Pets Train People

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Written by: Devon Houtz

Parents always say the most important job is raising their child. One of the highest points of the parental career is the day they look at their offspring and see an adapted, functioning member of society. As soon as the little one is born, the countdown begins until the child will be on their own, taking control of his or her life.

How does a parent ensure their grown up kid understands what it is to be a full person? Animals.

Pet care requires a great deal of responsibility and the ownership of a pet is an excellent educational tool for children. By the age of three, children can interact with their pets using their voice and small treats. They can help fill a pet’s food and water bowls. Children at this age have the ability to respect boundaries of their pet by keeping their distance when the animal is eating. This can all take place in the safety of the home so parents are able to control the environment and ensure their kid is learning safely.

Some families may think three is too young for a pet, however, it’s important to note that there are advantages of pet ownership even for infants! Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D and her colleagues published a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy proving that teenagers who lived with a cat during their first year of life had a 48 percent lower risk of cat allergy than their peers, and the teen boys who lived with a dog had a 50 percent lower risk of allergy. So, not only will a pet teach a child some crucial life lessons as they grow up, exposure to a beloved animal will lower their risk of suffering from allergies! The advantage of a pet extends to special needs cases, as well. A French study has shown that autistic children who received a pet at age 4 or 5 were better able to share with others and comfort those in distress. And what about parents who see their children come home from school, angry with their classmates or rejected by friends? Allen McConnell at Miami University Journal of Personality and Social Psychology performed a study dealing with affect of pets versus friends. McConnell states, “one’s pet was every bit as effective as one’s best friend in staving off social needs deficits”

Pets are bountiful resources for parents. The little things that are easy to be overlooked like exercise or chores are made easy with a pet. Taking the dog for a walk is a fun way for children to stop watching television and get outside. Cleaning the rabbit cage or litter box establishes a routine of chores for kids, vital for their future understanding of duty.

Besides the usefulness of pets as teaching aids, animals play a large role in a happy childhood. Books and movies are written every year detailing the love and bond an owner shares with his or her pet. Not only will an animal in the home create a perfect catalyst for responsible behavior and pave the way to adulthood, pets are loveable creatures that a child will look back on with fond memories and adoration.

A pet in the home is a rewarding experience for both parent and child.

Do Cats Know How to Love?

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Written by: Mary Shull

Are you a cat owner? If so, you will probably say yes, cats love their owners. If not, you may say, “What! A cat is an animal. They don’t experience love!” But ask any pet owner and you can bet the answer will be “Yes, my pet loves me!”

Momma cat and baby

Momma cat and her baby

Studies have shown that animals know pain and fear. All have the “fight or flight” instinct that is hardwired in the body, similar to humans. But cats also have learned to manipulate their owners through sound or “cries.” Certain cries draw certain responses from the owner. It’s just a matter of the cat learning which one benefits them for their particular need or want. Once learned, that cry is used over and over. Cats not only communicate verbally but also with their body. Ever notice your cat rubbing up against your legs, wagging their tail, or kneading with their paws/claws? How about a cat’s ears? We’ve learned that when they’re flattened back against the head, the cat feels threatened. All of these are bodily signs that owners eventually learn to interpret.

So, does a cat know how to love? Scientific studies cannot prove this, so basically it’s up to humans to determine the answer individually. Maybe we should ask ourselves, “What is love?” Wikipedia defines love as “an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is a virtue representing all of ‘human’ kindness, compassion, and affection; and the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.” So for instance, when a cat has kittens; does the concern and care she shows for her babies constitute love? When a cat jumps in our lap and curls up for a nap, does the cat just want a comfortable place to lie down? When a cat rubs against our legs or purrs when we pet them, does that mean we’ve been manipulated?

Being a cat owner for many years, I can only answer these questions with what I believe and that is “YES,” cats know love and cats show love. I believe it is definitely different than human love, but it is a form of love as we know it. Cats show affection and cats bond with their owners which is a form of personal attachment. As pet owners, we should be grateful that cats have this capacity and that we are able to share this and enjoy the happiness it brings.

Animal Shelter Closures Place Lost Pets at Risk

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Cats are less likely than dogs to be returned to owners if lost.

Most lost cats are never returned to their owners.

