Saturday, August 4, 2012

Swimming With Your Dog

Dog Tip: Hiking, Camping and Swimming with Your Dog Before the trip: * Make sure vaccinations are up to date and that you take along proof of rabies vaccination. The dog should be healthy before an outing. * Apply flea and tick preventive. * Make a temporary I.D. tag displaying the name of the park, campground, motel or other reachable contact at your destination area. A lost pet service, microchip I.D. (available at most animal hospitals) and tattoo I.D. are also good to use in combination with traditional tags. Make sure the tag features your current, reachable phone number. * Get your dog in condition before hiking and camping by taking him on shorter hikes close to home. * It helps if your dog has had some obedience training. If your dog barks constantly or is very anxious, reconsider taking him camping. * Check before your trip to make sure dogs are allowed on the trails and at the parks and campgrounds you plan to visit. Packing: * Take a first aid kit for yourself and your dog. You'll find a great list of first aid kit contents below. * Also bring sunblock for you and your dog, since dogs can get sunburn. * Bring lots of bottled water. * Bring food and dishes for feeding your pet. * Take an extra leash in case your regular one gets damaged. Note: Retractable leashes can be dangerous, since you want your dog to stay close to you. Bring a short, sturdy leash for hiking. If you're hiking in terrain with cliffs, canyons, big rocks or other challenging conditions, it may be safest to attach the leash to a sturdy harness instead of to a neck collar. * Bring unbreakable toys. * Bring an extra towel for your dog. * Pack a lightweight camping crate in case your dog can get loose from your tent. * Bring a pad for chilly nights. * Get a backpack for your medium or large dog so he can carry some unbreakable items. Go on walks before the trips so that the dog can gradually get used to a loaded backpack. A dog can carry a load equal to one-quarter to one-third of his own weight. However, do not place a backpack on dogs under one year of age, or any dog prone to dyplasia, joint problems or other health conditions. * You can buy a pet pouch to carry a little dog. * Pack and use dog boots if you are hiking in rough terrain. * If your dog will be swimming in a lake, bring a canine life jacket and a long nylon lead. See the Swimming section below. Before you begin the hike: * Remember to pack plenty of water. You and your dog will drink more than usual. * Apply sunblock to your dog's sun-sensitive areas such as nose and ears, particularly with pets with short fur and light skin. Sunblock should be at least SPF 15, and should be applied more than 15 minutes before sun exposure. Note: some experts recommend that zinc oxide not be used on pets. * Keep your dog on leash. * If you are placing a backpack on your dog, distribute the weight evenly and do not overpack (see above). Keep it light if on rough or challenging terrain. During the hike: * Check your dog's footpads every day no matter where you hike or camp. Check for thistles, debris or soreness along the way. Bag Balm and Vaseline are two good choices for soothing raw paw pads. Check fur, paws, nose, eye area and ears for foxtails. Also check for ticks. * Be very cautious in areas with cliffs, gulches, canyons, caves, big rocks, etc. Many dogs have no concept of heights, and they can slip under railings. Some have drowned in geyser areas. Keep your dog close to you. * Do not let your dog wander into the brush. He can pick up the oils from poison ivy and other plants and transfer the oils to you. Plus you want to minimize his chances of exposure to ticks and wild animals. * When your dog potties on a trail, bury it. * Keep watch for piles of feces, whether from other dogs or wildlife. Animal feces carry any number of germs and parasites. Near the water, they may be subjected to toxins from dead fish or other pollutants. * Make sure your dog has access to shade and to a clean, non-tippable bowl of fresh water. Dogs are uncomplaining partners, so you need to pay attention to make sure your pet is not suffering from too much sun, heat, exercise or thirst. * If your dog is bitten by a snake, immobilize the body part that has been bitten. Keep it at or below the level of the heart. Keep the pet calm and still. Carry the pet if possible. Get to a vet as soon as possible, and try to identify the type of snake. Do not manipulate the bitten area any more than necessary. Do not cut over the fang marks. Do not ice pack or tourniquet the area. After the hike: * Rinse dogs off immediately after hikes and swims. Pay special attention to cleaning their ears and around their paw pads and toes. Also check eyes and nostrils. For tips for removing foreign objects from skin, paws, eyes and ears, and for removing tar and paint from fur, see * To clean off pine sap or tar, try Dawn dishwashing liquid, or petroleum jelly to soften and follow with washing with baby shampoo. Swimming with Dogs: Some breeds are natural water dogs, but most dogs can learn to enjoy a swim now and then. * Introduce a dog to water as early as possible, and make sure the experience is a positive one. Look for a pleasant, quiet place with shallow water. Keep the dog on leash; you can use a long leash, such as one made of nylon that will dry easily. Start the dog at the water's edge, then him let him trot there awhile. Wade in with the dog. If he inches in a little on his own, praise him. * Never force a dog into the water, and do not let the dog enter deep water. You can toss a ball a couple of feet to encourage him to venture in a little deeper, but you don't want him to get in literally or figuratively over his head. Belly-deep is deep enough. * Bring fresh water for your dog. Even freshwater streams and lakes can contain parasites and unhealthy bacteria. * Do not let your dog swim into currents. * It may be easy for a dog to jump into deep water, but not easy to get out. A dog can panic and possibly drown. Without an easily accessible ramp, a dog may not be able to get out of a swimming pool or jump back onto a dock. So avoid deep water. * If you are swimming in lakes or boating, get your dog a well-fitted canine life vest. You can use a long nylon lead to prevent escapes. Keep watch to make sure he does not get tangled in the lead. As always, take fresh water for you and your dog. * Warning: There are alligators in water bodies in Florida and coastal towns in other southern states. * Owners who fish should take steps to make sure their pets cannot access their fishing lines, lures, hooks and bait. * Also keep them away from feces and fish and shellfish washed up on the shore, which can contain toxins. * In addition to using sunblock (see above), make sure your dog has access to shade. Too much sun can lead to a medical emergency. * At the beach, sand and salt water can irritate paw pads. Rinse paws immediately after visiting the beach. * Dry out ears immediately after playing in the water to prevent ear infections. * If you use a flea collar, remove the flea collar before letting a dog enter water, since wet flea collars can irritate the skin, and the active ingredients will wash off. * Pools. If you have a pool, keep it securely fenced off and, when not in use, covered with a sturdy pool cover. To enable dogs and children a way to climb out of the water, the pool needs to have graded steps out of the pool. Dogs and toddlers cannot climb ladders. If a dog cannot get out of the water, he will soon tire of paddling and drown. Also, do not assume a dog will automatically know where the steps are and how to exit the pool. You need to teach him. * For pools secured into the cement around the pool with heavy duty springs and fasteners, the pool cover should be made of nylon mesh to allow drainage. Water cannot drain off solid fabric, so a dog or small child could slip and drown in the water on the pool cover. Rescuing a Drowning Dog Adapted from a July 2003 Dog Fancy article about drowning by Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, author of First Aid for Dogs: Even a dog who loves to swim can get tired, get cramps, swallow water or get caught in currents. Dogs with low body fat (such as Dobermans) are less buoyant and have less protection against the cold of the water. If the dog is limp, unconscious, or unresponsive, wrap her in a towel. Keep her neck and back immobilzed in case of spinal injury. Use board to move the dog. If the dog is not breathing, lay her flat on her right side, make several quick compressions to her chest to expel water, then feel for a heartbeat just behind the left elbow. If a heartbeat is present, but she still is not breathing, check the back of her throat for obstructions. If there does not seem to be an obstruction, close the dog's muzzle by firmly encircling it with your hand. Put the dog's tongue in her mouth first so she doesn't bite it. Then blow into her nose. The force of your breath should vary depending on the size of the dog. Watch for rising of her chest wall, and keep checking the heartbeat a few times a minute. If you can't feel it, make one or two quick, firm compressions on the chest wall with both of your palms pressed flat on top of each other, and begin artificial respiration � about 15 breaths followed by a chest compression. Continue until the dog regains consciousness, respiration and heartbeat, or when emergency workers take over. * Blue-Green Algae -- a special report from PAW volunteer Lynne Keffer: Hot, sunny weather brings out people, and with many people also come their dogs. Caution is in order for both humans and canines when frolicking in a lake or pond, however, as such bodies of water can be home to blue-green algae, which can contain high levels of toxins, such as microcystin or anatoxin. Blue-green algae form in warm, nutrient-rich water. Hot, dry, calm weather conditions promote the growth of blue-green algae. The blue-green algae appear as a heavy greenish-blue scum on the water or shoreline, where they congregate. Sustained gentle winds can concentrate the algae on the leeward, or down wind side, of the water body. When blue-green algae bloom, they look thick like pea soup or blue or green paint on the water. They are mostly blue-green, although they can also be brown or purple. When blue-green algae wash up on shore, they resemble a thick mat or foam on the beach. People should avoid swimming in areas where there is visible green or blue-green scum collected on the surface of the water. The presence of dead animals such as birds, muskrats, and other animals indicates a high toxin level. Ingestion of algae that are producing toxin can result in symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Skin exposure can result in irritation or allergic reactions. Children should especially be kept from entering scummy water since they are more likely to ingest the water than adults. The treatment for blue green algae intoxication is symptomatic, and usually unsuccessful. Dogs are at risk if they eat the algae or drink the water in an area where a toxic algae bloom is taking place. They may also ingest the algae by licking their fur after they have been in water that is thick with algae. Experts advise pet owners to keep their dogs away from the algae. If your dog does get into the water in an area where you see the algae, wash the dog off immediately with clean water. Be sure to clean the dog's ears too. Not all blue-green algae blooms produce toxin. However there is no way to tell just by looking at them. Most other algae lake plants do not produce any toxin. Generally, lots of wind, cooler weather, rainfall, and cloudy days will lead to the collapse of an algae bloom. Some blooms die off after a few days or weeks, while others persist for a few months. First Aid Kit and Guidance: Keep a pet First Aid Kit with you. This webpage lists items to include: The Hiker First Aid Kit for Canines: CPR and Mouth-to-Snout Resuscitation (print and take these life-saving brochures with you): When traveling, you can find a nearby veterinarian using the AAHA Animal Hospital Locator: Poison Emergency 24-Hour Hotlines: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 1-888-4-ANI-HELP or 1-888-426-4435 National Animal Poison Control Center 1-800-548-2423 First Aid for the Active Dog by Sid Gustafson. Take this guide when you hike, camp or travel with your dog. Other web sources about outdoor activities and travel with dogs: Car Trips and Car Safety: Travel with Pets -- Packing, Preparation and Other Trip Tips: Hotels, Motels, Lodging with Pets: Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes - Prevention and Treatment: Remedies for Insect Stings and Bites, Hot Spots and other Skin Conditions: Summer Health and Safety Guide: Lawn, Outdoor and Warm Weather Safety Tips: Outdoor Fun with Pets: Pet-Friendly Campgrounds, Parks and Beaches Hiking With Dogs: Becoming a Wilderness-Wise Dog Owner by Linda B. Mullally ------ For more Dog Tips and other information about pet care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at: Partnership for Animal Welfare P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dog Tricks!!

