Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Savvy Tips- Part 1

With summer having officially arrived, it’s time to start thinking about hot weather and outdoor safety. I am going to mention several areas that you should pay particular attention to during the hotter months. For the purposes of this blog I am using product examples from Outward Hound by the Kyjen Company simply because I own several of their products, and have been extremely happy with them. There are many great manufacturers of pet products to choose from.

General Outdoor Safety: If you dog is outside on a regular basis or lives outside, you must provide him with shade and plenty of clean water at all times. A doghouse does not provide sufficient shade. While a doghouse may provide protection from the sun, it can quickly heat up inside. Remember that dogs, just like people can get sunburned and can even get skin cancer.

If your dog likes the water, you may want to provide him with a baby pool filled with cool water. Some dogs like to lie in the water to cool them selves off. Weylin likes to play in the pool, but will not lay in it. Maggie wants nothing to do with the pool, no matter how warm it is out.

You need to monitor your dog during the hot days of summer for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Both can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time. Over-working your dog during hot weather can cause heat exhaustion. During the summer you should walk your dog in the early morning or in the evening, and you should always carry water with you. If your dog becomes overheated, offer him plenty of water and wet his body and paws with cool water. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if he is experiencing heatstroke or heat exhaustion.

If you are traveling with your dog, hiking, boating, or just walking around the neighborhood, you need to make sure that you keep him hydrated. In the last few years, manufacturers have come out with some great options that make it easy to provide water on the go. Two of my favorites are the Port-A-Bowl and the Fold-A-Bowl made by Outward Hound (Kyjen Company). The Port-A-Bowl folds flat and the Fold-A-Bowl folds into it’s own pocket and has a clip that you can attached to a belt loop or clothing. When you are on the go, they are a simple, yet effective way to give your dog a bowl of water. They are lightweight and take up very little space. Wulfgar (my wolf hybrid) would drink out of a water bottle that had a squirt top on it or out of a water fountain. My big boy was very self sufficient, and he was tall enough to drink directly out of a lot of sinks. I have tried in vain to get Weylin to drink out of a water bottle or even a fountain. Apparently he’s just too spoiled; he prefers his water out of a bowl. Of course Maggie, like many dogs is not big enough to drink out of a water fountain, so the portable bowls are a great option. There are many other manufacturers that make different portable items for both water and food. Below I have given web addresses for three pet supply catalogs that I order from on a regular basis. All three have great websites and you can also request a paper catalog. One plus with KV Vet is that with orders of $50.00, they ship many items for free.

Water Safety: If your dog is going to be in or around the water, you should really consider purchasing a life jacket for him or her. I think that a lot of people automatically assume that all dogs can swim, which is not true. Not all dogs like to swim either, but even if your dog is a good swimmer you should still consider buying a life jacket. Many people like to take their dogs boating, but in the even of an accident a life jacket protects your dog. If the dog is injured or can’t make it to shore, a life jacket will help him to stay afloat until rescue arrives. Even if you are just playing along the river, or running along the beach, you never know when your dog might head into the water. Your dog may end getting in over his head so to speak, and if he ends up farther out in the river or ocean that you intended, a life jacket may literally be a lifesaver. Most of the larger pet catalogs offer several different styles of life jackets. I have included pictures of two different life jackets from Outward Hound (Kyjen Company). Please note that you should never leave your dog unattended in or around water. Dogs and puppies can fall into a swimming pool just like children and drown.

Auto Safety: Dogs are unable to sweat the way that humans do to keep themselves cool. If it has been said once, it has been said a million times, don’t leave your dog alone in a parked car. The temperature inside can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. Parking in the shade or cracking the windows does little to alleviate the high temperatures. Both dogs and children have died from being left inside hot vehicles. Also your dog is in danger of being stolen if left unattended in a parked car.

Dogs should be properly secured in a vehicle at all times. Not only is it extremely dangerous for your dog to ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck it is also illegal in some states. You can purchase a specially padded harness and tethers that secure your dog in the bed of a truck. However, you need to be aware that the sun can heat up the metal in the truck bed and burn your dog’s paws. Some states also have laws that say your dog must be secured inside a vehicle as well. A dog that is loose inside a vehicle risks being injured in a crash or even in the event of a sudden stop. A loose dog is also a danger to the driver of the vehicle. You can buy padded harnesses that are specifically made for auto travel that are secured by a seatbelt. For smaller dogs you can also buy car seats, but even when using one of these your dog needs to be secured by a harness. You should not let your dog hang his head out of the window because bugs, rocks, or other road debris can hit him. There is also the danger of the dog falling or jumping out of the window.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Maggie Introduces Herself

Hi, I'm Maggie, and I'm not a pain in the butt. Mom says I'm a Border Collie mix. Weylin just likes to exaggerate things. I like livings with these new people, and Weylin's alright too most of the time. I was really scared and hungry when mom found me in the parking lot, and I had something around my neck that cut me. Mom felt really bad for me, and she found some bread and donuts to feed me. It took me awhile to get close enough to eat anything, because I didn't know what this strange lady would do to me. I finally worked up the courage to run up and wolf down a few bites. After awhile mom lured me into her office. It was nice to be inside where it was warm and dry. I guess November's not a very good month to be living on the streets. Mom left for a few minutes, and she came back with a little red collar and leash. Even though my neck was sore, I let mom put the collar on me. Then we went for ride. I couldn't figure out why this nice lady was crying. Then we got to the animal shelter. The woman that worked there wasn't crying and she wasn't very nice. She scared me a lot, and I peed myself. She grabbed me and wrapped something around my mouth. Let's just say that wasn't a very good day for me or my soon-to-be new mom. I try not to remember too much about the shelter. I just know mom is very sorry she ever took me there. There was a big explosion one day, and suddenly someone was letting all of us dogs out of our cages. Most of us got out ok, but a lot of the cats weren't so lucky. There were a lot of lights and sirens, and finally a lot of us dogs went to a building next door. I was running around with some of the other dogs when all of a sudden that nice lady was scooping me up in her arms. Before I knew it, I was on my way home with mom and dad.

Weylin Introduces Himself

I would like to introduce myself: I am Weylin, and I am a four-year-old Alaskan Malamute. My mom says that I am very mouthy, so she thought I should have a place to express my thoughts. Of course I have to share my blog with my adopted sister Maggie. She can be really annoying sometimes, but I guess I like her anyway. She's a pain in the butt, and I have to watch her all the time to keep her out of trouble. My mom found her as a stray where she works, and she had to take Maggie to the animal shelter. I don't really know what an animal shelter is, but mom was all torn up about it. Mom and dad talked it over a lot, and mom kept asking me if I would like a little sister. I wasn't really sure about this at all. I’m mom's baby, even though I'm grown up now. Anyway mom and dad decided they would try to adopt Maggie, but the people at the animal shelter said we couldn’t have her because I’m not neutered. (I’m not really sure what that means, but I don’t think I want to be neutered.) Mom says it’s ok that I’m not neutered because I live in the house (Where else would I live???), and I never run loose. To make a long story short, there was an explosion at the animal shelter, and it caught on fire. This was a very bad thing. Dad went and got mom at work and they rushed up to the shelter to see if they could find Maggie. Well she was there, and she was just fine. Mom and dad brought her home as a foster dog, and she’s been here every since. P.S. Did I mention that I really love to lay on the couch and snooze?

Are Your Dog’s Toys Putting His Health at Risk?

I’m sure by now most of you have heard about the massive toy recalls for toys made in China. There were different reasons for different recalls, but it really got me thinking. Many of the children’s toys were recalled because of unsafe amounts of lead in the paint. If children’s toys are unsafe, then dog toys are probably unsafe as well. If you walk into any store that sells dog toys and look at the labels, most of them are made in China. As it turns out there are problems with dog toys, but they don’t necessarily have to do with being made in China. During the time the children’s toy recalls were in the news, I searched the internet to see if I could find any information about the safety of dog toys. At the time, I couldn’t find anything, but low and behold in the April 2008 issue of “The Whole Dog Journal” there was an article called ‘Why Vinyl Stinks’. After reading the article, I gathered up all the vinyl dog toys in the house and threw them in the trash.

The problems with vinyl toys are chemicals called phthalates. Phthalates are used to make vinyl flexible, and the dangers are not just in toys. Vinyl is everywhere. You and your dog most likely encounter vinyl products on a daily basis. All kinds of things are made from vinyl including toys, dog clothing, leashes, collars, carriers, dog beds, shower curtains, flooring, window blinds, backpacks, ponchos, and even your shoes. The list goes on and on. Phthalates are dangerous to everyone: you, your kids, and your animals. One characteristic of vinyl dog toys is the smell. If you’ve ever bought one of these toys, you know what I’m talking about. The problem with vinyl is that the chemical molecules of phthalates move not only within the vinyl, but they also move out of the vinyl. So if your dog is chewing on a vinyl dog toy, the phthalates are moving out of the toy and into your dog’s body. Phthalates can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. They can cause toxicity and biochemical changes in the kidneys and liver and they can have profoundly effect the reproductive system. There are also other additives in vinyl, including lead that can have a negative effect on your dog’s health. Lead can also be in other painted dog toys.

I’ll be the first to admit that my dogs have a ridiculous amount of toys, but they no longer have any vinyl toys. Yet, I still have to wonder what hidden dangers are lurking in other toys, most of them made in China. Weylin and Maggie have a veratible zoo of stuffed animals, as well as rubber balls and other rubber toys. Weylin’s favorites are the Kong squeaky tennis balls, and Maggie simply adores the small stuffed animals that ‘talk’. Until dog toys have to adhere to the same standards as children’s toys, we must be ever vigilant.

To learn more about the dangers of vinyl check out the April 2008 edition of “The Whole Dog Journal” ( or read this article: