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Winter Paw Care

Winter Paw Care Tips

Winter can be a tough time for your dog’s paw pads. Prevent winter weather-related paw pad injuries by following some basic dog paw care tips and the use of products designed for paw protection.

How To Prevent Paw Pad Injuries

One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact with deicers can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. If your dog is limping toward the end of a walk, deicing products may be hurting his feet. Whenever possible, get your dog off the salty sidewalk and into the grass or snow for walking.

Another threat from deicers is ingestion. Dogs may lick their paws or your boots and ingest deicing salts. To prevent your dog from ingesting deicing salts, keep a shallow bowl of warm water and a cloth near the entryway to your home so that you can wipe your boots and your dog’s paws when coming in from the cold.

Another common cause of sore paws during the cold winter months are the ice balls which form between the pads and toes of hairy-footed dog. To reduce the risk of ice balls, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can hairy feet contribute to the development of ice balls on the feet, paw hair can retain a lot of those nasty deicing salts. If your dog has hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.

Dogs left in the cold for long periods of times are also at risk for frostbite on paws (and other extremities – ears, tail, etc.) and hypothermia. It is not advised that dogs spend hours in the cold. In winter, more frequent short walks are better for your dog than a single long walk. If you suspect your dog has hypothermia or frostbite, get him to a vet right away!

Additionally, just like the dry winter air can dry out human skin, it can contribute to the drying and cracking of dog paws. Bag Balm, a product available at nearly every pharmacy, applied in a thin layer daily or every other day should help keep your dog’s paws from cracking and bleeding. Keeping a humidifier in the house should also prevent dry, itchy skin for both you and your pet.

Products For Protecting Dog Paws

There are many products on the market designed to protect dog paw pads during the winter month, from “pet safe” deicing products to protective waxes and dog booties.

Safe Paw is a common pet-friendly deicer, but sand, small stones, and kitty litter (non-clumping) are also options for deicing while protecting your dog’s pads from injury and chemical burns.

Musher’s Secret is one of the most popular paw waxes. Paw wax is applied to the pads of the feet before a walk; forming a protective barrier between the paw and the salty sidewalk or pavement. Paw wax will wear away after extended exercise, and should be reapplied before each walk.

The best protection for your dog’s paws and pads are dog booties. Just as wearing boots in the winter protects your pads, dog booties will prevent injury to your dog’s feet. Dog boots can protect your dog’s paws from salt, ice balls, and cutting his pads on sharp items that may be hidden under the snow or sharp ice. Proper sizing of dog booties is especially important in ensuring that the booties are comfortable for your dog to wear and maximize paw protection.

Muttluks and Ruffwear are two popular providers of dog booties. If you are crafty, check out this great DIY page for a guideline on how to make your own home made dog booties.

Dog booties may look silly, but really are the ultimate protection for your dog. Human snowsuits look silly also, but are they not the best for keeping sledding kids warm? Just as your kid may not want to wear a snowsuit, your dog may not initially like wearing booties. With a little time and patience, you can train your dog to love wearing his dog boots!

Teach your dog to be comfortable having his paws handled by people before even trying to apply the boots. When your dog is comfortable having his paws handled, begin introducing the boots one at a time, and for very short periods of time. Use lots of yummy treats when the dog has the boots on, to teach him that it is nothing to worry about – in fact, boots on his paws make really good stuff happen (initially treats, eventually walks)! Once he’s ok with a bootie on each paw individually, put two boots on in random combinations. Then introduce all four boots, and let him practice walking around the house. Once he’s comfortable in the house, walk him around the back yard and front yard. At this point, your dog will realize that “these boots are made for walking!” So bundle up, both of you, and get out there in the snow for some safe, wintery exercise.

Source:  Dogster

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , | 1 Comment

Help Chained Dogs This Valentine’s Day

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has called for dog lovers to support the Dogs Deserve Better group in it’s efforts to end the practice of perpetually chaining dogs.

Help Chained Dogs This Valentine's Day

This Valentine’s Day, Dogs Deserve Better will be sending Valentine’s Day cards and dog treat coupons to the owners of chained dogs across the country during it’s “Have a Heart for Chained Dogs” week. The gift is accompanied by a brochure for the dog’s owner, explaining why the practice is a form of abuse and encouraging them to bring their dog indoors or to re-home the animal. This year the group hopes to send 15,000 such packages.

The HSUS points out that because dogs are social animals they need regular interaction with their family, and that chained dogs will experience boredom, loneliness, and isolation, which will eventually lead to territorial and aggressive behavior. This is illustrated by the fact that almost 300 children were killed or seriously injured by chained dogs in 2003, with a recent high-profile case being that of 2 year-old Matthew Clayton Hurt who was killed in Arkansas in October 2009 by a chained dog protecting her puppies. California, Maryland and Nevada have all passed laws that limit the tethering of dogs, with Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Washington currently working on laws that will limit this activity.

The charity wants dog owners across the country to take action to help end the practice by assisting the Dogs Deserve Better group in identifying chained dogs. If you know of a perpetually chained dog you can anonymously provide the dog’s address to the group. Other ways members of the public can assist is in making Valentine’s Day cars, donating pet treat coupons and donating directly.

Photograph courtesy Dogs Deserve Better.

