitchen counters or the table, eventually they will understand and obey in an effort to please you and win your approval.

As part of kitty training, you will need to make sure your cat understands what other parts of your home are off limits. If you do not want your cat on the furniture, train her to stay away. Use a cat bed to train her to only sleep in that particular spot. This will help cut down on excessive cat hair and other messes your cat can make.

In addition, you will need to make sure kitty knows and understands what toys he is allowed to play with. Choose proper toys for your cat, and only allow him to play with the designated kitty toys. He is sure to love any choices you make simply because you – his loving owner — picked them out.

Expect Obedience

You should expect obedience from your cat. Do not allow him to show you disdain or disobedience. Your cat will appreciate the structure of your behavioral expectations. Do not back down and even if your cat ignores you, know that he will eventually thank you for staying strong and continuing to challenge him.

Discipline Your Kitty

If your cat disobeys and is stubborn about training and doing what you want it to do, you can offer discipline through removing favorite playthings. Your cat will immediately see the error of his ways and work to get back on your good side to earn his toys back. Every cat strives to be in his owner's good graces and affections.

Finally...

Ignore all of the above advice – it is a work of fiction. Your cat will do whatever the heck he wants to do, and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it. As a matter of fact, your cat will do what he wants and will continue to prove to you daily that you will accept this behavior. After all, you are really the one who has been trained. Get used to it!

Read more articles by Tamara L. Waters

Survey: Online Retailers Expect Improved Holiday Sales

According to a recent article from Pet Product News, The majority of online retailers expect strong sales this holiday season, according to a survey released today by the National Retail Federation’s digital division, Shop.org.

The eHoliday Study, conducted by BigResearch, found that nearly two thirds, or 63.8 percent, of the 51 online retailers surveyed expect their company’s online sales to increase 15 percent or more compared to last holiday season. Last year, 45.8 percent of the retailers surveyed had those expectations.

Online retailers may have good reason to expect better sales this holiday season. Overall holiday retail sales are expected to increase at least 2.3 percent over last year, according to forecasts made recently by NRF and Kantar Retail, a consultant group in Columbus, Ohio.

“Retailers continue to see the web as a bright spot in the industry and are putting the finishing touches on new site features so their customers will have good experiences when shopping online this holiday season,” said Shop.org head of research Fiona Swerdlow. “In addition to using websites to bring in sales, retailers are leveraging the Internet to encourage shoppers to head to nearby stores, featuring store locator information, product availability and store circulars on their websites.”

Although it’s only October, 40 percent of the retailers surveyed said they will begin holiday marketing by Halloween, while another 40 percent said they plan to begin marketing the first week of November.

To attract customers, most of the retailers surveyed, 84.8 percent, plan to offer free shipping at some point during the holiday season, according to the survey. Nearly one-third, or 31.4 percent, said these offers will begin earlier this year than a year ago, and 36.7 percent of retailers said their budget for free shipping is higher than last holiday season.

The majority of retailers surveyed said they are investing in site features and services to maximize their holiday sales. About 72 percent said they have invested in the company’s Facebook page in advance of the holidays, 54.9 percent said they have invested in cross-selling on product pages, 54.9 percent said they have invested in site search and 52.9 percent said they have invested in customer ratings and reviews, according to the survey. Another 43.1 percent of retailers said they have invested more this holiday season in a Twitter campaign or Twitter feed.

“Online retailers know shoppers care about low prices and free shipping, but they also appreciate the ability to easily find gift ideas or shop around the clock,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for BigResearch. “Instead of trying to entice shoppers to come to them, retailers will be leveraging social media in an even more vibrant way this holiday season to reach consumers where they already are: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”

As part of the survey, BigReserach polled 2,583 consumers about their holiday shopping plans. About one-third, or 32.2 percent, of the shoppers surveyed said they’ll make more of their holiday purchases on the Web this year, listing 24-hour convenience (35.1 percent), easy price comparisons (33.1 percent) and a lack of desire to fight the crowds (30.8 percent) among the main reasons why they’re shifting a portion of their spending.

