Tag Archives: Dog

Fun Times


Life has been pretty busy recently, and a blog post done in a rush or without my full attention is not something I want to do. I enjoy my blog posts, and I hope anyone reading them also enjoys – so I won’t post something not done properly.

Instead, check out some fun animal-related videos on YouTube. Please note that I am in no way affiliated with any of these videos; they are not mine, or posted by anyone I know. I am just guilty of watching them too often online!

I love this video, “Cat-Friend vs Dog-Friend” – I think is a a funny (and kind of accurate) depiction of dogs and cats in the home.

I also love this video, “Dog wants a kitty” – apart from the owner of this frustrated pooch being scarily accurate in matching his voice-over to the dog’s behaviour and mouth movements, I think it would be just ace to be able to have conversations like this with your pooch! Wonder what voice your pet would have? Also check out the related video, “Ultimate Dog Tease” – poor thing is just hungry!

And one for the musically inclined, “Hamster on a piano” – not quite sure what I love more in this video; the fact the hamster is nomming popcorn, or the fact that (s)he is just so not bothered about what’s going on because (s)he has popcorn!

Have you got any fun animal-related videos I have missed, or you just feel the need to share? Please post a comment below, or via one of my social media pages…
. Google+ (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Facebook (Ali’s Animal Answers)
. Twitter (@AnimalFreak24)
. LinkedIn (Ali Holloway)

Loose the Leash!


We get dogs as companions; as pets.  Our pets rely on us to live – they trust us with their lives, trust us to take care of them. We love our pets, and we take pride in training them and teaching them things. We like to show off the fun tricks we have taught our new puppy or even our older dog! But we often neglect to keep up with, or even do, basic training – we all toilet train, and at least attempt sit, stay, and recall.

Teaching your dog not to pull on the lead is often not done, and not kept on top of. This training not only to make things easier on us, especially with larger breeds, but is good for your dog’s health. I go nuts when I see people yanking their dog back on the lead – especially an extender/ retractable lead, because they are designed for your pet to roam – don’t want him to roam, don’t use the extension or use a normal lead! Unfortunately this seems to happen more with small breeds, because we are strong enough to lift them of their feet via their neck… doesn’t mean we ought to.

Harness

If you do this, you may seriously damage your pet’s neck – and surely that’s not why you got a companion animal, to cause harm?! If the dog is pulled up sharply to a hard stop, just one jerk can cause lasting damage – permanent damage that will stay with your pet for the rest of his life.

Extender/ retractable leads are more likely to cause this reaction from us – they are harder to get your dog back with, without jerking the lead. Teach your dog simple commands, to walk to heel and come back when called.

If you still have issues with your dog pulling on a lead, then for both your benefit and your dog’s, try a gentle leader or a harness – not a “check” or “choke” chain.

Gentle Leader
Gentle Leader

Take into account the breed of dog you have – for instance, a harness will cause a dog breed such as a Husky to pull more, as their instinct to “mush” and pull will kick in. If you choose to use a lead and collar, as I do personally, ensure that you train your dog to come back when called and walk to heel on command to avoid any (accidental) jerking of the lead – remember that just one jerk can cause permanent damage to your furry friend.

Collar & Lead
Collar & Lead

Moulting in Dogs


Pet owners are obviously interested in their pets and how to properly care for them, things that their pets do and/ or go through are also of interest. One thing that pet owners often wonder about, is moulting – particularly in dog owners – especially when it means bringing out the vacuum cleaner more often than usual!

Your Dog’s Coat

In order for dog owners to understand the moulting of their pet’s coat, it is helpful to understand the coat of a dog. The canine coat is made up of of two layers. One is the longer outer layer known as the overcoat; the other being the dense, insulative layer known as the undercoat.

This requires the hair growth cycle to be looked into. All of the hair on your dog goes through three cycles; these phases are the anagen (or active growth) phase, the catagen (or transitioning) phase, and the telogen (or resting) phase.  Although not all the hair will be in the same cycle at the same time, at particular times of the year the telogen phase is most dominant, causing more shedding to occur.

Anagen Phase

This is the active growth of the hair follicles, the cells of the hair root are diving rapidly. This is when the hair will actively grow under the surface of the skin, and then reach full length above the skin’s surface. Full hair length is genetically determined, so different breeds will have a different length of time for this phase of the hair growth cycle.

Catagen Phase

This is the transitioning phase at the end of the the anagen phase; the end of the active hair growth. During this stage the hair root and hair shaft (top portion of the hair, coming up out of the skin) detach from one-another – preparing for new hair growth.