Take A Bow

Foreword: Bow is a pretty easy trick, but looks impressive!

Directions: There are two ways to teach this trick. You must decide which will be the best for your Rover.

BOW for the food crazy Rover: Since your Rover will jump off a plane to get that little doggy treat, this version should be pretty easy to teach. Start by getting those yummy treats! Next, have Rover stand while you kneel next to him. Now take that treat and hold it between Rovers front paws. Hopefully, Rover will now look down and try to get the treat. If Rover doesn't respond to the treat, move on to the other version.
Once Rover starts to reach for the treat, pull your hand slightly back, so Rover must look in between his legs. To keep his balance, Rover should now BOW. Give him the treat! Now repeat it until Rover goes into the BOW position faster. Meanwhile, you should be saying BOW every time he BOWS.
If Rover lays down instead of bowing, gently put your hand on his tummy while Rover is standing. This should keep him from laying down.

BOW for the food picky Rover: If you have one of those Rover's who just won't respond to those yummy doggy treats (including mine) you have to try this version.
Start by kneeling next to Rover with one hand on Rovers shoulder and the other supporting his tummy. Now say BOW and gently apply pressure from the hand that's on Rovers shoulder. Repeat this, saying BOW every time and rewarding Rover for being forced into the position. Once he starts getting it, you won't have to apply so much pressure anymore.
This should get Rover into the BOW position, but if your working with a BIG Rover, here is another version to try.
BOW for the food picky BIG Rover: Well, since BIG Rover just won't budge using the above methods, here is another version to try. Kneel next to BIG Rover and put one hand on his tummy and the other on his forelegs. Now say BOW, and grab his front legs and gently pull them forward until he is in the BOW position. Now praise and try it again. Be gently though, or BIG Rover will protest.

Hide Your Face

Foreword: At your command Rover will hide one of his eyes! So cute and a trick every movie star dog knows. The technique for HIDE YOUR EYES is very similar to SHAKE. So come on, letÕs brush up on some movie star dog basics!


