Keep an eye on the cocoa mulch

Gardening time is here, and there are some things to watch out for when planning the summer’s work. It is widely known that some plants are poisonous, but more innocent looking gardening items can also pose a danger to dogs.

Cocoa mulch is popular in the USA. It smells good, repels garden pests, retains moisture, and darkens over time instead of fading. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous to pets.

Many types of mulch are made from wood, but cocoa mulch is made from cacao shells left over from the cocoa bean roasting process. It is environmentally friendly, and contains theobromine – the same substance that makes dogs sick from eating chocolate. reports that depending on the kind of mulch, it contains 300-1200 mg of theobromine per ounce.

Whether this is dangerous or not depends on the dog’s propensity to eat unusual things. While theobromine is toxic to cats, they are very unlikely to munch down on mulch. Dogs might.

Some manufacturers of cocoa mulch claim their mulch goes through extensive cleaning processes to strip the cocoa fat from the shells, thus making them harmless. If you have a dog that likes to eat strange things from the ground and you want to use cocoa mulch, do some research and make sure you get a kind that’s free from theobromine.

7 fun facts about the Pekingese

Pekingese - the Lion DogThe Pekingese is a very old breed, traditionally associated with Chinese emperors. Here are seven fun facts about the breed.

1. Visually, the little Pekingese with its soft coat and short nose doesn’t resemble a wolf. They are still one of the breeds closest to wolves genetically.

2. The breed has been traced back two thousand years, to the Han dynasty.

3. Today’s China doesn’t have lions, but the Pekingese, the Lhasa Apso, and the Tibetan Mastiff were all bred to resemble stylized Chinese lion images. The Pekingese is also called the lion dog.

4. Emperor Lingdi of Han ruled from 168 to 189. He loved his dogs so much he made his favorite Pekingese a member of the nobel cast, making it outrank most  people in the country.

5. During the Tang Dynasty, years 618 to 907, no one outside the Imperial Palace was allowed to breed or own a Pekingese. This was a good period of time for the little dogs; if an ordinary person met one of the dogs they had to bow and show respect.

6. The Pekingese are sometimes called “The Sleeve Dog.” This stems from being bred down in size so their owners could carry them in their sleeves. Allegedly a Pekingese in the Emperor’s sleeve was his last line of defense should enemies get into the palace.

7. It sometimes pays off to be small. Three dogs escaped the Titanic: one Pekingese and two Pomeranians.

Slimkitty, new blog for cat lovers

Slimkitty is a new blog for cat lovers, inspiring cat owners to exercise their cats and make sure they have the right types and amounts of food to keep kitty’ weight down. 

58 percent of cats in the US are overweight – 5 percent more than the corresponding percCatentage for dogs. At the same time there are ten percent more obese cats in the US than there are obese dogs. Being overweight can lead to a row of health problems in the cat, such as diabetes and joint problems.

Slimkitty is a sister site to The latter contains everything from ratings of dog food to fitness and fun, and the intention is that will hold the same position, but aimed at cats.

Cats and dogs have completely different forms of metabolism, and this makes it harder for cats to lose weight. Cats cannot go on crash diets. If a cat’s food intake is significantly and rapidly depressed there’s a risk for Hepatic Lipidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

PlexiDor Pet Doors featured in the Toronto Sun

PlexiDor Pet Doors were recently featured in Canadian Toronto Sun. The magazine says, “The options for pet doors were once very limited. You had the flap and you had the squeeze but nothing that matched the quality of the windows and doors on the rest of your house. Now pet door sizes range from kitten to pony and are made from durable products warrantied against failure.”

They go on with stating, “You can still buy the vinyl flap, but it’s hardly an option for a Canadian winter.”

Read the entire article as PDF, or see it online.

PlexiDor pet doors featured in the Toronto Sun


PlexiDor Pet Doors featured in the Herald Tribune

The Herald Tribune recently reported on PlexiDor Pet Doors. The paper tells the history of the company and the doors, mentioning the special K9 Composite panels specifically designed to be sturdy and seal weather out.

The article also quotes Barbara Cook who houses six Weimaraner show dogs. “I would have never put in a door if I hadn’t seen this one,” she said. “It gets a lot of use, that’s for sure.”

See the whole article here in PDF format, or read it on the Herald Tribune website.

Image from the Sarasota Herald Tribune

Do you Doga?

Doga is Yoga, with dogs. It combines massage and meditation with stretching, and is good for both dogs and humans. There are video classes allowing people to learn at home, and many places now offer classes where dogs and people can Doga together.

In Doga, dogs and humans work together as one unit. The humans help their dogs get into different poses, and in some cases the pets are used as instruments or weights as the humans perfect their poses. The dogs usually take to this quickly. Watch a dog stretch; it looks like a Yoga position.

Opponents of the idea claim that Doga trivializes sacred and ancient practices, and that the dogs interfere with participants’ concentration. Proponents claim that the practice is perfect, because it emphasizes unity and connection, strengthens the bond between person and pet, and might get some people to move who ordinarily wouldn’t.

