Kennel Blog

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Traveling With Your Dog

You’ve decided to take your dog on a trip with you and want to be sure it goes well. Here are some reminders and advice to make the trip as safe and fun as possible.

Before you are ready to travel, take your dog on a number of car rides to ensure he is used to traveling and to give you an idea of how he will do.
Make these trips fun so your dog associates it with a positive experience. Remember a short trip is different from a long journey. On a long trip your dog will get bored more easily and want to lay down so be sure your vehicle can accommodate that.

Getting a doggie car seat or being able to put your dog in a crate while in your vehicle is a good idea. A sudden stop could result in serious injury for him even if nothing happens to you. Just slamming on the brakes one time could be a very bad experience for your dog. Also, have a plan for if you should have car trouble while on the road. If these type of issues make you nervous you may want to consider leaving your dog at a boarding kennel instead. This might allow you one less worry when you travel knowing your pet is safe and sound and around people who really care about your dogs welfare.

Be sure your dog’s vaccinations are all current, which they always should be, as well as giving him a flea and tick control treatment. These insects may not be a problem where you live but they may be wherever you are going. Bring along his vet records that show when his vaccinations were done as well as any vet care he has received.

A collar with a tag showing his name, address and phone number is helpful. A rabies tag on his collar is not sufficient proof of vaccination because they do not have any identifying information and those tags can easily be moved from dog to dog by just attaching it to another collar.
If he isn’t already, you may want to get him a microchip just in case. Many lost dogs have been recovered from a microchip.

Prepare a doggie suitcase just for him. You will need bottled water, his food and treats, his collar and a leash and any medication he is taking. A retractable leash might be helpful since he will probably not be able to run loose when you stop for a rest. Add in one or two of his favorite toys and be sure to bring some baggies or plastic bags for poop scooping.

Look up the city you are traveling to and identify one or two veterinarians. Map out their address to make things easier in case of an emergency.
You should also identify one or two boarding kennels in the area where you will be staying. You may want to do something for an entire day or overnight and not have a suitable place for you dog to stay so planning for a just-in-case beforehand will save you some work.

When planning your travel keep in mind a trip with your dog may take longer. You will need to make more frequent stops for potty breaks, to allow your dog to stretch his legs and get a little exercise, and have some water.

Another thing to keep in mind is that even the best house-trained dog might have accidents in a strange house or motel room. He will be somewhere he isn’t comfortable with and it isn’t at all uncommon for dogs to have “accidents” while in a strange location.

If you are going to visit and stay with a friend or family member you need to find out if there will be other dogs around. This can be a big problem. Other dogs may not be as well-trained as yours or may not be as friendly . Remember, your dog will be encroaching on this other dogs home and there could be “territorial” issues. Never take someone at their word that their dog is friendly and won’t bother your dog. Whenever you introduce your dog to a strange dog, always make sure both dogs are on a leash. This is very important. The dogs will want to sniff each other in the rear and you should allow this as this is how they identify each other. If one dog begins to stiffen up or display any fear or nervousness immediately separate the dogs. This is a classic type of behavior that leads to one dog attacking the other. Importantly, just because two dogs get along at the first meeting does not mean everything will be ok. Any number of things could change how they interact. You will need to watch your dog very closely during the entire time of your stay. Never, ever just “let the dogs work it out.” Fearful, suspicious, dominant breeds as well as certain other breeds may not mix well.

If you are sure you will be taking your dog with you, then plan carefully and completely. It can be fun to have your dog along if you plan well and take the necessary precautions.

Where Pets Feel At Home

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You’ve Decided To Leave Your Dog At A Boarding Kennel…

It’s time to go on vacation, or a business trip, or leave home for some reason and you can’t take your favorite friend(s) with you. You have decided to let a boarding kennel take care of your dog while you are away.

If you need to find a quality boarding kennel ask your vet or friends who have boarded a dog for a referral. A quality boarding kennel, sometimes referred to as a pet hotel, will usually have real customer testimonials on their website. In addition, be sure to read the kennels web site to learn more about them. Kennels offer a variety of services and some charge for each service as an add-on, such as administering medications, a bath for your dog, fee’s for picking up or dropping off after a certain time of day, etc. Be sure to compare the services offered in addition to the daily boarding rate.

Also, choose a dog kennel where the owners live on site. Most kennels are small businesses and the owners usually live on the property. If you have the chance ask them if you can visit and take a tour of their facility. This will give you an opportunity to get a feel for the owners and see where your dog will be staying.

Another option is a pet sitter and there are some good one’s. However, if they have a family emergency or get sick or have car problems who will take care of your pet? And can you be sure they will be there when they say they will?

Some kennels allow many dogs to be together and interact in a “play yard”.
This is something you will need to think about. While this may sound fun for your dog, keep in mind that some dogs are friendly and may do fine is this environment, others are nervous, some might be timid and some get a little too excited. Nervous, timid or overly excited dogs can cause another dog to react in an aggressive manner towards it. An outbreak of aggression can occur in the blink of an eye before an employee has a chance to react.
Even dogs that have behaved well with their owner at a dog park may act differently in a kennel situation without their owner present.
Should a fight break out, even if kennel employees react immediately, significant injury, with the associated emergency vet bills, can occur. It is a risk and one only you can decide if it’s worth taking.

