Dogs are good for kids

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I like to think I have a great relationship with my children. While I can’t brag that my 19 years with my son and 16 years with my daughter have been perfect, I can chalk them up as pretty darn good. Is it because I’m (ahem) a great mother? Or, rather, should I be thanking our family dog?

A recent study found that children who feel close to their pet dogs are also more securely attached to their parents and have better bonds with their best friends. Researchers at Kent State University looked at 99 children ages 9 to 11 who owned pet dogs. These children answered questionnaires about their relationships with their dogs, parents and friends.

The study found if one type of relationship was strong, it’s likely the others were, too. In general, children with strong bonds with their dogs also had strong bonds with their parents and best friends.

But which came first?

Kathryn Kerns, a psychology professor at Kent State and one of the lead researchers, says they don’t know. It could be that caring for pets makes children feel closer to the significant humans in their lives, or it could be that their human relationships model how they should treat their pets. It could also be a reciprocal jumble: A positive experience with the pet leads to being more cooperative with parents, and that positive experience with parents leads to being closer to the pet, and so on.

The researchers also watched how the children interacted with their dogs. They found that those who had more physical contact with their pets had better relationships with their mothers — but not necessarily with their fathers (or friends).

“Given that mothers play a bit more of a role as a safe haven, as the one to go to for comfort, than dad, perhaps that’s why we found that effect,” Kerns says. “The close relationship with the mother might be more of a model for closeness with others, including the dog.”

Kerns and her team also did another study: How do pet dogs affect children’s emotions during stressful events?

The same 99 pre-adolescents were asked to deliver a five-minute autobiographical speech. The speech would be watched live by the experimenters, and, to up the stress factor, videotaped to be supposedly evaluated later.

Half the children had their dogs in the room, while half didn’t. “Kids who had their dogs present felt much happier throughout the whole process,” Kerns says. And having physical contact with the dog — its chin on the child’s lap, or the dog leaning against the child’s leg — made the experience even less stressful.

“When people are around pets and petting them, oftentimes they just feel calmer inside,” Kerns explains. The children may be in a better mood around their pets, which helps them cope better with stressors. The child may have had past calming experiences with his or her dog, which now makes it easier to relax. With a loyal buddy at the child’s side, the situation may feel less threatening.

In an unrelated study, children did a similar stress test either with a pet dog, with a parent or alone. The stress level was lowest when the children were with their dogs. Then there is a study on adults, who performed a stressful task with a pet dog, with a friend or alone. They were least stressed when they had their pet dogs with them. When alone, the stress level went up. And when with a friend, the stress level was highest of all.

Why can dogs offer better support than humans? “Humans can be judgmental in a way that dogs aren’t,” Kerns says. While we might worry a friend is silently evaluating our performance, we know a dog couldn’t care less. Read more…

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Are you Dog People or Cat People?

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We are more alike than we are different. That’s not just a fact, it’s a perspective on life, and it applies to people with pets. According to a recent survey of 1000 people with dogs and 1000 people with cats, both share a love for their furry family members, regularly take their pets on vacation with them and often eat their meals together. Guardians of both cats and dogs celebrate birthdays and holidays with gifts (though dog people are twice as likely to throw a full party to mark the occasion). People with dogs, as well as those with cats, take their animals into account when planning their weekly schedules.

Though there are differences between cat people and dog people, they are often a matter of degree or frequency. For example, dog guardians have a higher average income than cat guardians. They are more likely to be in the field of finance, and less likely to be in fields that rely strongly on creativity, which is a common place to find cat guardians. People with dogs are more strongly influenced by their pets when making decisions, but people with cats are still influenced—just not as much.

Some differences between these two groups of people have to do with relatively superficial things. People with dogs are more likely to watch horror and action films as well as romantic ones while those with cats have a greater tendency to watch indie films, musicals and documentaries. People with dogs are more likely to be involved in active pursuits such as sports, dancing and travel when contrasted with cat folks, whose hobbies are more likely to be calmer ones such as reading, gardening and writing.

Both dogs and cats provide benefits to people’s health and well-being. With dogs, a large part of that is based on the additional physical activity dogs prompt us to engage in. Cats, though, are more likely to hear their people’s innermost thoughts and feelings, which may be why people with cats credit their pets with lowering their stress to a greater degree than people with dogs do.