Source: Pet People’s Place

Posted:  Just One More Pet

January 21, 2010 Posted by | animal abuse, animal behavior, animals, Just One More Pet, Pet Abuse, Pets, Political Change, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Moral Life of Dogs

When a wolf bites, it can inflict up to 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch. Yet when two wolves square off in a playful wrestling match, each usually barely grazes the skin surface of its rival. Why?

In their book Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals (University of Chicago Press, 2009), authors Marc Beckoff and Jessica Pierce argue that wolves, dogs and other animals display a wide range of what we would consider to be moral thoughts and actions. These include empathy, fairness, trust and reciprocity.

Good Dog, Good Manners
The best and clearest example of morality among dogs and other canines, such as wolves and coyotes, comes from detailed studies on social play behavior, according to Beckoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Pierce, a bioethicist at the same university. “Although play is fun, it’s also serious business,” they point out, adding that the four basic aspects of fair play in animals are:

  1. Ask first
  2. Be honest
  3. Follow the rules
  4. Admit when you’re wrong

Because actions like biting, mounting and body-slamming can easily be misinterpreted, your dog will signal in advance with a bow that what’s to follow will be playful and non-threatening. If a dog violates this “rule of bowing,” fairness breaks down and so does play, according to the authors. Beckoff adds that his work on coyotes living in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park shows that coyotes who don’t play fairly often leave their pack because they don’t form strong social bonds. Such loners suffer higher mortality rates than those who remain with others. At the very least, he says, “cheaters have a harder time finding play partners.”

From Play to Morality
Beckoff and Pierce claim it’s just a step from play to morality, with studies on children showing similar development of fairness. Like dogs, kids devise rules, or follow pre-existing ones, that allow for a certain degree of justice. Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall says, “As a child, I learned that behaving fairly during play with others was a very important social rule. As a mother, I learned that treating my child fairly was key in building his trust and cooperation.”

No one is perfect, but fair players usually apologize. Dogs do this too, according to the researchers. For example, a bow might communicate something like, “Sorry I bit you so hard – I didn’t mean it, so let’s continue playing.”

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?
Both Beckoff and Pierce say it’s not fruitful to ask if members of one species are more moral than members of another, in part because “animals do what they need to do to be card-carrying members of their species.” But morality appears to vary among individuals. For example, some people display more empathy than others. Some dogs are less aggressive. These differences are likely due to genetics, environmental influences and daily life experiences.

“It may be that dogs have fewer vices. They don’t seem to experience schadenfreude [pleasure derived from the misfortune of others], nor do they seem to take pleasure in being cruel,” says Pierce. She adds that she and other dog-loving friends think dogs are better friends, more loyal, more trustworthy, more faithful, more unconditional in their love and more attuned to our needs and our moods than other humans. So there may be a sense in which dogs are exemplars of certain human virtues.

Lessons to Learn from Dogs and Other Animals
Gorillas mourn their dead for lengthy periods. Elephants care for the sick and wounded in their herds. Rats refuse to push food-rewarding levers when they know that doing so will cause another rat to receive an electrical shock. These are just a few examples of animal behaviors that, if enacted by humans, might fall under issues of morality.

By studying such behaviors, “We learn about honesty, trust, cooperation, justice, fairness and empathy,” say Pierce and Beckoff. “We can be reminded that we need each other, just like wolves in a pack need each other. And we need to treat each other well if we want to live in a well-balanced, harmonious social group.”

by Jennifer Viegas

Posted:  Just One More Pet

January 21, 2010 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Just One More Pet, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

California Search Dogs Give Hope to Haitians

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) has been receiving encouraging cell-phone updates from it’s search teams deployed in the earthquake-stricken country of Haiti.

California Search Dogs Giving Hope to Haitians

In the aftermath of the powerful 7.0 earthquake, the SDF sent six Canine Search Teams to Haiti to assist with search and rescue efforts. The dogs the foundation employs are sourced from rescue organizations and are tasked with finding people buried alive in the wreckage of disasters. SDF recruits the dogs and partners them with firefighters, providing the canines and the training at no cost to their departments.

On Sunday, the team celebrated saving five people from the ruins of Port au Prince. After one rescue, in which a woman was rescued from the rubble of a hotel, the appreciation shown by locals for the Search Teams and their Task Force was overwhelming, and locals began chanting “USA, USA…”. Later in the day, 3 women were saved from the same collapsed building, with Search Dogs Cadillac, Maverick and Hunter playing instrumental roles in locating them. The two teams – the Blue and Red team – work in alternating shifts, ensuring that there is always a team available.

SDF Executive Director Debra Tosch comments: “The rescues in Haiti underscore the critical importance of Canine Search Teams in finding survivors in the aftermath of major disasters. This is our mission, and we’re honored to be part of the Haiti rescue effort in conjunction with the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the L.A. Country Task Force.”

SDF receives no government funding and relies solely on support from individuals, private foundations and companies to produce these highly-skilled teams. Since its founding in 1996, SDF has rescued hundreds of dogs, many on the brink of euthanasia. They have trained 105 Search Teams, 72 of which are currently active, and teams have been deployed to 66 disasters, including the World Trade Center attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Picture Courtesy of National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

by Daphne Reid – Pet People’s Place

Related:

ASPCA:  Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH)

January 21, 2010 Posted by | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Rescues, animals, Just One More Pet | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment