Old Dog Meets New Dog – A Lesson in Breath Holding

You love your dog. He is your friend, your burglar alarm, your playmate, and your comfort when you’re blue. He is a member of your family. But families tend to grow, and often they grow because a new dog is going to be moving in. Whatever reasons that you may have for bringing the new dog in, you want the old dog to be okay with it. Actually, you want the old dog to be ecstatic about it. You want him to jump and bark and run around in circles and look happier than he does when you say the word “walk”.

Let’s be realistic here. Be satisfied at first with grudging acceptance.

We like to talk to our dogs. However, sitting the old dog down for a heart to heart about how much you love him and how nobody can take his place in your heart is heartwarming (especially if you cue some emotional music), but probably not too helpful. What your dog will hear is “blah blah…blah blah blah.” Unless the word “walk” is in there somewhere, he is neither going to know nor care about what you’re saying.

You need to realize that there really is no way to prepare your old dog for the new dog, so you have to concentrate on helping the introduction go as smoothly as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to introduce them on neutral ground. You may think that it’s your house, but to your dog it is his territory. Introducing the dogs there may cause some friction. It would be like some stranger coming into your house and exclaiming, “Yes, this looks nice! I’ll start moving my stuff in!”

Fortunately dogs tend to make friends faster than people do. If you introduce the two dogs at a park, another person’s house, or anywhere away from where you and your dog live, they might hit it off fairly quickly. Older dogs tend to accept puppies easier than they do other older dogs, although older male dogs accept older female dogs fairly easily too.

No matter what, if you introduce the dogs in a casual, calm atmosphere and simply let them work things out (intervening if there’s any real fighting, of course), then things could work out well. When it’s time to bring the new dog into the home, bring them in together—after they have established some type of initial relationship.

At this point you need to curb the urge to interfere as your dogs get to know each other. Let them establish the pecking order, as long as you don’t let them forget that you are top dog around there. The older dog, of course, may never have believed that, but it’s good for your ego to think that he has all along.

Feed them far apart from each other at first. Food fights may conjure up amusing memories for you, but it doesn’t mean the same in the dog world. If your older dog has any toys, don’t give them to the new dog to play with. Give the new dog his own toys. Eventually, if all goes well, they’ll start sharing.

The one thing that you need to remember is that dogs tend to be much more reasonable than people. This works in your favor. Let them work out the specifics while you oversee, and things really should work out fine. Most likely the worst that will happen is you’ll be bossed around by two dogs instead of one; but hey, you asked for it!

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WILD DOGS: Life On The Outside

The dog is an adaptive survivor, taking on many shapes and sizes through our selective breeding and necessity. Though we are all familiar with the domestic cousin to the wolf, many people don’t realize that the dog has some very close cousins that populate the world, living on the edge of our civilization.


The closest to the domestic dogs, feral dogs are a broad term used to describe relatives of the common, or domestic, dog that have reverted to their wild form, living completely without the guidance of human beings. Though coming from many different breeding stocks, feral dogs have blended their breeding for a mid-sized, medium haired dogs of high intelligence.

Dingo: The most famous of the feral dogs, the Australian dingo were created at least 4,000 years ago from domestic dogs that originally belonged to aborigines. Looking like a medium-sized dog with short yellow fur, the dingo is considered the most “purebred” dog in the world. Dingoes cannot breed with other wild dogs and are the only example we have of ancient dog genetics.

Pariah Dogs: Living on the outskirts of villages and in the wilds of India, the feral dogs of this land are known as “pariah” dogs, which comes from the idea of the dogs being outcasts, or socially low. Pariah Dogs, while also a type of breed recognized by the major kennel clubs, here refer to the wild and semi-feral dogs of India and Asia. Smart, fast and cautious of humans, Pariah dogs vary in color and size, though they usually have rust-colored or dirty yellow fur. The ancient form of the Canaan Dog and Carolina Dog are also a forms of the Pariah Dog, though these are “re-domesticated“ forms.

Curiously, many of these feral dogs still rely and have formed a symbiotic relationship with humans. In many parts of the world, feral dogs live on human garbage and waste, existing on the outskirts of towns, villages and cities. Though very wild and in no way domesticated, these feral dogs still retain some of their ancient, “human-friendly” ancestors.

