Monday, June 29, 2015

The Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July, America's Independence Day, is cause for celebration but that celebration can lead to problems for dogs and cats. It's so important to keep them safe.

Picnics and barbecues are fun for the family but be careful of what sorts of food your pets eat. If friends and relatives are likely to feed them from the table, ask them in advance not to do that and keep you dog or cat in another room while food is being served. The last thing you want is a visit to the Emergency clinic with a sick pet.

The biggest problem of the holiday is the fireworks. If they sound loud to us, imagine how they must sound to dogs and cats whose hearing is so much more sensitive than ours!  If you're going to an outdoor fireworks display, please leave your pet safely at home. Being that close to the sound is even more frightening for sensitive ears and your pet is liable to bolt and run our of fear, no matter how well-mannered he is. To be sure that your pet is protected, he or she should be wearing a name tag as well as be microchipped. Don't forget to register the microchip. It does no good if a veterinarian or shelter reads the chip and can't find the owner. Do not leave pets outside. Keep them safely indoors!
Photo:  ThunderShirt

Even inside your home, the sound of fireworks from public displays in the area, or neighbors who insist upon setting off their own, is very upsetting to most dogs and cats. They often hide in the bathroom, behind the toilet if they can fit.  And they shake from fear.  Some are so afraid that they will bolt out of the house.

Do not be afraid to reassure your pet and try to distract him, although that's not always possible. You certainly should not yell at them. They're already frightened. There's never a need to yell. Being wrapped in something snug can make your dog or cat feel more secure.  I often recommend ThunderShirt, which is available for dogs and cats in a variety of sizes. It fits snugly and makes the pet feel secure, rather like a baby swaddled in a blanket. It provides gentle pressure. (It's also a nice solution for cats who are afraid to go to the veterinarian.)

Other such products include the AnxietyWrap and Storm Defender, the latter is a cape for dogs with a  special lining. 

If your pet exhibits more severe symptoms like excessive shaking, not eating, a lot of salivating or even incontinence, speak to your veterinarian about medication. You do not want to use Acepromazine, which will only make the pet sleepy but will not impact anxiety, in fact, they can come out of it even more fearful. Benedryl isn't a good idea, either. It may make your dog sleepy but he's still going to be upset and anxious. Better medications are available from your veterinarian to address the problem.

Photo: ThunderShirt
You can also try desensitizing your pet to the sound. Not just fireworks, but thunder as well if your pet has thunder phobia.  There are a number of places on the internet where you can find recordings of thunder or fireworks that you can play for your pet to slowly accustom him to the sound. 

The Fourth of July doesn't have to be a nightmare for your pet if you are prepared to help keep your pet calm.  Happy Independence Day!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Coach Pups? Yes!

I know what you're thinking: she's writing about Dalmatians. Good guess. Wrong. But a good guess. When I think of Coach Dogs I think of Dalmatians. They are eternally associated with coaches and fire trucks. Look again. I wrote Coach Pups because my attention was captured by a new advertising campaign being rolled out by Coach, Inc. the leading New York design house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle collections.  The ones I drool over like a Newfoundland who is about to be fed.

Coach is going to the dogs in a pretty neat way for their Fall Collection. Their advertising will feature canine stars in a series of portraits photographed by Steven Meisel. We should all be so lucky.  The campaign celebrates the dogs in our lives and captures each one's unique personality as they model Coach's Fall 2015 star bags. Star bags?  Ask Coach, not me.  I'm more inclined to think the dog portraits are the real stars. 

Above is the very first portrait to kick off the campaign and the only pup to be revealed so far. The others will be announced "shortly."  (Your guess is as good as mine.)  The Coach Pup pictured, an utterly adorable French Bulldog, Miss Asia Kinney, is the little dog who owns Lady Gaga and has her own social media following. She models the Edie and the Rucksack bags in the campaign.

The campaign is art directed by Fabien Baron and styled by Karl Templer. I can assure you that no one has ever written a similar sentence about me. 

"I am so proud of Miss Asia," said Lady Gaga.  "She's a natural in front of the camera, and we're both so excited that the iconic Steven Meisel shot her for Coach's pup campaign! I really love getting to watch my best friend be a star!"

