Dog-Friendly Landscaping Ideas

Dog in Garden2

Now that winter is coming to an end and March is finally here, many homeowners’ thoughts are turning to spring and gardening! If you’re a dog owner as well, you may be wondering how to make your yard safer and more welcoming for your furry friend. There are lots of great ideas out there to help you create pet-friendly outdoor living spaces that can be enjoyed by both your family and your pets.

Here are a few gardening and landscaping ideas to get you started on a dog-friendly yard this spring:

  • Plant natural pest repellants such as mint and fleabane for fleas and marigold and lemon thyme for ticks.
  • Dogs love to dig, so to minimize damage to flower beds and mulched areas, create a “dig pit” filled with sand and soil and encourage your dog to use it by putting toys and treats nearby.
  • Make sure your yard has a few soft, shady spots under trees, bushes or trellises for your dog to lie in when it’s hot and sunny.
  • Satisfy your dog’s natural curiosity (and minimize barking) by creating a little window in your privacy fence and adding boulders or other landscape features for him to stand on and have a look around.
  • Big dogs with lots of energy can trample delicate plants. Try sturdy plants and ground covers that can stand up to an enthusiastic dog. These include lavender, juniper, thyme and moss.

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Before you get started, it’s important to make sure that whatever you choose to plant is not toxic to any pets that will be spending time outside. See the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants HERE.

For more ideas on pet-friendly landscaping, check out the book Pawfriendly Landscapes, by professional landscaper Elizabeth Bublitz, available through Barnes & Noble Marketplace.



The Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2014

Labrador Retriever

The American Kennel Club has just released its annual list of the most popular dog breeds for the year 2014. The Labrador retriever remains in the number one spot for an impressive 24 years in a row. Rounding out the top ten are the German shepherd, Golden retriever, Bulldog, Beagle, Yorkshire terrier, Poodle, Boxer, French bulldog and Rottweiler.

2014 was a good year for Bulldogs, with the Bulldog attaining its highest ranking (#4) ever, and the popular French bulldog entering the top ten for the first time in 100 years. The Dachshund is ranked at #11, the first time it has been out of the top ten since 1985.

French Bulldog

An analysis of dog breed trends over the past 20 years shows that while the Labrador’s status as #1 breed has remained constant, other breeds have experienced a rise and fall in popularity over the years. The Golden retriever has risen in popularity, as have small breeds like the Yorkie and Chihuahua.

The AKC ranking does not include the newly popular cross breeds, such as the Labradoodle or Cockapoo. It also does not include many people’s favorite kind of dog…mutts and shelter dogs of unknown pedigree!

Check out the AKC’s full list of the most popular dog breeds (going all the way to #178, the Norwegian lundehund) HERE.

You can also see the Washington Post’s historical analysis of dog breed trends over the years HERE.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Obsessive Grooming in Cats

Cat licking1

Did you know that cats can spend between 30% and 50% of the day grooming? Cats are famously fastidious about keeping their fur clean, and it’s normal to see a cat routinely grooming herself. But how do you know if your cat is licking her fur too much, or if the licking is turning into chewing or pulling? Cats that engage in excessive grooming will often have so-called “mowed” spots or strips where their fur is missing. Obsessive grooming can have either physical or emotional causes. Here is quick overview of the most common reasons for excessive licking in cats, and what you can do about it.

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Physical causes:

Parasites: Parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice, mites and ringworm can cause excessive licking, often on the lower back area.

Allergies: Allergic reactions to food, pollen or other environmental elements can cause your cat to lick too much. Cats with allergies can experience dry, itchy skin, especially on the back and abdomen. Dry skin unrelated to allergies can be caused by low humidity or nutritional problems, and also lead to excessive grooming.

Pain: If the grooming is localized to a small area, you cat could be experiencing pain from such causes as disc disease or impacted anal sacs in males.

See your vet about possible parasites. There are many treatments available to solve parasite problems. You can also consult with your vet about possible food allergies. Nutritional supplements can be added to the diet for dry skin not caused by allergies.

Emotional causes:

Stress and anxiety: Like nail biting in humans, cats can engage in compulsive grooming behaviors when stressed. Stressors can include changes in the home environment such as a move or the introduction of a new pet.

Boredom: Bored cats that don’t get enough stimulation, play or interaction can also engage in excessive licking.

If your cat is anxious, seek out ways to relieve her stress and make her feel more secure. This could be as simple as proving her with a safe place to retreat when she feels scared, or spending a little extra time giving her one on one attention. Anti-anxiety medicine can be prescribed in extreme cases.

Bored cats can benefit from increased play and exercise, and even the addition of another pet if your cat is alone most of the day.

Fitness Trackers: The Latest Must-Have Accessory for Dogs!

Dog Fitness2

Fitness trackers (also called activity trackers) are showing up on nearly as many dog collars as people’s wrists lately. Like fitness trackers for humans, pet fitness trackers monitor activity such as steps taken and calories burned, as well as breathing and heart rate.

Several brands of pet fitness trackers have recently come on the market. While they can cost up to $200, many vets think that they are worth the investment. Dog owners are able to receive data about their pets’ activity (and inactivity) on their phones, which is especially useful when you are away and your dog is with the pet sitter or at doggy day care.

Dog Fitness1

The different brands of fitness trackers come with a wide range of useful apps to help you monitor your dog’s well-being.   Some of the more interesting features include:

  • GPS to track your dog’s exact location at all times
  • Activity reports that get sent to your vet
  • Temperature and light sensors
  • Medication and food logs
  • The ability to sync your phone with the phone of your dog’s caretaker

Dogs should have at least one 30 minute period of walking or other activity per day. A fitness tracker can help you and your dog maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. Which is the best fitness tracker for you and your dog? Check out this helpful review from Canine Journal before you buy.

Cats Protection UK Creates a Manifesto for Cats

Cats Protection, the United Kingdom’s leading cat welfare organization, has drafted a Manifesto for Cats, calling on the government to implement measures to prevent feline abandonment, harm and neglect.

The Manifesto, available in pdf format for download HERE, outlines 10 key cat welfare areas of concern that Cats Protection is urging the government to address:

  1. Regulating the breeding and sale of cats to reduce the number of unwanted kittens.
  2. Mandatory microchipping of cats.
  3. Regulation of airguns to prevent injury to cats.
  4. Prosecution of dog owners whose dogs kill or injure cats.
  5. Animal welfare education added to school curriculums.
  6. Allow cat owners in rental housing to keep their pets.
  7. Recognition of the positive benefits of ownership of cats and other companion animals.
  8. Better labeling of plants and household products that are toxic to cats.
  9. Banning of snare traps to protect cats and other animals.
  10. Database tracking all cats entering the UK to identify those needing rabies vaccines.

Watch the moving video above to learn more about the Cats Protection Manifesto, and check out their website for more information HERE.

Thank you Cats Protection for helping to raise our awareness on these important issues!