If you have a dog that may be aggressive to other dogs or to people, or is timid, be sure and tell them when you call to make a reservation. This isn’t something you want them to discover after you have dropped of the dog and left. Some boarding kennels will not accept certain breeds and some will not accept aggressive dogs or dogs with certain behaviors.

Some kennels are better equipped to deal with these kinds of dogs and the one’s that are will also be experienced and better suited for taking care of this type of dog.

If the kennel allows it, and they should, be sure to bring your dogs’ food. An abrupt change in diet can cause diarrhea and intestinal upset so you don’t want your pet to have to eat whatever the kennel provides. Also, be sure to tell them if your dog takes any medications at the time you make the reservation.

Some kennels will allow you to bring your pets bed or a favorite toy as well.

Keep in mind all kennels will require your pet to be up-to-date on vaccinations, which they really should be at all times anyway. They will also want your pet to be current with a flea and tick control product. It doesn’t matter if yours is an “inside” dog. All dogs go outside even if for short periods and a flea or tick can get aboard and hitch a ride. Most kennels will insist on this product being used because they cannot risk any dog bringing in fleas or ticks to their kennel, so it’s in your best interest if the kennel requires this treatment in order to protect your dog. If they don’t require this you may want to consider another option.

When considering which flea and tick product to use when boarding your pet be sure to get one that treats for both fleas AND ticks. Unfortunately, vets sometimes suggest a product that only treats for fleas.

Some boarding kennels provide grooming and nail trimming also, so this can be a good time to get that done while they are there. Again, be sure to request this when you make your reservation so they can schedule it.

When you arrive at the boarding kennel to drop off your dog, say goodbye to your dog outside before you go in. Once you check in, let the kennel employee take the dog and you should not make a big fuss about it. Dogs will sense if you are upset so try to be your normal self. This isn’t the time to hug and kiss and even cry while the kennel help is trying to take the dog into the kennel, it only makes it more difficult for everyone, especially your dog. Your pet will interpret this behavior as a message from YOU that he SHOULD be upset, worried and afraid. He will take his cue from you about whether he is going to like this new place and have fun there.

Be sure the kennel has an emergency contact number just in case they need to reach you or someone who knows you and give them any special instructions.

Boarding your dog is often more difficult for the humans than it is the dog. The dog will adjust quickly and be curious about their new surroundings, new people and new dogs. Dogs are curious animals and most of them are friendly and like to meet new people and other dogs.

People that own and work in boarding kennels do so because they love dogs. They love meeting new dogs and getting to spend time with them. As long as you have researched the kennel and have received good reports from others, or read positive reviews about them, you don’t need to worry about your friend.

Your dog will definitely remember you, even if it’s a long stay, and be excited and happy to see you when you return.

When you pick up your dog and the kennel brings the dog to you don’t make a big fuss or talk in a high-pitched voice or show a lot of excitement. Wait until you get home or outside to do that. Give your dog a little time to calm down and relax.

It is normal for your dog to be more tired than usual when you get home. They had a lot of excitement while you were gone and a routine that was different from what they were used to. Don’t be surprised if they sleep more than usual for 2-3 days after you get back home.

Remember, holidays and during the summer are popular vacation and travel times and they are busy times for boarding kennels so be sure to plan well in advance if you will need their services.

A boarding kennel or pet hotel can be a fun, positive experience for your dog and allow you to have a worry-free vacation or business trip.

Part of the Family Kennels
“Where Pet’s Feel At Home”

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Thinking About Breeding Your Dog?

So, you think you want to breed your dog?

Some people want to do it because they love their dog so much and they want another just like it. Some think it’s an easy way to make some money. Others think they will create a “new breed”. Some think it would be a lovely, educational experience for their children.

I have been showing and breeding for over 25 years. I like to tell people that breeding dogs, like marriage, is not to be entered into lightly.

First, I’d like to address keeping intact (not spayed or neutered) animals. It’s a well known statistic that most dog bites to humans are from an un-neutered male dog. An intact male dog is like a bull in a pasture. Handy to have if you need him for breeding but can be a real pain in the butt to live with. Intact males mark their territory. It doesn’t matter if they are house broken. They don’t see marking and going potty as the same event at all. Even when going potty, they always save some for marking. It’s why, when walking a male, he can pee on so many interesting verticle things, fire hydrants, trees, posts, etc. Then there is the fact that a male dog can smell a bitch in season from over a mile away, literally. A common complaint of people with young male dogs :
“I don’t understand, he was doing so well with housebreaking and training! Now, at 10 months, he’s peeing in the house, chewing things up, digging out of the yard!” etc. It’s because he can smell a bitch in season somewhere and all that testosterone coursing through his veins makes getting to her “job ONE”. If he can’t get to her, he’ll take out his frustration on you or other pets or your house. Neutered males are much more calm and happy to just be your companion as “job one”.