Written by: Tamar Auber

The economic downtown has not spared our four legged friends. Several animal shelters throughout the United States shuttered their doors at the end of 2011 or are at risk of imminent closure, leaving many homeless and lost  pets literally out in the cold. The last hope for many cats and dogs, these non-profit animal organizations, such as the Kindred Spirit Animal Rescue in Ripley County, MO, cite the high cost of operations and lack of volunteers for the closings. As animal lovers, the news is disheartening. Less shelters mean that less deserving pets will be rescued or find homes in the coming year and many more may be left outside and vulnerable to being hit by cars or death by exposure. Yet as pet parents, another less obvious risk could ultimately harm our beloved pets. Without adequate shelters, what will happen to our furry friends if they are lost?

Animal shelters are often a first stop on the search when your cat or dog goes missing. Fortunately, most shelters regularly work hard reunite owners with their lost pets whenever possible. Shelter staff often rely on microchips or tattoos to reunify pets and owners. According to the ASPCA, animals with permanent markers are far more likely to be returned. However, once one local shelter has closed, remaining animal resources are bound to be overcrowded. This means fewer resources and less time will be available to care for and identify your pet and track you down if she is separated from you.

In fact, the lack of a well funded shelter for your lost pet can be downright deadly to your precious pooch or feline. At some overcrowded and under-funded animal shelters, such as California  facilities, owners are given only a few days to claim their pets before their pets risk being euthanized. A critical lack of staffing at some shelters also means that your pet may not easily be identified as owned by the shelter staff. Such is the case at the Miami-Dade Shelter which makes it clear that with its high volume of intake that the responsibility is on the owner, not the shelter to identify your lost pet. This trend will only continue as funding for animal care facilities decreases and shelters close, placing your pet at greater risk if she is ever lost.

As animal lovers and responsible pet owners, then, it is very important that we both support our local shelters and invest in micro-chipping or other ways to identify your pet, which is the fastes and easiest way to reunite owner with pet.

Many local shelters have an on-line wish list of items needed for their animal friends and donations of any form and any amount is welcome. If you cannot invest in pet care products or cash, consider volunteering at your local shelter. While you may end up cleaning cages or filing paperwork, your extra hands will allow the staff more time to care for homeless animals and help reunite lost pets.

Finally, if your pet is not micro-chipped or tattooed, ask your local ASPCA or veterinary service about the procedure. Micro-chipping is a safe, cost-effective way to help your pet find her way back home and ensure your lost pet does not end up in an overcrowded and understaffed animal shelter.

New Study Shows: Dogs Can Recognize and Categorize Photos

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

For the study, dogs were simultaneously shown photographs of a landscape and of a dog, and were rewarded if they selected the latter using a paw-operated touch screen computer.

If you’re having trouble sorting through all those family photos, maybe you should ask your dog to help.  It turns out that dogs recognize and categorize complex images – just like we do!  It seems our furry friends are able to form abstract concepts, an ability previously only identified in birds and primates.

In a pioneering study at the University of Vienna, Friederike Range and his colleagues demonstrated that dogs can place photographs into categories.  “We know they can categorize ‘food’ or ‘enemies’ from experience,” says Range, “but this is the first time we’ve taught them an abstract concept – ‘a dog’ – and shown they can transfer this knowledge to a new situation.”

In the training phase, four dogs were simultaneously shown photographs of a landscape and of a dog, and were rewarded with food pellets if they selected the latter using a paw-operated computer touch-screen.  The dog photos thus became the positive stimulus.

The next phase involved two tests.  During the first test, the dogs were shown completely different dog and landscape pictures.    They continued to identify the pictures containing dogs, demonstrating that they could transfer their knowledge gained in the training phase to a new set of visual stimuli, even though they had never seen those particular photos before.

In the second test, the dogs were shown new dog pictures pasted onto the landscape photos they had seen in the training phase. Faced with contradictory information – on the one paw, a positive new stimulus as the pictures showed a dog, albeit an unfamiliar one, on the other paw, a familiar negative stimulus in the form of a landscape. Faced with the choice of a new dog on the familiar landscape or a completely new landscape with no dog, they continued to select the photo with the dog.