Telogen Phase

This is the resting phase of the hair. The hair does not grow during this stage. At this stage the hair stays attached, however it could be pulled out (i.e. via grooming) at this stage, but tends not to fall out. Approximately 15% of al hair is in this stage at once.  Towards the end of this stage, as the hair cycle is coming around again to re-enter the anagen phase – the old hair falls out as new hair comes up and pushes the old hair out – this is your pet moulting.

 

Dog Coat Type

Dogs, such as my Bedlington Terrier (Barney, photo below) and Poodles, that do not moult have hair that is predominantly in the anagen phase. They require extra grooming to keep a nice coat and to pull out the old hairs as the detachment stage occurs less.

Barney, Bedlington Terrier
Barney, Bedlington Terrier

Dog breeds that do moult, such as Old English Sheepdogs (see Daisy, photo below) and most other breeds to be honest, have hair that is predominantly in the telogen phase. This is why you get a lot of hairs all over your furniture, clothes, carpet… Well let’s face it, EVERYWHERE!

Old English Sheepdog
Daisy, Old English Sheepdog

But Why?…

Daylight and temperature

These cycles are largely influenced by the amount of daylight, and a little by temperature – often people think that seasonal shedding is due to change in temperature, but in actual fact it is the length of daylight that has the main effect. As the seasons change and the day-lengths change, the daylight triggers the shedding of one coat and the growth of the new. This often occurs bi-annually, but in some breeds only occurs annually.

Breeds that shed annually are breeds built for colder temperatures (such as the Alaskan Malamute), and in the wild would need their coat thicker for longer. The majority of breeds shed bi-annually, losing their thick winter coat in favour of a lighter summer coat; losing their light summer coat in favour of a thick, warm winter coat. However, with dogs nowadays living inside with a lot of domestic comforts their wild counterparts lack, shedding can occur all year round, or at least more often than once or twice a year. Artificial lighting seemingly lengthens the “daylight” and can cause your dog to moult more.

Hormones

Bitches and dogs also shed slightly differently. After coming into heat or season, a bitch often sheds as part of her body cycle due to the hormone changes; pregnancy, gestation and birth can also cause hair loss with the changes in hormone levels and with the female pulling out fur for nest making.

Obviously, males are not affected by this kind of hormone change – however, male or female, thyroxin (the hormone from the thyroid gland) contributes to hair growth and rate of growth. This means that any pets suffering with hyperthyroidism, being deficient in this hormone, can lose hair more rapidly than a dog with a healthy thyroid.

External Factors

Food and water, environment, and grooming can all contribute to hair loss too.

Ensuring your dog is on the right food and has a healthy coat and skin will help ensure a normal hair cycle and moulting. Ensuring your dog has plenty of fresh water, easily accessible will also help with normal moulting – dehydration can cause problems (not just with moulting and coat but to your the general health of your pet).

Changes in environment can cause stress – noise, boredom, fear, a new pet/ child, moving house, redecorating, etc. – can all be stressors to your dog. Not all of these will affect every dog, as all dogs are individuals, different, and have had different life experiences. In cases of daily stress, moulting problems can occur.

Poor grooming, or lack of grooming, will affect the health of your dog’s skin and coat condition – affecting the hair cycle and moulting. Ensure you bathe your dog, as a dirty coat encourages bacteria growth and prevents hair growth; however, do not bathe your dog too often as you can wash away the natural, protective oils in the coat – again causing problems. Brush your dog regularly too, especially if it is a breed with curly or wavy hair, or a breed that does not moult, as hair can become tangled and matted and will be problematic in shedding.

 

Last Thoughts

If you suspect your dog is moulting excessively, take it to the vet to ensure their is no underlying issue. Check into the diet and nutrition of your dog, as sometimes the problem can be solved with a change in diet. If you are not comfortable or confident in grooming your dog yourself, find a reputable dog groomer and book your dog in regularly to keep their coat in tip-top condition!

Just groomed Westie, on grooming table
Just groomed Westie, on grooming table

“Catty” Cats (and Aggression)


I was lying in bed last night listening to some resident cats somewhere on my road have a “catty” show-down! This is a fairly regular occurrence, more so when a new cat moves in close by. This time, it did not escalate into a fight (fortunately) – the aggressive displays were enough to solve whatever this dispute was between these cats.