Canis Lupus Dingo


Wearing a strange and beautiful coat of brown, black, yellow and white, the African Hunting Dog looks like a strange combination of a hyena and a border collie. Probably the most social dog in the world, the African Hunting Dog functions in a giant pack, roaming the African savanna and communicating with a large vocabulary and many different body movements.

Because it is not descended from the wolf, the African Hunting Dog is not a true canid, but a separate part of the dog family; it’s part of it’s own group known as Lycanon.

The African Hunting Dog is on the verge of extinction, and will probably not survive in the wild for many more years. Not only must this wild dog battle hyenas and lions for prey, the dog is very susceptible to disease and parasites. Recently, human farmers have taken to poisoning and hunting the African Hunting Dog.

Lycaon pictus African hunting dog


Also known as the red dog, the dhole is very similar in it’s behavior to the African hunting dog–they are social and work in packs to hunt food and take care of their young. However, the dhole is thick and short, with a heavy red coat and a very bushy tail. A Chinese dog, there is a western version of the dhole, which lives in India and has a lighter coat. Like the dingo, the dhole will not breed with domestic dogs.

A Chinese dhole, or red dog


Unknown to most people, the coyote of North America (there are no coyotes anywhere else) will sometimes breed with domestic dogs, producing the unique “Coydog“. A cross between a male coyote and a female dog, “coydogs” are very rare (especially with decreased coyotes populations), and these half-breeds are neither wild or tame. As a result, the coydog often takes to killing domestic livestock and pets for food. When a female coyote mates with a male dog, it is known as a dogote.

The coyote is a unique case in the world of wild dog relatives, as coyotes can (and will) mate with wolves and dogs. Because of the variation of dog breeds, there is no uniform look for a coydog, though the animal will often have a look very similar to a coyote.

A Coydog

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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Laughing and Start Listening

dog sittingYou’ve put it off long enough. It’s time to stop ignoring the fact that your dog sits when he wants, comes to you when he wants, and pretty much goes everywhere he wants. He might also possibly be having other dogs over and drinking your beer while you’re at work.

You need to step up to the plate and train your dog. Ignore his laughter and stand up tall. Give yourself a promotion and become the boss. You have it in you to gain your dog’s respect. You at least have it in your to gain his grudging compliance through negotiation and bribery.

We’ll start with “sit”. This is the command which, upon being successfully taught, is the motivating factor for believing you can get him to do anything else. Start by taking your dog to a quiet place where neither you nor he will be disturbed. Ideally that means a sound-proof room in the middle of the desert since everything distracts your dog, but do the best you can with what you’ve got. (If you actually have a soundproof room in the middle of the desert, don’t tell me about it, because I’m pretty sure you’d have to kill me afterward.)

Put a collar on your dog, but not a leash. Putting a leash on him would make him think that you’re taking him for a walk. Once he finds out you’re not, his mood would not be conducive to successful training.

Start by standing next to your dog and holding on to his collar loosely. Say the word “sit” firmly, and push down on his hips so that he has to sit down. It will be at this point that you will discover how incredibly strong and stubborn a dog can be. Keep at it until he gets it, and when he does get it, act like he just broke one of Michael Phelps’ records.

Next is “stay”. Good luck with this one. Start by having him sit (praising him again for that), and then hold out your palm and firmly say “stay”. Walk about a foot away and wait for one minute. Keep doing this until he gets it, then gradually increase the distance that you go and the time that you wait.

When you move on to the “come” command, you’re likely to get confused. When you were first teaching him how to stay, he kept coming to you when you didn’t want him to. Now that you’re teaching him how to come, he’ll act like he just understood “stay” and wants to practice it. You’re going to have to use a leash with this one, because you’ll need to pull him toward you when you give him the command to come. (Take him for a walk after this so he’ll forgive you.) Have him stand and stay, then walk the length of the leash and say “come” and pull him gently toward you.

Work on “heel” after he’s gotten all the other commands down. It’ll be easier to teach him to heel if he’s really down with “sit”, “stay” and “come”. This will also involve the leash, but you can actually teach this while walking him, so he won’t be so resentful. Simply hold his leash tightly and make him walk beside you after you say “heel” He’ll get the picture fairly quickly, since he’s already an old hand at the other stuff.