Whether Doga should be considered “real” Yoga or not probably depends on the participants. Either way, it gives an excuse to do something together, to bond, stretch, and hopefully find harmony.


Can cats eat dog food?

eating catCats should not eat dog food. Dogs can eat cat food just fine, but cats should not eat dog food. Cats and dogs are more different than meets the eye, and they have vastly different nutritional needs.

Dogs have developed side by side with humans to a point where they can eat most of the things we eat and digest. They are considered omnivores, which means that they are able to digest carbohydrates, and they can survive on plant based foods. That doesn’t mean that dogs prefer meat to vegetables and other plants, or that a diet based completely on plants would be nutritionally adequate, but they can survive on it. A cat cannot.

Cats are carnivores. That means that they cannot live unless they eat meat in some form. One major difference between dog food and cat food is the percentage of meat.

Other differences between cats and dogs include the ability to handle vitamins and amino acids. Dogs, for instance, have the ability to break down organic pigments from plants called carotenoids and convert them into active Vitamin A. Cats can’t do that.

Cats have to get Vitamin A already converted by some other animal. That is, they have to eat the meat from some animal who already converted the carotenoids to active Vitamin A. This is one of the reasons most carnivores don’t eat other carnivores; they need to eat animals who live off plants in order to survive.

Arginine is another big difference between cats and dogs; it is a building block for proteins and cats have to get it with every meal. Dogs produce an enzyme that helps them produce Arginine, and they only need to get a little with their food.

Taurine is an amino acid distributed through the heart, retina, and other organs. Dogs produce their own, but cats must eat it, and it is not present in any plants.

There are more examples of substances cats must get through their food, such as niacin and arachidonic acid.

What is an emotional support dog?

dog smallAn emotional support dog helps individuals by providing comfort and support. Many fill a need by providing affection, companionship, emotional comfort, and support. They can have special training, but that is not strictly necessary. 

Many confuse emotional support dogs with psychiatric service dogs, but it’s not the same thing. The emotional support dog does not require special training, but the psychiatric service dogs are trained to provide specific services. They for instance do room searches or turn on lights for a person with PTSD, provide counterbalance, block persons experiencing a dissociative episode from walking into danger, and so on.

Emotional support dogs provide their handlers with relief from isolation, daily structure, an increased sense of self-esteem and purpose, motivation, and many other important things.

These dogs are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but they are covered under the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act.


What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and comfort to people in need. These are often pets who have undergone special training to accompany their owners to hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, and many other areas. Some live in a facility, and some are specially trained to work as comfort dogs at disaster areas. 

A great example of comfort dogs is the 9-11 disaster where 318 dogs and their handlers worked around the clock.

There are three basic kinds of therapy dogs:

Therapeutic visitation dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other places where a visiting dog can comfort and motivate people. These are often volunteers.

Animal assisted therapy dogs assist therapists with physical and occupational therapy. They often work in rehabilitation facilities.

Facility therapy dogs live in a facility, often a nursing home, and are trained to help patients with Alzheimer’s and similar.

In many areas therapy dogs must pass the Canine Good Citizen Test. There is also a therapy dog certification test. Therapy dogs and their handlers are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There is an important difference between therapy dogs and assistance dogs: while assistance dogs should be left alone to perform their job, people are encouraged to approach and pet therapy dogs.

Different types of assistance dogs

Dogs perform many important functions in society, and there are many different kinds of working dogs. Assistance dogs enhances people’s lives through helping with tasks their person would have trouble completing on their own.

service dogAssistance dogs are divided into three categories:

Guide dogs  help the blind and visually impaired. These dogs help humans through guiding their handler past obstacles, stopping at stabs and curbs, and negotiating traffic. The handler gives commands, but it is the dog’s responsibility to ensure the team’s safety.

This type of job can be difficult and requires a lot from the dog, because doing the job to keep the handler safe can require disobeying direct commands.

Hearing dogs  help the deaf and heard of hearing. They assist through alerting their handlers to sound, and are trained to make physical contact with their handler, leading them to the source of the sound. These dogs are commonly trained to react to doorbells, alarm clocks, telephones, crying babies, and similar.

Service dogs  help people with other types of disabilities. Some are trained to work with wheelchairs, some are medical alert dogs, others help children with autism. There is a wide range of task performed by service dogs and they are often trained to open and close doors, turn on lights, bring objects, provide balance, and many other things.

Assistance groups are recognized by the ADA. Their handler have the right to bring them to any place that is open to the public

Pets gaining legal status in France

France has the biggest pet dog population in Europe with nearly 9 million dogs. Up until now, the country’s legal system has shared the view on pets held by many other countries including the USA; they are considered furniture that moves.

Most pet lovers would disagree with the description. It is apparent that pets have feelings, and they’re not furniture. Now a petition with 700,000 signatures has inspired a change in the French legal system, giving cats and dogs better legal protection from animal cruelty. The new ruling is also expected to help courts decide custody battles with pets involved.