Although studies comparing cat people and dog people repeatedly appear, they rarely investigate the many people who share their lives with both dogs and cats. They may not be the most accurate pieces of research, but they are sure fun to read. Read more

 

Safe (and Not Safe) Chew Toys For Dogs Who Like to Eat Everything

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Finding the perfect chew toy is a constant struggle for those of us living with extreme chewers. Our last dog Lucy, a Rottweiler mix, posed the biggest challenge for us. She managed to get pieces off of even the most durable toys.

These are some safe chew toys for dogs – and some to avoid – if you have a chewer in your life, like Lucy.

5 Safe Toys for Dogs

1. The Kong Classic 

The Kong has been a favorite with dog owners for more than 40 years. This toy is made of durable rubber that’s extra bouncy and has a hollow center for holding treats inside.

The Kong is popular at animal shelters where toys are a big part of the enrichment program for dogs. At Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter, NJ Ellen Ribitzki said the Kong is a big hit. Shelter workers stuff them with peanut butter and kibble and freeze them overnight to provide even more chewing pleasure for the dogs.

2. The Chompion Dog Bone

This dog bone made by the JW Pet Company, Inc. is a dumbbell shape with textured nubs to help keep teeth clean, stimulate gums and promote oral health.

This company has been recognized at the Global Pet Expo for focusing on intelligent designs that help make their toys dog proof. This chew toy is made of durable, tough natural rubber that the company says is designed to withstand even the most powerful chewers.

3. The Qwizl

This dog chew toy from West Paw won Best in Show for dogs at the Global Pet Expo in 2017. The Qwizl is a pliable durable treat-dispensing toy made from the company’s exclusive Zogoflex material. This toy is non-toxic and latex free.

Sixty-nine percent of dog owners gave the Qwizl a five-star review on Chewy.com. Many of the reviewers reported that this is the only chew toy that has stood up to their aggressive chewers.

4. The Nylabone 3-Prong Chew Toy with Peanut Butter

The 3-Prong Chew Toy is just one of the many chew bones promoted for extreme chewers by the Nylabone company. This bone has a multi-textured surface that helps to clean a dog’s teeth while keeping him or her busy for long periods of time.

The Nylabone company has been making dog chew toys since 1955 and offers an impressive selection of bones designed especially for aggressive chewers.

5. The Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Squeak Ball

This one topped the review list of “Super Durable Dog Balls for Fetching and Beyond” published in the August 2017 issue of The Whole Dog Journal. The ball is made from eco-friendly materials and is free from chemicals like BPA and phthalates.

A small amount of peppermint oil has been added to the material to give it a minty scent.

5 Unsafe Toys for the Chewer in Your Life

Veterinary experts say it’s important to supervise how your dog is playing with his or her toys. Many chew toys are safe for some dogs but not others. Rope toys, if ingested, can cause life-threatening intestinal obstruction. Hard plastic toys in a power chewer’s mouth can splinter and cause intestinal damage.

Experts at the Humane Society of the United States recommend seeking the advice of a veterinarian before giving your dog a rawhide bone. These chews should only be given when you can supervise your dog as they may pose a choking hazard.

It’s a good practice to go through the dog toy basket periodically and get rid of toys that are starting to break into pieces or are torn. For extreme chewers, also avoid the toys below, which can be dangerous.

1. Tennis Balls

While tennis balls are fun for dogs to fetch, they are not safe as chew toys.

According to experts at the American Veterinary Dental Association, these balls are abrasive like scouring pads. If dogs chew on these balls every day for years it can cause significant wear to their teeth.

Tennis balls also pose a choking hazard. Aggressive chewers can easily swallow pieces of the material they rip from these balls.

2. Some Latex Toys

Latex toys with bells or squeaks inside are fine for tossing around but if left alone with these toys, your power chewer will use those teeth to get to the squeaker or bell. These parts are small and can easily be swallowed.

3. Toys with Single Air Holes

The danger with these toys, writes Veterinarian Virginia Sinnott on the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center website, is that the single hole can create a strong suction causing the toy to get stuck on the dog’s tongue.

