Covering all aspects of life with dog companions. We'll cover traveling, rate dog friendly hotels, test and rate products and talk about the ways dogs enrich our lives every day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Invisible Fencing is a bad idea

In my neighborhood every home with a dog has invisible fencing to keep their dog in the yard.  I've never been a fan of Invisible Fencing for many reasons, mostly because it keeps your dog in but doesn't prevent other dogs or people from coming into your yard and taking or harming your dog.  Most of my neighbors let their dogs out in the yard unsupervised and have no idea who or what is out there with their dog.  

Now, considering we live in a more rural area of the suburbs and snakes, bears and deer are common visitors to our yards I feel that our dogs need to be supervised and on a leash at all times when they are outdoors.  I can't tell you how many times I've almost stepped on a snake wandering across our stairs and half the time it is a poisonous snake like a dusky pygmy rattler or a coral snake.  I certainly don't want my dogs  playing with either of those lovely creatures.  Not to mention the many times we've encountered bears in our driveway.  

This month I've had a new visitor to my yard.....a coyote!  Yes, in Florida!  Well, the other day a neighbor came driving by looking for their lost dog and I wondered if they had let their dog out unsupervised and the poor thing was snatched by the coyote.  

The couple of times I saw the coyote it didn't seem to be in any hurry to run away and it was drawn to the sound of my dogs barking.  This is very scary for the reason that if you allow your dog to be out in the yard with no people present then this coyote will be drawn to your dog.  No, not to play!  To eat!  Yes, coyote's eat little dogs, cats, bunnies, etc.  pretty much anything they can catch and eat they will.  They will even catch and eat deer so larger dogs are no safer than the little ones.

I've heard multiple stories about dogs and cats being taken by coyotes in California but coyotes are new to us in Florida and I really don't think any of us have really thought about the safety of our animals when it comes to protecting them from the wildlife that has come to live among us.  

If you see a wild animal when you are outside walking with your dog you should immediately pick your dog up if it is small enough and turn around to get away from it.  If you have a larger dog then you should quickly turn around and get both of you away from the animal.  If the animal starts to follow you you may want to yell at it because most wild animals are afraid of humans and it will probably run off at the sound of your voice.  Do not run away from a wild animal.....walk slowly away.  

Coyotes are here to stay and are seen daily in big cities foraging for food in our trash.  Be sure to keep all pet food inside your house in a secure container, I don't recommend keeping it in the garage.  Never feed your pets outside!

Before going outside with your pet be sure that the collar or harness that your use is secure and will hold your pet even if they are struggling to get away to protect you from a wild animal.  The last thing you want is for your pet to try to fight a coyote or bear because they think it may harm you.  

And when considering fencing your yard to protect your pet, please consider the fact that your pet is trapped in the yard while any outside dog, person or wild animal can easily walk right up to your pet in a yard protected only by invisible fencing.    

Please love your pets and protect them as you would your child.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do You Talk To Your Dog?

I talk to my dogs all the time, and I'm sure they understand most of what I say because I've talked to them since they were born.

Dogs are very intelligent and they love to learn new things.  Have you ever noticed that they listen intently to everything you say?  Well, it's because they know what you're saying and want to do anything they can to please you.  They're listening for you to ask them to do something or to say you're all going to the beach! 

No matter how often we run through the skills my dogs have, sit, stay, etc. they always look forward to it and seem to thoroughly enjoy learning new things.  When I see them do something extremely cute I encourage that behavior by telling them what a good puppy they are and giving them a treat.  I never scold for behaviors I don't like, in my opinion the only way to train is by positive reinforcement.  Never, never punish!  Ignore behaviors you don't like and reward the ones you do, trust me, it works!    

I've noticed that most people don't think that little dogs need to learn skills such as sit, stand, and down, but I think that all dogs should be taught basic commands if only for the reason to teach them to understand what we're saying to them.  It's hard to learn a language if no one ever teaches it to you or ever speaks it to you isn't it?  

If you want the best relationship you can have with your dog you need to teach her to speak, or at least understand, your language.  Dogs love to learn and it doesn't matter how old they are they can and will learn all their lives.  

The more time you spend teaching your dog, by speaking to her and showing her what you expect from her the better relationship you'll have and the happier you both will be for a very long time.

How do I get started teaching my dog?  First thing you should do is talk to your dog about everything so they can start to understand the language.  I name their favorite toys and say the name while we play with it, for example if I'm playing with piggy then I say "lets get piggy" and I mention piggy's name while we play.  Next time she wants to play I ask her which toy she wants to play with and I start naming her favorite toys.  Do you want to play piggy, squeaky, etc. until she finds the one she wants to play with and I shout "Yay, you found piggy!"  And of course tell her she's a good girl.  Eventually, you can tell your pup to find any of their toys or people in the household.  Dogs love to play the "find" game.  In our house we play hide and seek with the dogs and it's great fun!  

