Why Tennis Balls Might be Harmful for Your #Dog

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Ah yes, the infamous tennis ball. As any dog lover knows, dogs and tennis balls go together like peanut butter and jelly. Once you pick up a tennis ball, most dog’s eyes immediately become crazed with joy and they can’t contain their excitement for the life of them because finally, someone is going to throw the ball. Dogs take so much pride in catching a ball and bringing it back (well, sometimes bringing it back), we just love watching them play.

Playing fetch is great exercise, as well as a great way for you to bond with your dog, but it’s also important to keep our pups safe, and unfortunately, tennis balls pose a potential danger to our adored pooches teeth. I know firsthand from one of my dogs, that pups might think pulling at the fur on tennis balls is just the greatest thing ever. Sometimes I throw a ball and instead of bringing it back, he decides to sit down in the grass and chew the ball instead!

While many dogs are tennis ball chewers, their favorite pastime could pose a problem to the health of their teeth. Here’s my very own ball enthusiast waiting for me to throw the ball…

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, “Dogs that chew on tennis balls or other abrasive toys (think of a tennis ball as a scouring pad), will often wear their smaller front cheek teeth (premolars), and the back aspect of the canines.” If your dog chews often on tennis balls, you could notice the tooth wear as the tips of your dog’s teeth become less sharp.

Tennis balls, albeit a cheap and fun activity for your dog, pose yet another health problem. For large dogs, their strong jaws are capable of compressing a tennis ball. The problem? If the compressed ball pops back open in the back of their throat, it’s possible for the dog’s air supply to be cut off, ultimately killing them, which was the sad fate of one of Oprah Winfrey’s dogs.

If you wouldn’t dream of taking away your dog’s beloved tennis balls and are confident in the safety of playing with them, you could allow your pup to have tennis balls. Just make sure you follow these tips to ensure your dog’s safety:

  • Throw away any tennis balls that have excessive wear, dirt, or look “fuzzy” from chewing.
  • Don’t let your dog play with tennis balls unsupervised and try to limit their time chewing.
  • If your dog chews on tennis balls excessively, make sure to check their teeth periodically.

When your dog is playing with a tennis ball, it’s also wise to only allow one ball to be played with at a time. This minimizes the risk of having your dog trying to pick up more than one ball and getting one of them lodged back in their throat. After playing fetch, be sure to put the balls away so there are no accidents when you’re not watching or are away from the house.

What to Use Instead of Tennis Balls

Thankfully, there are much safer dog toys available to use instead of tennis balls. Smooth balls still allow for a fun game of chase, but there is no danger to the dog’s teeth if they do want to bite down on the ball. So, what are some options instead of a tennis ball? read more…

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Seniors who own a #dog get more physical activity

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Getting up off the couch can be a challenge regardless of your age, but new research shows that having a furry, four-legged reason to go for a walk can help seniors reach physical activity targets.

Seniors who own a dog spend an average of 22 more minutes per day staying active, a new study has found, and take an additional 2,760 steps per day.

Researchers tracked activity between two groups, comparing 43 people with dogs and 43 people without dogs. The subjects wore activity trackers during three, one-week periods over the span of a year.

All subjects were over the age of 65 and lived in the U.K., with gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status taken into consideration when comparing data.

“For good health WHO recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week,” said lead researcher Dr Philippa Dall, in a release. “Over the course of a week this additional 20 minutes walking each day may in itself be sufficient to meet these guidelines.

“Our findings represent a meaningful improvement in physical activity achieved through dog walking.”

“Our findings represent a meaningful improvement in physical activity achieved through dog walking.”

Canadian health guidelines also recommend that adults are active for at least 150 minutes a week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Reaching the activity goal helps reduce a whole host of issues including the risk of heart disease and stroke, certain types of cancer and weight control problems. read more…

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#Dogs and wolves share sense of fair play

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The sense of fair play is an important human trait, but new research suggests that it’s a key behaviour for dogs and wolves as well.

In tests, if one animal was given a more substantial reward when performing a task, the other one downed tools completely.

It had been felt that this aversion to unfairness was something that dogs had learned from humans.

But the tests with wolves suggest that this predates domestication of dogs.

Scientists have long recognised that what they term a “sensitivity to inequity”, or a sense of fairness, played an important role in the evolution of co-operation between humans. Basically, if others treated you badly, you quickly learned to stop working with them.

Researchers believe that the behaviour is also found widely in non-human primates.Dogs and wolves with higher social status took umbrage faster when sensing unfairness

Experiments in 2008 demonstrated that dogs also had this sensitivity. This new study shows that it’s also deeply ingrained in wolves.

The scientists tested similarly raised dogs and wolves that lived in packs. Two animals of each species were placed in adjacent cages, equipped with a buzzer apparatus. When the dog or wolf pressed it with their paw, both animals got a reward on some occasions. Other times, the dog or wolf doing the task got nothing while the partner did.

The key finding was that when the partner got a high value treat, the animal doing the task refused to continue with it.

“When the inequity was greatest they stopped working,” said Jennifer Essler, from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. read more…

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Fight against Dog Flu

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To halt the spread of the H3N2 canine influenza virus, also known as the “dog flu,” that has popped up in north and central Florida in the past few weeks, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine officials hope to create “community immunity.”

Dr. Cynda Crawford, an assistant professor of shelter medicine at the college, addressed concerns about the virus at a press conference held at UF Health Shands Hospital on Thursday morning. Crawford is credited with discovering the virus in 2004.

According to the Gainesville Sun, Crawford said the virus, which had a presence in about 30 other states before making its way to Florida, was introduced to the United States in 2015.

“This is a highly contagious virus to dogs, just like influenza virus is to people,” she said. “There is an eminent threat for dogs to be exposed to this virus in this state now.

“It is very important for both veterinarians and dog owners in the state of Florida to have a very heightened awareness of the presence of this virus.”

Dogs that tested positive for the H3N2 strain were present at recent dog shows in Perry, Georgia and DeLand or were exposed to dogs that were at these shows, Crawford said. She added that the virus, which is spread by direct contact, is the same strain responsible for the severe outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago in 2015.

Crawford said if your dog ex

hibits any of the symptoms, to call your pet’s veterinarian before taking your pet in for treatment. She said there is a vaccine for the virus and that infected dogs should be kept inside for a minimum of four weeks until they are no longer contagious. read more…

What a story – “The Empathetic Dog”

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Benjamin Stepp, an Iraq war veteran, sat in his graduate school course trying to focus on the lecture. Neither his classmates nor his professor knew he was silently seething.

But his service dog, Arleigh, did. She sensed his agitation and “put herself in my lap,” said Mr. Stepp, 37, of Holly Springs, Miss. “I realized I needed to get out of class. We went outside, I calmed down. We breathed.”

During his two deployments to Iraq, Mr. Stepp endured a traumatic brain injury and multiple surgeries on his ankle, and most days he suffers excruciating pain in his legs and lower back. He says he also returned from the war with a lot of anger, which wells up at unexpected times.

“Anger kept us alive overseas,” Mr. Stepp said. “You learn that anger keeps you alive.”

Now that he is back, though, that anger no longer serves a useful purpose. And Arleigh, a lab and retriever mix who came to Mr. Stepp from K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that trains service dogs, has been helping him to manage it. The dog senses when his agitation and anxiety begin rising, and sends him signals to begin the controlled breathing and other exercises that help to calm him down.

Pet owners and trainers have long been aware of a dog’s ability to sense a human’s emotions. In the last 10 years, researchers, too, have begun to explore more deeply the web of emotions, both positive and negative, that can spread between people and animals, said Natalia Albuquerque, an ethologist who studies animal cognition at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and the University of Lincoln in England.

The spread of emotions between animals and people, or between animals — what researchers refer to as emotional contagion — is an emerging field of science. But “there are still many unanswered questions we need to address,” Ms. Albuquerque said.

Studies have shown, for example, that piglets appear to become stressed by seeing and hearing other piglets that have been placed in restraints. Horses, too, appear to respond differently to people who smile or snarl; the horses responded to a snarling facial expression with an increased heart rate.