Sinnott writes that “…if the suction is stronger than the dog’s ability to remove the toy with his or her paws, life-threatening problems can occur. These include obstruction of breathing due to the toy in the mouth and massive swelling of the tongue.”

4. Toxic Toys (various)

There are no federal regulations in place to ensure the standards of pet toys. Instead, it’s left up to manufacturers to establish standards and to test and issue recalls if necessary for their own products.

Dog owners need to be diligent in reading labels and researching companies to make sure they care about pet safety. Experts at Preventivevet.com recommend being especially cautious about purchasing dog toys and chews that are manufactured overseas if you can’t verify what’s in them. The same holds true for cheap dog toys made in the U.S.

5. Sticks and Twigs

Every chance she got, our dog, Lucy, was chewing on sticks and twigs in the yard. The problem is that wood splinters easily, and pieces can get stuck in a dog’s mouth causing an infection. It’s also really easy for dogs to swallow pieces of wood and this can cause an intestinal blockage.

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Can Dogs Get Colds?

Sick beagle dog on soft chair

 

 

 

Fido’s Feeling Under The Weather

 

 

It’s hard to watch our children suffer when they are sick, and the feelings can be similar when it’s our canine kiddies who are under the weather. Doggie coughs, sneezes, and goopy eyes can cause concern. Your dog may also not be eating as much and just seem kind of sick. We know that in the winter the common cold can be enough to bring a normally healthy adult down for a week, but can dogs get colds, too?

Actually, yes dogs can get colds. Though they may not catch the same virus as humans, they are still a legit illness. Dr. Sara Joseph, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, tells Romper that dogs can catch respiratory infections from other dogs, and the illnesses can be bacterial and/or viral. Dr. Joseph says, “The most common ones are referred to broadly as kennel cough.”

Kennel cough passes from dog to dog, usually through nose to nose contact, and is a bacterial infection. Its biggest symptom is, of course, a cough. The Dog Health Guide said that dogs can also get this from being exposed to the secretions of an infected dog at a kennel, vet’s office, groomer, or training class. It’s hard to know for sure if your dog has been exposed to this, but the incubation period for kennel cough is usually around two weeks, according to Dog Health Guide. At first it might just sound like your dog is clearing his throat, but as time goes on, he could get symptoms that more closely resemble a cold, like fever, lethargy, and in more extreme cases, vomiting.

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Wondering how to keep your furry pal healthy?

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Getting yourself to the gym can be a significant challenge. It’s even tougher when you can’t drive, you lack opposable thumbs, and your primary skills are “Sit” and “Stay.”

Yes: Dogs need to focus on their fitness, too. And like any good workout partner, they depend on their fellow friends to keep them in shape.

For a primer on keeping your dog healthy, we talked to Ernie Ward, D.V.M., a veterinarian and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Ward is also the creator of K9 Fit Club, where personal trainers, dog trainers, and dog owners can take classes to exercise with their dogs. (They have over 46 locations around the country. You can check out other dog fitness centers near you.)

Ward walked me through the best exercises you can do to get your dog moving, and the exercises you should probably avoid. Here are a few workout scenarios for different types of canines.

When your dog thinks kettlebells are toys

Kettlebell swings make for a great at-home workout, until your 10-month old Labrador-mix puppy (like mine) decides to jump up and get involved.

“I’m kind of anti-kettlebells-around-dogs,” Ward says. “It’s critical to evaluate [how dangerous the exercise you’re doing] could be to your dog when you’re doing swift movements or you’re moving weight. Sometimes you can’t overcome that movement instantly—like the arc of a kettlebell swing—and if your dog is in the same room, you could injure them,” he said.

Before you start any exercise or activity, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the potential risks here for my dog or myself?

“We do lunges in K9 classes, but we actually have the dog under restraint when we’re doing big movements, because your dog may dash underneath you—then everybody gets injured.”

If you’re exercising near your dog, keep them on a leash. Knowing how your dog reacts will help you determine what exercises you can do while they’re around.