Intact (not spayed) bitches are an even bigger challenge. First of all, it’s critical that she not be allowed to get pregnant until reaching maturity which is at two years of age. Yes, they can come in season at 6 months, but just like young girls starting to cycle at 12 or 13, their body is just starting to get ready. Their body is not yet mature enough to handle a pregnancy and nursing. The other problem with intact bitches, besides having to handle the bleeding and mood swings every six months, is that every time a bitch goes into season her cervix dilates and she is at risk of getting pyometra. This is a uterine infection that can have very few symptoms but can be very deadly, very quickly. It’s why experienced breeders spay their bitches just as soon as they are done with their last litter.

Is your dog WORTHY of being bred?

Just because they have papers or are AKC registered, that has absolutely NO bearing on the quality of or the health of the individual dog or what genetic health defects they could potentially pass to their offspring. AKC is to dogs, as the DMV is to cars. They simply keep records. An AKC registered dog simply means the parents were registered. This is not to cast any blame on AKC. It is simply not their job.

Responsible breeding is in the hands of each breeder. We that show dogs do so to prove their merit as the breed they represent. It’s easy to think the dog in your home, that you love, is gorgeous. That, however, is frequently what professional or responsible breeders refer to as ” kennel blindness”. We go to dog shows to see how our dogs stack up compared to others in the breed and whether they can win against others of quality. We do this enough times under knowledgeable judges to earn that coveted championship. Even then, the “right” to breed isn’t guaranteed.

What health concerns does your breed have and are you certain that this individual dog neither has them, nor is carrying the genes for them? ALL dogs, both purebred and mutt, have defective genes. As do humans. It’s up to the responsible breeder to do the health clearances for what needs to be prevented in their breed, as well as doing careful pedigree research when choosing potential mates, so as not to produce puppies with hereditary health defects. Sometimes, this means getting OFA certification on hips, so as not to produce pups with hip dysplasia. Just because your dog isn’t lame, doesn’t mean they don’t have or aren’t carrying the gene for hip dysplasia. Sometimes, it means getting their heart certified. You have to know what hereditary problems are a concern in your chosen breed.

Remember, most states now have puppy “lemon laws” and they can come back to you not only for a refund of the full purchase price but also for vet bills incurred. Before even considering breeding, you should have your dog looked at by someone in your breed that shows dogs and have them evaluated. Many inexperienced people don’t realize that their dog has slightly crooked legs, an off-bite, luxating patellas, or a host of other things that could make them a fine pet but an unsuitable breeding specimen.

If you aren’t willing to put in the time and spend the money to breed a quality, healthy purebred dog, you shouldn’t do it at all. There are plenty of mutts and even purebreds at the pound that need rescuing. Even if they ARE a good representative of the breed and have health clearances, breeding to get a clone of what you have now is a truly unrealistic expectation. Even in breeding purebreds, all the puppies in every litter are different. Look at your own children, if you have them. They have the same two parents, but they sure are different, aren’t they? Breeding your dog to another dog would bring in even more genetic diversity than siblings have, which often isn’t a good thing. If you want a dog much like what you have, go back to the breeder and see if you can get a pup from a repeat breeding or similar line.

You think it would be a wonderful experience for your children?
Really? What happens when pups are born malformed or die shortly after birth? What happens when the bitch needs an emergency c-section at 3am? Breeding is not for the faint of heart and should not be done for the entertainment or education of children. There are plenty books and videos for that. Puppies are a huge investment of time, money and energy, especially if you breed a large breed.

Before you enter into breeding, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Is your dog in excellent health?
Do you have the time and room to care for 6-12 large puppies?
Do you have the proper kennel facilities to care for them and keep them for however long it takes to find proper homes?
Are you prepared to interview prospective buyers to find out if they are the right kind of person and if they have a suitable lifestyle and living arrangements for your puppies?
Will you refuse to sell your pups to someone who doesn’t pass your screening?
Are you in a position to take them back if their owners can’t keep them, even 5-10 years from now?
Do you plan to get all the puppies their first series of puppy shots and a health exam before they are sold as is the law in many states?
If the mom or puppies get sick, do you have the financial capabilities to have them treated by a vet?
Can you keep the pups indefinitely if you have a problem finding a good home for all of them?

If you answered no to any of the above questions, breeding is not right for your family. The last thing any responsible breeder wants to do is add to the shelter population.

Do you think you’ll create a new and wonderful breed? Think again! It takes many, many generations of careful selective breeding to actually “create” a breed. Slapping two dogs together doesn’t create a breed, it creates a mutt. One fallacy is that you will be avoiding the hereditary problems in each of those breeds. Not so!! You will be adding the problems from BOTH breeds to the mix.

