Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience
So a couple of weeks ago, I was invited by a very nice family to come to their home and meet their gorgeous yellow lab, Honey. Her mom told me that I needed to experience the force that was Honey at home. As the kids brought Honey into the house from the backyard, you could actually feel the energy emanating from her. She glimmered with excess energy and her eyes darted around the room and back again and again. As we sat down to discuss their dog training needs, it quickly became apparent that Honey was not able to sit still. I mean, she would literally try to lay down as requested by her owner, but her leg would start kicking and she'd jump up and then try and lay down again, but then jump right back up. She wasn't in any pain, she just couldn't sit still. Like a Type A on about eight cups of coffee.
I have always approached dogs with the idea of attempting to seek balance in what I see to be the three parts of a dog's life: the physical, the psychological and the mental areas. I have found that if there is balance in all three areas, you have a happy, well-adjusted dog usually. This dog knew the command to "down" and you could see that she wanted to comply, and she would in fact comply, but was just not able to physically hold the stay.
So, the obvious question was what is the dog eating and how much exercise is the dog getting. Well, Honey was actually getting a reasonable amount of exercise, so it came down to food. As it turned out, Honey was on a diet comprised of mostly corn, corn gluten meal, beet pulp, etc. Honey was like any young dog fed a starchy, low animal protein diet. Honey is a carnivore. And she needs to be fed like a carnivore which means lots of animal protein. Being sensitive to the fact that the majority of us live in suburbia, this of course means purchasing a good quality kibble for most families. Just like any other creature on this earth, a dog requires a diet closely resembling what nature intended in order to be physically balanced.
What are some good quality kibbles you may ask? Two places to research this and familiarize yourself with what to look for on the ingredients list are DogFoodAnalysis.com and Naked Dingo. Lots of good information here. How many years have we been told to "read the labels" on our food. Well, why not read the labels on our dog's food? Aren't they just as deserving of a healthy and natural sort of diet if at all possible?
Here is a quick example of some of the pretty big differences between dog foods:
First eight ingredients for Science Diet Puppy Growth Original Bites: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Animal Fat, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Brewers Rice, Fish Oil, etc. (How would you feel if this is what you ate day in and day out - and you are an omnivore!)
And here are the first eight ingredients of Orijen Regional Red: Fresh deboned wild board, fresh deboned lamb, lamb meal, russet potato, fresh deboned pork, peas, salmon meal, whitefish meal, etc. (are you catching the difference?)
And of course, the better the quality of food, the better the price. But make no mistake, the reason you don't see commercials or see major product placement at the stores for these higher quality foods, is because there is hardly any profit margin. Corn is a cheap filler! And so is chicken by-product, beet pulp and brewers rice. And incidentally, you will more than likely spend way more on vet bills down the road for allergies, diabetes and kidney issues all derived from years of being on a poor diet, than what you will spend on healthy food. (At least that is my experience and continued hope!) It just makes good sense really, a good diet lends itself to good health. And if we feel good, we act good! An unhealthy diet WILL affect behavior, plain and simple. It is an incredibly important component to dog training in my mind.
So, as far as Honey was concerned, I suggested a new food and set the family up to start one of our board and train programs two weeks later. Four days later, Honey and her family came to visit me at Camp Bow Wow and I have to be honest, I hardly recognized her. Her mom was floored at the difference and so was I! I had never seen such a dramatic difference before. Honey was actually sitting quietly next to them in a relatively calm manner! I thought they were coming to tell me they didn't need to do the training! But luckily they did and Honey is now living a happy life as a balanced pup!
Here's to everyone's health!
Virginia L. Simpson
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.