Pet treat makers create fund to compensate dog owners

With over 10,000 pet deaths related to jerky treats and a further near 5,000 complaints about illness, two of the nation’s largest makers of the treats now agree to establish a $6.5 million fund to compensate dog owners who believe their animals were harmed.

The fund is a result of a class action lawsuit between pet owners in several states, Nestle Purina PetCare Co and Waggin’ Train LLC. If the settlement is approved, it will also require manufacturers to take on “enhanced quality measures” when it comes to treats made in China, and to modify the text on packages.

Neither of the manufacturers admit the treats might be tainted. According to NBC News, the settlement is just to “bring the litigation to a prompt and certain resolution.”

Pet supply firms such as PetSmart and PetCo have already announced that they will no longer sell pet treats made in China. The FDA has warned consumers about the treats since 2007. Despite extensive testing, no direct cause for the problems has been found.

You can see the settlement and press release here.


Prevent dog bites

A large number of dog bites are caused by misunderstandings between humans and dogs. Here are some easy tips to help prevent dog bites.

1. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is your own.

Dogs generally give many warning signals before they nip – but children and even many parents aren’t able to interpret the dog’s body language. Is the dog looking away? Turning away its head?

It seems self evident not to let a child stand on the dog, sit on the dog, pull the dog’s tail or lips, but parents still allow it, and a number of dogs are put down each year for biting children in situations that could easily have been prevented.

2. Don’t run past a dog.

Dogs love to chase and catch stuff. If you run, hunting dogs and herding dogs will want to give chase. This is another reason why children often get nipped; they behave as prey or as something that should be herded.

3. When you meet a dog, don’t bend over it or pet it on top of the head.

Crouch down next to the dog and turn away just a little. If the dog wants to approach you, he or she will come. Bending over them and petting them from above can be interpreted as a threat.

4. Treat dogs with respect

This naturally goes for both your own dog and strange dogs. Pay attention to body language. If you meet a strange dog, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet or approach, and respect a no.


The dreaded nail trim

Some dogs are fine with owners or groomers touching their feet and working on their nails. Others, not so much. Here are some simple everyday exercises that can make nail trimming and paw care easier.

1. Touch your pet often.

Sure, you pet your dog and that’s great, but make sure to touch areas you don’t usually pet as well, like the paws. If the pet seems disturbed by the touch or pulls away – assuming there isn’t an underlying medical condition – try giving a treat as you touch the area briefly and gently.  Repeat this every day until he or she “gets” it. Once the brief touch has been associated with something positive, that is, getting a treat, you can increase the time of touching before the treat.

2. Add grooming tools

Whatever the dreaded grooming tool might be – maybe nail clippers or a brush – this can also be introduced with a treat. Show the tool with the treat without trying to use it. After a while, the dog will associate the tool with treats and think it’s the best thing ever. When that happens, you can try touching the pet’s body with the tool while it’s getting a treat, and step by step, the strange and scary will be less frightening.

3.  Clip a nail

Once the pet accepts you touching its paws and the clippers, it’s time to start practicing for actually clipping a nail. Pinch a toe the way you would do if you were to actually trim the nail, release it, and give a treat. You might have to repeat this many times during a period of days or weeks. The next step is to touch the nail with the nail trimmer and give a treat. Once that is accepted, clip a nail and give a treat.

Before you know it, your pet will think that trimming nails is a great event.

Upcoming study will measure the usefulness of dogs for veterans with PTSD

The Veteran’s Affairs Department is about to conduct a study of the effectiveness of service dogs for treating post-traumatic stress disorder. The study, “Can Service Dogs Improve Activity and Quality of Life in Veterans with PTSD” will measure the impact of a service dog compared to a pet.

220 veterans will participate in the study, and are currently undergoing dog care training. They will be divided into two groups. Half will be teamed with a service dog trained to address the disability, and the other half will be teamed with an emotional support dog. The latter are pets with obedience training, but without PTSD service training.

Is there a difference?

Yes. First of all, a well trained service dog costs at least $10,000, and often up to $25,000. Service dogs are covered under the American with Disabilities Act and are allowed to accompany their human in all public spaces.

Emotional support dogs are well-trained pets that provide support and comfort. They are not covered under the ADA, but they do have some protection on commercial airlines and under the Fair Housing Act.

If there is a measurable difference between the groups, service dogs might become an accepted PTSD treatment covered by VA.