The man that started goldendoodles said on his death bed it was the greatest regret of his life. What people don’t realize is that unless you spend many, many generations, breeding in what you want and out what you don’t, all you have is a mishmosh of traits. Some goldendoodle pups will have golden hair, some will have poodle hair, some will have BOTH! Poodles don’t have as much of a problem with hip dysplasia but the lab could give that to the pups. Labs don’t have sebaceous adenitis but the poodle could give that to the pups. Some may require on-going professional grooming, some not.

I am not against doing cross-breeding. I just think you need to be educated and still do the pertinent health testing on the prospective parents. More importantly, you need to be honest with your puppy buyers about what a crap shoot it is with regard to what traits they can expect those puppies to have. If you’re just doing a cross because they are cute and there is a demand, like cockapoos or whatever, while you still have to do your health clearances, I can see the desire to do that. If you are looking for a hypoallergenic dog that doesn’t shed, anything crossed with something that DOES shed is not a good plan. Just choose a non-shedding purebred, like poodles, airedales or kerry blues.

The other thing to consider when doing crosses is size. If you cross a large male to a small female, you can wind up with a bitch in real trouble with fetuses too large for her to carry.

All in all, breeding should never be entered into lightly. Be prepared to invest a great deal of time, energy and money to do it right or do everyone, especially the unwanted dogs at the pound a favor ……don’t do it.

Part of the Family Kennels

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Does My Dog Have Food Allergies?

Allergies in dogs has become an all too frequent malady. While they can become allergic to most anything, just like us, there are some things you can do to help your pet avoid food allergies.

Ian Billingshurst, veterinary author of “Give Your Dog A Bone” advises “balance, over time, through variety”.

It’s important to remember that whether it’s a chihuahua or an irish wolfhound, ALL dogs still have the same dentition and digestive systems as wolves. Dogs are carvivores! The vast majority of their diet should be meat and bone. Let me repeat this all to often ignored fact….Dogs Are Carnivores!! They need meat!! While they WILL eat just about anything, the scientific term for this is “obligate omnivore”, that simply means if they can’t get the meat and bone they prefer and should have, they will eat whatever they can to survive. Barely surviving, however, is not a great plan. You could survive on pop tarts and candy, but you don’t have to be a dietician to know that is not a good idea. I repeat, dogs are carnivores. They need meat. They also, like us, need variety.

It is a common fallacy, all to often perpetuated by vets, who are typically taught nutrition in college by a representative of Purina or Hill’s, the makers of science diet, that you should find one food and stick to it for the life of the dog. WRONG!!! If you want to CAUSE an allergy, expose the body to something again and again until the immune system finally screams “ENOUGH”, in the form of an allergy.

While you should gradually introduce a new food, over a week or so, it is important to constantly change the protein source. There are hundreds of brands of food with top quality ingredients these days. If this bag was based on chicken, make the next one fish, the following one lamb, etc. There are also protein sources that are things we wouldn’t find in the grocery store, like venison, rabbit, duck etc. Like the wolf, the dog should get something different on a regular basis.

The quality of the food is also crucial. Just like the old dog food commercial used to say “meat costs more than cereal”. If the food says chicken, then that should be the FIRST ingredient listed. Remember, the ingredients are listed in the order of concentration. You will never see a pack of wolves grazing in a field of corn or wheat. While some dogs do fine with these added fillers, they will never be as healthy as if their food was based on meat, poultry or fish. You will notice that many of the top shelf foods even brag that there is NO grain. Soy and wheat should also be avoided as these are common allergens for dogs. If the ingredient says “meat” it can be any source of “meat” including road kill. yes, you read that right. “Meat” and “Animal” ingredients typically come from rendering plants. They can be any animal in any degree of decay or disease. Any food with these words should be avoided. If it says chicken, it has to be chicken. The government doesn’t care what we feed our dogs, only that the labels be honest.

Spend the extra money on top quality dog food with real meat, fish or poultry as the FIRST ingredient. Rotate the source of protein on a regular basis. Don’t be afraid to feed healthy table scraps… cooked bones, skin or fat, please, just what is left on your plate. Don’t be afraid to feed eggs, canned fish and yogurt. Just remember that when adding anything extra do their meal, decrease the amount of kibble so as not to over-feed.

If your pet is already suffering from allergies, rather than continued shots of prednisone and itching meds, which only treat symptoms, not the actual problem, try a food allergy diet. Select a completely unique protein source food. Something they have never had before, like venison, duck or salmon. It will take at least two months to get all the other stuff out of their system and for this to be of any value whatsoever.

It is CRITICAL that they take nothing by mouth but THIS food and water. If they eat even a tiny corner of your toast and happen to be suffering from a wheat allergy, you will be back at square one for another two months. If after two months on this food, you see improvement in their skin and itching, you have your answer. If not, try another protein source. It does take time and committment but you will spend far less money on quality food than you are spending at the vet to constantly treat the symptoms and will be rewarded with a healthier, happier member of your family.

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Are You Over-Feeding Your Dog?

Are you Over-Feeding Your Dog?

Most people do, unfortunately. To keep your dog healthy, maintain its proper weight.

Here you can find the proper weight range for any breed:

Looking at your dog from above there should be a slight indentation at the end of the rib cage.

