Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Trouble with Chocolate

With Halloween just around the corner many people are scrambling to get a last minute costume, their pumpkins carved, and their candy stocked.  While humans may look forward to the fun ahead, Halloween can be a very stressful time for dogs.  Imagine having to wear a cumbersome costume (that the other dogs will make fun of) while trying to be taken seriously as you attempt to protect the house which is constantly under attack by strange, short creatures that sort of resemble humans. 
Dogs can be easily stressed out by all the holiday activity and strangers coming to the door.  But there is only one major stress that dog owners deal with every year and that is….CHOCOLATE.  Just the thought of all that candy so easy to get to and all the children ready and willing to share their plunder with a cute little pup can make any dog owner quiver.  If you find yourself faced with a chocolate debacle this Halloween, keep a cool head and remember the facts.
The truth about chocolate:
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to cats and dogs.  Theobromine is a central nervous system stimulant (chemically similar to caffeine) that can lead to poisoning (also known in this case as chocolate poisoning) if too much is consumed.  Chocolate poisoning can even happen in humans (especially the elderly) if too much is consumed, but in moderation, the amount of theobromine found in the refined candies and chocolate foods we eat is usually not high enough to harm us.  Dogs metabolize theobromine much more slowly, however, and can succumb to poisoning from as little as 50 grams.  The darker the chocolate is the more theobromine it contains.  Milk chocolate is less toxic than dark chocolate and dark chocolate is less toxic than baker’s chocolate. 
A good rule of thumb to determine if your dog ate a potentially fatal dosage of chocolate:

Milk Chocolate: 1 oz of milk chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Dark Chocolate: ½ oz of dark chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Baking Chocolate: ¼ oz of baking chocolate for every 1 lb of body weight can be fatal
Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, twitching, and seizing.  These symptoms can progress to cardiac arrhythmias, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding, heart attacks and eventually death.  Veterinarians treat poisoning by inducing vomiting within 2 hours of consumption, but the sooner the better.
If you can’t get to a veterinarian in time, don’t worry, you can induce vomiting at home as well.  You can induce vomiting by slowly injecting hydrogen peroxide down your dog’s throat.  Give your dog 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide for every 15 lbs of the dog’s body weight (example: 30 lbs = 2 tablespoons). Wait 3 – 5 minutes for him to vomit. If he doesn’t vomit you can give him another dosage.  
Be careful this Halloween and holiday season as all dogs are capable of getting into trouble.  Be careful giving your dog even a “safe” amount of chocolate because dogs can develop a craving for it just like humans.  And if your ambitious pup has the chance to snag some chocolate while you’re not looking he may end up in the emergency room or even dead, and that’s not a chance worth taking.
Looking for a dog friendly Halloween event this weekend? Here’s what’s going on in Southern California:
Dog Daze
Date: October 29th, 2011
Time: 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. 
Where: Crossing at Corona  2470 Tuscany St., Corona, Ca 92881

Haute Dog Howl'oween Parade
Date: October 30th, 2011
Time: Parade starts at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Livingston Park (in Belmont Shore) 4900 E Livingston Dr., Long Beach, Ca 90803
For video and more info: Howl'oween Parade

Have  a safe and fun Howl-oween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not just a Costume: Real Dog Heroes

Has your dog ever done anything heroic?  While some dogs may just be pretending to be Superman this Halloween, many dogs are the real deal (minus the super powers, of course).  But a dog doesn’t need to have super powers to do extraordinary things.  Dogs and cats do amazing things every day, not for praise or personal gain but out of pure unconditional love for their humans.  “Every day, across America, dogs protect, comfort, and give their unconditional friendship and affection to the ill, the infirm, the wounded veteran, and the frightened child,” said Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association. “It was time to recognize the contributions of man’s best friends and celebrate the heroic feats they have performed for us every day.