You’ll want to walk your dog around the neighborhood and show off how well-trained he is after you’ve taught him everything. Just remember one thing: dogs, like children, suddenly experience long and short-term memory loss when they are asked to show other people what they’ve learned or how cute something is that they do.

As far as the beer and partying with other dogs goes, you might want to set up a kitchen-cam.

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The Ancient Dogs: An Overview by Dennis Fallon

We all know that dog’s evolved from wolves. In only a few thousands of years, the dog has gone from the savage wolf to our peaceful companion and faithful sidekick. But let’s take a look back farther. Before the Labrador or the Pekingese, before Pit Bulls and toy poodles. Back even before the wolf or coyote, to a time on planet earth when giant animals and strange looking creatures ran the show, and our ancestors were furry little monkey-things high in the trees. After all, where did wolf’s ancestors come from? What did the first dogs really look like? Below, we take a simple and straightforward look at some of the ancient dog subfamilies that populated the earth for millions of years.


Deep in the past, say around 40 million years ago, the dog was just beginning. The true carnivores of the mammal family were arriving on planet earth, and the dog was among the earliest. Hesperocyon was a tiny beginning of things to come. Looking more like a weasel (and not much bigger), this early relative of the dog had a large, bushy tail and thin, fox-like body. With it’s pointy face, which was a cross between a greyhound, a wolf and a ferret, the Hesperocyon was one of the two major dog families (being part of the group of early dogs known as hesperocyonines).
Though anything we know about the hesperocyon is speculation–after all, scientist can only make educated guesses as to what fossils mean–these animals would have probably been community based and hunted animals by scavenging or stalking and pouncing (like a fox) as opposed to organized chasing (like a wolf).

(fig. 1) Hesperocyon Gregarius


Known as “bear-dogs”, this now extinct family of animals began in the early Miocene era (some 24 million years ago and were some of the most successful early carnivores. With mammals still in their early forms, the bear-dogs combine features of bears, dogs, cats, raccoons and even pandas, and were most likely a formidable and agile predators

The reason that Amphicyonids were wrongly classified as dogs came from scientists lumping them in the family Canidae (the dog family) early in their discovery. Even today, most scientists and taxonomists believe that bears, dogs and raccoons are much more closely related to one another than other types of predators, like cats, weasels or hyenas.

A well known bear dog is the beastly Amphicyon major, who is known from many fossil deposits in Europe. With males exceeding 400 pounds, Amphicyon had the body of a cat, big bear feet and the head of a dog.

(fig. 2)Ancient bear-dogs battle over a carcass


Literally meaning “bone eaters”, these early dogs were the stuff of nightmares. Larger than any living dog ever, borophagines like Epicyon Haydeni stood 95cm at the shoulders, making them bigger than our earliest relatives and well over three feet tall at the shoulder. With hyena-like teeth (though they were not related to hyenas), these savage predators combined the fiercest features of the grey wolf, the pit bull and a giant hyena. It’s thought they would have hunted in packs similar to wolves, bringing down great predators and terrorizing the ancient North American countryside, which was where they lived until around five million years ago.

The Borophagines, as a family of early canids, begin to show diversity with their specializations and development. Very adaptive, these creatures came in all shapes in sizes. The subfamily Borophagus had specialized teeth that were cone-shaped, making them especially suited to crunching on bone and getting to the nutritious marrow inside.

(fig. 3)The giant Epicyon chases down prey


This dog subfamily is also the only one that is still living. Beginning around three million years ago in Eurasia (and a possible offshoot from wandering Borophagines from millions of years before), these small, stealthy predators looked like a cross between a raccoon and a dog. A relative of ancient Nyctereutes can be seen in the raccoon dog of modern Asia, which split from the ancient species probably five million years ago.

(fig. 4) A modern Racoon Dog, a suriving member of the Nyctereutes

For more detailed information, two great books exist on the subject of ancient mammals, National Geographic’s Prehistoric Mammals by Alan Turner and the much more comprehensive After the Dinosaurs by Donald R Prothero.