Water Directions: Simply acquire a spray bottle with water in it. Call Rover over to you and have Rover sit. Say "Rover, HIDE!" and give a GENTEL MIST in the direction of Rovers face. Aim for the general face area.
Now Rover can have multiple reactions to this. At points some of my Rovers have tried to 'drink' the water, run away, shake their heads, and also hidden their eyes. Adjust where you spray, aiming for the ears for the shaking of the head, and eyes for HIDE YOUR EYES.
Once Rover starts to HIDE on spray, simply repeat, saying HIDE before you spray, giving Rover a chance to do it. Reward him every time he hides his eyes and stop after a couple shake and sprays! After a while, you will not have to spray anymore, just have the bottle in your hand and say HIDE. This will then progress to you only making a spraying motion with you hand and saying HIDE.

Air Directions: I prefer using this method. Not only is it more convenient, but it also prevents water from irritating Rover's eyes. Follow the water directions, but instead of using a spray bottle, just gently blow in the directions of Rover ear.

Tape Directions: Another alternative is to use a piece of tape and place it below Rover's eye. Make sure it is a very weak brand, and stick and un-stick it on your hand or pant leg a couple of times first. This way it will still stick on Rover but will come off without some of RoverÕs fur! Follow the water directions, but instead of using a spray bottle, use the tape.

The Jump Rope Trick

Foreword: This is a tough trick! But it looks cool once Rover gets it. It also is a good way to get that extra energy a little lower!

Directions: The easiest way to start teaching this trick is to get Rover on a box. You want it large enough for Rover to turn around on, but not so large that Rover can walk around on it. Hold on to Rovers collar and slowly slide a stick under Rover. Start at Rovers forequarters and then move on to his hindquarters. The first time go really slow, so Rover does not get scared and tries to jump of the box. Let Rover step over the stick. Only do this for about 2 minutes at a time.
After Rover gets used to stepping over the stick at a slow pace, go a little faster. Use the command JUMP ROPE when he is jumping over it. Now you can try him with the jump rope. Always start at his front and pull the rope to the back. Once he is jumping over it, you can take him down from the box and try it on the ground. If he jumps over the rope and stays on the same spot your work is done! If not back up a step.

The Limping Dog

Foreword: I have had some trouble with this trick. If you have taught your dog to limp pretty fast using these or some other directions, please feel free to email them to me!

Directions: Start with having Rover on a leash. Stand in front of him and loop the leash under one of his forelegs, so you can elevate his wrist. Now gently pull on the leash so that he must elevate his leg. Now call Rover to you. ROVER, COME, LIMP. If he takes a couple steps with only three legs, praise him! Now let him rest and try again.
If Rover does not like being three legged and tries to pull away, get a second person to help you. Have her hold onto Rovers collar and leg while you call him to you.
Once Rover starts to get it, relax a little on the leash and have him walk a bigger distance. Now you can also try it off leash. Make a sling around his wrist and attach it to his collar. Now call him to you using the LIMP command. If Rover tries to walk on all four legs go back a step. If he does LIMP you can now remove the leash and try him. If he LIMPS, your work is finished! Good job!!!


Foreword: CRAWL took me a little while to teach because I train my dog by myself. It is easier to have a second person gently keep the dog from standing up while the other calls the dog. But it can be achieved with only one person too.

Directions: Tell Rover to lay down. Get down on your knees and gently grab hold onto Rovers collar with one hand and put the other on Rovers back. Now tell Rover to CRAWL and gently pull forward on Rovers collar. The response you will probably get is that Rover will try to stand up. That's when you use your other hand that you have on his back. Push him down gently before he stands up all the way. Now try it again while giving a little pressure from the hand on his back. If he crawls a couple inches, praise him (make sure he doesn't get up while you do) and give him a treat. Now try it again.
If Rover is really stubborn and wont budge an inch, then get that second person to help you. The second person (Lets call her Su) will stand a little distance (Start with only a couple feet away) away from you and Rover. Get back down on your knees next to Rover with one hand on his back and one on his collar. Tell Su to call him. Rover will of course try to get up and run to Su. Push him down gently and make Rover CRAWL!
Once you have done this a couple times with Rover, and Rover is making no effort of standing up while he is crawling, you can start not putting your hand on his back. If Rover stands up go back to the last step. If Rover remains down, lots of praise! Now you can move on with you standing while giving the command. Then move away and tell Rover to CRAWL. If Rover does, your work is done!!!!
Also you can lure Rover into CRAWLING by holding a treat infront of Rovers nose, dragging it along the ground. Keep a hand on Rovers back/collar.

