August 4-10 is International Assistance Dog Week!

Mark your calendars, dog lovers…International Assistance Dog Week starts this Sunday, August 4th!

IADW was created to recognize all the wonderful assistance dogs who help make life a little easier for people with disability-related limitations.

According to the official IADW website, assistance dogs help humans with both physical and mental disabilities by serving as devoted companions, helpers, aides, best friends, and family members!

The event organizers also work to recognize all the dedicated folks who raise and train puppies to become assistance dogs.

Be sure to check out the IADW website for lots of great information on the work assistance dogs do, as well as how you can participate in this annual awareness event!

 

Protect Your Dog’s Paws from Hot Pavement This Summer

We’ve all seen a lot of news stories about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car, but did you know that a simple stroll on the sidewalk can blister your pup’s paws when the weather is hot?

KUTV in Salt Lake City talked to a local veterinarian about the dangers of hot sidewalks.  He took a thermometer outside on a hot day and measured the temperature on a sunny sidewalk.  It registered 131 degrees!  In contrast, the shade temperature was just 80 degrees.

Paw blisters can happen in minutes, so to protect your dog, be sure to walk her on grass and in the shade.  Early morning is the safest time of day.

Click HERE for the story and video.

 

The Genetics of White “Socks” in Our Pets

White paws, often called socks, are an endearing color marking in our pets.  Socks are often seen in cats, but can also be found in dogs and other animals like horses and guinea pigs.

Where do socks come from?  According to a recent article in Popular Science, which outlines some new scientific research on the genetics of coat color, white socks are a form of piebaldism (a genetic mutation that causes white patches of skin and hair).

Before birth, the cells that give color to a kitten’s eyes, skin, and hair (called melanocytes) are concentrated along the back.  During development, these pigment cells move to other areas of the body.

Sometimes the distribution is even, giving the cat a solid color.  But sometimes the color is spread unevenly, leaving white socks on the feet.  Many cats with white feet also have other white areas, such as the chest, belly, and part of the face.  Tuxedo cats are a good example of this.

Interested in learning more about the genetics of coat color in dogs and cats?  Check out this guide to coat colors and patterns in cats…and this one for dogs!

 

Dog-Friendly Restaurant Dos and Don’ts for You and Your Pup

With summer in full swing, many dog owners are looking forward to bringing their four-legged friends out and about with them.  One of the most popular destinations…dog-friendly outdoor dining patios at restaurants and bars!

Our friends at San Diego Pets Magazine put together a helpful list of tips for dining out with your dog.  Since we’re lucky enough here to bring our pups with us year-round, we’ve got the dog-friendly etiquette down!

  • Bring a chew toy or treat to keep your dog occupied while the humans are dining.
  • Know your dog before you go.  Not all dogs are comfortable in social situations.  If your dog is the shy type, she might be happier at home.
  • Barking and begging for food are definite “don’ts” at any dog-friendly dining establishment.
  • Most facilities don’t let dogs walk through the restaurant to get to the patio, so be sure to stop at the hostess stand and let folks know you’d like to access the patio with your dog.
  • Keep your dog (even very small ones) off the table and chairs when dining outside.

  • It’s safest to always keep your dog on leash while on the patio.  Make sure to keep the lead short so it doesn’t get tangled up or become a tripping hazard.
  • Be aware that there may be multiple dogs on the patio, so if your dog doesn’t play well with others, keep him home.
  • Feed your dog before you go to discourage begging, and take her on a walk to tire her out a bit and to make sure she relieves herself before heading to the restaurant.

  • Don’t assume the restaurant will have enough water bowls to go around during peak times.  Bring your own travel water bowl just in case.

Now you’re ready to enjoy some al fresco dining with your best friend!

 

Tips on Reducing the Stress of Vet Visits for Your Dog

The website Companion Animal Psychology is a great resource for dog and cat owners interested in learning how to better understand their pets.

The site recently published some helpful advice on how to ensure that your dog is as calm as possible during trips to the vet’s office.  The tips are based on research published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, which you can find HERE.

The researchers found that many factors can increase your dog’s stress at the vet, including prior negative experiences, the dog’s individual genetic makeup, and upsetting sights, sounds, smells, etc. at the vet.

Another cause of fear is something called “trigger stacking”—the combination of stressful experiences that can go into a vet visit (being put in a carrier, being restrained, etc.).

Here are just a few recommendations for helping dogs that feel anxiety about going to the vet.  Be sure to read the full article for more information!

  • Avoid feeding before a visit so your dog will be interested in treats given by staff at the vet’s office.  Treats are good rewards after unpleasant procedures like vaccinations.
  • Bring a blanket or toys from home to help comfort your dog.
  • Stay with your dog during the exam/consultation, and any other procedures if possible.

  • Get your dog used to car rides, carriers, and routine physical handling before trips to the vet.  Nail trimming and ear cleaning at the vet’s office can help accustom your dog to being there.
  • Very stressed dogs can wait in the car rather than the waiting room.  Muzzles and sedation can also be helpful in extreme cases.