July 2016

Vitamin D for Dogs

Subscribers Only — Vitamin D deficiencies in dogs can cause health problems over time, but so can an oversupply. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, it accumulates in body fat. Overdoses can be toxic and even fatal, but some vitamin D is necessary to a dog's health. Vitamin D will aid in the absorption of calcium and phosphate, increases bone cell activity, influences the formation and growth of long bones, and speeds the healing of fractures. Adequate D levels may help prevent heart disease, joint inflammation, skin and coat problems, cancer, vision problems, depression, mental illness, infections, inflammatory bowel disease, dental problems, hyperparathyroidism, and kidney disease.   More...

How Much Training Does Your Dog Really Need?

Subscribers Only — Teaching a dog new behaviors can be lots of fun, and there are tons of people and dogs who thoroughly enjoy daily training and engaging in various canine sports or activities. However, itís equally important to give yourself permission to take the pressure off of yourself and your dog if training doesn't go so smoothly. By taking time to get to know your dog's personality, you will come to realize that your dog has a lot of strengths. We can spend so much time focusing on what is wrong with a dog, that we stop noticing what is right.   More...

The 10 Most Important Things to Teach Your Puppy

The primary socialization window is alarmingly small Ė from three to four weeks to about 13 to 14 weeks. If you get your pup at age eight weeks, half that period is already gone Ė so hopefully the owner of the pupís mother has already laid a good socialization foundation. Now itís your turn. Take your puppy to safe places where you can control the environment to a reasonable degree. Loud parties and crowded street fairs are not a good idea. Small social gatherings, controlled groups of children, and well-run force-free puppy classes are.   More...

The Best Life Jackets for Dogs: Summer 2016

Subscribers Only — A proper life jacket should be bright so you can see it from the beach or edge of a lake, and should have a snug fit. If itís too loose, it can entangle the dog or come off, or it will float above the dog while the dog bobs along in the water. If itís too tight, it can chafe and become uncomfortable, making it unlikely the dog will enjoy wearing it. A properly fitting life jacket should not restrict the dogís movement in or out of the water. And, of course, a life jacket should be well made, with strong materials and an adequate amount of buoyant material. We have two favorite doggy flotation devices this year - the West Marine Neoprene Pet vest for experienced swimmers, and the Ruffwear K9 Float Coat for beginners.   More...

Dog Breed Stereotypes: Inaccurate and Damaging

Poor agreement was found between visual breed assignments and DNA results in 14 of the 20 dogs (70 percent). Moreover, there was low inter-rater reliability, meaning that the dog experts did not show a high level of agreement regarding breed assignments to the 20 dogs. More than half of the evaluators agreed on the predominant breed in only seven of the 20 dogs (35 percent). These results provide evidence that physical appearance is not a reliable method for breed identification.   More...

Too Hot for Pups to Play

Itís just about the hottest part of the day as I write this. In my part of the country, at this time of year, thatís between 5 and 7 p.m. My husband I donít have air-conditioning, which strikes everyone we know as an odd choice, but it is a choice. We could afford it, but we both grew up with budget-conscious parents and have environmental concerns about everyone burning fossil fuels in order to cool themselves down all summer. We manage it ďold-school,Ē by positioning fans in every other window to bring in cool air and blow out hot air all night long, and then shutting the house down tight all day. It preserves a cool bubble of air in the house Ė but this bubble heats up a tiny bit every time someone opens a door to come in or go out, or, more often, to let a dog in or out.   More...