Of 6.1 percent of online shoppers who said they’ll spend less of their holiday budget online than a year ago, 19.2 percent cited issues with expensive shipping charges, 13.9 percent said they’d prefer to see or handle an item before purchasing it and 5.7 percent said they did not want to wait for the item to be delivered.

How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

By Ruthie Bently

The immune system is one of the most important functions of any organism, including dogs. An immune system is a multi-faceted defense system against sickness. It enables a dog’s body to differentiate between germs, foreign substances and itself. When functioning properly, the immune system fights fungal infections, bacterial infections and illnesses, offers parasite protection, helps eliminate toxins from the body, and kills viruses. There are several ways to boost your dog’s immune system to help keep them healthy.

The immune system is adept at recognizing threats, and uses many layers to fight any infection that may present itself. The immune system is comprised of multiple cellular warriors, capable of recognizing pathogens that may attack. The immune system recognizes these pathogens by the proteins and chemicals they release. As a pathogen is recognized it is attacked, killed and consumed by the cells of the immune system. The immune system is capable of creating a memory of the pathogen to thwart a reinfection attempt.

If a pathogen is reencountered, the immune system recognizes its chemical makeup, which causes the immune system to create antibodies to attack the invading infection. Sometimes the infection succeeds in attacking the body’s cells internally. The cells that are attacked are able to alert the immune system by displaying a protein signature of the infection. Another group of cells responsible as a secondary line of defense go into action by killing the infected cells and notifying additional immune cells that there is an infection in the organism, which kills the invading cells.  

Feeding your dog a premium quality food like CANIDAE Grain Free ALS or CANIDAE All Life Stages is very important for a properly functioning immune system. Both formulas fulfill a dog’s daily food requirements and supply your dog with important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help their immune system. If you don’t recognize some of the ingredients on your pet food label, learn what the terms on your dog food bag mean.

Getting daily exercise is one of the cornerstones for a good immune system. A daily walk or daily outside play with a ball or favorite activity stimulates a dog’s lymphatic system which is part of the immune system. Daily exercise goes a long way toward keeping your dog’s mental attitude positive, and enables the immune system to work properly. It calms your dog and helps reduce stress that may affect their immune system. Attempt to minimize anything that triggers your dog’s stress. Soothe your dog during situations that may be stressful to them (i.e. vet visits, car traveling, thunderstorms). Alternative therapies like massage or Reiki can help your dog relax, which cuts their stress level and assists the immune system function properly.

Fresh, clean water is another important part of a healthy immune system. Water hydrates your dog and enables their body to flush out unhealthy toxins. Other things you can do to assist your dog’s immune system and help them stay healthy include annual vet visits and taking them in to the vet if they become ill. 

If a dog’s immune system is not functioning properly it can cause health issues (some chronic) throughout their whole body. If a dog contracts an auto-immune disease, their immune function can be affected. A dog can suffer chronic stress caused by any form of trauma (cancer or other disease, improper diet, or abuse) and this can cause an immune system dysfunction.  It’s been recently found that a dog’s poor diet can cause a decreased immunity in its puppies, even if they are fed a nutritional diet. Other issues a dog with an immune system dysfunction can be vulnerable to are: allergies, arthritis, degenerative and reproductive disorders, demodectic mange, ear infections, eczema, and yeast infections. 

So, feed your dog the most natural food you can. Make sure it’s nutritionally balanced and provides adequate vitamins and minerals as well as omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Provide fresh water and exercise your dog daily. Take your dog to the veterinarian annually. Minimize use of chemicals around your dog; using them too often may lead to immune system dysfunction. By utilizing these tips, you can help boost your dog’s immune system, maintain its proper function and help your dog live a long, happy and healthy life.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

An Introduction to United Kennel Club

By Sara Chisnell-Voigt

Established in 1898, the United Kennel Club is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. More than 60 percent of its 13,000 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training, and instinct. UKC prides itself on its family-oriented, friendly, educational events. The UKC has supported the “Total Dog” philosophy through its events and programs for over a century. As a departure from registries that place emphasis on a dog’s looks, UKC events are designed for dogs that look and perform equally well.