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Helping Your Dog win Friends and Influence People

When you have a dog, just like when you have a child, you want him to do well in the world. You want him to be smart, well-behaved, and successful at being a dog. Though your dog most likely has what it takes to be all of these things, he’ll have a lot more luck if he gets the right guidance from you. You don’t want your dog to be ostracized, do you? You want him to fit in with the better social circles and be able to hold his own among show dogs and working dogs alike. For this you need to be his guide, his champion, and his most ardent supporter.

* Train your dog! No matter how the old saying goes, you can teach a dog tricks at any age, and you can teach him the basic commands. If you have adopted a puppy, start teaching him the basics at about 4 months of age. Throw in a lot of self-esteem helpers such as “you are magnificent!”, “Donald Trump’s dog has nothing on you!” or “Paris Hilton called and said she wants to carry you around instead of that useless Chihuahua.” If your dog is older when you adopt him, you may have to help him unlearn some things and then work on building up his ego while you show him the ropes.

* Be Fashion Conscious. Would you go out in public wearing something that is laughingly out of style? Of course not. Keep fashion in mind when it comes to your dog, too. Check to see what collars and leashes the best dressed dogs are sporting and make sure your dog will blend with the in-crowd. For casual occasions such as a walk through the park a bandana works well, but be sure that you always call it a “doo rag”, bro.

* Treat him like he’s ‘all that’ in public. Whenever you and your dog go out in public, pet him a lot when people and other dogs go by and say “easy, boy, easy.” This can get him some immediate respect. It works especially well if you’ve trained him to sit or stand still on command and not jump around barking and yelping. (By the way, obedience training is really important, I’m not kidding here.)

* Make sure he will always be proud to be seen with you. If your dog is trying to look his best to impress, don’t drag him down by looking like a slob when you are out in public with him. Take a hint if your dog hides when you tell him it’s time for a walk and check yourself. Remember, you are a reflection of your dog, don’t make him look bad in front of his friends!

In all seriousness, your dog is going to be a lot better socialized if he knows what is expected of him. Train him to hold his head up and be comfortable around other dogs and people, and make sure he knows some basic commands. Both of you will be much happier for it.

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Top 10 Health Tips for Your Dog

healthy dogWhen you bring a dog into your family, you are taking on a serious responsibility. This creature will depend on you for food, shelter and love. You will also be responsible for making sure that your dog is as healthy as he can be at any given time. Some people, however, feel better if they have a guideline to follow so that they can be sure not to miss any crucial aspects of keeping their dog healthy.

1. Dog food – It can be tempting to simply buy what’s on sale each time you go shopping for dog food, but this is never recommended. Your dog’s digestive system can be upset by constantly changing his food. What you want to do is start with a good, high-quality food, and if your dog seems to like it and tolerate it well, stick with it. There may come a time when you need to change your dog’s diet, such as if he develops some kind of medical condition or as he ages, but this should always be done under your veterinarian’s supervision.

2. Diet – A general guideline is to feed your dog 1 ½ cups of food for every twenty pounds of his ideal weight. For example, if your dog’s ideal weight is 60 lbs, then you should feed him 4 ½ cups of food per day. Don’t feed him according to his actual weight; if he is overweight you would be feeding him too much and if he is underweight you would be feeding him too little. If you follow this guideline and think that your dog is not maintaining a healthy weight, consult with your veterinarian about changing the amounts or even the type of food. As far as snacks go, you know that you’re going to give in now and then and let him have a treat, but try to keep that at a minimum. When you do give him snacks, try to make them as lean and healthy as possible. And no chocolate! Chocolate can be deadly for dogs.

3. Exercise – Your dog needs exercise just like you do, and even if you’re not too good about keeping up with your own fitness program, try to make sure your dog keeps up with his. You can kill two birds with one stone by walking your dog every day because you both will get exercise. If you can’t walk your dog every day, however, try to make sure that he will get exercise in other ways. Encourage others to play with him, throw balls for him, or walk him if they can. Set up play dates with other dogs. Do whatever you can to make sure that your dog gets enough activity every day.

4. Immunizations – Make absolutely sure that your dog gets his immunization shots when he needs them. They aren’t expensive, and you could save yourself a lot of grief down the road. Ask your veterinarian to let you know when any new immunizations are developed for dogs so you can decide whether you think your dog should have them or not.