Other research found that dogs and people had a similar response to hearing the sound of a human baby crying. In the study, researchers exposed 75 pet dogs and 74 people to one of three distinct sounds: a baby crying, a baby babbling and radio static. Each sound was played for more than 10 minutes, and then researchers checked their salivary cortisol levels, an indicator of stress. read more…

Consider these 5 points before jumping into Labrador Parenting

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If you’re considering buying your first puppy, learning as much as you can about the breed can be extremely helpful. Labs are outgoing and friendly dogs who will always try to please their owners. They can be a great addition to your family and a beloved companion for your field trips, or even as a show dog. Labs are also known to be intelligent, easy to train and full of enthusiasm. However, owning a lab isn’t just about fun and games, as it comes with many other responsibilities. Consider these 5 points before you look for Labrador puppies for sale:

  1. Time – Puppies need a lot more time and attention than older dogs and therefore, you must consider your schedule before you buy a Labrador puppy. They are highly energetic and need lots of exercise and daily walks and training, so make sure you can save up ample time to raise a happy and obedient dog.

  2. Space – Dogs need a lot of space, both inside and outside your homes. Labradors are fairly large and lively breeds and they will need open spaces to stretch their legs and run. Also, make sure you remove all fragile decorations from lower shelves inside your homes as they tend to knock over items with their thick and long tails.

  3. Affordability – Apart from the initial cost of buying Labrador puppies for sale, you must also consider the cost of raising the dog in your home. As Labs are relatively larger breeds, they will need more food compared to the smaller dogs. They also need regular vet check-ups to ensure their good health and vigor. Other costs include their toys, kennel or dog house, crate, dishes, training devices, etc. Consider the overall costing for at least 10 years before you make your decision.

  4. Family – Labradors tend to grow quickly and what might seem like a small puppy initially will soon grow into a big dog. Make sure your family can adjust with the new member, especially if you have children below the age of 5. Though many parents have enjoyed giving their toddlers a pet buddy right from the beginning!

  5. Health – When you choose a puppy, make sure to ask about its health and its parents to know its health history. Also, check the puppy and see if it looks happy and healthy. A weak looking pup may have a bad case of worms or some other physical ailment. Though Labs aren’t susceptible to much diseases, it is better to do a thorough health screening and regular check-ups later to be sure.

Last but not the least, is the consideration of whether you should get a male or a female puppy. If looks are important for you, you might want to go with a male dog as they are muscular and larger. It is also easier to neuter males than spaying females. Female dogs have 2 heat cycles in a year when they behave differently and tend to shed more. Based on your exact requirements and your family’s needs, you can choose the perfect Labrador puppy to join your family! Read more…

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Love traveling with Pets

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What better place to drive than beautiful California. Up the coast, the wine country, the mountains. Which pretty much means my significant other Cookie and our dog Guillermo get dragged along for weekend getaways.

Just as you should be driving defensively, watching out for bad drivers, road hazards and so forth, you should practice defensive pet traveling.

The first thing to watch out for this time of year is the dreaded Foxtail grass. The grass puts out a stalk with seeds that resemble a stalk of wheat, especially when they dry and turn from green to straw color. What make them dangerous for our pets are the seeds. They have a tiny barb on the end that loves to embed into the skin or enter the nose, ear or eye.

Pets that inhale a foxtail up their nose often sneeze violently and may paw at their face. We often see foxtails enter the feet of dogs at the webbing between the middle two toes. This weedy grass is all over the place and it only takes a second for your pet to pick up one of these things when you stop for a potty break. Google an image of the foxtail grass and avoid them.

Bees and bugs. The flowers really bloomed this year and the bees are loving them too. Bees tend to hang out on the clover in the grass and your pets can easily step on them. If you can find the stinger, remove it by scraping it with a credit card or your fingernail. Don’t grab and pinch it with your fingers because you may squeeze the sac attached to the stinger and inject more venom into your pet.

Just as in people, pets may have mild or severe allergic reactions to bee stings. An anaphylactic reaction is the most severe and your pet may vomit or collapse. Owners may mistake this for a seizure. This is a true emergency and you need to get to an animal hospital as soon as possible for supportive care.

Overheating. Not every place you come across on your travels will be pet friendly. Do not leave your pet in the car unattended, even if it’s just to run in to get a sandwich to go. Cars become virtual ovens in minutes and unlike humans, dogs and cats can’t sweat and take advantage of the breeze from a half rolled down window. Even if you don’t think the temperature in the car feels too hot to you, your pet simply can’t tolerate heat the way a person can.

Bring extra water, pet food, medicine that your pet may be taking — and a bowl. This should be obvious, but with all the hustling to get out of town it’s often overlooked. read more…

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