The American Humane Association did a six month search where hundreds of dogs from all 50 states were nominated for the title of American Hero Dog of 2011. The American public cast 400,000 votes (mine included) along with the consideration by a panel of VIP judges to announce a winner on October 1st  
Roselle, the 9/11 Guide Dog was named this year’s American Hero Dog.  She is recognized for her heroism in guiding her blind master safely down 78 flights of stairs following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. 
So what does it mean to be named American Hero of 2011?  Although Roselle passed away early this year, she was honored at the world’s first American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™, presented by Cesar® Canine Cuisine, with her master, Michael Hingson, and guide dog Africa.  This award ceremony is “a new ambitious effort to celebrate the powerful relationship between dogs and people – and to recognize extraordinary acts of heroism performed by ordinary dogs,” says the American Humane Association.  In addition to Roselle, seven other finalist and their handlers where flown out to Los Angeles for the award ceremony.  Among the finalist is local Californian, Ricochet the Surfing Dog, from Escondido.  Ricochet is honored for his work surfing with special needs kids and people with disabilities for therapeutic purposes.  Each finalist received $5,000 to be donated to one of American Humane Association’s charity partners and Roselle won an additional $10,000 for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
You have a chance to give your dog recognition for his or her heroism too! A TV special broadcast of this event will be aired on the Hallmark Channel on November 11th at 8 p.m. EST.  If you donate a gift of $100 to the American Humane Association you can get your pet listed in the end-credits of the TV special. To get your dog’s name in lights click here to donate to American Humane Association.   In addition, for every Facebook “Like”, Cesar® Canine Cuisine will donate $1 to American Humane Association to help spread the love of therapy dogs.
If you would like more information about Roselle and her amazing story, check out these articles:
For more information on all the finalists, visit the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards website.  
Harley the Hearing Dog
    Zurich the Service Dog
K9 Sage the Search and Rescue Dog
Stacey Mae the Therapy Dog
Sadie the Arson Detection K-9
Bino the Military Working Dog