What this tells us, says Range, is that the dogs were able to form a concept, i.e. dog, but leaves open the question of whether they understood the pictures to be of actual dogs.  He and his fellow researchers also used the study to comment on the strength of their methodology. “Using touch-screen computers with dogs opens up a whole world of possibilities on how to test the cognitive abilities of dogs by basically completely controlling any influence from the owner or experimenter.”  They believe that the methodology can be used to test a range of learning strategies, and could potentially allow researchers to compare the cognitive abilities of different species using a single method.

What kind of influence does Range expect the study to have?  “We are starting to see that dogs have some good reasoning abilities,” says Range.  “I hope this might impact how we treat them at home.”

Dog Traits, Including Shyness, Have Implications for Human Longevity

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Scientists knew that dogs were breed for different tasks, but new research shows that traits like activity or aggression needed for those tasks may influence a dog’s lifespan – a finding that may be key in unlocking the mysteries of our own lifespan.

By domesticating dogs, humans unwittingly initiated an artificial selection experiment on personality – the results of which may have implications for our own longevity.

We know that dogs were breed to specific tasks and that individual dogs were selected for reproduction based on certain behavior traits – such as activity, aggressiveness, and docility – related to those tasks.  Today those traits are recognized at dog shows by categories like Sporting, Working, Herding, and Toy and dogs within those categories are recognized for their skills at retrieval, guarding, herding, and human companionship.

But it’s assumed that other traits, such as longevity or energy expenditure were probably not targeted for selection.  Now researchers are finding correlations that suggest metabolism and lifespan changed as by-products of selection on personality traits.  These connections between behavior, metabolism, and longevity have resulted in a “pace-of-life” syndrome hypothesis.

A team led by Vincent Careau, a PhD student at University of Sherbrooke, gathered data on many aspects of dog biology published in such disparate fields of study as psychology, longevity, and veterinary research. While the information was well known within the respective research domains, it was never put together. By combining findings, the authors show that obedient breeds — on average — live longer than disobedient breeds, but aggressive breeds have higher energy expenditure.  As the late naturalist Don Thomas said, “It is hard to imagine how an aggressive personality could be adaptive if it lacked the energetic and metabolic machinery to back up the threats. Simply put, 100 pound weaklings don’t kick sand in weight-lifters’ faces and survive in nature.

This study, published in the June 2010 issue of the American Naturalist, is significant because it contributes to the growing body of research that shows that personality is related to many crucial aspects of an animal’s life – including energy needs, growth rate and lifespan.  It also brings scientists a step closer to understanding evolutionary causes and consequences of different personality types and may someday be a key in unlocking what determines our own lifespan.

To Scoop or Not to Scoop: Your Dog’s DNA May Incriminate You If You Don’t

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Scooping will keep your neighbors happy, your community healthy and may help you avert public embarrassment or hefty fines.

Do you or don’t you? Pick up after your dog that is. Call it an eyesore, an embarrassment or a public health issue, doggie doo doo is in the news. And now, thanks to tactics that would make CSI investigators proud and be a fitting topic for a Seinfeld episode, it looks as if your dog’s DNA may incriminate you if you fall into the latter category.

The issue had so enraged residents at The Scarlet Place condominiums in Baltimore that the condo association considered mandating all the residents give their dogs DNA cheek swabs. After reporter Jill Rosen posted the original story in the Baltimore Sun, it hit the Internet and went global. When the association met again to debate the merits of the idea, cooler heads prevailed and the idea was put on hold.

It turns out the company, BioPet Vet Lab – that advertised it could catch the offenders by keeping a database of all the condo dogs’ DNA and then matching the offending debris to the offending dog or rather owner (someone from the condo association would have been responsible for collecting a sample and mailing it in a sealed container to the company) – may have never tested an actual field sample. But as Jim Simpson, president of BioPet told ABCNews.com about communities that use the service “what we’re finding is that most people, after it’s been implemented, clean up after their dogs.”

Residents were also concerned that testing didn’t really address the problem, it merely offered consequences afterwards. Others wondered how one would go about convincing Fluffy or Fido that getting their checks swabbed was a good idea. There was even some speculation that testing might take an ugly turn if a neighbor, irate about another issue, managed to secure and “plant” a sample from someone’s dog, thus resulting in false incrimination.

But with approximately 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States (averaging 1.7 dogs per owner) according to the Humane Society of the United States, and more apartments, condos and hotels than ever that are pet friendly; this is an issue that’s not likely to go away.

It’s estimated that there are four million tons of dog waste a year, posing serious health hazards for children, adults and the dogs themselves. According to the Center for Disease Control, dog waste transmits several parasites, including roundworm and Cryptosporidium, both of which causes gastrointestinal illnesses in humans. The waste is also a magnet for heartworms and tapeworms which pose serious health risks to your dog. Left long enough, the waste washes into storm drains and from there works its way into rivers, lakes and streams, polluting our water supply.

In Europe where dogs are welcome pretty much anywhere their owners want to take them, including restaurants, there is zero tolerance for scofflaw owners. In recent years fines for not picking up after dogs have ranged from the equivalent of $600 in Paris to $750 in London per incident.

So the next time you walk your dog, do a good turn for both your dog (and remember what people think of your dog is often based on what people think of you as a pet owner) and your community and pick it up!

Dog Rentals: A Good Deed or a Doggone Shame?

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Dog rental companies let the renter experience what it's like to own a dog, while proponents and opponents of the idea debate the ethics of such entrepreneurship.

“Money may buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail.” Kinky Friedman, former Texas gubernatorial candidate and self-proclaimed author, columnist, musician and beautician.

Most dog lovers would agree with that sentiment.  I know my heart was forever sealed the day at the Humane Society when I asked my dog, Nicky, if he wanted to come home with me, and in response, he put his paws on my shoulders and began kissing my face.  That was 10 years ago, and I can’t imagine life without him or a dog lover who would not, if circumstances allowed, choose to have a dog in their lives.

But now, it seems a new option exists for the dogless. Banned in Boston, but possibly coming to a city near you – Rent a Dog! The idea was formed when high end hostelries in the US, Europe and Japan began loaning out dogs as a way for travelers to have companionship away from home.

Operating in much the same way as a car rental – you choose the size, temperament (a sporting breed perhaps? or something more sedate), and duration (a couple hours romp in the park versus the overnight rental) – and the driving, er walking, pleasure is all yours with no worries about grooming, pet food costs or veterinary care.

Leading the way in the US is FlexPetz, the banned in Boston doggie rental.  With current locations in New York, San Diego, Los Angeles, and London, the company webpage announces plans to expand domestically into Seattle, Miami, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, Phoenix, and West Palm Beach. The company says that where possible, FlexPetz dogs are rescue dogs or in urgent need of rehoming.  It also notes that it pays for training, veterinary expenses, including regular three months veterinary checks for all FlexPetz dogs, food and cage free shelter when the dogs are not out on rentals.  An interested dog renter must first register with FlexPetz, and if okayed by the company undergo a mandatory one hour session on training and handling a FlexPetz dog.

So who are the people that rent the dogs?  Some have had relocations from other countries or states and were unable to take their dog along when they moved.  A family might rent a dog to vacation with or a single might find it’s easier to met people accompanied by a dog.  Other people would love to be full-time dog owners but because they can’t give a dog enough time or they live in places that don’t allow pets, fill their need through renting.  Some have even lost beloved dogs and don’t feel able to commit to owning another animal.  Or someone might rent a specific breed before buying to see if it is a good match.  Most yearn for the companionship of a dog, and some will return time and time again to rent the same dog.

But, as critics charge, companionship doesn’t come cheap.  A monthly FlexPetz membership, which includes four one-day rentals, costs $279.95. In contrast is Rent-A-Pet, which allows people to rent dogs for free, but in return its members are expected to spend considerably more time with the dogs and are given assignments to expose the dogs to things like household sounds, riding in a car or climbing staircases. Rent-A-Pet dogs range in age from puppies to older dogs.  Some Rent-A-Pet dogs are described as being bit scruffy and bearing the signs of having lived on the street.

Given the cost and/or time involved, it seems obvious the people doing the renting must feel like they get something out of it.  But what about the dogs?

“Why would you need to rent a dog when you could walk a dog in a shelter in your community?” says Gary Patronek, director of animal welfare and protection at the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  Shelter dogs in Boston don red vests that say “Available for Adoption” and go on walks with volunteers.

Many others are also less than thrilled with the idea. The American Humane Society issued a statement saying “Pets are not like cars or furniture.  Moving them from person to person, home to home, can induce problems such as anxiety and depression.”  Dogs like children, it is thought, need routines and a stable environment in order to thrive. There is also the fear that rentals encourages people to treat dogs as a disposable accessory.  It may also make it very difficult for a rental dog to form bonds with humans.

Supporters point out that dog owners routinely hire others, such as dog walkers or pet sitters, to handle some of their dogs’ care needs with no ill effect to the dogs.  They also note that these are dogs that might have been euthanized under other circumstances, and that many rental dogs end up permanently adopted.  Rent-A-Pet reports that over 1,000 dogs have been adopted through their program.

What do you think?  Is this a humane alternative for dogs that would otherwise be homeless or possibly euthanized or is it one more example of how poorly we can treat our best friends?  I’d love to hear your views!

Dog Days are Coming: Protect Pets from Summer Heat

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

The long, hot days of summer are fast approaching, and in some parts of the country they have already arrived. Every year, people are reminded of the dangers of how heat affects our pets, and every year, pets die from heat exposure in situations that could have been prevented. The bottom line is if people are uncomfortable in the heat, we can bet that our furry friends are even more so. Would you want to sit in a sweltering car dressed in a parka? Neither does your pet.

Never leave your dog in a hot car

Heat stroke symptoms include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, red gums, and staggering as if drunk. A seizure, coma, or death can follow. Here are some common sense tips to prevent this from ever happening. Pass it along.

  • It should go without saying — always have a tip-proof bowl available full of fresh, cool water. Supplement with ice cubes to keep it cooler. If you take your pet on a road trip, bring along a large thermos of cold water.
  • Never leave a pet in a parked car. Cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating or suffering from heat stroke on a hot summer day. Dogs and cats can’t perspire, and only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet.
  • For outside dogs, be certain they can reach lots of fresh water and have access to shade. Avoid chaining your dog as chains can become tangled.
  • Hot asphalt and concrete can burn the pads on animals’ feet. Take shorter mid-day walks when heat is at its peak, and longer morning and late afternoon walks when it is cooler. Have your dog walk on grass when possible. Many communities have dog parks with cool grass and shady areas.
  • Flat-faced animals, such as Pugs and Persian cats, are especially vulnerable to overheating.
  • Keep your pet well-groomed and mat-free, but resist shaving off all of his hair as pet fur protects the skin from sunburn.
  • Beware of lawn and gardening products, such as cocoa mulch, pesticides, and fertilizers in the summertime as they can cause severe intestinal upset in dogs and cats when ingested.
  • Don’t let your dog ride in the back of a pick-up truck. He could slide around or possibly jump out, and the floor of the truck bed can get extremely hot for foot pads.
  • Don’t leave pets unsupervised around a pool as not all dogs are good swimmers. Keep your dog from drinking pool water which contains chlorine and other chemicals. On boats, provide your dog with a well-fitted floatation jacket.
  • Prevent injury to your cat from falling out of windows by installing and securing window screens.
  • Never use fireworks around your pet. Mishaps could result in severe burns, and many of the loud sounds and squeals hurt their sensitive ears.

If you notice a dog trapped inside a vehicle on a hot day, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you know who the owner is, a friendly “hey, your pet is hot” or some other means of striking up conversation will alert the owner to the dangers of leaving their pet in the car. You can also place a note or “Don’t Leave Me in Here — It’s Hot!” flyer on the windshield. (Note: be civil)
  • Speak with a store manager. They can be very helpful in locating the owner or calling animal control. They do not want a tragedy happening in their parking lot.
  • Call your local animal control or the police for assistance.

Pets depend on our common sense. Spread the love.

Dogs Show Their Feelings Through the Direction of Their Wags

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

New studies show that your dog's tail wag tells a lot: a wag to the right of its body shows positive emotions; to the left negative.

Imagine if your dog could talk. What does he really think of your new boyfriend? How badly does he want to go nose to nose with the overaggressive dog at the park whose owner assures you just loves everybody?

Most dog owner will look at their dog’s posture for some clue, and consider a wagging tail one of the best indicators. But which way is it wagging?

Dog’s tails fall in the mid-line of their bodies, neither to the right or the left. Now researchers in Italy have discovered that when dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag to the right. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging tends left.

Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trieste in Italy, and two veterinarians, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi, at the University of Bari, also in Italy, recruited 30 family dogs of mixed breeds that were enrolled in an agility training program. The dogs were placed in cages with cameras angled to precisely track the direction of their tail wags. Then they showed the each dog four stimuli through a slat in the cages: the dog’s owner, an unfamiliar human; a cat; and an unfamiliar, dominant dog.

When the dogs saw their owners, their tails all wagged vigorously toward the right side. Their tails wagged moderately and more to the right, when looking at unfamiliar human. When faced with a cat, the dogs’ tails again wagged more to the right but in smaller sweep.
When viewing an aggressive, unfamiliar dog – a large Belgian shepherd Malinois – the dogs tails all wagged to the left side of their bodies.

“This is an intriguing observation,” said Richard J. Davidson, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Not surprisingly, the findings play up some of the fundamental differences that have been shown between the left and right brain in humans — research that has been replicated in other animals.

In most animals, including fish and birds, the left brain deals with behaviors scientist term approach and energy enrichment. In humans, that means the left brain is associated with positive feelings, like love, or a feeling of safety and calm.  The opposite occurs in the right brain with behaviors involving withdrawal and energy expenditure. In humans, these behaviors are associated with fear or depression.

The study which appears in the March 20 issue of Current Biology, suggests that the muscles in the right side of the tail reflect positive emotions while the muscles in the left side express negative ones.

Dog Training: Protecting Your Garden and Your Dog

Written by buzz. Posted in Pets

Ah, the joys of gardening...with your dog!

Ah, the joys of summer. If there’s anything to get Fido off the couch after a long winter’s inactivity, it’s the prospect of digging in those lovely beds of newly overturned earth that you so thoughtfully provided. Followed, of course, by a dip in the pond.

Say what? That wasn’t your plan. If your dog is old/and or sedate, you’re probably shared many happy moments together:  the dog — snoozing peacefully in the sun, you — weeding the vegetable garden. But if you have a puppy or active breed, chances are good your garden has seen more upturned soil than a backhoe could shovel.

Animal trainers and behaviorists are divided over how to teach a dog proper behavior in the yard. But the ideas fall into four basic categories:

1. Confinement: your dog has his own dog run. Generally this area should include shelter from both heat and cold, a regularly filled water bowl, and some chew toys to occupy his time.

2. Reward: your dog gets her own sandbox. You create her own special area (a mixture of half sand/half mulch is suggested) to dig in, and to ensure she does, bury treats and small toys in there for her to discover.

3. Deterrent: a common suggestion is burying chicken wire just below the ground surface and covering it with mulch. Dogs don’t like getting their paws caught in the wire and will avoid these areas. Rocks or ornamental borders can also help train dogs that these areas are off-limits.

4. Exhaustion: seriously, a dog that gets enough exercise (and attention) through regular walks is far less likely to take out excess energy on your plants.

Other suggestions include working with and not against the natural tendencies of your dog. Since all dogs love to “run the fence” and guard their territory, establishing permanent pathways along the fence line will be more helpful than trying to fight against this tendency. If you really want to spoil your dog, giving her a “window” or lookout in a solid fence line to view passers-by will also help keep her occupied.

Now that you’ve protected your yard, there are some things you’ll want to do to protect your dog as well. Chemical fertilizers can get on paws and be ingested if the dog licks its feet. So beware of using them in an area that your dog would roam or seek organic alternatives.

A wide variety of common plants, including daphne, hydrangeas, and marigolds can be harmful if consumed. Complete lists of plants that are toxic to pets are readily available on the Internet, and your vet should be called at once if your dog has eaten one of the varieties listed.

If you have a pond or water feature that your dog likes to frolic in, consider triple-lining it to reduce the risk of punctures from toenails. But keeping your dog out of the pond water is better for both your water garden’s aesthetics and your dog’s health. A buildup of fish, amphibian, and reptile waste in a pond can cause skin lesions if your dog plays in the water or an internal infection if he drinks it.

But if you love gardening and your dog, don’t hesitate to mix the two. After all when else but down on all fours are you going to get to experience the world from your dog’s eye view?

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