Honoring Our Brave and Loyal K9 Veterans

Canine military dogs are worth their weight in gold!

13 March has been annotated as an ‘unofficial’ day in our National calendar, to honor and commemorate all the amazing K9 veterans who have served us and our country well.

These courageous canines don’t volunteer, they are simply drafted, yet their loyalty and bravery knows no bounds, and they gladly put their lives on the line to protect their human service buddies and brothers in arms.

At the time of writing, there are over 2500 of our furry friends in active duty, with around 700 of them deployed in foreign countries.

The roles they perform are as diverse as the breeds that are enlisted for service, ranging from German Shepherds, to Golden Retrievers to Spaniels. But they were not trained to kill; they were trained to save lives, with roles including: transporting medical supplies, search & rescue (on land & sea!), sentries, messengers, clearing buildings, explosives detection, tracking, tunnelling, narcotics inspections, customs and border protection and even pulling telephone wires under airfields and mined tunnels – to name just a few!

So they have duties during periods of both war and peace. What’s more is they do it far more accurately than any other available military equipment! They were an invaluable resource at the Ground Zero search and rescue and these professional pooches are a familiar sight in their “hi-viz” vests at airports and other transport hubs.

Just like normal dog training, these specialized skills are acquired through a reward-based program. However, it made me chuckle when Army Col. David Rolfe (Director of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Program) said “We learned long ago that food works only so long. What the dog really wants you to do is play with it.”

So, for these canines “their positive rewards are generally a ball or rubber toy rather than food”, while treat-filled puzzle toys provide comfort after “aggression” training exercises and stimulation for their incredibly active minds.

A fully trained military dog has a “worth” over $150,000 – but these four-legged brothers and sisters in arms are valuable not just for their service. They provide peace of mind for their fellow troops and bravely put their life on the line 24/7 for their human handlers– that’s priceless!

Without a doubt, these dogs are among our most effective counter measures against terrorists and explosives.

I think Rolfe summed it up brilliantly when he said “Dogs possess something a machine probably never will: immense loyalty and a desire to please. A machine doesn’t care if it finds something, but a dog wants to please its handler. A dog will go looking for something on its own where a machine won’t.”

The bottom line, he said, is that “dogs have a heart — something that makes them an invaluable asset to our fighting forces.”

So especially today, our thoughts go out to our wonderful, brave K-9 Military. Thanks for helping keep our great country safe – we owe you a debt beyond words.

What you may be surprised to learn is that many of these special dogs are taken from rescue shelters and it costs more than $15000 to train them for special, and particularly life-threatening duties, all over the world. They have super-human eyesight, hearing and sense of smell, which makes them an invaluable member of any team.

They work 60 hours a week, with on-call shifts of 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – but they don’t receive a paycheck, to go towards their retirement or pay for meds to ease the pain of arthritis, a common condition as a result of their intense and physical work demands!

It doesn’t bear thinking about that, until 2000, these military working dogs were simply viewed as “surplus equipment” and it was legal and common practice to abandon or put down military working dogs at the end of their useful service.

Thankfully, the law changed and now there is a requirement to repatriate them and priority for their adoption is given to their previous handler to see out their retirement with their best friend.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case; often their handler is simply unable to take their service buddy home with them.  We can only imagine the desolation and confusion those loyal dogs suffer, being separated from their team and their devoted handlers.

The good news is that many of these special animals are eligible for adoption and are placed into appropriate and loving homes. So, if you think you could provide a happy retirement home for one of these loyal 4-legged patriots, you can learn more about it here:

About military working dog adoptions

…and finally

I would just like to say thanks to the late Joe White, founder of the K9 Veteran Day tribute, for bringing this plight to our attention and reminding us that these K9 Veterans “Served to Save, and they deserve to be remembered”.

We salute each and every one of you!

Wishing you and your canine companions the best of health and keep each other safe!

 

 

Helen Broadley & the FidoActive Team

FidoActive also supports the amazing work of many community rescue shelters across the USA through product donations, to help get their furry residents in tip-top condition whilst waiting for their forever home. 

You can find out more about FidoActive on their website www.fidoactive.com 

 

 

Fido means faithful & loyal– a quality that your dog gives unconditionally

Active is what we want every dog to be!

 

 

How to Stop Your Dog Eating Things on the Ground

Owning a dog is a wonderfully rewarding experience, but that goes hand in hand with training them to understand right from wrong. One of the earliest lessons they need to learn is what they can and cannot eat, especially when it comes to things they find on the ground.

If you don’t correct this behavior, it could result in the loss of a cherished or valuable personal object, physical damage to your furry best friend or both!

Does your dog manage to scout out and eat any type of food they find on the ground when out on your walks?

Why are they doing this and what can you do to break this habit?

First, it’s important to understand that this is perfectly normal behavior; dogs are naturally curious and sniffing out new smells and tastes is basically canine sight-seeing! Also, most dogs love their food, so it’s one of the toughest things to prevent them from eating their finds, whether that be food scraps or horse poo!

Training Tips

There are many basic training methods that can help to stop this. Positive reinforcement training is usually more successful than a reprimand, but you may have to include negative reinforcement to.

I’m not going to lie, trying to train your dog out of this habit takes time and effort. It can be harder still if you’re trying to retrain an older dog, as such training can be confusing because they’re suddenly being scolded for doing something that has been accepted as OK for possibly years!

#1. Positive Reinforcement

Positive Option A

First step is to find and stock up on the treats your dog goes crazy for!

When it’s time for their walk, start by showing your pooch you have a bag of their favorite treats, give them a sample when you put them on the leash and ensure they see where you have put them, so they know they are coming on the walk with you. Also carry a treat in your hand (they know it’s there!). As you give them one, replace it with another, so you are able to reward correct behavior immediately and your dog understands what they are being rewarded for.

When you’re on your walk, you’re going to have to encourage them vocally with a cheerful and upbeat “Hey, Barney look at this!” type voice calls, whenever they go to sniff and show them their favorite treat in your hand. When they come to you, immediately reward them with their favorite treat, PLUS lots of verbal praise in a happy and excited voice, so they associate the treat with verbal praise. Repeat.

Don’t use any negative commands, such as “Leave it” for this training option – keep it totally positive! This option has several benefits; it can become a game, so you and your furry friend can have more fun on your walks, it serves to distract them from unwanted behavior, plus they receive lots of praise from you which they simply love and thrive on.

When you start, it will take a lot of time and treats, but once they have grasped the idea, it’s not necessary to reward them with a treat every time,BUT it is VITAL you keep up the verbal praise and replace the treat with a quick belly rub or ear tickle.Be sure not to stop treats altogether, as they may simply revert to the unwanted behavior and maintaining this command can prove useful in many other situations, when you want your dog to come to you.

Positive Option B

Another approach starts by teaching your dog a “touch command”, so that they touch your hand with their nose.

Once they have mastered this command, you can use this training when they see something on the ground.  Eventually, when they see something on the ground, it becomes the cue for them to come to you and touch your hand and you reward them with their favorite treat. They will learn that this behavior is much more rewarding than eating something on the ground and probably much tastier!

#2. Negative Reinforcement

This technique includes negative reinforcement BUT only in so far as your verbal command is in a sterner/stricter voice – you should NEVER resort to physical reprimands – this is your best faithful friend we’re talking about here! Punishing your pooch might suppress the symptoms but only through fear and that’s no way to build a solid, fun and trusting relationship between you and your canine companion.

Keep your pooch on the leash while you place a tempting item a short distance away from them – something they like to eat but NOT their favorite treat. They will initially strain and pull to get to the item, but keep repeating the “leave” command, while you wait for them to calm down and stop attempting to get at the item, and then reward them with their favorite treat, you will teach them that they will be rewarded for obeying that order. Like most training, it can take a while for it to click with your furry friend – it’s just a case of lots of repetition and lots of rewards!

#3. If All Else Fails

These training exercises take time and practice. If you have a serious problem with your pooch or you haven’t got either the confidence or the time, seek the help of a qualified positive trainer or behavior consultant. The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Pet Professional Guild both have searchable directories to find someone qualified to help your dog in your area.

What about non-nutritional objects?

Does your pooch eat things such as stones,pieces of metal, pencils or hairbrushes?

This type of abnormal eating behavior makes no sense at all, because the things they eat are not remotely like food.

Very young puppies are naturally curious and they can often start chewing things to ease teething pains, but it’s not natural for them to swallow such items and could be very dangerous, if this behavior is not managed correctly.

I know it’s easier said than done but try and make sure the dog’s area at home is cleared of anything small enough to consume, or keep them in a clear confined (but still comfortable!) space when they are left alone.

However, it might not simply be a case of a mischievous mutt!

The bottom line is that this problem can happen for a variety of reasons, so the first vital step is to find out what the real underlying reason is.

Eating objects which are not food is sometimes due to a condition called Pica, which can be caused through anxiety or can even be signs of a mental disorder. In some cases, it can even be due to a nutritional or mineral deficiency, due to a digestive system issue, so it is worth checking out with your veterinarian first.

If these reasons are ruled out then it could literally just be down to boredom or loneliness, so make sure that your dog is socializing enough and getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. 

Don’t get complacent!

With the best will in the world, even when you have an amazing well-trained dog, things might still get into their mouths by accident. Cover all bases and make sure your furry best friend’s immune and digestive systems are in tip-top condition, with a daily dose of Probiotics with Probiotic, to help them fight off any tummy bugs or allergies and make your dog more resilient to viruses and infections.

FidoActive’s all-natural Advanced Probiotics for Dogs fits the brief perfectly and theunique formula even includes 74 minerals and a natural de-wormer. With no odor or flavor, you can add it to their wet or dry food without resistance or gagging, so ideal for any dogs with IBS and even the pickiest pooches get the goodness they need!

Without a doubt, breaking bad habits take patience and perseverance – doesn’t sound that different to us humans! BUT please stick with it, as this could stop them from eating a cherished personal item of yours or something poisonous or dangerous, so you could quite literally save your furry best friend’s life!

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

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

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Preventing Bloat Could Be Your Dog’s Life-Saver

It is vital that you do everything you can to prevent bloat in your canine companions. It isn’t just a “bit of wind” that will exit their body through flatulence!

Bloat is the commonly-used term for a life-threatening condition in dogs called gastric dilatation volvulus, or canine GDV. The word gastric means ‘of the stomach’, dilatation refers to the abnormal enlargement of a part of the body, while volvulus means a twisting of the intestine causing an obstruction. Put simply, bloating involves excessive amounts of solids, liquids or gas in the digestive system and GDV occurs when the stomach fills with gas (bloat) and twists around on itself.

If this happens to your furry friend then there is no relief for them. There is no chance of defecation, belching or flatulence. The only answer to this problem is to rush your pet to the veterinary immediately!

Wherever possible, we prefer to look at prevention rather than cure, so in this article we will help you to reduce, even eliminate, dog bloating and hopefully avoids you ever having to deal with the worst-case scenario.

How is Bloat in Dogs Caused?

Let’s face it, most of our furry friends have no ‘full’ control when it comes to eating and will happily devour what you put in front of them. The most common reasons for bloating are overeating, eating too fast or drinking water too quickly.

Another thing that can create bloating is a lot of activity right after a meal. Most of us learned when we were kids to let our food settle down before we went out to play. This was very good advice and the same applies to your furry friend.

Which Dogs are Most at Risk of GDV?

A bloated stomach can be a problem for any dog, both male and female.Studies have shown the risk of GDV increases with age and is five times more likely in pure-bred dogs than in crossbreeds. Body weight is also strongly associated with increased odds of GDV. Dogs weighing more than 40kg are significantly more likely to suffer from the condition than those weighing less than 10kg. Also, the most severe forms of bloating and GDV usually occur in adult dogs and senior dogs. It does not normally happen to puppies.

Some breeds are more susceptible to this than others, especially large, deep-chested breeds. Here are some of the breeds that are most at risk:

  • Boxer
  • Saint Bernard
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Doberman
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • German Shepherd
  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • Poodle
  • Cane Corso
  • Great Dane
  • Mastiff
  • Greyhound
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bassett Hound
  • Weimaraners
  • Setters

What Physically Happens When a Dog has Bloat?

The distended stomach presses on the diaphragm and other internal organs, causing problems with the circulation and respiratory system.  This makes it difficult for your dog to breathe and for their heart to get blood and oxygen around the body, as it should.  Your dog will very rapidly go into shock.  While the stomach is twisted, the blood supply to the stomach and also sometimes the spleen is affected, meaning that the stomach wall and spleen can start to die.

 

What are the Symptoms of Dog Bloating?

The most obvious symptom of bloating is where your dog’s tummy goes hard or swells up like a balloon.A dog with GDV is likely to feel pain when you press on their belly. But there are signs that are not obvious, such as them trying to vomit or defecate but unable to. Also watch out for your dog walking around aimlessly on a continual basis.

Sometimes a pooch with a bloated stomach problem hardly moves at all. They can also start breathing heavily. If the bloating is really getting severe then their gums turn pale, they may froth at the mouth and their heart starts to race.

 

What Treatment is Available for Dog Bloating?

GDV is one of the most serious of all pet emergencies.

To remove a twist in their stomach, a vet needs to perform surgery so that entrance and exit points are cleared and the stomach functions normally again.

After receiving treatment for a twisted stomacha number of dogs end up going back to the vet again because the problem returns. If this happens a vet can perform a gastropexy where they pin the stomach to the abdomen wall so that it cannot twist in the future.

If left untreated, dogs with GDV will almost certainly die. However, the survival rate of dogs who undergo surgery after being diagnosed with GDV is as high as 80%, which is why it’s vital you contact your vet if you suspect your dog has bloat.

 

What Can You Do to Prevent Dog Bloat?

Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to protect your pooch from stomach bloating. It is often simply the result of poor feeding habits so AVOID the following:

  • Using a raised bowl to feed your pooch
  • Giving your furry friend too much food or water at a time
  • Only feeding once a day
  • Giving your dog dry foods that are high in oil or fat (slower to digest& exit the body)

 

10 Easy Steps to Prevent Dog Bloating

Research at Purdue University attempted to identify the causes of dog bloating. They recommended that dog owners take the following steps to prevent bloating:

  1. Give your pooch a number of smaller servings throughout the day
  2. Place the feeding bowl on the ground
  3. Avoid foods where fat is one of the top four ingredients
  4. Don’t just give your furry friend dry food
  5. Avoid moistening dry food
  6. Wait at least one hour after exercise before feeding your pooch
  7. Wait at least two hours to exercise your dog after eating
  8. If your pooch is a fast eater purchase a special dish that slows the eating down
  9. Never give more than one cup of dry food per 30 pounds of body weight at each meal
  10. Introduce probiotics (Note: must contain prebiotic)into your dog’s diet

How Can Probiotics Help Prevent Bloating?

A major source of abdominal bloating comes from gas that is produced by bacteria that feed on undigested food sitting in the intestines. The longer the food takes to digest, the more gas is produced. There are many different types/strains of bacteria that reside there, and they can vary between dogs.

Probiotics are essentially strains of “good” bacteria to help break down the undigested food more quickly, regulate bowel movements and relieve the pain caused by pressure in your dog’s gut.

Please note that for maximum efficacy any probiotic supplement must contain a prebiotic too – prebiotics are nondigestive carbohydrates which feed the probiotics.

Once they have the right probiotics in their gut, it’s important to keep them strong in order for them to have a positive effect. FidoActive’s Advanced Probiotics supplement (with Probiotic) is in powder form, odorless and tasteless, so super easy to introduce into your dog’s daily regime – easily mixed into their regular dry or wet food and suitable for even the pickiest of pooches! 

Probiotics with prebiotic supplements can have numerous other benefits, so they are definitely worth trying out. They can take a while to start working though, so be patient, but they will do your pooch the power of good in the long run.

However, please remember, while probiotics can restore digestive health and more, they are not a replacement for poor diet – they go hand in hand (or should that be paw in paw) with a healthy balanced diet.

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

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

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Get a Pep in Your Step with Your Canine Companions!

We’re now over a week into the New Year and I have to be honest and say that I don’t really do ‘New Year resolutions’, I just aim to make the new year the best it can be, for both me and my family – furry members included!

Many of us will have unashamedly indulged in all the wonderful food and drink over the holidays and, as sure as night follows day, we always start the New Year with a few extra pounds. Our canine companions will have had their fair share of extra treats too, so they are probably in the same boat!

No worries – the shared problem can also be the shared solution!

During the winter months, we’re often a bit lethargic and guilty of staying indoors more, but the solution is simple – we just need to get ourselves and the pooch off the couch and go to the park – whatever the weather!

The exercise will do you both the world of good, but unlike running around, your furry friend is totally dependent on you to get their diet right too and their requirements will change with age.

If your dog suffers from stiff joints or arthritis , then carrying an extra few pounds will simply increase the pressure on the joints and no-one likes to see their beloved pet in pain, especially when there is something we can do to help them.

Keep their fatty treats to a minimum or, better still, why not replace their usual treats with tasty supplement treats that will not make them pile on the weight, help with pain relief and put the pep back in their step!

Whatever you decide to do, we hope all your New Year resolutions come true!

Wishing you and your canine companions a happy and healthy 2019!

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

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Don’t Let Furry Festive Antics Turn into a Medical Trauma!

Christmas Trees

 The fragrance of a real pine/spruce tree is lovely but just be aware that they can actually cause your dog mouth and stomach irritation because they contain mildly toxic oils, so be sure they are not chewing the branches or trunk.

 Do regular clean ups when the tree starts sheds its needles, to avoid them getting stuck in your pet’s paws, throat or intestines.

 Trees are often treated with preservatives to limit needle loss, insecticides or flame retardants and many have a sweet taste to dogs, so particularly tempting but toxic if ingested. Consider putting a tree skirt around the base of the tree, especially if there is a water base, to prevent them from drinking the liquid.

 Stabilize the tree in a sturdy stand to be sure it can’t be knocked over and potentially hurt a child or pet playing or laying under the tree. You can make it extra foolproof by also securing with string to a wall or window, but high enough up so out of chewing range.

 

Decorations

Let’s face it, dogs love to chew and there are lots more enticing things to get their teeth into at Christmas, so here are a few tips to keep them out of harm’s way:

 Avoid edible decorations. Even if you think you’ve placed them high enough to be out of temptation’s way, your dog’s super-human sense of smell will sniff them out and will encourage them to jump or climb to get to the tasty treat, by whatever means possible!

 Chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs and affects the nervous and urinary systems, causing symptoms ranging from diarrhea to seizures and death.

 Popcorn, raisin and cranberry garlands have added dangers: raisins are toxic to dogs and can cause kidney damage plus the thread can cause an obstruction in the intestine.

And remember, many sweet treats contain xylitol (artificial sweetener) which is toxic to dogs. So, better to be safe than sorry and just keep these dangerous temptations off the decorations list altogether – they’re just not worth the risk!

 Although salt dough sounds edible it definitely is NOT. It is a baking material that is used for making ornaments (often of a newborn child’s foot/hand print or pet’s paw print) and it contains an extremely high salt level, which can be fatal if your pet ingests it. Making salt dough tree decorations or parcel tags is a popular activity this time of year and especially fun to do with the kids, but just ensure that the end product is out of reach of your pooch. 

 Keep electrical cords and electrical light wiring out of your dog’s reach. They can get tangled in wiring and pull the tree down or items on shelves. If they chew the cord, they could suffer from mouth burns an electric shock or even death by electrocution.

 The glistening tinsel and ribbons are tantalizing playthings but if your pup gets their teeth into it, then swallows it, this can cause a blockage in their gastrointestinal tract, which requires surgical removal.

 Other potential hazards include scented oils and candles, which can cause spills, burns and a serious fire hazard, so again place in a safe position and always extinguish candles when you go out.

 

Floral Arrangements

Festive arrangements are beautiful, but the most popular plants can be dangerous to your dog. These include:

 Holly leaves and berries cause severe stomach upset, seizures and can be potentially fatal to dogs.

  Mistletoe contains several substances that are toxic to dogs, causing severe upsets stomachs, breathing problems, sudden & severe drop in blood pressure and potential heart collapse.

 Poinsettia contains a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. If the leaves are ingested, this will often cause nausea and vomiting.

 Amaryllis, Lilies and Daffodils are toxic, especially the bulbs. Even a small amount of plant ingested can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, convulsions and arrhythmia.  

❆ Hibiscus may cause diarrhea

 ❆ Yew tree has toxicityin ALL parts of the plant. Wheningested, it causes drooling, vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, life-threatening changes in heart rate and blood pressure, coma and death may be seen.

You may think that popping out for a short while will be fine, because the dogs are well fed and sleeping soundly, but they can be easily awoken by noises outside…and then their curiosity gets the better of them and the games begin!

Please keep them safe and don’t take the chance of leaving them alone in the decked-out areas.

Wishing you and your canine companions the best of festive fun and health!

Helen Broadley & The FidoActive Team

 

 

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