“Total Dog” Award   

The “Total Dog” Award is just one of many things that makes UKC so special, and illustrates that function is just as important as form. In order to win a “Total Dog” award, a dog must obtain a competition win in conformation, and must also earn a qualifying leg in a performance event (agility, obedience, weight pull, or a licensed hunt) at the same event. This rewards dogs that not only shine in the show ring, but are superb athletes as well.

Conformation

UKC conformation events, or dog shows, are a little different from other registries. Since UKC is focused on family-oriented events, no professional handlers are permitted. This means the UKC show ring is much more beginner friendly, and more emphasis is placed on the dog rather than how the dog is handled and displayed. While I am not new to the dog world, I am new to the show world. However, I have learned a lot over the past year in showing conformation with UKC – the shows are very laid-back, and people are very friendly and willing to help. If you have any desire to try conformation, UKC is a great place to jump right in!

Altered Conformation

Another program I love that UKC added just this year is licensing Altered Conformation classes. This means if you have a purebred, pedigreed dog, but it’s spayed or neutered, you can still become involved in conformation. The dog can even earn an Altered Champion title. I started in conformation with my older GSP by competing in non-licensed altered classes at shows to get myself ready for my pup that I’m now showing. It’s a great way to become introduced to the sport – not everyone wants to have an intact dog, so this is a way to still enjoy the sport without that factor.

Performance Events

UKC is way more than just dog shows! More often than not, a performance event or two will be held in conjunction with the dog shows. Performance events include: agility, obedience, rally obedience, weight pull, terrier racing, and dock jumping. And then there’s hunting! UKC licenses hunting retriever tests, pointing dog trials, squirrel dog hunts, beagle hunts, and one of the largest programs at UKC: coonhound events.

Coonhound Events

Hunting with hounds is an American tradition that’s still immensely popular. UKC's competitive hound programs offer events for coonhound enthusiasts belonging to over 1,300 clubs throughout the United States and Canada. In fact, one of the UKC's series of events enters more than 17,000 coonhounds annually and ranks as the largest sporting dog event of any kind in the world! No longer restricted to down-on-the-farm family gatherings, today's competition houndsmen encompass all walks of life and professional venues. The fast-paced, head-to-head action of competition hound events provides plenty of excitement as the hound/handler teams battle it out in search of national recognition and titles. Not unlike the professional end of any sport, owners and handlers compete for thousands of dollars worth of prizes annually. In a similar fashion to the popular catch-and-release fishing tournaments, all game is left totally undisturbed to run another day.

Breed Recognition

UKC currently recognizes over 300 dog breeds. The UKC looks to the country of origin for breed standards in order to continue the vision for the particular breed. For example, I consider my “breed” to be German Shorthaired Pointers. In their country of origin, obviously Germany, black GSP’s have always been a factor in the breed, and are accepted. Other American registries consider black GSP’s a disqualifying fault, but as UKC follows the standard created and maintained by the country that created the breed, black GSP’s are perfectly acceptable. I have a black GSP that would be thrown out of the show ring in other registries but has finished his Champion title with UKC, and I’m grateful for that opportunity.

Single Registration

If you are interested in participating in UKC events and own a purebred dog registered elsewhere, you can register your dog with UKC through the single registration process. You must have proof that your dog is registered with a UKC-acknowledged registry, which varies depending on breed, but for the majority of breeds include the following: American Kennel Club, The Kennel Club (Great Britain), Canadian Kennel Club, and any FCI affiliated registry. Dogs that meet all requirements and registered through the single registration process enjoy all the same event and registration privileges as dogs born from UKC registered parents.