The new legal status describes pets as “living beings capable of feelings.” This new stance might also have an impact on the treatment of other types of animals. Taken to the next level, it might affect animal testing and other areas.

Lilies and cats

Lilies are beautiful, and in springtime many yards hold an abundance of them. They’re also common in many Easter flower arrangements. While not particularly dangerous to humans or dogs, some types of lilies are poisonous to cats. This article will tell you what kinds are the most dangerous to cats, and what to watch out for.

Around Easter time, the Easter lily is a welcome guest in many homes. These flowers are very poisonous to cats, and it goes for every part of the plant. Leaves, petals, stems, and pollen are all poisonous. If you see your cat eating or licking an Easter lily, even if it’s just nibbling a leaf, call the vet. Cats can also accidentally ingest the pollen while grooming, and even such a small amount can lead to kidney failure.

Symptoms develop in six to twelve hours after exposure, and the signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

Some cats also stagger, become disoriented, or suffer seizures.

Easter Lilies are dangerous to cats
Easter Lilies are dangerous to cats

If your cat ingested any part of an Easter lily, it needs treatment at once. There aren’t any antidotes to lily poison, and the vet will administer drugs to bind the poison and give intravenous fluids to flush out the kidneys. They will also monitor the kidneys through blood testing. If the cat gets treatment quickly, all this will be easier on both the pet and your wallet.

Other types of lilies known to be poisonous to cats include Tiger lilies – common in yards – Day lilies, and Asiatic lilies.

Amongst lilies that usually do not pose a problem to cats we find Peace lilies, Calla lilies, and Peruvian lilies.

It’s always a good idea to keep the numbers to your regular vet and pet emergency rooms saved in your phone and written down somewhere you can find it even in a time of stress.

Awards for Canine Excellence

The Awards for Canine Excellence – or ACE – are currently accepting nominations. The ACE awards are handed out by the AKC Humane Fund, and accepts nominations in five categories spanning over everything from family dogs to uniformed K-9.

Every entrant receives an AKC Humane Fund certificate of recognition. Some dogs will get an honorable mention, and this is awarded an engraved bronze medallion. The winner of each category receives a trip to the AKC/Eukanuba national championship in Orlando Florida, all expenses paid, $1,000 to a pet-charity of their choice, and a medal presented at an award ceremony.

To nominate a dog, follow this link and fill out the form.

The categories are:

Uniformed Service K-9
Dogs certified for law enforcement, military, and helping fire fighters.

Search and Rescue
Dogs certified to assist in tracking, locating missing people, natural disasters, etc.

Therapy Dogs
Dogs certified to provide comfort and affection to those in need.

Service Dogs
Dogs certified to help those with disabilities.

Exemplary companions
Dogs that are non-certified household pets.


Dog doors that stand up to even the largest dogs

In the past, owners of very large dogs  had problems finding suitable pet doors. Traditional flap doors can’t stand up to the power produced by a 200 lbs dog hitting it at a run. Countless owners  ended up with torn flaps, warped frames, and even pet door frames torn out of the household door.

PD extra largeThe PlexiDor dog door is specifically made to withstand even very large dogs. The frame is made from hardened aluminum that won’t crack or rust, and the panels are made from a special K9 Composite material. They’re thin, yet isolating, and strong enough to withstand the intense pounding a large dog can put them through. The PlexiDor factory has put an extensive amount of research into the material. The see-through panels also serves as a window for the pet.

An extra large dog also comes with extra strong jaws, and some breeds are known for chewing everything to pieces. The extra large PlexiDor dog door has an aluminum chew-proof trim around each panel, so even if the dog is bored and tries to take it out in the door, destroying the panel will not be easy.

Many pet owners worry about security, and that can seem a warranted concern when putting in a door large enough to accommodate a 220 lbs dog. Every PlexiDor dog door is delivered with a lock and key, and a steel security plate that attaches to the door frame.

The security plate screws on to the dog door frame, but for households that want to attach it often, be it for securing the house or for signaling to the dog that the door is locked, there is a sliding track accessory available. The security plate slides down the track to the right position, and is locked in place with a flip lock, so an intruder can’t get rid of it through pushing it up.

PlexiDor dog door with mounted sliding track and security plate. Extra Large.

The image to the right shows an extra large PlexiDor dog door with the security plate attached through the sliding track system. Note that you can lock and unlock the door through the security plate, so even if you forget to lock before putting the plate on, you don’t have to take it off again. The image also shows the security plate flip-lock on top.
There is also an awning available that provides shade and keeps rain and snow away.

The PlexiDor extra large dog door is available in three frame colors: silver, white, or bronze. The sliding tracks are available in the same colors, and awnings and security plates are either white or brone.

The extra large PlexiDor dog door is excellent for breeds such as Great Danes, Leonbergers, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, St Bernards, Old English Sheepdogs, Irish Wolfhounds, and other dogs up to 220 lbs. The panels open so easily that a small and large pet can use the same door. However, if a smaller pet is to share the door it’s important to adjust the installation height so everyone can get in and out comfortably.