  When I teach commands I always start with the basic sit.  I think it's important for all dogs to learn sit, stand, down, off, leave it, wait, come and stay.  We practice once a day and the pups love it so much they look forward to "school time".  Show your dog how much you love them by taking the time to teach them the basics.  You'll both be so much happier.          

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flying With Your Dog

I've noticed that some airlines started allowing small pets to fly in the cabin with their owners, but they are still treated like luggage restrained in a "carrier" and shoved under the seat.  I'd like an airline to allow me to take my dogs on the plane and let them sit in a seat with their Ruff rider seat belts on, just like when they ride in a car.  

Let me pay for a seat so my dog of any size can ride with me on the plane.  Most people I know, who travel with their dogs, have dogs who behave better than most children I've encountered on planes.

Over the years there have been companies that have tried to start airlines that cater exclusively to transporting dogs, but not allowing people on the flight.  Really that isn't any better than making them ride as luggage.  If I can't ride with my dog then it isn't going to work for me.  Perhaps, if there was an airline that catered to pet owners by allowing us to have our pets sit in the seat next to us then it would work for everyone.

Now, you can travel with your pet in exactly the way I described by using a chartered plane like Marquis Jet but the costs are just too much for most of us to afford.  In a chartered plane your dog can ride in the seat next to you and be treated like part of the family instead of a piece of luggage. 

Recently I've come across Dr.  Peter Dobias and his Flying Dog Club.  Dr. Dobias is trying to unite a network of people like us, who want to fly with their dogs, in order to create a worldwide network who want to make it easier for people to travel with their animals.  His idea is to create charter flight programs where our pets can fly in the passenger cabin with us.

Some of the major airlines are on the right track with allowing small pets to fly but I think they need to start looking at pets as small, furry children and let them sit in a seat.  I know that I'd be willing to pay for a seat for my dog if she would be allowed to sit next to me. 

Maybe the answer is for major airlines to designate certain flights as pet flights so anyone who doesn't want to fly with animals can choose a different flight.   

I'm just not comfortable shoving my dogs into confining bags and putting them under an airplane seat.  To me, it's like asking a mother to put their infant into a bag and shoving it under the seat!  How do you think that would go over?  Should any living thing be treated like luggage?  No!

Nowadays, more and more people have a strong bond with their companion animals and for some their pet is their only family.  Shouldn't we all be allowed to enjoy traveling with our pets?  In recent years hotels have stepped up and started welcoming pets.  Now it's time for the airlines to do the same and give pet owners a better way to travel to all these wonderful hotels.               

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Visit to The Pet Dentist!

If you read my last post you know that when I cleaned my big boy Monty's teeth the other day I noticed that he had something going on with one of his teeth.  It looked like a cavity to me so my husband, who is a dentist, took a look and said we needed to take Monty to a Pet Dentist.  

Most people don't realize that many of the medical specialties humans have are also available for our pets and it really pays to seek out these specialists for your pet.  

We searched the internet to find the right dentist for our boy Monty and found "The Pet Dentist" in Tampa, Fl, which isn't too far from where we live. 

After looking at the website of Dr. Michael Peak "The Pet Dentist" we knew he was the doctor for us, he was compassionate and caring and always puts the pets needs first.  

When we drove up to visit "The Pet Dentist" the directions they provided were easy to follow and led us right to their door.  They are located in a beautiful, newly developed area of Wesley Chapel, which is right outside of Tampa, Florida.  The office was spotlessly clean, very efficient and the staff went out of their way to make all the patients feel comfortable and welcome. 

Here's Monty in the car while we're driving, he can't wait to meet the pet dentist!  He wants to get his teeth fixed by the doctor who fixes tigers teeth. 

Our wait time was just a couple of minutes until we were placed into a treatment room with pictures on the wall of the doctor treating tigers, gorillas and even a hyena!  It turns out that Dr. Peak is the doctor who cares for the dental needs of all the Animals in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  

Dr. Michael Peak and his new associate Dr. Christopher Smithson came into the treatment room and introduced themselves.  Dr. Peak gently examined Monty while Monty sat in my husbands lap.  After examining Monty, Dr. Peak explained in detail what he saw and what he expected to find on the x-rays.  Dr. Peak said that he thought that the tooth may have a resorptive lesion and that it was common for both the right and left premolar to be affected.  He said that cavities are rare in dogs and that they don't know the reason for the premolars to sometimes be absorbed by the body but that it was common in dogs and when it happens it usually will happen to both the premolars at the same time.