Limited Privilege Program

If you are interested in participating in UKC events, but own a rescue or non-registered dog, don’t fret! UKC encourages all dog owners to be active with their dogs, and in order to be all-inclusive, UKC started the Limited Privilege program 15 years ago. Limited Privilege enrollment is for purebred dogs without pedigrees or disqualifying faults, or rescue dogs and even mixed breeds. You simply complete an LP application and provide proof that the dog is spayed or neutered, and if you want the dog listed as a breed, then provide three pictures. LP dogs can enter any performance events except conformation. LP dogs are not classified separately and compete against purebred dogs in performance events. For more information, go to www.ukcdogs.com

Photo by Ellen Levy Finch

Where can you see the Pandas?

...At the National Zoo in Washington DC!

I'm straying a bit from dogs and cats to share with you a few animals a bit more exotic. Last weekend we took a trip to the National Zoo. (I'm sorry to say Kelly was not invited.)

The zoo is pretty, clean and nicely landscaped. The habitats looked pretty decent, for the most part. Most were landscaped outdoor areas with trees, and things to do. Some had an inside house, with free access to the outside areas. These were, obviously, less natural in appearance, and also more difficult to view the animals. I think zoos today are more conscious than in years before to give the animals healthy conditions, and provide them with activities and stimulation.










The National Zoo is one of the few zoos in the US where you can see Pandas.














I liked the lions too. The mothers kept telling their kids "Look! It's Simba's mom and dad!"















One of the most interesting aspects of the zoo was the orangutan crossing. The orangutans climbed high towers and traversed on these ropes across to other towers, ending in a habitat across the park. Where pedestrian paths crossed underneath, you were warned you might be in a "splash zone," and we did get to witness this phenomenon first hand. I'll not soon forget the sound of orangutan droppings splattering on the pavement.











































Trust me, there's a head in this furry mass somewhere. And check out the toes!















If you get the chance, you really "otter" go visit the National Zoo. Admission is free (parking is $20).

Just How Smart is a Border Collie?

By Linda Cole

Border Collies are considered one of the smartest dog breeds around. They excel at herding sheep and can learn voice commands, follow directions from a whistle or hand signals, and can understand more words than most dogs. Border Collies are smart, but just how smart are they?

The Border Collie sits at the top of the list of most intelligent dog breeds, and some people believe they are the smartest dog in the world. This is a dog who will keep his owner on their toes, especially if they don't research the breed before getting one. Border Collies require a lot of exercise, and need to do a job to stay out of trouble. A bored Border Collie is capable of almost anything, because he will find something to do to entertain himself.

This is a dog breed that never stops thinking and has the ability to stay one step ahead of his owner. You can practically see the wheels turning in his head as he searches his environment and notices everything going on around him. If you take the time, this dog can learn almost anything you want to teach him and he thrives on learning. A Border Collie needs plenty of mental stimulation and physical exercise to keep his mind and body in good shape. Just be careful what you do teach him, because he won't easily forget and he may use his intelligence to teach himself things you don't want him to learn.

Border Collies are medium sized dogs weighing from 25 to 65 lbs. They can think on their own and problem solve when necessary to complete a task before them. And I do mean any task. These dogs have a work ethic that's unstoppable, and they can stay focused on anything they set their mind on. They're experts at finding escape routes out of their pen, and some owners swear this dog breed can open locked doors and unlock gates to escape. If he's working sheep and out of hearing range or sight of his handler, he is capable of making decisions on his own. This hard working dog breed is a quick thinker and lets nothing stand in his way of doing the job he was bred to do.

Border Collies thrive on lots of praise, but they can be stubborn as well and will try to outsmart an unwary owner if given the upper hand. An owner needs to understand and be aware of the intelligence of this dog in order to keep him under control. A bored and untrained dog can have serious behavioral problems and will not be a good family pet, especially with small children. The dog can be sensitive to loud and sudden noises and they will try to herd anything that moves including kids, other dogs or cats, cars, livestock and even their owner.

If you don't have a herd of sheep available to help your Border Collie run off steam, the next best thing is to train and enter him in agility sports, sheepdog trials, disc dog or Flyball competitions, or dock diving. This dog breed has plenty of stamina to go the long haul, and usually comes out on top when competing in these events. Any of the above activities can give this fast learning dog an appropriate way to keep his mind focused and keep him fit. This dog loves being with his owner, and participating in a sport complements his competitive nature. Long hikes or runs will also satisfy his need for plenty of exercise. This dog is not a couch potato, and needs an active owner.