5. Check-ups – Take your dog to the vet at least once a year for a full physical examination. If you don’t think you can afford to do this, then you can’t afford to have a dog. Though some medical problems can’t be predicted, a yearly physical can often alert you to possible problems with your dog that you can take steps to avoid, or that you can you treat early. This can end up saving you a lot of money, and vet bills can add up quickly. If you notice any change in your dog’s behavior, or anything that concerns you such as a cough or a growth on the skin, at least call the vet. Don’t wait until something gets more serious than it needs to be before doing something about it.

6. Safety – Your dog needs to be protected from the outside world. Make sure that your dog is on a leash when he goes out, or is in a secure yard that he can’t get out of. If your dog isn’t used to being around small children, only let him be around them under close supervision, if at all. Children can get too excited when they see a dog and may play too roughly, and this can frighten your dog. This can lead to biting. If you are taking your dog traveling in the car with you, put him in a comfortable crate that is secured to something. There are also special harnesses for dogs that can be attached to seat belts.

7. Spay or Neuter – Unless you are a registered breeder, please spay or neuter your dog before he or she produces offspring. Not only is this the responsible thing to do so that you don’t add to the problem of unwanted pets; it is also healthier for your dog. Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are more likely to try to run away. The male dogs are more likely to fight and be aggressive. Both females and males will have less potential health problems.

8. Training – Yes, training can be healthy for your dog, both mentally and physically. When a dog is properly trained he knows what is expected of him, and this can cut way down on anxiety. Also, if your dog is trained in basic commands, such as ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘come’, he is less likely to get into trouble or into dangerous situations.

9. His own place – Make sure that your dog has an area where he can be undisturbed. Though dogs are pack animals and prefer to be close to their families, they still like having a certain place that is all their own. A dog bed under a counter, a doghouse in the backyard, a special blanket. When your dog is in his special place, make sure he is left alone to rest. Enough rest is as important for your dog’s health as it is for yours.

10. Love – Loving your dog is healthy for him. Play with him, hug him, talk to him—he will flourish in the attention and be calmer and more self-assured. If you don’t have time to give a dog the love and attention he needs, you don’t have time for a dog at all.

It doesn’t take much to make a dog happy, but it takes a sense of responsibility to keep him healthy. Decide before you ever get a dog if you are up to this responsibility. If you are, then you will be rewarded with years of love and companionship.

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The Good Life – Staying with Your Dog in a Hotel or Motel

If you love being with your dog and consider him an integral part of your family, then you’d probably like him with you when you go on an extended trip. A two week trip overseas wouldn’t be a good time to try to take your dog, and neither would a visit to stay with a friend or relative who is allergic to dogs. However, if you’re going to be driving somewhere and staying in a hotel or motel, it could be a great time to take your dog. You can probably assume that he will be all for the idea too.

It should go without saying (but it’ll be said anyway) that you should never assume that a hotel or motel will accept dogs. Arriving at the hotel you’ve booked for two weeks and finding out that your pooch isn’t welcome can really put a damper on what started out as a great trip. Weeks before your trip, choose some hotels and motels that you find suitable in the area that you’ll be visiting and contact each one. You might be able to save yourself some time by going to www.officialpethotels.com. This helpful website lists pet-friendly hotels in areas all over the country. Make a list of hotels and motels that allow pets, then call them and ask about their pet policies. Some will have stipulations such as only dogs under a certain size. There may be an extra charge for pets, too. What you want to do is speak with every hotel and motel on your list. Make a separate list for each of them. On each list, put any rules and restrictions they have for pets, and any extra charges. Once you can compare these lists, you can choose and book the right place for you and your beloved buddy to enjoy your trip together.

Be sure that your dog arrives at the hotel or motel well-prepared. You’ll need to bring along a comfortable crate. There may be a time when you need to leave your dog in the hotel or motel room, and you need to remember that he is going to be in unfamiliar surroundings. Leave him alone for any period of time in those unfamiliar surroundings and he may resort to some behavior that you’re not used to seeing at home. This behavior may include excessive barking, chewing, digging at the carpet, scratching at the door, or urinating or defecating in the room. It’s not pretty, and it really doesn’t go over well with the hotel or motel staff. If you need to leave your dog in the hotel or motel room alone for a period of time, it’s best to take him out to potty first then put him in a crate with his favorite blanket or pillow. You’ll be doing yourself, the hotel or motel, and your dog a favor. If he has a lot of room to freak out while you’re gone, he’s more likely to injure himself than if he’s confined to a crate. And please, be gone for as short a time as possible.