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Misunderstood Pit Bull

The mere mention of the words ‘Pit bull’ and you have a controversial subject.  Those who have owned a pit bull love the breed and those who have not tend to let the negative press and media make the decision for them.  It’s hard not to listen to the media when the only dog attacks stories one hears about involve a Pit bull.  For example, if a non-Pit bull (say a husky for example) kills or attacks a child it will make the local paper.  The paper may even do a follow-up story, but the story pretty much dies.  If a Pit bull kills or attacks a child it will: make the front page of every newspaper state wide; be picked up by national news channels; be covered by journalists throughout the development of the story; lead to charges against the irresponsible pet owner whose case will be reported on thoroughly; cause media to put out related links to other Pit bull attacks; and inspire politicians to call for BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) and ban Pit bulls.  (To read an actual example of this process, check out
Consider the story of Lennox, a bulldog lab mix.  In May 2010, Lennox was removed from his home in Belfast, North Ireland. The United Kingdom has a ban on Pit bull type dogs, and after Lennox displayed protective behaviors when strangers entered his home, the dog warden determined Lennox was a Pit bull type dog and would be removed from the home and euthanized. Lennox's family has made legal appeals in an attempt to prevent his execution.   A DNA test proved that Lennox was actually a bulldog lab mix, not a Pit bull, but the test has not been allowed to be submitted to the court as evidence. Professional dog trainers and animal behaviorists, Victoria Stillwell and Mic Martin, have spoken on behalf of Lennox, noting that his behavior is typical of any dog protecting their home.
Pit bulls have become the scapegoat for all ill-behaved dogs; being judged solely based on their looks and not based on their actions.  The fact is that Pit bulls are one of the most stable people-friendly dogs.  The National Canine Temperament Testing Association tested the temperament of 122 breeds and Pit bulls placed 4th highest with a 95% passing rate.  So how did Pit bulls get such a bad rep?  Let’s investigate 3 main misconceptions about the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) to see if we can’t find a little understanding.
Misconception 1. Pit bulls are vicious people-haters and people-eaters.
Actually, these dogs tend to be aggressive toward other dogs and animals, not people.  The APBT has a strong instinct to please his/her owner.  The APBT is a good-natured, amusing, extremely loyal and affectionate family pet, good with kids and adults.  The APBT is courageous, intelligent and extremely protective of his/her owner and owner’s property, which is why they make such good guard dogs.  In addition to its loyalty and eagerness to please its owner, the APBT will fight any enemy to the death.  Illegal dog fighting exploits these traits and continue to hurt the reputation of the breed.
Misconception 2. Pit bulls are stupid, stubborn, uncontrollable, and cannot be trained.
On the contrary, APBT’s are very intelligent and with the right owner can accomplish many feats.  The APBT has a very strong personality and therefore requires a strong owner.  By strong, I mean someone who understands dog psychology and knows how to properly raise and treat a dog.  If an APBT is raised by a meek owner the dog will come to believe he is boss of the house.  This is when the big problems start to occur, like aggression.  If an APBT has a strong pack leader and a balanced life (training, exercise, socialization) he/she will not only be perfectly behaved in public but will behave well with other animals too.  Many APBT’s are therapy and service dogs, cheering up sick patients and saving lives.  Helen Keller had a Pit bull as her canine companion and helper.  Several APBT’s work on Search-and-Rescue teams across the U.S.  The Little Rascals faithful dog, Petey, was a Pit bull and is referred to as one of the most intelligent Hollywood dogs of all time.  America’s first war dog, Stubby, was a Pit bull who earned several medals during WWI and was honored at the White House.   
Misconception 3. Pit bulls are unsafe around children.
APBT’s can and do make great family pets.  They have a high tolerance for pain so they don’t mind children playing rough with them.  Problems arise when the dog feels the child is a threat, and if this problem isn’t addressed immediately it will quickly escalate.  And as with any breed, no dog should be left alone with an unfamiliar child.  But many families have APBT’s as pets and never have a problem.  As mentioned earlier, the dog from The Little Rascals, Petey, was a Pit bull.  He was around children day after day for countless hours and never hurt anyone.  
We see that Pit bulls get a bad rap because they are a strong breed that needs a strong owner.  When a Pit bull gets into the wrong hands it can mean disaster and unfortunately those few incidents are the ones we hear about, making the American Pit Bull Terrier sound like an unruly breed.  And like any breed, Pit bulls are not right for every household.  Before adding a new dog to your family determine what breed is best for your lifestyle and schedule.  Before adding an American Pit Bull Terrier to your family, do your research on the breed and think about how much experience you have as a dog owner and successful pack leader.  Pit bulls are amazing dogs and can be a great addition to any family, so don't be so quick to judge a book by its cover.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Punish the Deed, Not the Breed: A look into BSL