  Both doctors were very professional and friendly and my dogs were very comfortable with them.  Yes, Zoe came along because we take our pups everywhere we go and she wanted to offer Monty some moral support.    

They quickly provided us with two estimates, one for if the x-rays showed it was a cavity and the other for if the x-ray showed it was a resorptive lesion as he suspected.  The pricing was very fair. 

Next step is to take some x-rays.  In order to take x-rays he needed Monty to be relaxed so Dr. Peak gave him an injection of a sedative to help him relax for his procedure.  We held him while the drug took effect and when he was ready they took him in the back to get him started.

  The x-rays only took a few minutes and Dr. Peak called us in to take a look, it turned out that Monty had a resorptive lesion and the one I noticed wasn't as bad as the tooth on the other side that also had the same thing going on.  We had no choice but to have both teeth extracted.

Dr. Peak said that the only way to catch a resorptive lesion early is to take an x-ray so there was no way we could have known or prevented it from happening.  He estimated that it started about 6 months ago and was probably causing him some discomfort.  As you can see in the x-ray the right and left side premolars are being absorbed by the body.  

Dr. Peak started Monty's procedure immediately, he cleaned and checked all of his other teeth at the same time.  Turns out that Monty's other teeth are all in great shape, no cavities and his gums are nice and healthy.  See, all that tooth brushing has paid off!  

Above is a picture of Monty's premolar.  This is the one that looks fine on this side but according to the x-ray this one is worse than the one with the visible problem. 

According to Dr. Peak, if the resorptive lesion had progressed his tooth would have broken because what happens is the tooth gets eroded from the inside and that's why there was a "cavity" because it had eaten through from the inside of his tooth.  Thank goodness we caught it before the tooth broke.   

After Monty's extractions he was brought to us in a treatment room so we could comfort him while he fully woke up from his anesthesia.  They put him on a blanket on the floor and we all sat around him and petted him while he recovered.  He was very wobbly when he first stood up but looked good.  We always ask our doctors to allow us to stay with our pet right up until his procedure and to hold and comfort him right after.  

Below you can see where Monty's premolars have been removed and as you can see there are no root pieces left in the bone to cause problems!  Well done! 

Below is a picture of Monty's extraction area after Dr. Peak has packed it with artificial bone to prevent any dry socket problems and to make sure his jaw stays strong.   

And here you can see what a beautiful job Dr. Peak did in stitching Monty up afterward.  Great work Dr. Peak!  We're so glad to have found you!  

On the ride home Monty stayed awake just to make sure we were going home.  He was comfortable because he was still numb and Dr. Peak had given him a shot of pain reliever before sending him home.  He also provided us with antibiotic and two pain medications for the next few days.  

Anyone who knows Monty knows that he lives to eat so they won't be surprised to hear that the minute we walked in the door Monty was waiting by his food bowl.  Dr. Peak said he could eat a half portion after 4pm but somehow we got home really fast and it was only 3:30pm.  I tried explaining that to Monty but he would have none of it....he wanted his food now and he wouldn't take no for an answer.  So, having no choice I prepared his meal under his intense supervision.  Since he was still numb he had a little trouble getting all the food out of his bowl but I helped him with it and he was happy.  

He was hungry again about an hour later......

Monty is doing great today!  He's to eat only soft food for a week to make sure his incisions stay closed so I'm putting his food into the food processor and pureeing it before giving it to him.  At least he's happy now that he's getting his full meals again.  He's back to eating it all with no help.  He is wondering why Zoe is getting treats and he isn't though.  You see, we give them rice cakes for treats and he can't have anything crunchy so instead poor Monty is getting pieces of american cheese and he feels like he's missing out.  You should see his face!  

We're so glad we found Dr. Peak "The Pet Dentist" and would recommend him to anyone with a pet they love.  If you want to receive the best treatment for your pets dental needs make sure you seek out the specialists and if you want the best pet dentist call Dr. Peak at 813-406-4800.      

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Are You Brushing Your Dogs Teeth?

Why does it seem weird to some people that they need to brush their dogs teeth?  You wouldn't go for years and not brush your own teeth...would you?  No, that would be disgusting.  But most people don't think they need to do the same for their dogs and then they're surprised when Skippy needs half his teeth pulled when he's only 5 years old.

From the first day I brought my puppies home I started brushing their teeth, I only use water on a child-size brush but it gets the job done and they love doing anything that earns them a treat.  