Stuart Vevers, who is Coach's Creative Director certainly enjoyed the experience, "I've never had so much fun on a shoot," he acknowledged. "The combination of Mr. Meisel and the pups was an extraordinary, surreal, special moment. We wanted to create playful images that make you smile. We were inspired by some images from the Coach archive, which featured Eddie - the dog that starred in the TV series, Frasier [Tell that to Kelsey Grammar!] - to create something joyful, with humor and character. That's a spirit that's uniquely at the heart of Coach."

Now for what I consider the "best" part: the new initiative will also introduce the social campaign #coachpups, including a range of online activities for fellow dog fanciers, opportunities for Instameets, special talks and other events hosted by the great and the good of the canine world. (These are Coach's words. I have not been made privy to who they might be. You know that I only advocate positive training and grassroots organizations.) This will also mark the debut of the Coach Snapchat account.

Here's something I can get behind: Coach has made a donation to Chicago French Bulldog Rescue ( on behalf of Miss Asia Kinney and Lady Gaga.

Coach was established in New York City in 1941.  You can find them at:

NOTE: I received no payment of any sort for this blog post. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cat Got Your Tongue? No. Cat Has the Dog's Bed

Cats and Dogs can live together quite harmoniously. However, when you wonder who rules the roost, so to speak, the cats often have the upper paw. Just like small children, they need to learn to share, as so well shown in this video compilation from HooplaHa:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Did You Ever See Animals Interacting with Their Reflection in a Mirror?

Cinnamon by Jayne Lewis

Animals are so much fun. We love interacting with them and for good reason - they are part of the family. One of the most amusing things is to see an animal's first reaction upon seeing him or herself in a mirror for the first time. Do they realize they're looking at their own reflection? Do they think they're seeing a potential playmate? An enemy? There are probably as many answers as there are animals. 
I thought we could use a little levity this week so I'm happy to share the video below. Take a look at what the nice people at Hoopla-Ha!

Relax, laugh and share this with your animal loving friends. They deserve a laugh, too.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much

When I first read Women Who Love Cats Too Much, I fell in love with Allia Zobel's writing, wonderfully illustrated by Nicole Hollander. The book was hilarious. I read it, re-read it and have never forgotten it. When a book is that much fun, what else can you do?

Allia & Angela
Jump ahead in time. I was fortunate enough to meet, and get to know, the author, now Allia Zobel Nolan, an incredibly prolific award winning writer who has over 200 children's and adults trade titles. She also has, as you would expect, a great sense of humor and a real love for cats. Her own kitties aren't just loved, they're adored. Her Mr. Right, who prefers dogs, also loves cats. Smart man. They share their home with two feline children, Sineady Cat, the Fraidy Cat, and Nolan Nolan. Allia's beloved Angela Dahling, the oldest of their kitties, passed on a few months ago after a very long, happy life.

I've enjoyed so many of Allia's books over the years, but it didn't surprise me when, by popular demand, she revised and brought back Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much.  Even the original cartoonist, Nicole Hollander is back. 

It's no surprise that in its new incarnation, the book is still hilarious and those of us who love cats can certainly relate even if it is a little, well, uh, er, umm, exaggerated. No, we really don't need a ten-step program. We're not crazy. Really. We just love cats. A lot. A whole lot. 

Could I relate to this book? Yes. Can I laugh at myself? Thankfully, that's a Yes, too. You know I also love dogs. I consider myself multi-cultural.

"I know there are women out there who try (many in vain) to cover up their addiction to pleasing their puddies," says Zobel Nolan, admitting, "I'm one of them. So I reprised the is book for two reasons: to throw cold water in their faces so they snap out of their dilemma and get a life (fat chance), and failing that, to let feline-addicted women know they're a member of a silent sorority who find it impossible to look into their cat's heart-wrenching eyes and say that callous two-letter word, 'No.'"  

Here's a sneak preview:

Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much by Allia Zobel Nolan is due for release on June 15, 2015 and will retail for $10.05  It's a wonderful book and a terrific gift for your cat-loving friends.

You can pre-order it either at Amazon: 

Or from the publisher, HCI:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Heat Safety

Alana, Photo by Claire Clayton

We love our pets and we love having them with us, but there are times when they are much safer and happier at home.

I'm a huge fan of Summer. I love these sunny days, especially because I live in place where Winter seems to last forever. Lots of snow, brutally cold days and nights, grey skies. Summer seems like a special blessing. 