October brings a very important issue to mind each year because for the past six years it has been the month in which a 1.8 mile march has taken place in downtown Brea.  From Lambert Road to Brea City Hall, the Luv-a-Bully march has been a protest march against Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) to help promote awareness and change the negative stereotype of the bully breeds.  Bully breeds such as Pit bulls, Bull terriers, and Rottweiler’s for example, have been discriminated against in states such as Colorado and Kansas. 
Laws have been passed banning these breeds (specifically, Pit bulls) which has led to thousands or dogs being taken (without owner consent even) from their homes to be euthanized (despite temperament).  Could you imagine having your friendly, loving, family pet taken out of your back yard while you are at work?  You were not informed or forewarned that this would be happening so you come home to find that she has disappeared.  Once you start looking for her you find out that she was taken from your property and euthanized for no reason and without your consent.  This actually happened in Denver, Colorado.  
While Boston, Massachusetts, has not taken any dogs from their homes to be destroyed, they have placed restrictions on any dog that even resembles a pit bull in any way.  Such dogs must be muzzled in public, spayed/neutered, and owner must display a warning sign on their property that a pit bull is present.   In an effort to prevent such catastrophe in California, different organizations, such as ROVERlution, organize BSL protest marches in hopes that awareness will put a stop to breed discrimination and such extreme legislation.
“Laws are being proposed every day that are intended to take away our rights to own particular dogs for no reason other than their breed and/or their resemblance to a certain breed,” says ROVERlution who believes that punishing every dog of a specific breed, innocent or guilty, is a crime in itself and feels that bad dog behavior is a product of irresponsible ownership.  “Your role as an owner strongly influences your dog’s behavior.  The manner in which you raise your dog ultimately determines what kind of dog you will have…good or bad, friendly or reclusive, gentle or aggressive.  Genes alone do not make this determination, and as current scientific research confirms, it is nonsense to hold on to such a played out theory.”
What of all the non-Pit bull breeds that attack people?  After instating a ban on Pit bulls in 2005, Denver, Colorado, euthanized 1,776 Pit bulls, many of which were pets.  As a result, during the three year period (from 2005 to 2007) the total number Pit bull bites went down 77 percent (from 39 bites to 9).  However, non-pit bull bites went down only 10 percent (from 465 bites to 420), and the decrease seems to simply be a reflection of local trends, not any changes in public safety actions.  In addition, Denver still ends up with Pit bulls in their shelters because while this ban prevents responsible pet owners from adopting good Pit bulls it does not deter those people who show no regard for the law.  Gangsters, unlawful, or ignorant people still buy Pit bulls and continue to raise them as guard dogs and even fighting dogs; continuing to give the breed a bad name. 
Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian and animal behaviorist from Berkley, Ca, believes this entire issue is overblown.  He admits that Pit bulls can be nasty but no more so than the number of individual dogs of any other breed who aren’t socialized.  “Those who say Pit bulls are inherently dangerous are dead wrong.  Any kind of dog not socialized is indeed a potential danger.  Why don’t the politicians consider going after the owners of these dogs who attack people? Almost always, that’s where the source of the problem is.”  
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study on dog bite-related fatalities from 1979-1998 with the American Veterinary Medical Association and Humane Society of the United States, and published their findings in 2000. The organizations came to the conclusion that "it does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten… There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.”
Is all of this time, money, and effort spent on BSL really paying off?  What will happen if all Pit bulls are exterminated and society is still faced with the problem of dog bites?  Will we choose to ignore the facts like Denver?  Pit bulls seem to be the scapegoat for a bigger overall problem- irresponsible pet owners and parents.  Education, not euthanization, is the answer to preventing dog bites, dog attacks, and to raising good canine citizens.  Punish the deed not the breed.   
For more information on BSL check out these links:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets: Part 5

Step 5
Evacuation Plan and Preparedness – There are a few simple things you can do to be prepared for an emergency.    
1.       Bring your dog inside at the first sign of danger. If it is a wildfire you will notice the smell, thick red/ brown smoke in the air, or falling ash.  You shouldn’t breathe it in and neither should your dog.  If you have an outside dog and you can’t get home, call your chosen caregiver and see if they can reach your dog to let them inside the house or the garage.
2.       Make sure correct contact information is on your dogs I.D. tags and pet carrier.  Your dog should always be wearing his collar with proper identification showing his name, your phone number, and any urgent medical requirements on it.  Your pet carrier should have your name and contact information on it.
3.       Consider getting your dog microchipped. A microchip is a small chip (placed in the dog’s shoulder) that is registered with the owners contact information.  If your dog should get lost he could be taken to the pound (or certain veterinarian offices) and scanned for a microchip which would allow the owners to be contacted immediately. If you adopted a dog that already has a microchip, be sure to update the owner information registered to the chip, because if your dog is lost it won’t help anyone if they call the previous owners.
4.        Store an emergency kit and leash in a place that is easy to get to and as close to an exit as possible. 
5.       Have all emergency numbers on hand so you can call the veterinarian or boarding facility right away or while you are on your way.  And map an evacuation route if you need to ensure time efficiency.
No one wants to image having to deal with an emergency, but that doesn’t stop them from happening.  In the case of an emergency our dogs are counting on us, as their pack leader, to tell them what to do and how to react.  Just like people, you never know how a dog will react to a disaster or a stressful event that they don’t understand.  It is up to you to ensure they are calm, safe, and cared for. So start your emergency plan today!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets: Part 4

Step 4
Choose a Caregiver – Even if you are not prepared for a natural disaster, you should always have someone you can count on to care for your dog in your absence.  If you don’t already have that designated person, you should find a person you trust (like a neighbor, pet sitter, local friend, or family member) who is willing and able to take care of your dog on a moment’s notice during a personal emergency.  This person should be trustworthy enough to have a key to your home so they can get to your dog with no delay.  When choosing this person you might think of them as your dog’s “God Parent”, which makes it a very personal and emotional decision.  You should consider questions like, Have they met your dog before? And do they have experience caring for animals? Be sure you both fully understand the responsibilities of a designated “God parent” and what you expect from them in your absence.

Items your care giver will need from you:
1.       Someway to get into your house or get your pets in your absence.  Be it a key, a code, or perhaps they can get a key from the neighbor, you need to have some kind of plan for your caregiver to get to our pets. 
2.       An emergency contact is very important if your designated contact is also unavailable.  Who do they turn to for further instructions or help with the dog if there is a state of emergency?
3.       All veterinary information including shot records, allergies, dietary restrictions, and medications are very important for anyone to be able to properly care for your dog in your absence.
4.       Someway to contact you while you are away.  If it is a serious emergency and both you and your care giver are moving around you will need to communicate at some point.  In case you are not available for an emergency decision for your pet, it is your responsibility to relay your wishes concerning vet care for your dog in your absence.

Carla of Riverside had a 2 year old Bulldog, Bruno, whom she lost while she was out of town for business training.  “My cousin was watching my dog while I was out of town.  Just a couple of days after picking Bruno up I missed a call while I was in training that Bruno wasn’t acting right. He was panting and foaming at the mouth and his belly was all swollen.  I got another call later that day to say that Bruno had died from bloat.  No one knew the symptoms so when he started acting weird they didn’t know what to do and didn’t get him to the vet in time.  It broke my heart.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets: Part 3


Step 3

Emergency Supplies & Traveling Kits-

Every house should have emergency supplies but the reality is they don’t.  It’s never too late to start food storage and it can be easier than you think.  With the current state of the economy many people are struggling just to put food on the table for regular dinner, let alone have extra money for food they won’t be eating.  It’s as simple as buying a can of beans and putting in a safe dry place you will be able to get to in case of an emergency.  One can, once a week or once a month, will not make a large difference in your budget but will make all the difference when you find yourself in the aftermath of an Earthquake. 

You can do the same with your dog food.  Store a small bag of dog food away in a cool dry place once a month.  The food will need to be rotated every two months, so the small bag you bought won’t go to waste, you will use it in two months.  Just be sure to keep replacing the bag of dog food so you have enough to feed your dog in case of an emergency.
Here is a list of ASPCA Recommended items for your emergency kit:
ü  Pet First Aid Kit & Guide book
ü  3 – 7 days of food (be sure to rotate every 2 months)
ü  Disposable Litter trays (aluminum roasting pans work)
ü  Litter or paper towel
ü  Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
ü  Garbage bags for clean up
ü  Extra harness and leash
ü  Photocopies of medical records and 2 weeks worth of any medications in a waterproof
ü  Bottled water (for people and pets)
ü  A traveling bag, crate, or sturdy carrier (preferably one for each pet)  
ü  Flashlight
ü  Blanket
ü  Recent photo copy of your pet (to identify or to help search for a lost pet)
ü  Dog toys and chewtoys
ü  Yard stake and long leash