Play Dead

Foreword: This trick is best taught after Rover has had some exercise and is ready to rest. Rover will need to know the DOWN command to successfully complete this trick.

Directions: Tell Rover to DOWN and note the side that he is leaning on. Now gently push him over saying PLAY DEAD. As he rolls over on his side praise him and give him a tummy scratch. Repeat this until you don't have to use any pressure to get him to roll onto his side.

Conclusion: This trick is part of the BANG BANG trick, but can be used by itself too. Simply say BANG as the command instead of PLAY DEAD. Because Rover was shot down he must remain still. Practice this a couple of times making Rover stay in the PLAY DEAD position, not moving a muscle.


This one is really really cute, but your dog has to know all the other tricks first, and then must learn to put them in the right sequence. It's complicated but well worth the effort!!

Foreword: To perform this trick your dog must know LIMP, CRAWL and PLAY DEAD. If Rover knows these tricks by heart you can try the BANG BANG trick!
Suddenly you pull your 'imaginary finger gun' and point at Rover and say BANG! Rover starts to LIMP. Another BANG and Rover starts to CRAWL. Another BANG and Rover PLAYS DEAD.

Directions: To teach the BANG BANG trick, give Rover the LIMP command followed by you pulling out your finger and saying BANG. If Rover LIMPS give lots of praise. Now tell Rover to CRAWL followed by pulling out your finger and saying BANG. Praise! Now do the same thing for PLAY DEAD.
Repeat the sequence always going from LIMP to CRAWL to PLAY DEAD. You must do this, because you only have one command (BANG) for three different tricks. After you do this a couple times you can start dropping the first word and only say BANG.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dogs Decoded

Watched a very interesting video on dogs genetics, and the ability they have developed to interact and communicate with humans... They're much smarter than we think they are!

You Tube Video

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Using Operant Conditioning for Dog Training

There are numerous methods utilized today for dog training - but which one(s) should you use to train your own canine?

What is Operant Conditioning?
Operant conditioning is the modification of behavior through the use of consequences (reinforcers and punishers). Although there are arguments against this, operant conditioning differs from classical conditioning in that it deals with changing operant behavior (or 'voluntary' behavior) versus reflexive behavior ('involuntary' behavior). That being said, whenever you're dealing with changing behaviors, operant and classical conditioning can work hand-in-hand.

Operant conditioning has two main tools for modifying behavior - reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcers increase behavior, while punishers decrease a behavior. These operate in two contexts - positive and negative. In this case, positive refers to addition; negative refers to subtraction.

B.F. Skinner was the "Pavlov" of operant conditioning, and actually outlined a third tool - extinction - which is the lack of any consequence. Though it might seem like doing nothing couldn't be an effective training method, it can actually produce results when used correctly.

Positive Reinforcement
An important thing to keep in mind when considering which of these tools to utilize is the long-term effects each can have on your dog. Positive reinforcement is - in my opinion - the strongest teaching tool - not only does it focus on increasing positive behavior; it teaches the dog to want to work with his owner and continue learning and trying.

The basic premise of positive reinforcement is: dog performs behavior, dog gets rewarded. The dog learns - at first - "every time I do this, I get THIS." After a desired behavior is consistently occurring, then the trainer will begin to decrease payment of the behavior, only focusing on the dog's best performances. This encourages the dog to try his best each and every time, since he only gets paid for his best endeavors.

Once a behavior is learned, the dog is only paid intermittently. He's not quite sure when he'll get paid, so once again, he is going to offer his best effort all the time. This form of intermittent reinforcement is often where most trainers who teach clicker training fail to understand the implications of operant conditioning. They teach their trainers to use treats and pay their dog for every single occurrence of behavior. This actually creates a dog who doesn't perform very well; since he's never pushed to give his best, he gets treated regardless of performance and often these dogs are lazy, don't perform behaviors on cue and tend to get lackadaisical about working with their trainers.

