Dog Adoption – Paws Down the Best Option!

If you are considering a new furry 4-pawed addition to your family then you need to think carefully about how you will obtain your next best friend. Many people will think that a trip to the pet store is in order, but there is a much better alternative! Here are some reasons as to why we think adoption is paws down the preferred choice and how it could be a WIN:WIN situation for both you and your new pet.

 

Adopt one dog and you save two lives!

Are you aware that in the United States there are 2 million shelter dogs euthanized every year? How heart-breaking is that? At the same time puppy mills are producing 2 million pooches that they supply to pet stores and elsewhere across the country.

There are just not enough dog adopters for the number of animals found in shelters. One of the main reasons for this is that people do not think about adopting from a shelter when they are looking for a new furry friend.

If you immediately think about a pet store then I really hope you will consider the alternative. Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue center will mean that, not only will you save a loving pooch by adding them to your family, you will also create a much-needed space for some other poor animal, giving them a lifeline too.

Surrendered due to circumstances not bad behavior

Each year in the US around 3.3 million dogs enter shelters, but sadly only 1.6 of these canine companions are adopted. There is no logical reason for this, as animal shelters are full to the brim with healthy and happy pooches that just want to go home with you and lead a normal life as part of a loving family.

The dogs in shelters are mainly there because of human problems such as moving, divorce, financial difficulties or death of their owner. They were happy with their families and did not do anything wrong. Most of the dogs are already housetrained and well-socialized with people and other dogs because they were part of a loving family before.

 An adopted pooch will cost you less

If you go to a pet store for your new furry friend then you can easily spend from $500 to $1,000 and even more. The average cost of a dog adoption will be between $50 and $200. Also, you are likely to find that when you adopt a pooch their first vaccinations and neutering or spaying costs are included in the price.

Plus, because many shelter dogs will have housetraining already and some will also have been discipline trained, so this will save you money as well. Why pay over the odds for your new companion when you don’t have to?

Adopting your new friend will make you proud

You should be very proud if you have saved a pooch from an animal shelter. Tell the world about it! I always love it when I’m out walking and people stop to admire and pet my dog; I love it even more when I watch their jaws drop when I tell them I got him from the local rescue.

Oh, and remember to take selfies of you and your new best friend and get them out on social media. People will just love your pictures, and it will help to get the message across about adopting rather than buying.

Adopting puts pressure on the puppy mills

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) recently published statistics reporting that 34% of new dogs come from breeders while only 23% are adopted from a shelter. The term “breeders” is an interesting one. These numbers will contain animals purchased online, from a pet store or even a market.

The problem is that most of these pooches come from factory style puppy mills. They are profit driven businesses and the welfare of the animals comes a distant second. There are usually very inadequate living conditions in these puppy mills, and there is very little medical attention.

There are literally mom dogs held in cages just for breeding the next batch. These animals have very little human contact, and if the dogs don’t sell quickly then they end up euthanized, abandoned or sent to an auction.

There are very shady practices going on in some of these puppy mills. The only way to put them out of business is to stop buying dogs online, through classifieds and in pet stores. Adopting your next pet is the best way to make a stand against these dreadful places.

You can choose the dog that you want to adopt

A lot of people believe that if they adopt from a shelter then they will not have much of a choice and they won’t get a pure-bred dog. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You can visit the Shelter Pet Projectwebsite and find puppies or adult dogs of every breed, color, size and temperament in shelters near you. 

Around 17 million people a year decide to add a pet to their family. If you are one of these then please adopt don’t buy. You will have saved your new best friend from a pitiful existence and you will also have changed their whole world.

As individuals, adopting one dog seems a drop in the ocean when there are at least 10000 shelter dogs euthanized EVERY DAY, but if 17 million people adopted, just think what a difference that would make!

Finally, please believe me when I say that there is no love than the love of a rescued dog – it’s as if they know what you have done for them and they will reward you with unconditional love, loyalty and devotion for life.

A person is the best thing that could happen to a shelter dog – please be that person!

Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health,

 

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

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Are You Killing Your Dog With “Kindness”?

It seems like it’s not just us two-legged animals who have been waging a battle against obesity – turns out our pets are fighting the same war… and losing!

According to CBS affiliate KCNC, a study conducted in part by vets at the University of Georgia shows that more than half of pets in the U.S. are overweight and 55% of dogs qualify as obese.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a nutritional disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. Dogs that are over-fed, lack exercise/the ability to exercise, or that tend to retain weight (especially house dogs), are the most at risk for becoming obese.

Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing capacity.

Obesity is common in dogs of all ages, but it usually occurs in middle-aged dogs, and generally in those between the ages of 5 and 10.

Obesity is not only a weight-bearing issue for your canine companions; It can also lead to secondary health complications, ranging from malnourishment to arthritis and can significantly reduce their lifespan.

Health Risks in Overweight & Obese Dogs

Just like humans, dogs carrying extra pounds of weight place extra demands on virtually all the organs of their bodies, as well as their digestive systems. When we overload these organs, disease and sometimes death are the consequences. The health risks to overweight dogs are serious and every dog owner should be aware of them.

The most common consequence in overweight dogs is the development of serious joint issues. The bones, joints, muscles, and associated tendons and ligaments all work together to give the dog smooth and efficient movement. If they are required to carry excess weight, they lose the ease of flow & flexibility, increase wear & tear and become damaged.

Arthritis can develop as your dog gets older and the pain and joint changes associated with this and Hip Dysplasia can become markedly more severe with excess weight. Suitable supplements may be used in conjunction with a weight loss program, to help ease the pain and enable them to enjoy playtime again – an ideal way to burn off some extra canine calories!

The Most Common Obesity-Related Conditions for Dogs

  1. Arthritis & Poor Joint Health
  2. Diabetes
  3. Torn Knee Ligaments
  4. Heart & Respiratory Disease
  5. Chronic Kidney Disease
  6. Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
  7. Low Thyroid Hormone Production
  8. Liver Disease
  9. Diseased Disc in the Spine
  10. Cancer

“There’s just more of my dog to love!”

Well, there’s no arguing with that BUT wouldn’t you prefer your furry best friend to have a longer, healthier and happier life?

Now, let’s be honest, even ultra-smart canines can’t get the lid off the cookie jar themselves and most dogs love food so much they never know when to stop eating. So, aside from the few dogs suffering specific diseases that can cause weight gain, we, as responsible dog-owners, have total control over what they eat. We see them every day, know what and how often they eat and what exercise they do. So, there is no-one better placed to notice if your pooch is getting a bit podgy!

Other simple steps to help keep a pet’s weight in check include:

  • Don’t feed your pet table scraps
  • Serve the correct food measure recommended for your pet, not just what’s written on the dog food label
  • Understand when to switch from puppy to adult food
  • Limit treats and ensure they are healthy treats. Normally, they should not be more than 10% of your dog’s daily nutrition, but if you are using more treats for reinforcement training, then just reduce one of their meals
  • Establish a realistic exercise regimen. Ideally, dogs should have at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. However, if your dog is overweight and under-exercised, DO NOT throw your pooch into vigorous activities such as chase & retrieve ball or frisbee. If their weight issue has rendered them couch potatoes, you may do more harm than good, so consult your veterinarian first to agree a specific weight management and exercise program.
  • You should be able to see your dogs waistline or run your fingers across their rib cage and feel the bones with out pushing down on your dog.As a basic guideline, you should be able You should be able to see your dogs waistline or run your fingers across their rib cage and feel the bones with out pushing down on your dog.to see their waistline or run your hands over their ribcage and feel the bones without having to press down on your dog.

“Are table scraps really so bad for my dog?”

I know it’s so hard to resist! You hear a whine from under the dinner table and there’s your dog, looking at you with those soulful eyes, longing for you to give them a piece of whatever it is you’re eating. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a carrot or a banana, but sometimes you may have less healthy things on your plate, like pizza or cookies. Unfortunately, once you’ve set such a precedent for doggie table manners,I’m afraid you’ve made a rod for your own back!

“What harm can a little cookie do?” I hear you cry.

The problem is that, given the size difference between humans and our canine companions, a small portion of something for us can almost constitute a meal for your dog in terms of calories. To put this into perspective, let’s look at a common example of a human snack and the caloric equivalent if fed to a 20lb dog. (So, the smaller the dog, the bigger the equivalent!) …

1 small oatmeal cookie to a 20lb dog is the same as a human eating a hamburger or a large bar of chocolate!

A little of what you fancy does you good!

I don’t think for one minute that any responsible dog owner would overfeed their beloved pet with table scraps, if they knew it would have life-threatening health issues. The fact is that people get joy from sharing their food with their furry best friends and dogs love receiving ‘treats’ from their owner.

So, I’m not suggesting we deny ourselves this mutual pleasure, it’s just a case of moderation and only giving them suitable low-fat scraps. Or replace table scraps with healthy low-calorie dog treats instead, such as carrots (great for teeth too!) or sliced apple (great source of Vitamins A & C BUT no core or seeds please!).

Definitely DO NOT throw them cooked bones, as these can break and leave a jagged edge that can scratch or puncture a dog’s esophagus or gastrointestinal system.

What do veterinarians have to say on the matter?

Many veterinarians dislike the idea of feeding table scraps to dogs for 3 main reasons:

  1. If scraps are all you feed your dog, or they have so many it puts them off their normal food, then they won’t get the nutritional balanced diet required to maintain good health and wellbeing.
  2. Vets often see dogs with pancreatitis, which can occur when a dog eats rich food they’re not used to, such as table scraps that contain lots of fat. Needless to say, the number of pancreatitis cases soar after Thanksgiving and other “special occasion” meals, when your pooch may be receiving additional “foodie scraps” from your additional house guests too!
  3. Many people could accidentally feed them something that is toxic to dogs, such as chocolate or grapes – or dangerous, such as cooked bones. Click here tosee list of toxic foods

I hope this article helps anybody that is concerned about their furry best friend’s weight, but if you have any concerns, please consult with your veterinarian.

Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health – always!

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team 

 

 

 

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Why Deafness in Dogs Shouldn’t be a Death Sentence!

Ok, so deafness is labeled as a “disability” but that does not mean deaf dogs can’t be amazing, loving pets!

Sadly, many breeders and rescue organizations don’t want the “hassle”, or it de-values the pup concerned, or it’s too hard to find someone willing to adopt such a “disadvantaged” dog. Consequently, putting them to sleep seems the easiest option.  

The truth is that, apart from the obvious problem of being deaf, you can expect these furry friends to act in a similar way to any other hearing dog.

The biggest misconceptions about deaf dogs is that they are(1) more likely to be aggressive than a hearing dog because they’re easily startled and (2) they are “hard to train”. However, they are, in reality, 20% less likely to be aggressive and they are a dream to train because they are not distracted by other dogs or noises and therefore more focused on their trainer.

Having said that, adopting a deaf dog is not for everyone. However much a person loves dogs, it takes a huge personal daily commitment to train, socialize and gain the trust of your deaf canine companion. On top of that, extra safety measures are required to keep them safe, both in and outside the home.

There are clearly a few challenges that you will need to overcome, which we will discuss in this article…but suffice to say it’s well worth wthe effort.

Level of Deafness

If your furry friend has a hearing problem then it does not mean that they are totally deaf. Just like us humans, hearing can deteriorate with age. Or, it could be that they are only ableto hear specific frequencies.

Not all dog deafness is permanent and untreatable. It may be possible to resolve the problem to a certain extent or the problem could be a temporary one. The first step will be to identify an underlying cause for the deafness, then the possibility of treatment is considered.

A pooch can suffer from a number of different temporary hearing problems. A lot of dogs get infections in their ears which cause temporary loss or degradation of hearing. Others can suffer from mechanical blockages due to wax in the ear canal.

On a more serious note, a dog experiencing extreme constant noise levels can sometimes suffer from permanent hearing loss. In cases like this there is permanent damage to the middle and inner ear nerve impulses.

Several breeds of dog can suffer from congenital defects which cause hearing loss. When this happens there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. However, if a dog is born deaf then they can’t miss what they’ve never had, so training is often easier than with an older dog that has to change their training method.

Simple Ways to Detect Dog Deafness

If you suspect that your furry friend may be experiencing a hearing loss problem (e.g. they don’t react to the doorbell or dash into the kitchen when they hear food being put in their bowl) then there are some simple things that you can do as an initial test.

With all of these techniques you must be certain that your pooch is unable to see what you are doing so that there are no visual clues. Just sound is what you want to achieve.

Stand behind your pooch and then whistle or clap your hands and note the reaction. When you are doing this be sure that you are not too close to your furry friend as they may be able to detect air movement.
Conduct an easy sound test such as rattling a can with coins in it or jingling your keys.
Go to another room and make noise using a drum or barrel and see if your dog reacts to this.
It is possible that your pooch has a hearing loss problem in just one ear so if you suspect this then you will need to wait for your dog to be in the right position to run the tests.

Be careful to monitor your pooch for the slightest change in ear position or facial expression to signify that they have heard you.

Keep your Veterinarian in the Loop

If you suspect a hearing loss problem then please take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible for an assessment. They will probably run a BAER (brainstem auditory evoked response) test to confirm everything. A BAER test monitors electrical activity in the brain auditory pathways and the inner ear. Getting it checked out early could prevent a more serious ear infection and un-reversable hearing loss.

How to Teach an old/deaf Pooch New Tricks

If your dog is deaf then there is no reason why they will not be (or continue to be) a wonderful and loving companion for you. But you will need to accept that modifying behavior and training are going to be quite a challenge as auditory cues normally play a large part in this.

You now need to shift away from auditory commands and focus on visual commands. Instead of saying “good boy” or “good girl” when your pooch behaves as you want them to you can give them a “thumbs up” instead. If your furry friend does something that you don’t like then shake your head rather than saying “no”.

Use a heavy stomp of the foot on the floor when you need to get your dog’s attention – they can often feel the vibration in the floor.

To avoid startling your dog, gently tap or pet him to announce your entrance or exit from the room.

This will take time and you need to be consistent. If you are going to use a “thumbs up” to confirm good behavior then always use this. The same goes for all of the other signals that you use instead of saying “no”, “down”, “come” and so on.

Protecting Your Deaf Dog

It would be devastating if your furry best friend was knocked down by a vehicle, simply because they couldn’t hear the engine or warning horn, so keep an eye on them and do not let them roam unsupervised. Keep them within the confines of a fenced off area and only let them go outside of this boundary if they are on a leash.

If your pooch is able to hear some frequencies then a dog whistle could work well. You can try using a shrill whistle and then rewarding them if they respond to it. Get a microchip implant for your dog and add a tag that clearly identifies them as being deaf on ALL their collars.

You could also consider adding a bell to their collar so you can quickly establish where they are in the house, especially if you need to leave in an emergency, or if they manage to escape.

It’s clear that deaf dogs require a lot of patience, support, love and understanding and as this is ‘Deaf Dog Awareness Week’, we just wanted to recognize all the dedicated deaf-dog owners, who by-the-way seem to agree that their effort is repaid 10-fold by the devotion they receive from their canine companions.

For more deaf dog training ideas, check out the top tips provided by experienced deaf dog owners at https://deafdogsrock.com/category/training-tips

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to a Seeing Dog

September has been designated as “National Guide Dogs Month” so what better time to help highlight the benefits these “seeing” dogs bring to their matched human, the dangers they face in their everyday duties and how we can ALL help them…

Why are Seeing Dogs so Special?

There are several advantages a “seeing dog” brings for a blind or visually impaired person. One of the major benefits is that it builds confidence in the blind person as they feel more secure with the guide dog at their side. They also become more independent as they can increase their mobility with a guide dog.

Through this partnership, a visually impaired or blind person will be able to live their lives more productively with the help of their trusted furry guide. This can range from being able to commute to a place of work, attend school/college or improve their well being by simply being able to go for a walk – things that most of us can take for granted.

Then there is the devoted companionship that a guide dog will offer them. This not only cuts through the boredom that many blind people suffer but it’s proven to make them less stressed and anxious. There are many occasions I can recall when the dogs in my life have helped me through tough times, from teenage heartache to periods of ill health and personal loss; I’m sure all dog owners have similar stories. I can therefore only imagine what an invaluable support they must be for a blind person. 

 

Guide Dog Demand in the United States 

Sadly, there is a desperate shortage of these amazing dogs operating in the USA.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is a non-profit organization that provides superbly bred and trained dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired. They create around 160 guide dog teams every year, but this number seems like just a drop in the ocean when you consider there are around 23.7 million people in the USA who could potentially change their lives, with the help of one of these remarkable creatures.

It typically costs $50,000 to breed, raise, train, and place one guide dog and most organizations that supply them rely totally on public support and donations. The average “working life” of a guide dog is 8 years, so it is impossible to match continual supply and demand.

 

Impact of Attacks on Guide Dogs by other Dogs

One of the biggest concerns for guide dog teams is the threat of attack or unwanted attention from other dogs. Even for any of us lucky enough to have good vision, an attack on our dog can be frightening but usually relatively straightforward to deal with. This is clearly not the case for a visually impaired or blind person.

For a guide dog team to be safe and efficient it is vital that the guide dog be able to concentrate fully on their work. If other canines distract the guide dog, then the owner and the guide dog are immediately at risk of harm. The owner cannot protect themselves and their guide dog because they don’t have the visual capabilities to do this.

The impact of an attack on a guide dog team can be far reaching, for example:

  • It can affect the guide dog’s performance and behavior, even if there is no physical injury
  • If the guide dog is affected to the point that it cannot work, then the owner will suffer loss of mobility and potentially their own ability to earn a living
  • With a physical attack the owner could face medical and veterinary bills for themselves and the guide dog
  • Replacement guide dogs are very expensive and not readily available

 

Guide dog attacks are a serious issue. A Seeing Eye survey of 744 respondents showed:

  • 44% of the respondents had been the victims of at least a single attack
  • Of this 44%, there were 58% who reported more than one attack
  • 83% of the respondents experienced aggressive canine interference
  • Sidewalks and roadways were the location for the majority of attacks (80%)
  • The number of incidents occurring within 30 minutes walk from home was 74%
  • In the severest of cases 3% of guide dogs had to retire and 16% could not work for a while

37% of guide dog handlers reported being disorientated temporarily after an attack

 

Preventing Guide Dog Attacks and Dangerous Distractions

There are a number of things that dog owners can do to help on this front:

  • Ensure that your dog is leashed and keep them away from guide dogs at all times
  • Tell a blind or visually impaired person that you are approaching and have a dog
  • Keep your pooch close to you when near to a guide dog team. Your dog may be really sociable but even saying “hello” to a guide dog will distract them from their very important job.
  • Don’t be tempted to pet a guide dog in a harness. Even if the dog is resting without their harness, ask the owner before you pet the dog and don’t get upset if they say “no” – there will undoubtedly be a very good reason!
  • Take control of your canine and train them in obedience
  • Ensure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date
  • Help out a guide dog and their handler if there is an attack or interference.
  • If you see loose dogs in the street try to identify and return them to their owner (if it is safe to do so). Otherwise contact a local shelter to see if they can help out – this will also get any strays into safe hands too.

One of the most disturbing facts revealed in the Seeing Eye survey was the number of dog owners or handlers who had simply walked away after their dog had attacked or interfered with a guide dog, without offering any assistance to the blind person. How could anyone be so callous?

At the end of the day accidents can happen, but we must ALL take responsibility for our pets or canine charges. The best dog owners do the right thing all the time – not just when they know someone can see them!

 

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

 

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HOLISTIC DOG HEALTH

When it comes to the health of our pets, more and more people are adopting a holistic approach. But what does that actually mean?

A simple definition of “holistic health” is an overall wellness approach, that involves the whole animal, both physically and mentally. This includes adopting a preventative approach when it comes managing diseases and illness.

Here are some simple ways you can improve the quality of life for your canine companions:

Nutrition

The most important aspect to holistic health involves feeding your furry friend a proper and appropriate diet – “They are what they eat”!

A balanced, natural, minimally processed diet is best – preferably homemade. But, if you do need to use a commercial dog food, then try to stick to low carb, low grain product. A dog’s digestive system is simply not designed to process all the chemicals, artificial preservatives and flavorings commonly found in commercial dog foods.

That’s why, supplementing their diet with health-supporting supplements, such as probiotics,fatty acids and antioxidants are also helpful for whole-body health, promoting good health from the inside out.

It’s also been proven, for both humans and our furry best friends, that many natural substances, either produced by the body or found in the earth, can give a beneficial boost to the immune system, which is the cornerstone for fighting intestinal conditions, allergies and disease prevention.

Don’t forget the importance of plentiful FRESH, CLEAN water in your dog’s diet too. Water contaminated with chlorine, fluoride or other chemicals, or simply dirty water is too easily the transmitter for water-borne parasites, causing tummy bugs and sickness. Keep it safe by using filtered water wherever possible and regularly cleaned water bowls.

Exercise

It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to keep your hound healthy is through fresh air and exercise.

As well as keeping them physically fit and mobile, it decreases the risk of heart disease and food-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. What’s more, it helps with their sociability skills and helps reduce anxiety.

In fact, us humans can reap the exact same benefits from exercise, so double the incentive to walk the dog!

The holistic lifestyle also extends to taking good care of your dog’s skin and coat too. Only use natural grooming products, sun screen and flea/tick preventatives.

Supplements containing Lecithin are particularly beneficial, as this ingredient helps restore and maintain the overall well-being of your dog, assists the healing process and revives skin and coat condition.

Mental Stimulation

A healthy, active brain is just as important as a healthy, active body.

Mental stimulation is vital for a happy, healthy dog. It keeps boredom at bay and prevents related bad behaviors, such as house trashing and shoe chewing.

This is so easy to do with numerous toys available that are designed to challenge your dog to solve a puzzle to get to a treat. Alternatively, you can just play “hide and seek” by hiding treats around your home, for them to sniff out and enjoy!

Interaction with other dogs is as enjoyable and stimulating for them as us having a chat with our best buddies. It also helps new pups with socializing skills or older, maybe rescue, dogs to correct behavioral problems by learning from other dogs.

Vary your walks, both routes and times of day, so you both benefit from new sights, sounds and smells.

At the end of the day, your dog is totally dependent on you for their health and wellbeing – you dictate what they eat and the amount of exercise and mental stimulation they get.

If you can implement just a few of the small changes above, you will make a huge difference in helping your faithful friend have a healthier, happier life.

…and like most other dog-lovers, if my dog’s happy then I’m happy!

 

Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health – always!

 

 

 

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

 

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