Reunited after two years

Two years ago, a little Shih Tzu called Nani wandered out of her yard. Her owner searched everywhere, but Nani had vanished without a trace, even though she was microchipped. As days turned into weeks, months, and years, Paula Wilcher gave up on ever seeing Nani again.

A couple of weeks ago, Frenzy Animal Rescue who once microchipped Nani received a call; someone had spotted the dog wandering along the road and picked it up, and Nani eventually ended up with a veterinarian who read the chip.

No one what Nani knows what she has been up to for the past two years. She appeared with a matted coat and had lost weight, but was in good shape overall.

Without the microchip, Nani would never have found her way home. Having a chip implanted doesn’t hurt the pet any more than giving a regular vaccination. The chips are injected under the loose skin between the shoulder blades and the process only takes a few seconds.

Pet microchips aren’t tracking devices; they’re read with a scanner and carry a unique identification number. Both cats and dogs can and should be microchipped. Cats often do not wear a collar, and less than 2 percent of lost cats without microchips are returned home. If they have a chip, that rate is 20 times higher.

Cats might be even smarter than we think

CatThere’s no doubt that cats are smart. They are quick to learn and have evolved for thousands of years to observe the world and make intelligent decisions. A cat’s brain structure is actually about 90 percent similar to a human’s.

According to Psychology Today, cats have around 300 million neurons while a dog has around 160 million. Cats also have more nerve cells in visual areas of the brain than humans and most other mammals. In plain English that means that they have a well developed center for rational decision making and complex problem solving. This area of the brain is involved in planning, interpretation of communication, and memory.

If cats are so smart, why don’t we have service cats leading people with impaired vision, or police cats finding hidden drugs?

Cats find motivation in discovering personal benefit. “What’s in it for me?” They base decisions on what to do and when depending on what it can get them. They are more impulsive than dogs, and less patient. If something doesn’t reward them, they’ll move on and do something else.

Dogs are more socially adapted and will work for a treat or to make their human happy. Cats can solve more difficult problems, but only if they feel like it.

Fun contest on the PlexiDor Facebook page!

Right now, there is a fun contest on the PlexiDor Facebook page. Answer a simple question and you can win a handmade drawing of your dog breed along with a bottle of Deidre’s K9 Naturals shampoo.

The drawing will be in the style below of the breed of your choice. The shampoo is made in the USA with ingredients from the USA.

Win a handmade drawing of your dog breed

Canadian pet owners surveyed

Canada’s Pet Wellness Report is put together by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and Hill’s Science Diet and gives an interesting view of Canadian pet owners. There are around 7.9 million cats and 5.9 million dogs in Canada, and around 35 percent of households have at least one dog, while 38 percent have at least one cat.

Findings suggest that while pet owners adore their pets, pet lives can be enhanced and lengthened by improving pet owners’ knowledge of nutrition and health.

Overfeeding is the most common mistake pet owners do, and people are likely to consider the pet’s taste preference (60%) before what’s actually good for the pet’s health (33%). Veterinarians believe that pet owners are more likely to pick pet food depending on price than nutrition.

The report also shows that weight control is the most important thing to increase pets’ life spans. Fewer than 8 percent feed their pets the amount recommended on the food package. Weight control and exercise go hand in hand. Pet owners know that exercise is important, but still spend three times as much time watching TV and twice as much time on the Internet as they do playing with or exercising their furry friends.

Top five most common mistakes when feeding dogs or cats – according to vets

  1. Overfeeding
  2. Giving too many treats
  3. Making food available at all times
  4. Poor quality food
  5. Human food/table scraps

Five most important things a pet owner can do to increase their pet’s life span

  1. Weight control
  2. Dental care
  3. Regular exams
  4. Exercise
  5. Proper food for the pet’s life stage

The most common health problem – also the one that surprises the most pet owners – is dental health. Dental problems are often followed by organ damage, strokes, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

North Carolina inmates have been training dogs for 10 years

North Carolina participates in a “New Leash on Life” program, teaching inmates to train dogs. The program has been a success; working with dogs inspires compassion, patience, and teaches a possible future career. The Correctional institution also offers a vet tech program.

The dogs come from shelters, and during the past ten years, thousands of dogs have gone through the eight week program, learning basic behavior and socialization. 92 percent of dogs that has gone through the training are adopted.

Professional dog trainers volunteer, teaching the inmates, and sponsors pay for food and medical treatments.

Don’t give up on your dog when it’s a teenager

A dog is most likely to be surrendered to a shelter when it is between nine and eighteen months old. At this age dogs have grown out of the super-cute puppy stage and look like adults, but they don’t act adult, and families unprepared for this phase of life often give up. Adolescence can be as difficult for a dog as it is for a human.

Adolescent dogs are super-curious and want to discover the world with all their senses. They dig, they chew, run away to explore, jump, and challenge authority. For many, everything is a game, and their attention span is… squirrel!

On top of all this, they have so much energy it takes super-human stamina to keep up. This is when many give up, and instead of helping their dog to become a well balanced adult, they send their pet off to a shelter and probable death.

It is always important to choose a dog breed that works well for the family, but it is extra important when picking  a puppy. Some breeds get through this period in life easier than others.

Working breeds are often particularly difficult; they have a lot of energy, high intelligence, and need a job. If they don’t get something appropriate to do, they will make something up. Some working breeds – like Border Collies – are often considered adolescents up until they’re three years old, so in addition to the difficult period being more intense, it also lasts longer.

So, how do you survive, stay sane, and keep your dog?

Provide plenty of exercise. Consider crating your dog when he or she is unsupervised. Keep training the dog, and make training sessions fun. Thinking games often wear dogs out better than physical exercise. Above all, remember that this is a phase that will eventually go away.

World’s oldest cat turns 24

Poppy is a British kitty living in Bournemouth with her family consisting of four humans, four other cats, a hamster, and a rabbit. She recently celebrated her 24th birthday with a cake made from cat food, and is the world’s oldest living cat.

She has lived through four US presidents and still rules the house, but her age is starting to show; she has lost her hearing and vision. Though, the family says she is still quite feisty and defends her food from the other cats.

Poppy likes canned and dry food, KFC chicken, kebab, and fish and chips.

The oldest cat ever recorded was named Creme Puff and lived in Texas. She became 38 years old.

Poppy is the world's oldest now living cat and recently celebrated her 24th birthday.
Image from

Kitty cam success

KittensWhen John Bartlett set up a webcam to watch his foster kittens, he did not expect to become a worldwide phenomenon. His camera shows kittens eating, sleeping, rolling around, and other pretty uneventful stuff that cats do.

The camera has become a great success; the website reports that Bartlett has hundreds of people watching sleeping cats for hours.

Watching the cats help people all around the world de-stress. People Magazine posted a link to his site, and and he now has over 20,000 regular viewers.

The cam has led to even more than that: cat lovers have started talking in chats while watching the footage, and recently a convention of cat fans from all around the globe met in Seattle. The web cam inspired people to come all the way from Australia to talk about cats.

Barlett fosters for Purrfect Pals, and his goal with the kitty cam is to get attention for the rescue and the important role fosters play in the lives of homeless pets. He says every cat that has been featured on the camera has been adopted, and he has found homes for nearly 200 kittens.


Big gap between thinking and doing when it comes to pet exercise

Joy!A recent study of Canadian pet owners made by the Canadian Veterinary Association together with Hill’s Science Diet reveals an interesting discrepancy of what pet owners’ think is important and what they actually do.

When asked what the most important thing is when it comes to enhance the length and quality of a pet’s life, most owners answered exercise. When veterinarians get the same question, exercise comes in as the fourth highest priority.

However, knowing that something is important is not the same thing as doing something about it; on an average weekday, Canadian pet owners spend 79 minutes watching TV, 48 minutes browsing the Internet, and 25 minutes playing with or exercising their pets. On average, women do a little better than men. Women spend 28 minutes playing with or exercising their pets, and the corresponding number for men is 19 minutes.

According to veterinarians, 55 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats do not receive sufficient exercise to maintain good health.

On an average weekend day, the TV watching increases to 89 minutes, the Internet surfing sinks a little to 44 minutes, and pets get 29 minutes.

Overfeeding and obesity are the main issues amongst Canadian pets, and time spent together playing or exercising is a great way to strengthen the bond between humans and pets.

PlexiDor pet doors visited the PIJAC Western Pet Expo in Canada

PIJAC stands for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. PIJAC Canada is a non-profit dedicated to representing the Canadian pet industry, and to the highest level of pet care. Each year the organization arranges a number of trade shows and events around the country, and PlexiDor pet doors visited the Western Pet Expo that took place in Richmond, BC, May 4 to 5 2014.