When looking from the side, there should be what is called a “tuck up”, which is their bottom line and should angle up towards the hips, after their ribs. If it is a straight line across the bottom, they are over weight.

You should be able to easily feel ribs on the side, but they should not be readily visible.

A common mistake people make is following the weight guidelines on a bag of dog food.

If your big dog weighs 85 lbs but should weight 65-75, when you look at the food feeding guidelines don’t use the amount it says for an 85 lb dog, use the amount it says for a 65 lb dog. Feed based on what they SHOULD weigh, not what they do weigh. That said, most dog foods have far too much listed on their guidelines. They want you to use as much of their product as possible!

Keep in mind if your dog should get 2 cups of food per day and you feed
2 – 2 1/2 cups per day, plus treats, plus a few table scraps, well, you can see where this is going. Those treats and table scraps really add up, so if you are going to give those then cut back on the amount of food you feed.

Like people, dogs have different metabolisms. If they weigh too much, they need less food, a low-calorie, low-fat formula and more exercise. If they weigh too little, they need more food of a higher caloric content. Also, an active dog who receives a lot of exercise may be able eat more than a dog who lays around the house all day without adding weight.

If your dog is overweight and you put him on a diet, don’t expect to lose all the weight quickly. If you change to a different food, introduce it gradually but still only in the amount needed for what the target weight should be. Besides using a low-calorie, low-fat food, reduce the number of treats and table scraps your dog gets. Like us, it’s easy to forget just how many calories we are getting in a day from multiple treats and snacks.

You can give your dog less dog food and add in some no salt canned green beans for filler. Instead of dog treats, try some baby carrots for a treat.

More exercise will go a long weigh towards helping your dog lose weight. They should be walked daily for at least 30 minutes and the more play time they get the better. A dog that is exercised often will be a more well-behaved dog also. As the saying goes, “a tired dog is a good dog”.

You also want to be sure not to under-feed your dog. Like us, a healthy body weight makes for an overall healthier dog. If they are picky eaters, find a top shelf food that they like. Adding table scraps is fine. Just bear in mind that table scraps are what’s left on your plate. Cooked bones and cooked skin or fat should never be fed to any dog!

Over weight dogs will generally wind up suffering from a host of maladies, including breaking down of hips and joints, diabetes, lack of energy etc. Monitoring your dog’s weight will increase the number of happy, healthy years you will have with this special part of your family.

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Thinking About Getting a Dog?

The first question many people ask when they consider whether to get a dog to become part of the family is should I get a rescue or a purebred?

Many feel that rescuing from the shelter is the option everyone should consider first. While it is a great idea to rescue a dog from possible euthanasia, there are several things to consider. When getting a mixed breed dog, if it’s still a pup, you may have no idea how big it’s going to get, how much it will shed or what it’s temperament will be like. It is a myth that you can tell how big a puppy will get by the size of his feet.

Older dogs should always be considered, as while puppies are invariably cute, it is really just a very, very short part of their life and by adopting an older dog you can usually skip the house breaking, teething and spaying or neutering. You will also know what size and coat type it has. That said, some older dogs at shelters come with their own “baggage”. They may have been abused or simply allowed to grow with no training, may have aggressive tendencies you aren’t aware of at first or no knowledge of rules, boundaries and limitations, as we are reminded by Cesar Milan, renowned Dog Whisperer. As he has shown many times, you really can teach an old dog new tricks.

If you have the time to properly overcome this sort of baggage…. and really, ANY dog of any breed, any age requires a genuine investment in training, you will be more than rewarded for your time by taking in an older dog from the shelter. We also find that many of the volunteers at the shelters, while having the best of intentions, have little knowledge of purebred dogs and it is quite common for people to adopt a dog and be told it is a type of breed that it is not.

The advantage of buying a purebred dog is that you will know exactly what you are getting with regard to size, temperament, coat type, shedding, grooming needs, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind when buying a purebred dog is NOT to buy from stores or the internet. Most people have heard of the horrors of so-called “puppy mills” and while most people would never intentionally buy a puppy from such a situation, they don’t realize that NO ethical breeder would ever sell puppies to a store. In fact, it is cause for dismissal from most purebred parent clubs, to which, most responsible breeders belong.

The internet has become a boon for these disreputable breeders, as they give the puppies a bath and a cute ribbon and people are fooled into thinking it is coming from a responsible breeder. A quality bred purebred dog is not cheap but ironically, you can almost always get a good one from a good breeder for less than those in a store. The ones on the internet are way cheaper for a reason. No health clearances are done on the parents, no championship titles to prove their merit in their breed, no long-term health guarantees and they can, quite simply, charge a lot less when they are breeding by the hundreds with little or no investment in their care and upkeep.