My oldest pup, Monty, is almost 12 years old and has never had his teeth cleaned at the Vet's office but he does get his teeth brushed every night at home.  Well, this past year I was unable to brush his teeth very well because I had an injured thumb and it was too painful for me.  So now that my thumb is finally healed I decided this past week to clean his teeth with my dental instruments and you know what I found?  That's right.....a cavity!  Yep, a tiny one but it's there and it's all because I wasn't able to brush his teeth for several months!  So you see....brushing your dogs teeth really makes a difference.  

Start brushing their teeth from the first day and make sure you give them a reward after, they'll end up loving it so much they'll run to the bathroom every night and stand in line to get brushed first.     

Saturday, August 13, 2011

I LOVE Buddy Belts!

My pups LOVE their Buddy Belts! 

Buddy Belts are the most comfortable leather harnesses I've seen and they come in the most wonderful colors and designs!

When my pups were little they wore leather collars which offered very little control, so when we went to puppy school the teacher suggested that we use a Gentle Leader collar.  The Gentle Leader collar is designed to put all the pulling stresses at the back of the dogs neck causing them to stop pulling.  Gentle Leaders work great but they aren't the most comfortable for the dogs, at first when you put a Gentle Leader on the dog just scratches at the collar to try to get it off of their face.  Some dogs hate it so much they try to grind it off by rubbing their face on the ground.  Not such a great thing to do on cement.  Also when the dog is running with you and pulling ahead the Gentle Leader causes their head to be pulled to one side making it very difficult for them to breathe.  I also didn't like that it caused irritation at the bridge of the pups noses from the rubbing of the fabric.

After many years of trying different leashes and harnesses I found a wonderful leather harness called the Buddy Belt and once the pups put them on they were so comfortable, they didn't even realize they were wearing them.  Their heads are no longer pulled to one side when they run on the beach and their oxygen isn't cut off from a collar pulling on their necks.  The Buddy Belt harness is designed for comfort and function, I've also found that I have much more control over what the pups are doing when they're wearing a Buddy Belt because I don't have to worry that they'll hurt themselves by pulling.  They can pull all they want and it won't hurt them, you can actually keep you dog from falling off the balcony with the Buddy Belt, it's that strong.

Buddy Belt is always coming out with new colors and fabrics for their harnesses so go check them out, I'm sure you'll find one you'll love and your pup will love you for it!  

My favorite Buddy Belt store is the Wet Nose Boutique 
The Wet Nose Boutique sells so many Buddy Belts that they get exclusive rights to sell the newest colors first.  The Wet Nose Boutique is a great company to do business with and gets your orders to you so fast you won't believe it!  They also offer great discounts so get on the mailing list right away. 

My pups Love running on the beach in their Buddy Belts. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Every dog needs a stroller!

My dogs love to walk on the trail with us.   Mostly on the way back to the car, not so much away, so that's why we use a stroller for our daily walks.

The dogs love their strollers, we have a different stroller for every situation.  For the trails or long distances we use our Burley Tailwagon.  For restaurants we use our Pet Gear Happy Trails Plus Strollers, they each have their own and for shopping at the mall we have a Petzip Happy Trailer.  Each of these strollers is available at Just Pet Strollers.

The Tailwagon is the limousine of strollers and is perfect for traveling long distances on pavement or any surface where you can ride a bike.  It has large air-filled tires for a smooth ride.   This stroller can also be attached to your bike.  Another great thing about the Burley stroller is that the dogs ride very low to the ground and can get into and out of the stroller unassisted.   

The Pet Gear Happy Trails Strollers are really great for keeping the pups off the dirty ground when we're at restaurants but the ride on these strollers isn't really great.  The tires are hard formed plastic and they don't offer any shock absorption or traction, this is strictly a short distance stroller.

Our shopping stroller is the Petzip Happy Trailer which is made by a company called "Ibiyaya"

This stroller maneuvers like a dream and even though it is a good size (big enough for both of my pups) it can weave through the aisles of a store with ease.  The air-filled tires offer a nice smooth ride and the pups can jump up into the cabin themselves due to the fact that it is low enough to the ground.

I've found that having the riding cabin closer to the ground offers a much more stable ride for the dogs and fearful dogs are much more likely to stay in a stroller they feel comfortable getting in and out of than they are in a stroller that keeps them too high off the ground.  

Each of the stroller types I've shown you here has their own strengths and weaknesses and that's why I feel the need to have more than one kind.  When at a restaurant the larger strollers are too big to fit between tables and since the riding cabin in so low to the ground the pups really can't see what you're doing so they fidget more than if they are in the smaller stroller with the cabin that is just below table height.  

When choosing a stroller you really need to look at what features will work for you, but if you are going to be pushing the stroller for long distances I can't stress enough how important air-filled tires are.