If you have multiple household pets, this list should include any carrier, bedding, food, and water for at least a week for them as well.
Sharon of Murrieta is enjoying her retirement with her 9 year old miniature poodle, Pepper. “Being retired doesn’t give me a lot of disposable income so I can’t afford to go out and buy new items for an emergency kit.  But one of things I have been doing is putting a little away at a time.  I keep bags of dog food samples in her travel crate, ready to go in an emergency.  I also store 1 of her thyroid pills in an extra medication bottle every other week until I have a month’s worth supply.  I rotate the older medication so it doesn’t expire before I can use it.” 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Emergency Preparedness for Your Pets: Part 2

Step 2
Arrange for a Safe Place- In the situation when you will not be able to keep your pet with you (such as if you are evacuated to a Red Cross Shelter) you should have a back-up plan already in place for their safe keeping.  This safe place can be local (if you are having a personal emergency) or in another county out of harm’s way.  It is probably best to have a Plan A for local and a Plan B for non-local safe places in case you are forced out of your city.
To find a safe place:
1.       Ask your vet if they can board your pets or recommend another boarding facility.
2.       Look up a local boarding facility on your own.  While all boarding facilities take dogs, only a few take cats.  Very few will take other household pets, but that could always change in a state emergency. 
A brief list of local boarding facilities:
Amber’s Luxury Pet Hotel – 9106 Pulsar Ct., Corona
Camp Ilene – 19060 State St., Corona
Pet Chalet – 326 Adams Cir., Corona
Country Place Kennels – 10538 54th St., Mira Loma
Kenners Kennel – 5081 Bain St., Mira Loma
Coventry Pet Resort – 412 Tennessee St., Redlands
Hidden Valley Kennel – 7297 Jurupa Ave., Riverside
Riverwalk Pet Resort – 12111 Severn Way, Riverside
Ruff House Grooming – 3035 Chicago Ave., Riverside

If you plan to use a boarding facility be sure your dog meets all of their requirements in advance to avoid being turned away during an emergency.  Your dog must be current on their vaccinations to stay at any boarding facility, and the boarding facility may require your dog be spay or neutered and come for an initial interview day before their stay.  
3.       If you should be forced from your home and need a temporary place to stay with your dog, a local motel or hotel may be an option.
Here is a list of local motels/hotels that allow dogs:
                West Western Kings Inn – 1084 Pomona Rd., Corona
                Motel 6 – 200 North Lincoln Ave., Corona
                Residence Inn by Marriott – 1015 Montecito Dr., Corona
                Comfort Inn – 23330 Sunnymead Blvd., Moreno Valley
                Econo Lodge – 24412 Sunnymead Blvd., Moreno Valley
                La Quinta – 23090 Sunnymead Blvd., Moreno Valley
                Best Western Sandman Motel – 1120 W Colton Ave., Redlands
Comfort Inn University – 1590 University Ave., Riverside
Econo Lodge – 10705 Magnolia Ave., Riverside
Hampton Inn & Suites – 4250 Riverwalk Pkwy., Riverside
Motel 6 – 3663 La Sierra Ave., Riverside
Rodeway Inn – 10518 Magnolia Ave., Riverside (Formerly Best Western)
Motel 6 – 6830 Valley Way, Rubidoux
La Quinta Inn – 205 E Hospitality Ln., San Bernardino
Motel 6 – 1960 Ostrems Way or 111 E Redlands Blvd., San Bernardino

If you want a hotel that is not on the list, simply call them or check out their website to see if they allow pets.  Keep in mind, the hotels/motels charge at least $15-20 per night for dogs to stay.

In case of a city or county wide emergency, such as a local wildfire, you may consider a hotel or motel in another nearby county, such as L.A. County, Orange County, or San Diego County.