If a purebred is the right choice for your family, find a breeder that you can visit. If they show dogs, even better. Then you can be assured they are investing in producing the best representatives of the breed that are also healthy and of good temperament. Be prepared to be put on a waiting list for a quality puppy, as well as being asked to sign a spay/neuter contract, since most breeders try to protect their breeds from unethical or ill-informed breeding resulting in poor specimens of the breed as well as possibly introducing hereditary health concerns. Also, you will be asked a number of questions by the breeder so they can determine if you can provide the proper environment for the dog. If the seller doesn’t care about your lifestyle and the conditions under which the dog will live, this should tell you right there it is not a quality breeder or seller of dogs.

If you search the internet for your breed of choice, you should be able to find the local members of the national parent club for that breed. They can also point you in the right direction if you would like to rescue a purebred adult of that breed.

Whatever your decision about your new addition to your family, be sure to take your time, do your homework on what would work best for your situation and be prepared to put in the time to train your new dog and help them become a life long, loving part of your family.

Where Pets Feel At Home
Pet boarding and grooming in the Tampa area

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Anatomy of a Carnivore

There are some differences in dogs and wolves, according to Ray Coppinger, a professor of biology at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He reports dogs skulls, teeth and brains are smaller than wolves, with a 20% smaller brain. Dogs can also carry traits of a sickle-shaped tail, floppy ears and pie-bald color patterns. Domestic dogs also come into heat twice a year, while wolves only do so once a year. Dogs also continue to show submissive behavior all their lives, such as licking and greeting their masters the way wolf puppies do to the older pack members.

Some of this is believed to have evolved due to humans selection of dogs. Humans tend to prefer more submissive dogs, that carry more neoteric, or immature features. It is felt submissive dogs would adapt better in human families, and humans preferred the less threatening look of a dog that carried juvenile features.(wagging high carried tail, larger eyes and licking the owner).

It is also interesting to note that all domestic dogs, from the Chihuahua to the St. Bernard carry the same DNA patterns. This suggests that dogs have a single, rather than a multiple origin. The only domestic dog that varies is the Arctic Elkhound, which appears to have evolved separately. These new studies, done by Robert Wayne, a University of California-Los Angeles evolutionary biologist shows wolves are the closest species to the domestic dog. This is the largest study ever done in this field, and includes 140 domestic dogs, covering 67 purebreds and 4 crossbreeds. This was compared to samples of DNA collected from 162 wolves, in 27 localities worldwide.

Wolves are members of the carnivore family, known as canis lupus. The domestic dog is also of the carnivore family, known as canis familiaris. The book, “The Carnivores”, written by R. F. Ewer (lecturer in biology at the University of Ghana) states that “Canis Familiaris is generally believed to have evolved from the wolf, the wild species that most closely resembles both anatomically and behaviorally. The differences between the two are not great enough to make it necessary to postulate a hypothetical ancestral wild species which has neither survived to the present day not left any known fossil remains.”
Some typical features common to carnivores are a large mouth opening, a single hinge joint that lays in the same plane as the teeth, and a large primary muscle on the side of the head for operating the jaw. The teeth are short and pointed, made for grasping and shredding. These teeth come together to give a cutting motion and act like shears. The teeth and mouth of the carnivore are developed to swallow food whole, not for chewing or crushing. Carnivores do not have digestive enzymes in their saliva. Humans have amylase, which helps to begin to break down complex carbohydrates. The dogs digestive tract is one-third to one-half the length of an omnivore. This shortness is designed for adaption for quick, muscular digestion of raw meat and bones. Carnivores have a much higher concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach for break down of proteins and to kill any dangerous bacteria. Their stomach acidity is less than or equal to pH 1 with food in the stomach, while humans are pH 4 to 5.

This raises the question of what is the best food for carnivores, according to their digestive tract and physiology. Dogs, as carnivores, have difficulty digesting grains and other complex carbohydrates. With the lack of digestive enzymes in the mouth, complex carbohydrates are not predigested, and take a long time to break down in the stomach, and small intestine, if they break down at all. Most of the complex carbohydrates pass through undigested, and create large stools in the dog.

It is interesting to note that dry dog foods are mainly cereal, consisting of a large part of corn, wheat, rice and soy. While dog food companies would have you believe that grains are a good source of protein, the fact is that dogs have a very difficult time digesting and utilizing protein from carbohydrates. Studies show dogs do best on animal protein, and the higher the quality, the better the protein is assimilated. The poorer quality proteins create a stress on the dogs kidneys and it makes proper nutritional digestion difficult.

Dr. David Kronfeld reports that carbohydrates are most important for dogs in two situations: puppies just coming off the mothers milk (which is 12% carbohydrates) and the lactating bitch, who needs three times the usual turnover of blood glucose for production of milk. He goes on to state that “no carbohydrates need be provided in the diet for pups after weaning or adult dogs, not even for those subjected to hard work. The liver is easily able to synthesize sufficient glucose (from amino acids derived from protein and glycerol derived from fats) for transport in the blood and utilization in other tissues.” He also goes to state that he feels the high carbohydrate content in dog foods is what contributes to coprophagy (stool eating), and hypoglycemia.

Dr. Kronfeld does state that of all the grains, oatmeal is resistant to milling, and since it is available in flaked form, it makes the best choice for dogs, as it has a higher protein and fat content.

