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Teaching Children to Respect a Dog’s Space

Look Closely

Pay attention to what a dog is telling you. And teach children to respect a dog’s space!

Many times when a dog bites a Childs parent will say, “There were no warnings. He just bit him for no reason.”

The unfortunate truth is that there are almost always warning signs, but we humans miss them. This photo shows a few warning signs that the dog is uncomfortable and may bite.

Winter Storm Tips

Brrr… it’s cold outside and with the impeding winter storm it’s important to make sure that you and your dog are prepared! The following tips will help protect your pup in winter weather.Rupert

  • Dogs can easily lose their scent in the snow, so never let your dog off leash during a snowstorm, or when there’s snow and ice on the ground.
  • Wipe your dogs paws AND stomach when he’s been outside in the snow or sleet. Sidewalks are often treated with rock salt, antifreeze and other dangerous chemicals. Not only are these bad for your pet’s paws, but if ingested these chemicals could poison your dog. Make sure your pet does not lick his paws or stomach before you’ve wiped them down!
  • Protect your pup from the elements. If your dog typically has a longer coat don’t shave it down for the winter. A longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog has a short coat get him a coat or a sweater. It will make the outdoors more enjoyable for him and will protect him from the cold.
  • Don’t leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. The car can act like a refrigerator and could cause your dog to freeze to death.
  • If your dog spends a lot of time outside, playing, running or going for long walks, make sure he’s getting enough protein. You want to ensure that his coat it in excellent condition so he stays nice and warm when he’s frolicking in the snow!
  • Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep away from a door or any drafts. If your dog likes to burrow consider putting a blanket on his bed as well.
  • Lastly, if your dog likes to play in the snow, go ahead and join him! There’s probably nothing that he’d like better than to have his best friend (YOU) play fetch in the snow or just run around with him!

Toxic Treats

What we’ve know for a long time about toxic treats from China is finally reaching the masses.  An recent AP article reports that Petco has removed all remaining Chinese-made dog and cat treats from its website and stores nationwide because of concerns they have sickened thousands of pets and killed 1,000 dogs in the U.S. since 2007.  A bit late in the day, but better late then never! Please be sure to check the treats you buy in other places such as Ocean State Job Lot and  pet supply stores.

The article goes on to read that Petco is the first national pet retailer to pull the treats from its 1,300 stores. Phoenix-based PetSmart Inc. said Monday that it plans to have them off shelves at its roughly 1,300 stores by March.

The FDA targeted the treats after receiving more than 4,800 complaints of pet illnesses, including the deaths, after pets ate chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats from China. Tests have not confirmed any connection, but the agency is still investigating.

An FDA spokeswoman on Monday pointed to a news release from May about its investigation and declined further comment.

Petco Vice President John Sturm said all treats are now made in the U.S. or places such as the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and South America. The company risked tens of millions of dollars by changing treat vendors, he said.

It’s always about the money, isn’t it?

Your Dog’s Sweet Spot

Scientists explain why your dog kicks when you scratch his belly.

It’s called the sweet spot. That perfect place on your dog’s belly or sides that, when scratched, causes your pet’s foot to go into crazy automatic kicking mode. Every dog owner knows where to find this magical region on his or her canine, as it usually offers up unmitigated joy.

As delightful as this puppy kicking is to watch, this reaction is actually a means of self-protection for your pet. It’s called the scratch reflex, and it’s an involuntary response that exists to keep your dog safe from dangerous bugs or irritants.

Underneath certain portions of your dog’s skin, there are collections of neural pathways that are connected to the spinal cord. When these nerves are activated – either by a scratch or a tickle – they quickly send messages to the spinal cord, which then instructs the dog’s leg to kick. For some dogs, the kicking can be more pronounced depending on how much scratching they feel.

“Dogs that have allergies in particular, it tends to be really easy to illicit that scratch reflex, because the dogs are borderline itchy anyway,” says Lore Haug, a veterinarian and animal behavior expert for Texas Veterinary Behavior Services. “But when you rub their skin more, it accentuates the scratching.”

According to Haug, the scratch reflex came about as a way for animals to protect themselves against irritants on their bodies, especially invading bugs that could carry diseases. For example, if a dog has fleas running around on its skin, the insects’ itchiness will cause the scratch reflex to activate. Then, perhaps the kicking will knock some of the fleas off, alleviating the source of the itch.

It’s similar to the reflexes seen in humans, which usually exist to protect us in some way. “Let’s say you touch a hot stove, and before your brain recognizes it’s painful, the spinal cord recognizes the pain, and you involuntarily jerk your hand back,” Haug says. “If you had to wait until your conscious brain recognized something was in danger, your delay in reaction time could cause an injury or even death in some cases.”

The scratch reflex can be useful for your veterinarian to determine if your pet is suffering from any nerve damage, kind of like when your doctor tests your knee reflexes during checkups. Also, since the reflex is more for swatting away pesky bugs, it doesn’t necessarily mean your dog likes being scratched in that particular area. But of course, some dogs do enjoy a good rub on the belly. You’ll just have to pick up on cues from your pet to figure that out.