The Truth on Hypoallergenic Dogs

The other day I was playing with one of my beagle friends, Lucy. She is really a great girl and we have a great time playing together! It’s nice because Lucy is closer to my size than my “little” brothers and sisters so I can play a little rougher with her. When we were playing last, I really got into the game and I noticed when I jumped on her playfully, a lot of hair came off of her. She is a breed of dog that sheds a lot. Many people don’t want shedding dogs in their home because it means they have to clean up a lot of dog hair. And some people are actually allergic to dogs (which sounds so strange to me!!) so their allergies act up more with a dog that sheds. That’s why you see so many people advertising dogs for adoption that are hypoallergenic. Since it sounds so weird to me that people can be allergic to dogs, I decided to do some research on the topic.

According to the Mayo Clinic Allergy Division, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Most dog allergies are not caused by fur, or shedding, but from a protein that is found in dog saliva and urine. Since dogs use their tongue to clean themselves, the protein in the saliva sticks to our fur when we groom. This protein turns into flakes called dander. Dander is the cause of most people’s pet allergies.

Dogs that do not shed, like the designer breed GoldenDoodle or my brother and sister Yorkshire Terriers, still have dander. But since their hair does not come loose the dander stays in their fur on their body. As all dog Mom’s and Dad’s of shedding dogs know, when hair gets lose, it flies into the air and lands all over the home – on shelves, counters, chairs and the floor. So dander is all over your home. With a non-shedding dog, the dander stays on their fur, and not around your home. This means allergy suffers will have less exposure to the dander and therefore less allergy symptoms with a non-shedding pup. However, you are still allergic to the dog.

So if you are allergic to dogs but want to be a dog parent, you should still look to adopt the non-shedding “hypoallergenic” dogs to lessen your symptoms. Also go for a smaller dog (smaller dog = less dander produced) and bathe him or her frequently to remove the dander from their coat. Make sure your new pup does not go into your bedroom. And you should use air filters in rooms where your dog does spend a lot of time as well as vacuuming regularly to get any dander that may have fallen off your pup out of your home.

Vacuum regularly to clean up any dog dander in your home.

So there you have it. Humans can be allergic to dogs (I still think that is weird!) and there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. But you can have dog allergies and have a dog in your home by following some simple guidelines.

XO,
Maizee

 

Yes, Pets do Lower Your Stress!

Whenever my Mommy or Daddy (or both!) have a bad day, they love to curl up with me and the rest of the gang, and love all over us. Now don’t get me wrong, they give us love and attention every day – but on bad days we get extra special attention! They spend even more time petting us! I love it because I like spending time with my Mommy & Daddy! The other pups love the extra special attention too! And it always helps Mommy & Daddy relax and forget about their bad day. They always end up smiling after only a few minutes of being with us!

There are several reasons why pets help lower a person’s stress level. Number 1 is unconditional love. Your dog and/or cat does not care if you made a mistake at work, forgot to pick up the dry cleaning, or spilled your breakfast all over yourself and the floor. (If it was a tasty breakfast, we actually appreciate the last one!) We love you and are happy you are around no matter what! Dogs are especially good at showing their affection with their happy greeting when you come home, wagging tails and lots of kisses (licks)! And cats, well just the sound of their purr and a rub against your leg shows you how much they care!

Another reason we are great for stress is that pets are a distraction. And while it doesn’t sound like a great trait, in cases where you’ve had a bad day, it is a good thing! We will get your mind off of anything that bothers you. Taking care of us, whether it’s taking us for a walk, feeding us, cleaning up after us, while sometimes may feel like a chore, is beneficial to your stress level. And no, I don’t mean that we won’t act up because we want something you are not providing! What I mean is that you are focused on taking care of us, and not whatever is stressing you out! Plus, when you are feeling sad and just want to sit on the couch, taking care of us will get you up and moving around. And moving around and participating in activities is always good for lowering your stress and improving your mood!