Of course you want to bring along his regular food and his favorite toys, and make sure that he still gets to watch his favorite programs on TV. Some dogs try never to miss “The Dog Whisperer”. Also, you want to bring along plenty of plastic bags, plastic gloves, and a scooper for poop-patrol. Some hotels and motels have designated areas for taking dogs to relieve themselves, but they still appreciate it if you clean up the poop and dispose of it properly. It’s the age of political correctness, after all; plus it’s just plain good manners.

It’s actually a great idea to get your dog used to traveling as early as possible and as often as possible. If your dog travels with you on a regular basis and stays with you in different kinds of places, he comes to see it as a normal thing. This cuts way down on anxiety, and makes him a more pleasant travel partner. He may even come in handy when you need someone to consult with about what to order from room service.

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Top 5 Reasons that Dogs go to the Vet

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the television shows about amazing vet surgeries and heroic vets doing their best to save dying animals, much to the tearful thanks of owners everywhere. But the reality of caring for dogs and their problems is much different. For most owners and vets , the same old troubles crop up again and again, no matter the breed. So what problems exactly do American vets see all the time? What’s the day in-day out routine, and how can we, as dog owners, stay out of the vet’s office?

To help with our canine quandary, we skipped the Wikipedia and Google searches and went straight to a real, live vet: Jesse Fallon, MS, DDM, who practices in Southwest Virginia. What we found were problems that ranged from the irresponsible to the deadly, the painful to the plain. From the most common to the least, are the top five troubles we bother our vets with:

1. Dog Allergies:
That’s right, your sneezing and scratching dog may not just be making noise–these symptoms may be the sign of a real allergic reaction in the home.

“Pollen, dust mites or food, it’s very similar to people allergies,“ said Fallon, “the symptoms manifest as itchy skin. Dogs can be allergic to anything, including the same things that people are allergic to.”

This common problem proves to be a tricky one, though. “It’s a hard disease to diagnose and treat, though we usually treat for the itchiness,” he said, “You can do de-sensitization therapy if you can pinpoint what the trouble is, and you can prescribe anti-histamines. Or, you can get a blood test for allergies.”

This begs a question–if allergies are so common today, how did the dogs of the good old days survive their allergies? After all, regular vet visits have become a common occurrence only in the latter part of the 20th century, and people have been owning dogs for thousands of years longer than that.

“In the wild, nature selects against allergies,” explained Fallon, “The dog that has the allergy doesn’t have as much time to look for food and such. We see it a lot today because we perpetuate inbreeding with specialized breeds.”

2. Obesity:
Every year, more and more dogs suffer from this slow and silent killer.

“A lot of pets have it, and, of course, they have their owners to blame. Just like people, many American dogs don’t get enough exercise,” said Fallon, “With obesity, you are predisposed to diabetes, joint disease is a bigger problems and the dog is at risk for many other kinds of orthopedic problems.”

Now, the tough part. We know when we are fat, but how can we tell if our dog is fat?

“You can just take a real, serious look at them. Your dog should have a recognizable waste and you should be able to feel the ribs but not see them. That’s the best weight,” he said.

What if you dog comes up on the chubby side or seems to be giving into his pork potential?

“You put them on a diet, just like a person,“ Fallon said, “Limit feeding to once or twice a day and use a measuring cup. Don’t leave food out all day and take the food away.”

3. Dietary Indiscretion:
Sounds scientific, right? It really isn’t. From digging in the trash to wolfing down your leftovers, this dog behavior brings plenty of pooches to the vet’s office.

“The dog is not used to eating huge quantities of human food,” Fallon said, “Diarrhea or vomiting is frequent. This isn’t a life threatening disorder, but can disrupt your household if your dog is vomiting all over the carpet or the sofa.”

So, Rover just ate a big plate of meatloaf and is showing off his gratitude by giving the meatloaf back to you, after a thorough chewing, all over your new carpet. What do you do?

“Your treatment would be to not feed him for 12 to 24 hours and give him plenty of water,” he said, “You just let their gastro-intestinal track rest. I don’t recommend Pepto-Bismol; the problem isn’t something abnormal in the digestive tract, it’s that you introduced something they are not used to. Just resting is the best medicine.”