Border Collies are so smart and observant, they can pick up on the smallest variations in our tone of voice, how a command is given and even how we use our hands during training session. Subtle changes that go unnoticed by an owner can be picked up by the dog. These differences can be confusing to him because he thinks his owner is trying to teach him something new. It's important to stay as consistent as possible when training a Border Collie.

If you don't have the time or energy to give your all to a Border Collie, you'll be happier with a more laid back dog breed with less energy. Border Collies find their way into shelters because their owner didn't understand the needs of this athletic dog. Families with young children need to train the kids how to interact with their pet to avoid unwanted behavior from the dog and unnecessary punishment when he acts the only way he knows how.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Nine Ways to Make Your Pet Happy

By Julia Williams

Many people adore their pets (really, how could you NOT adore them?) and some even treat them “like children.” As a self-described Cat Lady myself, I see nothing wrong with that. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I live for my cats, or even that I live for their happiness – and yet, I wouldn’t dream of having them in my life if I couldn’t do things that brought them joy. They may not grin wide enough to eat a banana sideways, but they have a pretty good life. Here are some ways you can make your pet happy.

Feed Them a High Quality Food

Good food is the cornerstone of great health, and a healthy pet is a happy pet. Like us, our pets are energetic and in high spirits when they’re healthy. “We are what we eat” may be a cliché, but it’s the truth. Junk food is just that! Premium quality pet food like CANIDAE and FELIDAE, on the other hand, provides your four-legged friend with all of the nutrients they need for optimum health.

Spend Quality Time with Your Pet

Take time to play, each and every day. Pets don't understand “I’m too busy to play with you,” or “I had a grueling day at work and I’m beat.” They’ve been lying around the house all day with nothing to do, and YOU are the bright spot in their otherwise uneventful day. Even if all you can spare is five or ten minutes, it’s time well spent because those precious minutes will make your pet happy.

Groom Your Pet Often

Like playtime, grooming is something that most pets love. Regular brushing doesn't just make Fido or Fluffy look pretty and feel good, though. Routine grooming also helps prevent skin and coat problems, enables you to detect problems in their early stages, and strengthens the bond between you and your pet. (See Basic Dog Grooming for more information).

Give Healthy Treats Once in Awhile

If your pets are anything like mine, it’s easy to see how ecstatic they get when the treats come out. Wildly wagging tails, excited barks, loud meows and nonstop purring communicate the message quite clearly. I’m still waiting for FELIDAE to make cat treats, but CANIDAE offers two natural and nutritious treats for dogs: the bite-sized Snap-Bits™ and their larger cousin, Snap Biscuit® treats.

Take Your Pet to the Vet

Now, I know what you’re thinking – how can vet visits make my pet happy? It’s true that many cats and dogs don't relish a trip to the vet. My cats wail so loud in the car (and more embarrassingly, in the vet’s waiting room) that it sounds like some sort of medieval kitty torture is taking place. Nevertheless, keeping their bodies healthy is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and like I said earlier, healthy pets are happy pets.

Tell Fleas & Ticks to Take a Hike

These pesky critters can cause intense itching that makes your dog or cat miserable. Some pets are so sensitive that a single flea bite can create a condition called “flea allergy dermatitis” which causes them to scratch and bite at their skin nonstop. Staying vigilant in the fight against fleas and ticks can help keep your pet happily itch free.

Stimulate Their Minds

Everyone knows how important regular exercise is for their pet, but did you know that mental stimulation is just as essential? Teach your pet tricks (yes, even cats can learn tricks!), participate in dog agility or feline agility competitions, or introduce your dog to fun sports like dock diving, flyball and lure coursing. If pets are left alone all day, buy them a couple of those “pet sitter” videos that play continuously on the TV. 

Talk to Your Pet

You don’t have to believe that your pet actually understands your words to see the value in talking to your pet. Our words have the power to calm, to motivate and to help our pets feel loved. I watched a very touching Youtube video titled “A Dog’s Wish” that said it best: speak to me often, for your voice is the sweetest music.