So the next time you are having a bad day, think about coming home to your sweet dog or cat. Remember how much we love you and depend on you – and how we think you are just perfect! That will put a smile on your face and make you shrug off whatever it is at work, school, and in life that is bothering you!

XO,
Maizee

 

The Best Methods to Manage your Cat’s Hairball Problem

So Tory, the cat, has been bugging me ever since I started writing this blog to let her write an entry. Today I have finally given in to her constant pestering and am letting her write. She chose a topic that I don’t understand, but she and her cat buddies do: hairballs. So everyone, here’s Tory’s blog:

Tory

Today I am writing about something I hate: hairballs. Hairballs happen to all cats at one point or another. Some cats are more likely to get hairballs than other, like cats with long fur, or cats who groom themselves a lot, but all cats hate having hairballs. And all cat parents hate having to clean up hairball messes, so prevention is the key to the game for both parents and cat happiness.

Hairballs are caused by cats’ great attention to being well groomed. Yes, our grooming brings about these nasty little things. It’s a double edge sword really – we can’t stand to be dirty but we hate hairballs. A cat’s tongue actually has small hook like structures on the surface. This is why when a cat licks you it feels like sandpaper! These hooks are great for helping us get loose hair out when we are grooming, but the downside is that the loose hair is then digested. Most of the time the hair passes through our digestive system without any problems, but sometimes a nasty clump of hair can gather in our stomach, creating, you guessed it, a hairball! The only way for us to get this hairball out is through vomiting. It’s unpleasant for us to have to do, and unpleasant for our parents to have to clean up!

There are a few things cat parents can do to help lessen the amount of hairballs your cat will develop. The first thing to do is groom your cat regularly. While we will continue to groom ourselves as often as we had before, if you comb and brush out a lot of our loose fur on a regular basis, there will be less fur for us to digest. Daily brushing is recommended for the best prevention of hairballs. As an added bonus, most cats love to be brushed and it can help strengthen the bond between cat parent and cat. If you have one of those cats who doesn’t like to be brushed, consider taking him or her to a professional groomer at least every six months for a good brush and maybe even a haircut.

There are many specially formulated cat foods out there for hairball prevention. This food is high in fiber and has lots of vitamins for a healthy coat for your cat. The vitamins help reduce shedding while the fiber helps any loose fur pass through your cats system without forming a hairball. Speak to your veterinarian about what food is best for your cat.

Sometimes, hairballs can cause intestinal blockages. If you notice your cat vomiting or gagging without producing a hairball and if he or she has a lack of appetite, low energy, diarrhea or constipation, make an appointment to see your vet. This could be a hairball stuck in the intestines which can be life threatening, so getting medical treatment as soon as possible is best for your cats health.

Thanks everyone for reading about this not so pretty, but very important topic. I hope that Maizee gives in to my nagging again in the future so I can write another blog article!

XO,
Tory

 

 

 

 

The Reasons why Your Dog Digs and the Best Methods to Stop the Digging

The other day I had some of my doggy friends come and visit. We had a lot of fun together, running and jumping, chasing a ball and playing with our squeaky toys. But one of my Jack Russell Terrier friends had a tendency to stop playing with us and go in the back of the yard and dig. My Mommy & Daddy would tell him “No! Stop Digging!” and he would. But in about 10 minutes or so, he would be back over in the corner digging. I tried to get him to stop and play with me instead, but he was more interested in digging.

There are a lot of reasons why dogs dig. One is primal instinct: the dogs smell prey, whether it’s bugs or rodents, and start digging to find it. This is what my pal was doing. Jack Russell Terriers, like most of the Terrier breeds, were bred to hunt vermin, which means they will dig for it when necessary. Usually you can tell when a dog is hunting prey because they will dig in the same areas of the yard, generally at the roots of trees or large shrubs. They will also tend to dig out a path instead of just a large hole.