Negative Punishment
Negative punishment is also a strong tool to decrease unwanted behavior, since this method focuses on the removal of a desired reward when an unwanted behavior occurs. Trained consistently, the dog will learn whenever she offers a certain behavior, she loses something she's very motivated to have - i.e., a treat, a toy, another behavior (such as going outside, going for a walk, etc.). Other examples would be a dog gets overly excited while being petted, so the person ignores the dog until she settles and then continues petting; or a very a high prey-drive dog not being allowed to play fetch unless she displays the correct behavior. Fetch in this case is not only a game; it can be a very strong teaching tool. Of course, all dogs are different and are motivated - at different times - by different things. You need to choose the best motivator for your own dog in order to truly see results.

Negative Reinforcement
While the concept of training through negative reinforcement may seem counter-intuitive to positive methods, it can actually be a strong tool. Keep in mind 'negative' in this sense doesn't carry an emotional connotation. Negative reinforcement is the increase in desired behavior caused by the removal of an unwanted stimulus.

An example of negative reinforcement would be teaching a dog to respond to touch. If you place your hand on your dog's side and push, eventually he'll move away from the pressure. You're not hurting the dog, but pressure can actually be an adverse stimulus. When the dog moves away, you remove the pressure. This is how horses are trained to move while being ridden - it's called 'leg aiding' and applies the very theory of negatively reinforcing the horse for moving away from a rider's leg when pressure is applied.

Positive Punishment
There are many reasons I don't utilize this type of training with dogs - mainly because with this method you're merely telling the dog "don't do that!" Instead of empowering her with what she should or could be doing, you're focusing on one thing she shouldn't be doing.

In other words, dogs are always doing something, and if you use this method of training, you won't get very far, since it's a major trial-and-error to teach them the things you don't want them to do. That is, the communication focuses on an undesired stimulus (to the dog) such as a shock collar, a yell, even hitting the dog when she offers an undesired behavior (to the human). Even if you use positive punishment in conjunction with the other methods, another consequence from using this type of training occurs: your dog learns to be afraid to try new behaviors. This is because (through intermittent reinforcement) she doesn't know when she'll receive a shock (or other adverse stimulus) for a new behavior.

What you have, in effect, is a dog who doesn't entirely trust you - or herself.

Extinction is the lack of consequence after a behavior. This can be utilized by a trainer to decrease behaviors. When a behavior consistently produces no consequence, that behavior will occur with less and less frequency. Keep in mind the dog has to be accustomed to the 'rule': desired behavior results in reward.

However, you might have heard of an "extinction burst." This refers to the dog taking more action in order to gain the desired consequence. For example, when free shaping a dog, you'd start by paying the slightest increments, and once the dog is offering the first increment consistently, you don't pay him the next time. The dog knows this behavior has paid before, so what he'll do is try harder to gain the consequence.

Of course, as mentioned before, if the dog never gets paid for the behavior, he will slowly stop offering the behavior, since there is no gain in performing it.

Remember, whichever method you decide to use, don't forget to have fun!

Thanks to Teaching Dog Obedience for this well written article!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Treats for Dogs

"He loves me, he loves me not..." Fortunately, that's something you never have to worry about with your dog. He'll love you through thick and thin, no matter how you look or how much money you have. It doesn't get any better than that for Valentine's Day!

Your dog gives you unconditional love, and you love him with all your heart, too. But you can do one thing your dog can't: You can make him some delectable Valentine's goodies as an extra special treat. (If your dog had opposable thumbs and could read, he would do the same for you.)

Here are three of our favorite Valentine's treat recipes from the Interwebs. They're so good you might be tempted to have a bite yourself. (Well, maybe not the liver treats...)

Carob-Dipped Valentine's Day Dog Treats

From Doggie Stylish

•1 egg
•1/4 cup applesauce
•1/2 cup beef or chicken broth
•1 tablespoon honey
•1 tablespoon molasses
•1/4 cup cooking oil
•2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
•2 cups carob chips

Cooking Instructions
Preheat oven to 300 F.

In a large bowl, combine egg, applesauce, broth, honey, molasses and oil. Gradually stir in flour.

Dough should be stiff, add flour or water to adjust.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough into 1/4 inch thickness.

Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make shapes from the dough

Place on lightly greased cookie sheets and bake for 30 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

Melt carob chips in microwave or double boiler.

Dip half of the heart into the melted carob.

Place cookies on waxed paper and let stand until carob is set.

Red Velvet Pupcakes

Adapted from

Red velvet is all the rage in the world of cupcakes these days. So why not try these crimson-hued beauties on your best friend? Beet juice gives them their color, an whole-wheat flour gives them fiber. The cottage cheese icing helps make these trendy treats a balanced meal.

•1/4 cup canola oil
•1 cup applesauce
•1/3 cup beet puree or fresh beet juice
•1 and 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

Cooking Instructions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a six-cup muffin tin with muffin cups.

In a large bowl whisk together oil, applesauce and beet puree.

In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Slowly stir flour mixture into the wet ingredients.

Spoon batter into muffin cups to three-quarters full and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the pan and cool on a rack.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree cottage cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds. Keep frosting refrigerated until cupcakes are completely cool. Frost and serve.

Valentine Liver Nibbles Recipe

From The Honest Kitchen

Nothing says "Be my Valentine" better than a blender full of raw beef liver. You have to love your dog a lot to pop that special ingredient into your blender and then make yourself a smoothie in it the next day. These treats are very nutritious and judging from our dogs' reactions, very delicious.

•1 lb fresh raw organic beef liver or chicken liver
•3 free range eggs
•1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
•2 cups instant oats
•1 Tbsp applesauce (optional)
•2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
•3 Tbsp powdered kelp
•Filtered water sufficient to make a batter


Process the liver in a blender or food processor until completely pureed. Beat the eggs in a bowl and pour in the oil. Add the liver. Mix in the dry ingredients slowly, stirring continuously so they are thoroughly combined. Add water gradually, until you have a "batter" consistency. Pour this batter into a loaf tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Cool in the tin until able to be handled, then gently turn the loaf out onto a rack and refrigerate to cool completely. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter. Store in a sealed container.

Thanks to Dogster for these delicious ideas!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Guide to a Pet-Friendly Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day can be as much fun for pets as it is for humans if dangerous foods, flora and other items are kept out of paws’ reach. Each year our poison control experts see a rise in cases around February 14, many involving chocolate and lilies, a flower that’s potentially fatal to cats. So please heed our experts’ advice—don’t leave the goodies lying around on Lover’s Day.

Pet-Safe Bouquets
Many pet owners are still unaware that all species of lily are potentially fatal to cats. When sending a floral arrangement, specify that it contain no lilies if the recipient has a cat—and when receiving an arrangement, sift through and remove all dangerous flora. If your pet is suffering from symptoms such as stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea, he may have ingested an offending flower or plant. Use our online toxic and nontoxic plant libraries as visual guides of what and what not should be in your bouquets.

Forbidden Chocolate
Seasoned pet lovers know the potentially life-threatening dangers of chocolate, including baker’s, semi sweet, milk and dark. In darker chocolates, methylxanthines—caffeine-like stimulants that affect gastrointestinal, neurologic and cardiac function—can cause vomiting/diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an abnormally elevated heart rate. The high-fat content in lighter chocolates can potentially lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Go ahead and indulge, but don’t leave chocolate out for chowhounds to find.

Careful with Cocktails
Spilled wine, half a glass of champagne, some leftover liquor are nothing to cry over until a curious pet laps them up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and even coma. Potentially fatal respiratory failure can also occur if a large enough amount is ingested.

Life Is Sweet
So don’t let pets near treats sweetened with xylitol. If ingested, gum, candy and other treats that include this sweetener can result in a sudden drop in blood sugar known as hypoglycemia. This can cause your pet to suffer depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Don’t let pets near roses or other thorny stemmed flowers. Biting, stepping on or swallowing their sharp, woody spines can cause serious infection if a puncture occurs. “It’s all too easy for pets to step on thorns that fall to the ground as a flower arrangement is being created,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine for the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. De-thorn your roses far away from pets.

Playing with Fire
It’s nice to set your evening a-glow with candlelight, but put out the fire when you leave the room. Pawing kittens and nosy pooches can burn themselves or cause a fire by knocking over unattended candles.

Wrap it Up
Gather up tape, ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, cellophane and balloons after presents have been opened—if swallowed, these long, stringy and “fun-to-chew” items can get lodged in your pet’s throat or digestive tract, causing her to choke or vomit.

The Furry Gift of Life?
Giving a cuddly puppy or kitten may seem a fitting Valentine’s Day gift—however, returning a pet you hadn’t planned on is anything but romantic. Companion animals bring with them a lifelong commitment, and choosing a pet for someone else doesn’t always turn out right. Those living in the Manhattan area can let their loved one choose their own cat with a gift certificate to adopt from the ASPCA. If you’re not from New York, check your local animal care facility or take a romantic trip to the shelter together.

Thanks to The ASPCA for this article!