Do What They Love

This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to make your pet happy. Every animal is a unique being with individual likes and dislikes. It’s up to you to get to know them well, so that you understand what it is they love most – be it belly rubs, ear scratches, petting, being hugged, or sitting quietly on your lap. Do what makes them happy, and they’ll give you unconditional love in return. The “Dog’s Wish” video had another quote I love: treat me kindly my beloved friend, for no heart on earth is more grateful for kindness than ours.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday Pet Roundup

Hi and Welcome to Wednesday Pet Roundup! This is Pepe, my friend's wonderful Vermont kitty.

* Looking for a good dog book? Go to the always-fascinating Life With Dogs blog and enter to win a copy of The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant.

* More contests! Got a great Halloween costume for your pet? Enter Petsmart's Halloween Costume photo contest by October 23rd. Also, The Daily Kibble Halloween pet photo contest.

* Sad that this even has to be a consideration: The Miami Herald reports that the Palm Beach FL animal shelter is one of many across the country halting adoption of black cats until after Halloween. Read more about black cats and Halloween in this Minneapolis Star Tribune article.

* The Peninsula Humane Society& SPCA in California is offering a discount on adoption fees for black and/or orange cats, however. These cats, of which there are about 50 currently, may be adopted for only $9. Why? To honor the San Francisco Giants National League Division Series victory. The team colors are orange and black. Time for Giants football fans to adopt a mascot cat!

* Let's end with a smile. Does your pet smile? A picture is worth a thousand words. Healthy & Green Living compiled these smiling pet photos.

Fall Pet Care Tips for Dog Owners

By Suzanne Alicie

As cooler weather moves in, there are certain things that responsible pet owners should take care of before winter hits. Autumn is the ideal time to do several basic pet maintenance tasks to ensure that your dog has a warm and comfortable winter.

Bath and Treatments - I always give my dog a good end-of summer-bath, followed by all the basic grooming and treatment applications. Fall seems to be a time when dogs experience some itching and allergic reactions that affect their skin. Finding and treating itchy hot spots, applying flea and tick prevention medication, cleaning ears, and clipping nails are all part of fall bath time around my house.

Check Equipment - Fall is a good time to do an end-of-season check of all collars, leashes, harnesses, fences, leads and runs. You don’t want to end up chasing your dog through the cold of the winter weather when he escapes from a broken fence or when his leash breaks. That is definitely not on my to-do list; I prefer to hibernate in the winter. Making sure these items are all in good condition before the snow flies is a good way to prevent having to wander the streets calling for Fido in cold temperatures.

Outdoor Preparations - If your dog spends time outdoors in the winter, it is crucial to make sure he has clean warm bedding and shelter from the elements. A garage or a large insulated doghouse will make a big difference in the warmth and comfort of your outdoor pet. All outdoor bedding should be washed and treated for fleas and ticks before replacing it in the dog’s space.

Remember that the cooler weather may be a relief from the heat of summer, but winter presents its own challenges to the health and comfort of your dog. Provide plenty of water, and premium quality dog food such as CANIDAE to keep your dog’s energy and metabolism up. Also keep in mind that just because you may not want to go out walking in the cold weather, your dog still needs to get exercise. A fenced yard or run can be the answer to your prayers throughout the winter months.

Winter Coat Care - Be sure your dog brush is up to par and ready for a busy season of brushing as your dog grows a thicker winter coat. And if your dog lives indoors, that same thick coat will likely shed throughout the winter since it is too warm for inside.

Another thing to check at this time is your vacuum, because a house full of dog hair and a broken vacuum do not go together. Dog hair is very hard on filters and vacuum cleaners in general. Until our most recent purchase 2 years ago, we had to buy a new vacuum every year. My new vacuum is made for homes with pets, and if you are a dedicated pet owner you may want to look into one of these. They are available from a few different brands and have great attachments for pet hair.