When your dog loves to tackle you (especially during planks and crunches)

Plenty of pet owners have found they can do workouts with their dogs out of their crates. But when I get on the floor to do planks or abs routines on a mat, my dog thinks this is the perfect opportunity to jump on me or barrage me with licks.

If you have a calmer dog that can lie nearby and chew a bone or relax while you’re on the floor, go ahead with one of our core routines. Otherwise, doing floor work may lead to injury—or, at the very least, a lackluster abs workout.

When your large dog gained weight and you’d like to help him shed the pounds

Veterinarians often see “spring-training injuries” in dogs that hibernated all winter, then started running again, Ward says. If your dog spent all winter on the couch, then they “aren’t ready to spring forward and play Frisbee, do agility exercises, or even swim.”

So, as with any new workout routine, ease yourself and your dog back into action.

“We see a lot of knee ligament tears in the spring from deconditioned dogs who have put on a few extra pounds or just lost muscle and strength,” Ward says. “Sometimes it’s a trauma injury where the dog falls off because their agility isn’t there. They’re just out of practice, so be aware this “spring-training” scenario is real for dogs…as well as people.”

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Natural Options That Work for Dog Skin Cancer

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Skin cancer isn’t just a disease in people … and it isn’t just caused by too much time spent in the sun without sunscreen. Half of all dogs get cancer, and all forms of cancer are on the rise, including dog skin cancer.

In fact, skin tumors are the most common tumors found in dogs.

Let’s look at the most common types of dog skin cancer, then we’ll look at two natural treatment options that will help your dog safely, without surgery.

Types of Dog Skin Cancer

There are several different types of dog skin cancer. Three of the most common are:

  • Melanoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Mast cell tumors

1. Melanoma

Melanomas are abnormal growths that involve melanocytes – the cells that produce pigments (color). These cells are found throughout your dog’s entire body, wherever tissues are colored. Melanomas can either be benign or malignant.

Benign melanomas:

  • Typically range in size from very small to 2.5 inches or more in diameter.
  • Are usually less concerning than malignant melanomas because the risk of them spreading is not very high.
  • Are black, brown, gray or red in color.
  • Usually found on areas of the skin that are covered with hair.

Malignant melanomas:

  • Are a more aggressive, invasive type that usually spread fairly quickly to other areas of the body.
  • Can spread to any area of the body, including the lymph nodes and lungs, making them a much more serious threat than benign melanomas.
  • Are most often in a dog’s mouth, around the lips, or on the feet (in toenail beds or on the pads).

The cause of melanoma in dogs isn’t clear. While melanoma in humans is usually caused by damage to the DNA of skin cells (especially by UV light), this isn’t likely with dogs since many of the melanomas occur in areas not directly exposed to UV light.

Genetics also seem to play a role. The breeds most at risk include:

  • Vizslas
  • Schnauzers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Airedale Terriers
  • Bay Retrievers
  • Scottish Terriers

 

2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that originates in the outer layer of the skin, the squamous epithelium. Carcinomas are characteristically malignant and particularly invasive.

Squamous cell carcinomas:

  • Typically grow quickly, getting bigger with time.
  • Are usually resistant to healing.
  • May appear as crusty, bleeding sores that don’t heal for months, or hard, white-colored wart-like growths.
  • Are usually found on the belly, around the genitals, or the feet.

As with melanomas, there’s some debate over what causes squamous dog skin cancer. Extended exposure to sunlight, which is known to damage cells, is the most commonly accepted one. A weak immune system may help these cells become malignant. There may also be some association with the papilloma virus as a cause.

Genetics may also be a factor. The breeds most at risk are:

  • Keeshond
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Basset Hound
  • Collie

 

3. Mast Cell Tumor

Mast cell tumors are the most common type of dog skin cancer. They occur in the mast cells, the immune cells that play a role in allergic reactions and inflammatory responses. These cells contain histamine, heparin and enzymes to fight off predatory foreign invaders, but damage from allergies or inflammation can cause problems.

Mast cell tumors:

  • Usually develop in the skin, but they can also develop internally, but this is less common.
  • Can vary widely in size, shape, appearance, texture and location.
  • May show up as an isolated lump or mass, although they can appear in clusters.
  • May grow in size, then shrink.
  • May appear red in color, could be hairless or could be ulcerated (an open wound).