The Western Pet Expo is a huge 2-day event, and it is British Columbia’s only all inclusive pet industry trade show. The PlexiDor dog doors and cat door are well suited for harsh climates, and stand up to the Canadian winters. It is difficult to find products that will keep cold, rain, snow, and wind outside, but the PlexiDor poses an effective barrier to the elements. It also keeps summer flies and other nuisances outside.

There is a Canadian area on the PlexiDor website, and the product catalog is available for viewing and download in French for those who prefer that language. The doors can be seen in stores all over the country.

Over 50 percent of Canadian households have at least one cat or dog. There are almost 8 million cats and 6 million dogs in the country.

PlexiDor pet doors visited the PIJAC show in British Columbia

Pictured left to right: 

Tamara Webster / Triton Sales Representative
Nicole Scheming / Owner Triton Animal Supplies
Robert Wollet / PlexiDor Sales Manager
Hardy Scheming / Owner Triton Animal Supplies
Judy Muirhead / Triton Sales Representative
Jessica Aldridge / Triton Sales Representative

Petco withdraws pet treats made in China

Pet treats from China has made the news for several years. The first cases were reported in 2007, and ever since they have been connected to pet deaths, but authorities have been unable to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. By now, over 1,000 dogs are reported dead in connection with Chinese jerky treats, and Petco has decided to withdraw all pet treats made in China.

Petco has over 1,300 stores nationwide, and the Chinese treats will be removed from each one, including Unleashed by Petco and online at The process will be completed before the end of the year.

According to a recent FDA report, over 4,800 complaints have come in regarding chicken, duck, and sweet potato jerky treats from China. These reports mostly involve dogs falling sick, but also 24 cats and three people.

The FDA cautions pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and to consult with a veterinarian before feeding this type of treats and if noticing any symptoms. Follow this link to learn how to report a complaint to the FDA.

Dog finds abandoned baby

Dogs with their keen senses can find the strangest things, and bring home everything from golf balls to half a tree. Most doggie parents would not expect what these dogs found:

February 2013, a dog found a newborn girl abandoned in a plastic grocery bag in Cypress, Texas. State law allows anyone to drop a newborn off at a hospital or fire station with no questions asked. Abandoning a child outside, on the other hand, is a crime. This incident was the third in a short period of time where children were abandoned in the area.

June 2013, a dog in Thailand went exploring on his own, and found a newborn who had been wrapped in a plastic bag and thrown into a garbage dump. Pui brought the bag home and got a medal from the Red Cross for his good deed.

October 2013, a German Shepherd found a baby in a bag in Birmingham in the UK. This baby was later named Jade after its four-legged savior.

Even when humans let each others down, dogs are our best friends!


Can you teach a dog to swim?

Labrador RetrieverAssuming the dog breed is physically able to swim – not all dogs can swim – how do they learn to do so?

Dogs will instinctively paddle when they enter water. Some dogs love water at first sight, plunge in, and might not want to come out again. Others are reluctant and even scared.

If your dog doesn’t take to swimming immediately, here are some tips that might help them along:

  • Encourage the dog by going out in the water yourself and calling for them. If they follow you, reward with praise.
  • If your dog likes to play fetch, they might follow a floating toy or tennis ball into the water. Start at a shallow depth and go gradually deeper.
  • Many dogs want to join in if they see people or other dogs having fun in the water.

As with all training it is important to stay calm. Some dogs will never like water. We might feel that they’re missing out, but should still respect it.

If your dog turns out to love swimming, it is still up to you to think of safety. Older dogs and puppies tire quickly, and they often don’t realize how tired they are until it’s too late to turn back. Watch out for strong currents and underwater debris that can ensnare the dog.

Many dogs who don’t like water still enjoy an outing to the beach. Non-swimmers should wear a life vest. This is particularly important for breeds such as Bulldogs who are physically unable to swim. If the sand is hot, protect the sensitive paws. Make sure there’s access to shade and cool drinking water, and be attentive for signs of heat stroke.

K9s for Warriors provide support dogs for military veterans with PTSD

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is most often associated with military veterans, but can affect anyone. PTSD is triggered by facing a situation “larger than oneself,” such as a car accident, home invasion, robbery, death of a loved one, natural disaster, or working in any type of medical or emergency field. These situations don’t necessarily lead to PTSD, but they can.