Cooking animal protein also changes many of the amino acids chains, and makes some of the amino acids they need unusable or destroyed. Dogs’ need for amino acids differ from humans, and raw meat contains many or most needed for good tissue health, immunity and good coat and skin for carnivores.

Lastly, cooking and processed foods, such as dog foods, creates difficulty in digestion. It can take up to 15 hours to digest processed foods, while fresh foods digest in about 4 to 6 hours. The longer food stays in the system, the greater chance of allergies and digestive upsets.

By Lew Olson

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Rate Your Dog’s Food

Rate Your Dog Food
Start with a score of 100.

1) For every listing of “by-product”, subtract 10 points

2) For every non-specific animal source (“meat” or “poultry”, meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points

3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points

4) For every grain “mill run” or non-specific grain source,subtract 5 points

5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. “ground brown rice”, “brewer’s rice”, “rice flour” are all the same grain), subtract 5 points

6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points

7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points

8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points

9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points

10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points

11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points

12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points

13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn’t? allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points

14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn’t? allergic to beef), subtract 1 point

15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points

2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or
nutritionist, add 5 points

3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points

4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points

5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points

6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points

7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points

8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points

9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points

10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point

11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point

12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than
the first one; count “chicken” and “chicken meal” as only one protein source, but “chicken” and “” as 2 different sources), add 1 point

13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point

14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A
86-93 = B
78-85 = C
70-77 = D

69 = F

Here are some foods that have already been scored.
Dog Food scores:

Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
**** Van Patten’s Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
**** Van Patten’s Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+ Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 D Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

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An Abused Dog Rehabilitation Story

The Story of Levi

I have been involved in the rescue of both my breeds since I began showing dogs almost twenty five years ago. I also am very selective about who gets one of our puppies. We stress to the new owners that if they are ever in a position where they cannot keep the dog, no matter how old or what may be wrong, we will take it back.

One day I got a call from good friend and fellow Airedaler, Lori Valentine. They were about to attempt to rescue a dog and there was a possibility it was from my breeding. When I fit the pieces together, I called the owners. Seems he had “a bunch of hereditary problems” and “come Friday her husband was going to see that both dogs were gone” and she hadn’t asked any questions. Being a concerned breeder, my first questions were about the hereditary problems. Skin allergies and demodex. I have never had this before in any of my dogs but explained that anything could happen and even offered her a free replacement (shudder!!) until she said “The really weird part is that we got a dog from the pound and within a few months he had all the same ‘hereditary’ problems as Levi!!  Yes, they both have fleas and No, they just don’t want to deal with them any more. I asked if I could please take Levi back and see if he could be helped. A meeting was arranged as soon as possible. I was not prepared for the dog that got out of that car. A three year old male who’s bones you could count from across the parking lot, (he weighed 36lbs, should have been 50-60) in spite of the hundreds of matts. He walked slowly, with head hung low and an expression that I have only seen before in footage from the Holocaust camps.

People that know me and my own terrier temperament always ask what I said or did to that man that did this. I surprise them and myself, as I write this, by saying, I simply shook his hand, thanked him for giving me a chance to help Levi and walked away. I knew if I allowed even a portion of the storm to surface, I would have pummeled him into the asphalt and had to call Margo Dupre or Diana Fielder for that bail money we always joke about. Instead, I gently helped him into my van and sobbed the whole way to my vet.

I called the clinic on my way and they were ready for me. Both with medical care specialists and a box of Kleenex. After determining just how bad his condition was, my vet advised euthanasia. His hemoglobin was so low as to be life threatening, he was in end stage malnutrition. The mange was demodectic, most likely due to his health being so deteriorated that his immune system was shot. She doubted he could handle being treated for all the parasites. It’s almost funny now, but I was sobbing so hysterically when I got there that one of the vet techs who has become my friend, immediately ushered me out the back door of the building.

I had decided if he was heartworm positive, that would be my sign to put him down. Surely, he could never survive the treatment for that. When I went back in and Meryl, my vet back then, told me he had every conceivable parasite that a living creature can have, she then laughed and added, except for heartworms. She said  ‘I honestly think he’s too anemic to support them!’  As if to confirm my answer to prayer, I began to notice something. In spite of the way he had been treated, in spite of his horrible condition, being so sick, in pain, every time the door would open and someone would come back into the treatment room, his head would lift, ever so slightly, his eyes brighten just a little and his tail would wag a slow, gentle greeting. Almost a question, really. Terri, the vet tech saw it too and decided the question was ‘Are you the one that is going to help me?’  I sobbed some more, gave him a big hug (bugs be damned!) and told Meryl to treat him for internal parasites, Frontline him for fleas and ticks but NOT to dip him. I was torn between overloading him with toxic treatments and knowing he was thoroughly depleted and still LOADED with parasites.

I picked him up three days later and began the ‘restoration’. Levi became a full time job for me. He was so malnourished that he had to be fed six tiny meals a day. He also had to be bathed every single day with medicated shampoo, which needed to be rubbed into his sores until they bled. Even as I hurt him, he smiled into my eyes, wagged and kissed my hands. Feeding him tiny meals was the hardest part. He was SO hungry and SO happy to be getting food. I cried until I thought I couldn’t cry any more. Then came the day that he finally only ate half of what was in the bowl. He walked away, thought about it, came back and repeated the process several times. Then I realized the problem and sobbed anew. He was too full to eat anymore, but couldn’t bring himself to walk away from a dish with food in it, being unsure that he could count on another meal. Then I went upstairs, only to be pestered by my own dogs. In spite of full dishes, they were overdue their morning ‘cookie’ and let me know it. I cried with happiness this time and said ‘Oh, you big brats! You have no idea.’

I hit all my friends and the internet for how to handle this dog. At first, I fed him six very small meals a day, consisting of boiled chicken breast and cooked rice. I gradually added some powder from PHD, made specifically for old or debilitated animals. Eventually, I switched him to the same diet as the other dogs. It was weeks before he was comfortable enough to walk away from food. He didn’t eat because he was hungry. He ate because he will never again be sure that food will always be put into his dish.

It took months of rehabilitation, especially to fight the demodex, which we ultimately DID get rid of. Rebuilding Levi became a full time job for me. I was driven by the light that still burned in those wonderful, warm Airedale eyes.

God’s Hand was definitely in this one and an angel named Walter came just to see what Airedales were all about. His visit had been scheduled before Levi arrived and he came only days after I had Levi. When he saw him, he thought he was a Weimeraner, because he had been totally shaved down and was completely blue/gray in color due to the severity of his anemia and the deteriorated condition of his skin.

Walter looked into Levi’s eyes and it was all over. I actually tried to talk him out of it and assured him it would be months before I could even think about placing him. Walter visited with all my dogs, came back to Levi, looked into those eyes again, got tears of his own and said,  “I’ll wait.”  He visited Levi several times during the rehabilitation process.

Levi is now the shining star of his neighborhood and the light of Walter’s life. Walter says walking him is difficult because he can’t get 50 yards without a neighbor running out to give Levi a cookie. To this day, the reminders are still there. He stunned us by growing a gorgeous, rich in color coat, however his legs are crooked from malnutrition during puppyhood and his tail is just a stump, we assume chewed off in frustration from being chained to a tree, starvation or both. He gets very worried if Walter is out of his sight. He hates cats, which made me laugh and say “Hey! There IS an Airedale in there!”  Walter describes him as his best friend. They are both so lucky.

Debbie Vaught




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Difficulty Training a Terrier Pup (humor)

Terriers are difficult to train because they are a high energy breed, but still a lot of fun!

Basic Maneuvers For Training A Terrier Puppy

“No.”    “No, NO!”   “Get off of there!”  “Stop that!!”  “Ow!! No biting!!”  “Hey, that’s my shoe!!”   “Come back here you little #@!$%!”  “No, no, bad puppy!!”  “Ow! Hey, let go of my pants!”  “Leave the cat alone!!”  “What did you do??” “How did you manage to climb up THERE??”  “Let go!!” “Is that my underwear?” “Oooh, you’re lucky you’re cute!”   “Aw, Mommy’s little sweetie.  Ow!! Don’t bite my nose!!”

Terrier Puppy vs Hound Puppy

6 am  Terrier puppy runs circles around hound puppy, yipping and nipping at his ears to wake him up.

6:15  Puppies go outside. Hound does his business, sniffs a few things, comes back in. Terrier chases a squirrel, yells the wake up alarm in case any slackers in the neighborhood might still be sleeping, digs a hole, eats an unidentifiable object and runs back into the house w/ muddy paws, muddy face, proudly carrying a mouthful of deer poop.

10:30   After lots of play time in the yard and a nice breakfast, which included the new sofa pillow for the terrier puppy, both puppies decide to take a nap. Thank God. They choose the persian rug, instead of doggie beds, of course. The hound circles a few times, lays down and is breathing heavily within minutes. The terrier lays down, starts to settle, but then spies a long piece of thread sticking up out of the rug. “Hey, what is that for??” “Cool! If I pull it, it gets longer and longer!!”  Hound rolls over.

Terrier now has about 40 feet of what used to be a nice rug, growling and shaking it and pouncing on the hound to convince him to wake up before he misses all the fun!! Hound begins to snore. Terrier decides to eat half of the pile of thread now and put the rest down the heating vent for later. Hound rolls over.

Terrier has diarrhea on what is left of the persian rug. Not his fault. It’s that darn unidentifiable object he ate at 6:15.  Turns out it was part of a dead rabbit. Fortunately for everyone, it is included in the pile on the persian rug. “Wait til Mom sees THAT!! Cool.” Having emptied the “trash”, terrier puppy settles next to hound puppy, who is by now snoring loudly. Terrier puppy just closes his eyes when he realizes the door to the hall closet is open. “Hey, shoes!!! Boy, this has been the best nap ever!!”

Hound rolls over.

It’s only 10:45am.

Terriers are not for the weak of spirit!

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