Aside from the lump, most dogs won’t have any symptoms of irritation or illness.

Unfortunately, the causes of mast cell tumors in dogs are not clear. The sun is a potential culprit, but genetics also seem to play a role. The dogs most at risk include:

  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Beagles
  • Bullmastiffs
  • Dachshunds
  • Schnauzers

 

Why Not Surgery?

If it’s cancer, why not just have it surgically removed? There are several reasons.

Surgery’s invasive. Any time you cut into your dog’s body, there are risks from the anesthesia, blood clots and post-op infections.

Also, to attack any of the remaining cancer cells, the conventional veterinary approach is to bombard an already compromised body with chemical poisons and radiation through chemotherapy and radiation.

Natural Solutions for Dog Skin Cancer

Here are the two most effective natural treatment options for dog skin cancer.

1. Neoplasene

Neoplasene is a cream made from bloodroot extract. It works by causing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. Once applied to the tumor, the tumor cells actually die and the tissue will eventually slough off.

The Pros: It works and it’s not as invasive as surgery. With surgery it’s really hard to get all of the microsopic cancer cells but neoplasene seeks them out and helps the immune system seek and destroy them.

The Cons: It can only be used under veterinary supervision. Because the cancerous tissue sloughs off, a hole is left and proper wound management is crucial. It can also be painful for the dog which is hard for some dog owners to accept.

 

 

2. Turmeric

Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin – which is essentially its active ingredient. Curcumin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, wound healing and anticancer activities.

There have been literally thousands of studies done on turmeric, and nearly 1/3 of the studies done on it are cancer research … and the results are very promising. It’s been shown to not only kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing but to stop precancerous changes from becoming cancer in the first place. And, not only does it kill tumor cells, it does so selectively, leaving healthy cells alone.

The American Cancer Society has said “Curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread.”

The Pros: Turmeric works, it’s inexpensive, it isn’t painful and you can use it to treat dog skin cancer at home.

The Cons: Turmeric stains your hands, carpets and furniture so you have to wrap it after each application.

 

 

One of the easiest ways to use it is with a salve. Here’s a recipe

Recipe For Healing Salve For Dogs

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 part organic turmeric powder
  • 1 part raw coconut oil (cold pressed)
  • 1 part organic lecithin powder

Mix the ingredients together to form a paste and store in a glass jar. Keep it refrigerated.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Apply it once a day for 7 days
  • After 7 days, let it air for 24 hours
  • If there is still a lump, reapply for 2-5 more days, until the lump pops or falls off

 

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Pet Dental Month

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Poor dental health for your pet can lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease, common dental issues for your best friend. It is estimated that most pets show signs of periodontal disease as early as three years old. Regular checkups and good dental care can help to insure that your pet stays healthy, and keep you both smiling.

This past week we saw the crowning of a new champion at the 142nd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Out of more than 2,800 dogs representing about 200 different breeds, a little Bichon Frise named “Flynn” pranced away with the Best In Show title. If you watched any of the judging on television you may have noticed that a judge would examine each contestant, beginning by pulling back its lips to check its teeth. In part, they compare the animal’s physical attributes to the standard for that dog’s particular breed, but they are also checking to confirm the dog’s age and health.

A pet’s teeth are a good indication of its general overall physical condition. While some ailments can cause dental problems, it’s very possible that poor dental health can cause internal disease affecting other parts of the animal’s body.

Dental issues usually result from a build-up of tartar, which begins in pets the same way it does in people, as food particles and other elements accumulate around the teeth. The teeth take on a brownish-yellow appearance and often the animal develops what many of us call “doggie breath”. That odor may be an indication that your pet has – or is developing – periodontal disease. As it progresses, periodontal disease can cause pain and discomfort for an animal. But untreated, infection in the gums could eventually spread to vital organs like the kidneys, heart and liver.

One way to keep your pet’s teeth healthier is have them checked by your veterinarian. The vet may recommend a teeth-cleaning procedure, which usually involves anesthesia, because most animals won’t sit still and open wide. Your vet may also recommend things you can do to help keep your best friend’s teeth, and its whole body, healthier.

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