The symptoms are as varied as the causes, but the most common include nightmares, sleeplessness, recurring memories, irritability and anger, feeling numb, a sense of never being safe, and fearing crowds. This is difficult for the person afflicted with PTSD, of course, but also for loved ones who often have a hard time coping with personality changes and seemingly irrational behavior.

PTSD is common. Almost 8 percent of Americans will experience it at some point. The number is much higher amongst military veterans. Almost 29 percent of veterans treated at VA medical centers have the diagnosis.

service dogFor many who suffer PTSD, dogs are invaluable. A dog can give comfort and companionship without the need to talk. They help break out of isolation and keep depression at bay.

K9s for Warriors is an organization in Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida. They specialize in rescuing dogs from shelters and training them as service dogs for military troops and veterans.

The dogs are trained to perform special tasks, such as fetching things for veterans with physical disabilities. If someone feels uncomfortable in a crowd, their dog can be taught to “cover and block” which means standing between their person and any approaching people. PTSD service dogs are unique. Some dogs excel at the job, others aren’t suited for it.

Many who don’t feel comfortable in crowds are able to trust their dog more than they trust themselves. Dogs are great observers of environment and body language, and dog often picks up on danger before a person. If a dog is relaxed, whatever danger the person perceives probably isn’t real.

Since the service dogs are rescues they come in all forms and sizes, and the person needing a dog is matched with one that will be suited for his or her needs. A tall person uncomfortable in crowds will need a taller service dog than a shorter person. The dogs are also trained to perform different tasks, and the organization strive to match the exact right dog with the right person.

Training one service dog costs around $10,000, and K9s for warriors are funded solely by private donations.

PTSD is not about what is wrong with a person; it is about what happened to a person. Everyone can help through showing common sense and respect. Don’t insist that your children be allowed to touch a service dog. If a person shies away from you, it might not be because he or she doesn’t like you; something in the past can have made the person sensitive to touch.

If you want to learn more about PTSD and service dogs, visit K9s for warriors. You can also read more at the National Center for PTSD. There is also a great article at helpguide.


Traveling with pets and medical needs

Dogs, cats, and other pets are good for a person’s health. They create a sense of stability, they are good company, reduce stress, combat depression, and lower blood pressure. Pets are particularly good for the elderly.

Med Transport Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, took these facts into account when they planned their new service; medically equipped motor homes that come with two drivers and a nurse. Besides providing physical comfort, pets are welcome to travel with the guest.

Traveling out of state or across the country can be necessary and harrowing, especially for a person suffering dementia. Being able to bring a pet can give comfort and provide a sense of stability.

Smaller animals travel best in a crate, and larger dogs need to be on a leash.

Besides transportation to and from medical facilities the company also offers a vacation option to help someone with special medical needs experience the country, along with their pets. Dogs are the most common guests on the trips, but cats and birds have also tagged along.


Pets are good for the health

Five Frequently Asked Questions about Cats

Cats are curious and sometimes act in ways that can drive humans crazy. They don’t do it on purpose; being naughty just sort of happens. Here are answers to five frequently asked questions about cats.

Q: Why does my cat push things down from my shelves?
A: Cats are curious, and easily bored. Your cat probably wants something to do. Even if there’s a plethora of cat toys around the house, they might have grown old and boring, and your kitty might want something new. Take time to play with your cat, and invest in some fresh toys.

Q: Do cats wag their tails when they’re happy?
A: Cats aren’t like dogs, and they normally don’t wag their tails because they’re happy. On the contrary, a cat swishing their tail indicates agitation. They wag their tails if they’re annoyed or see something that doesn’t please them. Not the best time to pet the cat!

Q: If a cat sleeps on a person’s lap, does that mean they like the person?
A: Yes. Sleeping makes a cat vulnerable, and sleeping on your lap means that you are trusted. As a bonus, your lap is probably warm and comfortable.

Q: Do cats really have a great sense of direction?
A: Some cats do, and can find their way across amazing distances. Don’t rely on it. Keep a collar on your cat with a tag, and microchip your feline friend. The outdoors can be intriguing and overwhelming for indoor kitties getting out, and even the most experience outdoor cat can get into trouble.

Q: Why does my cat bite me?
A: Cats bite for a lot of reasons. It might be because of play aggression or over stimulation, but also a way of saying, “Stop that.” Think about what you’re doing when your cat bites you.