Autumn is the time when many people make home repairs and preparations for winter; your dog and his supplies should also fall into those preparations. This way, you know that you and your canine friend are prepared for cold weather, and that your dog will have a comfortable, warm winter no matter how cold the winds blow.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Now our pets are fat, too

Interesting article on the weight of pets.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 percent of Americans over age 20 were overweight as of 2008, and another 33.8 percent were obese. As human waistlines have ballooned, so has pets' girth: A 2009 national survey of veterinarians by the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity found that 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were overweight or obese. Those numbers revealed a 2 percent increase in dog weight problems from the year before, and a 5 percent increase for cats.

The article contains some diet tips for your pets.

Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Stress Free on Halloween

By Linda Cole

Halloween isn't a very pet friendly holiday. I had a dog who was scared to death of Halloween masks. Even though she knew it was me underneath the mask, she would become aggressive and vocal. My cat Milo also had one of his nine lives scared out of him by a rather large rubber rat one Halloween, and it took him a long time to recover from his fright. He checked under the covers every night for almost a month before he'd even think about crawling in bed with me.

We don't always stop to realize how certain holidays are seen by our pets, and Halloween is one that does give some pets a fright. Because of that large rubber rat and an audio tape of Halloween noises, Milo freaked out when the rat accidentally fell off the table. Unknown to us at the time, the evil laughs, creaking doors and screams on the tape had put him on edge. The falling rat sent Milo racing to take refuge in the bathroom. When I found him, his eyes were huge, his heart was racing and he was quivering from his frightful encounter.

Like some children, pets can be traumatized by what we consider to be fun, albeit scary, Halloween traditions. Pets don't understand why their home has suddenly been invaded by a stream of people knocking at the door or ringing the doorbell. Dogs who get excited when company comes can become stressed each time the doorbell rings. And to add to the confusion, what he sees standing in the doorway are creatures instead of people. Stress can cause a dog to develop diarrhea and the constant excitement can cause him to become anxious, which could turn into aggression if he becomes scared. Consider putting an excitable dog in a quiet room away from all the activities where he can stay calm.

As I learned from Milo, cats can also show the same kind of stress as dogs. Cats who are scared are apt to race out the opened door to escape what they see as a threat. Cats and dogs that are normally friendly towards strangers can become aggressive and fearful on Halloween. It's best to put them away from the action in a less stressful area of the home. If you take your dog for evening walks, Halloween might be a good night to skip. With all the extra activity on the streets and sidewalks, some dogs can become excited which can turn into aggression for even the most mild mannered dog when he encounters strange looking creatures in his normally quiet and safe territory. If you must walk your dog on Halloween night, keep him on a short leash to avoid unwanted confrontations.

Some dogs and cats enjoy wearing a scary or cute Halloween costume, and they love the attention they get from all the “guests” who show up at their door. Just remember to make sure your pet’s costume isn't too confining and they have full movement of their legs. The costume shouldn't be tight around their neck. Hats should be fitted so they can't fall down over the pet's eyes. If you do dress up your pet on Halloween, pay attention to make sure they want the costume on, and take it off if you see they don’t like it.

Many homes have Halloween candles, Jack-O-Lanterns and holiday decorations inside and outside the home. Keep pets safe by making sure all electrical cords are stashed out of the way, decorations are high enough that a dog or cat can't pull them down and eat or chew them, and candles or Jack-O-Lanterns can't be accidentally knocked over by wagging tails or inquiring paws or noses. And make sure they stay out of the candy bag, because chocolate is toxic to pets.

If you have outside cats, especially a black cat, they are safer inside on Halloween. Unfortunately, some people think it's fun to mistreat black cats, but all cats can be at risk. Outdoor cats should be confined inside starting about a week before Halloween until three or four days after the holiday. Pet shops and shelters are suspicious of people wanting black cats around Halloween and many shelters refuse to let anyone adopt black cats this time of year. Any outside pet, including dogs, are safer inside until after Halloween.

Halloween is a fun holiday for humans, but it can be a stressful time for pets, even for those who don't mind all the ruckus and spooky costumes. With a little advance planning, we can keep our pets stay while we have our fun.