Oh, and lay off the meatloaf.

4. Orthopedic Problems:
Regardless of whether your dog has seen better days or has dreaded genetic problems, trouble with the joints can spell a painful end for our favorite pet. While some can be treated, many orthopedic problems finish up very badly for dogs.

“This can be hip displaysia or ligament damage,” said Fallon, “These type of problems are more common in larger dogs, but it also can just be arthritis associated with age changes.”

Purebred dogs can be much more at risk for inherited problems, but all dogs, eventually, can come down with bad arthritis, just like old people. Trouble getting up and down the stairs, getting up after a nap or trouble moving are all signs of orthopedic problems.

If you think that your dog could be suffering, what do you do? Aside from costly surgery, is there anything that can be done to help our aging companions?

“Generally, controlled exercise is good for most orthopedic diseases as well as keeping them at a proper weight in preventing or delaying problems,” said Fallon, “Obesity can contribute to this. Some things are unavoidable. Arthritis that sets in as our dogs live longer lives, then they are more likely to develop these problems. Some have to be treated medically, and arthritis is treated with pain medication. But don’t start giving painkillers at home, take the dog to the vet and get diagnosed.”

5. Toxicity:
Also known as good, old-fashioned poisoning, this most deadly of our top five is also the problem seen the least.

“Dogs eat prescription meds, antifreeze, insecticides and rodent poison–these are all common. If you know your dog has eaten something, you need to get to the vet immediately.”

But how can we tell that poison is the culprit and not number three on our list, dietary indiscretion? How can a dog owner tell the difference between Fido eating rat poison and Fido eating a foot long sub?

“Generally, with indiscretion, the dog will be acting more normal,” Fallon said, “In toxicity, you will see the evidence; you will see a medicine bottle chewed up or the rat trap eaten, or the dog is just not acting right.”

“If there is any doubt, you should go to the vet. You need to get somewhere ASAP,“ Fallon cautions, “Don’t wait, especially if you know they’ve eaten something. The easiest thing is to get the dog to vomit quickly, since it doesn’t absorb as much of the poison. Some drugs that aren’t toxic to people, like Tylenol or Advil, but can be very toxic to dogs.”

For poisoning, or any of this top five list, Fallon gives some stern advice: “The big thing is, all of these things are treatable, if the dog gets to the vet in time. Remember, we see these type of things all of the time. We know what to do in regards to diagnosis and treatment.”

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Road Trip Buddies – Traveling with Your Dog by Car

dog in carWant to turn your dog into a leaping, barking, squirming bundle of ultimate joy expressed? Ask him if he wants to go bye-bye in the car. Dogs can go from being fast asleep and snoring to doing perfect imitations of whirling dervishes in five seconds flat when they hear that question. There’s no doubt that most dogs love to go for car rides (unless they figure out you’re taking them to the vet.) Most of the time a car ride with your dog means a relatively short trip; but what about longer trips? Should you consider taking your dog on a road trip with you? The answer to that depends on a few factors that are known only to you, and the final choice is yours. If you’ve made the decision to take him along, however, there are a few tips and tricks to make the trip pleasant for everyone involved, both human and canine.

A couple of weeks before you go on your road trip, take your dog to the veterinarian for a complete check up. The last place that you want to be dealing with a sick pet (other than a carsick pet, which simply happens sometimes…sorry) is while you are on vacation. It’s probably the last place that your dog wants to be feeling sick, too. Get a clean bill of health from the vet for your dog, or clear up any problems he finds before you leave. Make sure all your dog’s vaccinations are up to date also. You never know when proof of that may be required. You can also ask your vet if there is anything you can give your dog for carsickness, just in case.

One of the most important things you can do before you go, if you haven’t already, is get an identification microchip implanted under your dog’s skin. If your vet doesn’t have the technology to do it, your local animal shelter should be able to help. If your dog gets separated from you during your trip and is turned into an animal shelter, they will scan it for the chip and get the contact information stored in it. Do this in addition to a collar and identification tags. This can save you a lot of possible grief.