This got me thinking about the different types of aggression shown by animals, and why they do it. So here are my brief thoughts on animal aggression…

Firstly, there are two types of aggression:

  • Inter-species aggression – aggression between two or more individuals of the same species (i.e. cat on cat)
  • Re-directed aggression – aggression caused by one factor, being ‘taken out’ on a neutral thing (such as your brand new shoes, your lovely curtains, or your expensive dining room chairs!)

Secondly there are 3 reasons for the aggression

  • Fear – being aggressive due to feeling threatened or scared
  • Status-related – for dominance over another individual
  • Territorial – defending their area

I figured that what I was listening to last night could be one, or all, of those reasons!

Fear Aggression is the most common, and the most likely to occur – and it can also be the most dangerous to a person. A fearful animal will often panic and attack as they are unsure what else to do, and instincts kick in, in the form of the “fight or flight” reflex – stay and fight or run away. If the latter is not an option (e.g. an animal backed into a corner) then the first is the only option the animal can perceive.

Dominant or status-related aggression, which is what most people think of when thinking of aggression, is displaying aggressive behaviour to intimidate and make whoever the display is being done at, back off or put up a fight. This can occur in multi-pet households (to establish a hierarchy), not just with adult animals but even between litter-mates  growing up. Dominant aggressive behaviour is to state “I am the boss, and will accept a fight with any who challenge me!”

Territorial aggression is often seen by guard dogs displaying this behaviour in defence of their territory. It is also common when cats cross-over into someone else’s territory at the wrong time…
The display is a warning to say “if you come into my territory, I will be aggressive, so keep out!”, however the likelihood of attack from this is minimal if the distance is kept!

It is quite likely this “cat-fight” going on outside my bedroom window was territorial – however, whichever way aggression is displayed, it is not a nice behaviour; one to be avoided if and when possible! It was safe to be in bed whilst this “catty” dispute was taking place for me, I only hope the cats involved got away unscathed too!

Dangerous “People-Food” for Dogs


My 9 year old Bedlington Terrier has always been a good little dog; never being overly naughty – no interest in chasing cats, never chewed shoes or stole food… until this past Christmas season! Still generally a good little dog, however the temptation of all the tasty treats we had around the house apparently proved too much after 9 years of being a good boy! He got into various sweets and chocolates, thankfully vomiting afterwards and being okay, but it was still cause for concern until he had vomited and gotten back to his normal self.

All this got me thinking – there are plenty of human foodstuffs that are bad for our dogs, but what are some of the more serious foods to keep your dog away from?
Chocolate – an obvious and widely known human food to not feed your dog. Garlic and onions, grapes and raisins – not necessarily commonly known human foods to keep you dogs away from.

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Chocolate
Everyone knows not to feed chocolate to dogs, however a lot of us still do it! Feeding your chocolate may also encourage stealing chocolate too.
But what is it that makes chocolate toxic to dogs? Caffeine and theobromine. These are also found in more dangerous quantities the darker the chocolate, whereas white chocolate contains quite low quantities – so as a general rule; the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.
If your dog does ingest chocolate the affects may vary from vomiting and digestive discomfort, to seizures and death. A small amount of chocolate usually causes mild digestive discomfort, and often vomiting – which clears the digestive tract of the toxin. If this does not happen, and you dog has ingested a fair amount of chocolate, veterinary attention should immediately be sought!


OnionandGarlicOnions and Garlic
Garlic is more toxic to dogs than onions (gram for gram), but both garlic, onions and related foodtuufss are toxic enough to cause serious health problems in your dog.
Sulfoxides and disulfides can be found in these types of foodstuffs which can damage red blood cells and cause anaemia. It is quite uncommon for dogs to eat enough onion or garlic  for this to happen (raw is more toxic), although these foods should be kept well away from your hungry dog!

 

grapes-and-raisinsGrapes and Raisins
Vomiting, lethargy and diarrhoea can be caused by your dog eating grapes or raisins (and related foods), as well as more severe toxicosis causing kidney problems and possibly kidney failure (resulting in death).
It is unknown what exactly it is in grapes and raisins that causes these toxic effects. Some dogs can eat grapes and raisins with little or no ill effects, and others do not experience ill effects until a later date – so it is best to keep your dog clear of them!

My little Barney wouldn’t touch fruit or veg with a barge pole, so I don’t worry too much about that  (still keep them away from him though)! However, with his newly acquired sweet tooth I am having to be more mindful of where I leave my tasty treats so that they don’t end up being eaten by him! This means remembering to put chocolates and sweets back into cupboards or the fridge (preferably high up ones) so that he cannot reach them, and he cannot open any doors to get at any!

Bedlington Terrier