Photo by istolethetv

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Happy Puggerfest

Pugs, pugs and more pugs!

Stephanie Thompson, contributing editor for Guideposts and Angels on Earth magazines, recently attended Puggerfest with her 7-year-old daughter Micah, and their pug Princess. Was it fun? Did anything go wrong? Find out here!

Q- What is Puggerfest? Where is it held?

Puggerfest is a big pug party, if you ask my daughter Micah. According to the organizers, it’s a fund-raising event for Homeward Bound Pug Rescue. It's held in Oklahoma City, about 30 minutes from our home.

Q- What activities are held at Puggerfest?

Micah’s intuition was right and it was a big party. When we walked through the gate it was overwhelming! Pug dogs EVERYWHERE—more than a hundred (and more than 400 pugs attended in all!) and they were all off leash! (in a safely enclosed area). Micah, Princess and I hesitated at the entrance as we watched the parade of pugs sniffing and romping about.

I nervously asked, “Are all these dogs nice? Is it okay that they’re wandering around like this?”

The man laughed. “Of course! All pugs are friendly!”

They had contests: Longest tongue, pug races, tallest pug, best costume, best trick, best kisser, curliest tail and coronation of king and queen. They were also cooking hamburgers and hot dogs, had a photographer, a dog interpreter, and naturally, several pugs up for adoption.

Q- Did Princess participate?

God made Princess pretty, not talented. But she is a really good kisser. She and Micah are practicing for next year.

Q- What were the qualifications for the King and Queen contest? Did Princess enter, or was she content to remain a Princess?

The dogs who received the most votes were crowned King and Queen. And the way one voted was to buy a ticket. So literally, the title of king and queen pug dogs went to the highest bidder. But it’s all for a worthy cause, pug rescue efforts. Next year, I’ll be ready and maybe Princess will sit on that throne.

Q- What was the funniest thing that happened at Puggerfest?

Pugs have several traits in common: they snore, they love to sleep and they are all obsessed with eating! When some human sat down at a picnic table with a hamburger, hot dog, or bag of chips, pugs came from all across the yard, crowding in anxiously awaiting a crumb to drop.

Q- What, if anything, went wrong?

Micah loved playing with the dogs up for adoption, and really wanted to bring home another dog. After begging me for a couple hours and presenting Princess and me with several potential four-legged family members, I wavered. “Find out how much it costs to adopt a dog,” I told her.

There were no signs, so Micah went to the nearest worker, who was in the food area. She came back and said, “They’re three-fifty.”

I understood the need for charging a fee for adopting a dog, but that was more than I was prepared to pay. I had to break it to Micah that we just couldn’t pay $350 for a dog at that moment. She was so sad.

That night, I got on the website to try and figure out why they charged so much to adopt a dog. Finally I realized. Micah had asked at the food table, “How much are the dogs?” The price she got was $3.50 for a hot dog, not 350 dollars for a rescue dog!

Q- So, is another Pug in your future?

Homeward Bound Pug Rescue
is always in need of foster homes and we do have a big back yard. My husband and I are considering applying for a foster match to try and see how life is with two pugs. It’s uncharted territory since Micah is an only child and Princess and only dog.

Q- Tell me about Princess.

Nothing compares to life with a pug. Because of their comical faces, you can’t help but feel happy. And that curly tail! We sometimes uncurl her tail and she immediately turns and tries to catch the tip of it. Princess likes to go outside and wait with Micah for the school bus in the mornings and starts wheezing and whining about five minutes before we leave the house. That’s how we know the bus is coming!

Princess snores so loudly that I had to move her crate because I could hear it through the wall and she awakened me a couple times in the night!

Q- What are some of the reasons that you love pugs?

The cocking of the head when they try to understand what we’re saying. That smashed in face and those big round eyes. The outstretched curled tongue and the way they race on a body that is too stout for their petite legs. There is never a bad day with a pug. My brother-in-law says Princess is the ugliest dog he’s ever seen every time he comes over, but to us she’s a pretty princess!