Bring along a comfortable crate for your dog to ride in; one that gives him plenty of room to stand and turn. The image of the happy, smiling dog with his head out the car window and his ears flapping in the breeze is a pleasant one, but stop and think about that for a minute. Would you let your kids ride that way? It’s probably a good bet that you love your dog and want him to be safe. Riding in a comfortable crate that is secured so that it doesn’t slide around is safer for your dog and everyone else in the car. An alternative to the secured crate would be a special harness for your dog that fits onto the seat belt. This keeps your dog harnessed in safely and allows him a good view. If you choose to have your dog in the harness while in the car, it’s still a good idea to bring along the crate. Naps are often more comfortable for your dog in a crate.

Make a list of what you need for your dog about a week before you leave, and add to it when things come to mind. Check things off the list right before you go. You want to bring his favorite food, favorite blanket, and favorite toys. Don’t go changing anything on him now; it’s not the time! He wants familiarity. Don’t forget to bring enough bottled water for everyone, and that includes the dog. Don’t make anyone fight for water; that can put a damper on the whole trip.

If you’re driving in hot weather, keep your air conditioner on always. No exceptions. It may decrease your gas mileage, but your dog’s welfare depends on it. He is more uncomfortable than you in hot weather; and getting overheated is not only miserable for him, it’s dangerous. Never, ever leave your dog in a parked car in the heat, whether you have the windows down or not. Not even if you are standing right next to the car. If you are standing next to it and it is running and the AC is on, that’s fine, but make sure your dog is harnessed in and isn’t able to roam around the car. You really don’t want to watch your car drive away without you after Fido kicks it into drive, do you?

A road trip with your dog can be a great experience. He will love being included in the vacation, and you and anyone with you will love the company. Follow the common sense rules about keeping your dog safe and comfortable and everyone should have a wonderful trip.

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Top 10 Cartoon Dogs Everyone Wants To Own

Have you ever imagined your dog was a crime-fighting canine like Underdog, or that you owned the lovable mutt Odie from Garfield? There are many cartoon dogs from television and comic strips that would make wonderful, real-life pets. If you could, which dogs would you like to own? I’ve put together a top ten list of possible pooches.

max from the grich10. Max – He is willing to do anything for his master, even if his master is a grinch. I always feel so sorry for Max when the Grinch ties that antler on his head. The poor thing looks so pathetic. He is a good sport, and doesn’t seem to mind being humiliated. Max is a good choice for people who like to dress up their pets.

9. Dino – While he is technically not a dog, he acts like one on TV’s The Flintstones. Dino is the prehistoric version of man’s best friend. He is always happy to see everyone, just look at the way he drools and slobbers over Fred when he gets home from work. And, think of all the gas you could save by having Dino around to lift you from place to place.

8. Astro – Ruh Roh. Although the Jetson’s dog is big, dumb, and sometimes lazy, he is very protective of his boy Elroy. Plus, he is a perfect exercise companion since he already knows how to use a treadmill.

7. Lady – This lovable cocker spaniel from Lady & The Tramp is the only female dog on this list. This little lady will do whatever it takes to protect her family whether fish, fowl or human. All she wants in return is love and attention. Just keep her away from strays.

6. Odie – Garfield’s nemesis is just another dumb dog who is content with just being Odie. He doesn’t have any special talents, he just an endearing animal who doesn’t mind that the cat runs the household.

5. Hong Kong Phooey – Remember this mild-mannered janitor turned Kung Fu master when there is trouble? He is another perfect dog. He can protect you from the bad guys and clean up after himself when he’s done.

bria griffin4. Brian Griffin – I would love to own Brian. Who wouldn’t want a dog who can take care of himself? He can walk on two legs, carry on a conversation and even drive a car. He’ll even earn his own money if he has to. Plus, he is funny as hell.

3. Scooby Doo – Wouldn’t you just love to cuddle with everyone’s favorite scaredy-dog? You would have to be braver than he is to own him though, since he jumps at every noise.

2. Snoopy – This beloved beagle of Peanuts fame would be an awesome pet. He is smart, talented and imaginative, and he loves to dance.

1. Underdog is the top dog, hands down. The animated Underdog that is, not the lame movie excuse for this cartoon classic. There’s no need to fear if Underdog is in your house. While he might cause a little chaos while he’s at it, he’ll fight villains, save damsels in distress, and even shine your shoes.


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