If your pup is digging due to instincts, the best method to stop the digging is to get rid of whatever he or she is trying to catch. Whether this means barriers and fencing, or humane methods of capturing the critters, getting the prey out of your yard will keep your pup from digging for it. Punishing and scolding the animal for digging will not work. A dog whose instinct is to hunt finds the act of the hunt highly rewarding, and usually more rewarding than being on your good side. Doggy punishment will not work to stop the holes from showing up in your yard.

Another popular reason dogs dig is because they are bored and are providing themselves an entertaining activity to do. Dogs that dig for fun are usually left in the yard by themselves for long periods of time without any playmates or toys. They usually have a lot of energy as well. Holes will be found all over the yard, and not in a specific pattern.

Digging for entertainment is pretty easy to stop: just make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Take long walks or runs with him at least twice a day. A tired dog will not dig up your yard! Also playing with your dog in the yard so he can find another outlet will help. Chasing a ball is a great way for a dog to get out some energy and redirect him from digging. Kong Toys and Busy-Dog toys are also great to have in the yard for your dog when you are not around. These will keep him occupied. Rotate the toys so he will not get bored with one in particular. An entertained dog will not dig up your yard!

On a related note, a dog may dig as a cry for attention. A dog that has separation-anxiety will dig to get your attention and to hopefully prevent you from leaving. If your dog has shown signs of separation-anxiety before, and starts to dig, it’s best to ignore the attention seeking behavior and reward good behavior with attention. If the separation anxiety becomes severe, talk to your local dog trainer or veterinarian for tips.

Finally, on a hot day, your dog may be digging a hole to get cool and comfortable. These holes are usually found in a shady spot or near a water source and your dog will lie in the holes once he’s done digging. The best method to avoid this behavior is to provide your dog with a cool place to lie down during the heat of the day. If your dog must be outside during the day, provide a nice dog house in a shaded area that he can lay down for comfort, and make sure he has plenty of water to stay cool!

As you can see, there are many reasons why your dog may be digging up your yard. Since there is not a single solution that will counteract all reasons for digging, it’s best to assess why your dog is digging before attempting to stop the act.

XO,
Maizee

 

A Dog’s Perspective of a Charity Dog Walk

Hi Everyone! My puppy friend Caroline, a dachshund/beagle mix, told me a great story about what happened to her on Saturday. I thought it would be a great story to add to the blog, so I’m letting her write today. Here’s Caroline:

When I woke up Saturday morning, I was very disappointed that I didn’t get my normal long morning walk. The weather was warm and not raining, so I didn’t understand why my Daddy took me on a short walk! Then they put my crate in the car and put me in it! I don’t like being in the crate and wasn’t sure where we were going so I was a bit nervous! We drove for about 20 minutes and when they finally let me out of the car, what a sight I saw! I saw lots of other doggies walking around. It was pretty cool!

We walked by a lot of different vendors who had set up booths in this nice grassy area. They were all talking to people, petting dogs and some were even giving out treats, including Little Friends Pet Sitting. I love treats so that was fun. I got to smell a lot of other doggies who were in the area as well. There were all sorts of dogs: big dogs, little dogs, puppies, older dogs. It was great! So many new pups to meet, I didn’t know who to say hi to first!

Then we all gathered around and listened to this lady talk. I have to be honest, I was so excited about meeting new friends that I didn’t hear what she was saying. But my Mommy & Daddy made me stand still and behave for a bit, and then they started counting down. 5…4…3…2…1 Then they said we should walk. Well, it’s a bit embarrassing, but apparently I started walking in the wrong direction. My Daddy said, “wrong way Care, we need to go this way!” So all the humans and doggies started walking together. It was so much fun! I love going on walks and exploring new areas, and it’s a lot of fun with a bunch of other dogs!

We walked around neighborhoods, through a park and by a lake. They had places where pups could get some water and they gave bottled water to my Mommy & Daddy. I got to smell new smells, see new sights, and meet new doggies. There was one puppy who had a funny bark that everyone giggled at. He kind of sounded like a duck when he barked, and he barked a lot! I made friends with a nice lady and a pit bull mix. They were my walking buddies.

American Cancer Society Bark for Life Lake Norman at Birkdale Village

We walked about a mile and a half, and ended up back where the vendors were. All the volunteers were so nice and clapped for me as I walked across the finish line. I got lots of pets and sweet congratulations, and then I had a nice victory drink of water and a treat. It was so much fun! We all sat down on a nice bench and talked to Terry of Little Friends Pet Sitting while we cooled off. And then it was time to go home. I didn’t mind getting back in my crate this time because the air conditioner was on and I could lay down and rest after my great adventure walk! I even had some dreams about how wonderful it was on the ride home.

And Mommy & Daddy say the best part is, we all have fun while helping a charity raise money. This event benefited the American Cancer Society. It’s great when we have fun, get exercise, and help others! I like dog walks! If you have a dog who loves to go for walks, get along well with other dogs and people, then you should definitely sign up for one.

Thanks Caroline for writing this story! I am jealous that I didn’t get to go but I hear there’s another dog walk this coming weekend in Charlotte so I’m hoping I get to go to that one!

XO,
Maizee

 

 

 

Cleaning up Animal Waste: Charlotte’s Scoop the Poop Campaign

My Mommy & Daddy take me on a lot of walks around town. They say it’s too get my energy out – and it usually does. I love my walks. Lately, as we’ve walked around Charlotte, I’ve seen many signs that have silly slogans on them. A lot of them make me laugh! Its Charlotte Mecklenburg’s pollution prevention campaign called “Scoop the Poop”. The Storm Water division created this campaign to get all puppy parents to clean up after their pet after they go #2 outside.

 

According to the county, there are over 218,000 dogs in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area. And they estimate that equates to over 52,000 pounds of dog waste every single day!! That’s just amazing – and kind of gross too! The Storm Water division noticed not every pup parent out there was doing a good job of cleaning up after their dog. They found this out by an increase in the amount of bacteria that is found in dog waste showing up in the counties streams. Apparently when it rains, the waste that is left on the ground gets washed into the streams, taking with it E. coli, roundworms and many other bacteria that can be found in dog waste. That is yucky to say the least!

It’s not just the streams that are being affected either. Dog waste can remain in your yard, in the park, on the sidewalk, or wherever it is left for up to 4 years!! Children, adults, birds and other animals who play or use areas that have not been properly cleaned up are at risk for catching the bacteria in the waste. Kids who play outside a lot and adults who do a lot of gardening/yard work are at the highest risk of coming in contact with the icky bacteria in dog waste. And we don’t want people to stop making their yards beautiful or for kids to stop playing outside! We want people to be responsible and clean up after their dog, right?

It’s pretty simple – all you have to do is grab a bag, scoop up the poop with the bag, tie the bag and place it in the trash can. You can use old grocery bags, biodegradable bags, deodorized bags, and much more. They even have scoops you can by if you are a little squeamish or if you can’t bend over to pick up the waste. And of course you want to wash your hands when you get home!

So the slogans may be silly, but the message is very important. If this isn’t enough to get you to start cleaning up after your dog, then remember that it is also illegal in Charlotte not to pick up after your pet! And if it’s just too icky for you to do yourself, you can always hire someone to clean up your yard for you. Mommy & Daddy’s company, Little Friends Pet Sitting, will be more than happy to clean up your yard for you. And you always see their sitters walking around with bags to scoop the poop when they are walking dogs. So what do you say Charlotte, let’s keep the cities land and streams clean!

XO,
Maizee

 

Lyme Disease and Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Lyme Disease is not just something a human can catch. Dogs can catch Lyme Disease too! And now that the weather is warmer, ticks are out and about – yuck!. A bonus of the warmer weather though is that dogs get to spend more time outdoors, whether in their backyard, going for walks around the neighborhood, visiting a park and even hiking! This increases the chance of both humans and dogs to get bitten by a tick. And if that tick carries the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease – then both human and pup are in for a nasty ride!

Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne illness in the United States. Ticks are most active during the month of July, but a rise in Lyme Disease cases comes in the months of May through August, when the weather is at it’s warmest.

If a dog contacts Lyme Disease, the main symptom is lameness. One or more of your pup’s joints will become swollen and painful to the touch. This can last from a few days up to several months, and it can have reoccurrences and flair ups even after the bacteria has been treated. Another common problem is kidney ailments which if left untreated can cause kidney disease. Sometimes dogs will also run a fever, lose their appetite and lose weight, and they may have less of a desire to be active.

Lyme Disease is diagnosed through blood tests, examination of the tick bite site as well as ruling out other potential causes for the symptoms. The vet may suspect arthritis is the cause of your pup’s joint problems, and may recommend X-rays to prove or disprove this as the cause.

If the symptoms are not severe, your dog can be treated at home with antibiotics and rest. If the symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be recommended. And unfortunately, symptoms may never fully disappear or may reoccur even after the bacterial infection has been treated with medication.

To prevent Lyme Disease in your dog, avoid being in known tick-infested areas. Also, there are a variety of tick-repelling sprays, collars, and topical treatments that your vet may recommend. And during tick season, it’s important to check your dog regularly for ticks.

If a tick is found, first restrain your pup. He is not going to be happy about what you have to do! You should use tweezers and grab the tick by the head as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight out away from the skin in a slow but firm manner and be sure not to squeeze or twist the tick. To kill the tick, place it in a small bag with some rubbing alcohol. Clean the spot where you removed the tick on your pup with a disinfectant or antibiotic cleanser. Watch the spot and the dog for any symptoms of Lyme Disease and contact your vet if symptoms appear.

Thanks for reading everyone! Have a safe and healthy tick-free summer!

XO,
Maizee

 

What To Do if your Dog or Cat is Choking

Dogs and Cats explore the world differently from humans. Our vision is good, but not as keen as humans, so we mainly use our nose and mouth to learn about everything around us. If something smells good enough, we usually try to taste it. And if it tastes good enough, we may try to eat it. This can lead to us eating things that are not meant to be eaten, and if we try to swallow something that’s not meant to be swallowed, we can start choking.

Some pets symptoms of choking is very similar to humans, and includes difficulty breathing, choking sounds when breathing, coughing, and a blue colored lips and/or tongue. We may also paw at our mouth a lot when we are choking. If you think we are choking, stay calm and approach us carefully. A choking pet is a very scared pet so we may act out and try to bite or scratch you.

If your pup or cat is still breathing but you suspect an object in the airway, transport him or her to your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately. It’s good to always call ahead so they can be ready to see your pet when you arrive. That’s why you should always have your vet and emergency vet’s number in your cell phone so you can get us the care we need without having any unnecessary delays. If your pup is having great difficulty breathing or has collapsed, call and transport your pet to your vet immediately.

To perform at home/in car care while waiting to get to the vet, first look into your pets mouth to see if you can see any object lodged in the mouth or throat. If you see an object, gently try to remove the object with tweezers or a small pair of sterilized pliers. Be very careful when doing this as you do not want to push the object down further into your pet’s throat. If it’s difficult to reach, don’t try to remove it; just take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible.

To perform the doggie or kitty Heimlich Maneuver, lay your pet on it’s side and using both hands, apply quick firm pressure along it’s rib cage. You want to imagine pushing air out of your pet’s lungs to push the object out. Repeat as necessary until the object comes out or you arrive at the vet clinic.

 

If you ever have to perform this, and I hope you don’t, stay calm and remain focused. Remember you are helping your pet! And to help avoid having to do this, try to keep all small objects out of your dog or cats reach. Look at your home as your pet would, and remove any objects that may tempt us into giving them a taste.

XO,
Maizee

 

 

 

Pets as Tax Dependents? A Look at the Money We Spend on our Pets

Today is April 17, 2012 – otherwise known as the tax deadline.  Now I’m lucky because puppies don’t have to file taxes.  But my Mommy & Daddy do.  They were on top of it
and got their taxes done early, but a lot of people I hear wait until today to file their taxes.  I’d probably wait until today too if I had to file taxes.  It doesn’t sound like fun so I would put it off as long as I could!

A lot of people think they should be able to claim their pets on their taxes as dependents.  In fact, there is a proposed tax bill that would allow people to claim their personal pets as dependents on their taxes. It’s called the “Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years” or the HAPPY Act.  This bill hasn’t gotten much support since Michigan Representative Thaddeus McCotter, as well as representatives from Tennessee and Colorado, introduced the bill in 2009.  HAPPY would allow deductions of up to $3,500 a year for pet expenses.  While groups still push for the passing of the Act, it doesn’t look very promising just yet.

But considering how much the average American spends on their pet, a $3,500 deduction would be a great help to all the pet parents out there.  It is estimated that over $52 billion will be spent by Americans on their pets this year.  Last year Americans spent just shy of $51 billion on their pets.  In 2011, Americans spend $19.85 billion on pet food, $11.77 billion on pet supplies and over the counter medications for their pups and kitties, and $13.41 billion on veterinary care.  In my opinion, that definitely deserves a tax break (and don’t think I’m biased because I’m a pup!)

So how much does it cost per year to be a pet parent?  Well, according to the 2011-2012 APAA National Pet Owners Survey, the average annual expenses for a dog or cat owner include:

Expense Dog Cat
Surgical Vet Visits $407 $425
Routine Vet Visits $248 $219
Food $254 $220
Kennel/Boarding $274 $166
Vitamins $95 $43
Travel Expenses $78 $48
Groomer/Grooming Tools $73 $34
Treats $70 $41
Toys $43 $21

 

And of course, this varies depending on the pet, pet owner, and the amount of pets in the household.  So, Maizee says give pet parents a break and let them claim us as dependents!  But nonetheless, pet parents work hard to keep us safe, healthy and happy and we greatly appreciate it!

Thanks Mom & Dad!
XO,
Maizee

The Importance of Pet ID Tags

This week is National Pet ID Week.  Not only our pet ID tags stylish now, but they are so beneficial to pet safety!  My brothers and sisters and I wear one all the time.  Did you know that only 1 in 3 pets wear their tags all the time?  Most of the time pet parents take off the tags for 3 different reasons.  One, they think since their pet is never outdoors alone or without a leash, it is not needed.  Two, they get annoyed with the jingling sound the tag makes.  Or three, they think the pet is bothered by the collar and tag too much to wear it.  Well, these three reasons are not true because I live in a household with 5 dogs and 1 cat and we all wear our collars and tags proudly every day with no nuisance to us or our parents.

Research shows 80% of pet owners believe it’s important for pets to wear ID tags, but only 1 in 3 pets always wear a tag.

— Little Friends (@LittleFriends3) April 16, 2012

The ASPCA did a study on pet ID tag usage among pet owners.  They followed 109 pets in which pet ID tags were placed directly on the pets by either an adoption agency or a veterinarian.  Two months after the study began, 84% of the pets were still wearing their collars and ID tags.  The tags that were taken off were due to one of the three reasons mentioned above.

And can you believe during that 2 month period 18 pets were reported lost?  Seventeen of the pets were found and returned home.  Ten of the pets returned were able to get home because the person who found them saw their ID tag and used the information on it!  YAY!  The ID tags worked to get these kitties and puppies back home safely.

It’s important to have your kitten and puppy start wearing a collar and ID tag early on in life so they get used to having it on at all times.  We generally all adjust very quickly to wearing these and after a little while our parents don’t notice the occasional jingle from the tag!  Plus, a little noise and a few extra scratches are worth it to return your pet  home to you.

A lot of people have put a microchip in their dog or cat, which is great.  But only a center with a microchip scanner can actually read the information on the chip.  And anyone  can read an ID tag.  So for the most efficient safety measure for your pet, choose a pet ID tag.  You can get one that fits our personality perfectly at a reasonable price at your local pet store.  Happy shopping!

XO,
Maizee