Redbear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross
While there are lots of things we can do outdoors with dogs we also have to be aware of the dangers of summer heat. Just like us, dogs can get heatstroke. It's not unusual for pet owners to want to take their dogs (or cat) with them while they run errands.  You really think you'll only be gone for a minute or two, leaving your four-legged companion locked in the car. Well, you really don't know if you'll only be gone for a minute or two. You may get stuck in a line, something can take longer to find, you may run into someone who wants to chat and you lose track of time.

Here's the truth of what happens while your pets are inside the car.  The temperature inside the car will rise 40º F. in an hour even when it's only 72º outside and most of that happens within the first half hour. You cracked your windows open? Sorry, but that won't stop the heat from rising. On a hot day a car can reach 120º within minutes and heatstroke can happen even if you leave your car in the shade.  Even leaving the car running with the air conditioner on doesn't guarantee your pets' safety. In fact, some dogs have been known to accidentally move the shift with the car and the dog headed for an accident.

The best place for your dog is in your air conditioned home. Home will be cooler and more comfortable than your car which is little more than a big box filled with heat when you park it.

Hunnybear Photo Courtesy Nancy Ross

Keep in mind that black dogs and cats will retain heat and will get hotter even faster than dogs and cats of other colors. Brachycephalic dogs and cats (those with short noses) like Pekingese, Persian Cats, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc. have a difficult enough time breathing in cooler weather. It's far more difficult for them on hot days.

Cats need to be indoors for their safety and both cats and dogs need fresh water available at all times. I highly recommend using rotating metal water dishes, keeping on in the freezer while the other is out. When the ice has melted and the water begins to get warm, spill it out (perhaps into your plants if you have any that are safe for pets to be around), refill it and pop it in the freezer while you take the other one out for your pets.  I have often written about this and I can only hope that readers pay attention. I like to give puppies, kittens, dogs and cats ice cubes to play with. Not only does it help keep them cool but if your pet gets sick and needs to be slowly rehydrated, an ice cube will do the trick and will already be something familiar.

Bojangles Photo Courtesy Gordon Brice
Never walk your dog between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is at its highest. No matter what time it is, check the pavement before you allow your dog or cat to walk on it. If it's too hot for the palm of your hand, it's too hot for the pads of your pet's paws! Walks are best early in the morning and in the evening when it's cooler. Remember that dogs don't perspire the way people do. The only ways they can release heat is panting and through the pads of their feet.

Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.  They include but aren't limited to excessive panting, tongue and/or gums are bright red, tongue and/or gums can be either sticky or dry, staggering when trying to walk, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures. Your dog can die. That is not an exaggeration.

Get your dog into the shade, use cool, not ice water (very cold water will restrict the blood vessels, slowing the cooling), use cool wet towels on your pets feet and around the head. You may also want to put one on the tummy.  Don't let the body cool below 103º.  Offer ice cubes but don't force your pet to drink water. Get your pet to the veterinarian as fast as you can.

Cat (that's his name) Courtesy Karin Bundy

Be aware of the temperature. Don't exercise your pet to excess in the heat. All things in moderation, including playtime which is better in the early evening. If it's a hot evening, exercise caution.

Enjoy the Summer and be sure it's a safe one for everyone!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Meet Nat Geo WILD's "Super Underdogs"

Tuna ~ Photo Courtesy of Nat Geo WILD

Some people are under the mistaken notion that pets have to be perfect. Pets, like people, can have disabilities, physical problems that have nothing to do with how wonderful they are and can teach us a lot about coping, love, and conquering problems.

Beginning on Sunday, May 17th at 9 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific), Nat Geo WILD premieres a new series, Super Underdogs, that will warm your heart and inspire you to look at challenges in a whole new way. They are focusing in on dogs who are living with handicaps but haven't let the specific handicap stop them from living the most normal life possible. The dogs and their owners are happy, living each day to the fullest. Would that all of us were as smart as the dogs who are showcased.
Happy, Silly Tuna ~ Photo Courtest Nat Geo

Having seen a preview of three of the dogs, it was hard not to fall in love and be moved by each one.

I adore all dogs of all sizes, shapes, breeds, mixed heritage but if you know me you know that I have a special place in my heart for small dogs. Suddenly, there on the screen was Milly. Milly is the tiniest Chihuahua I've ever seen. There is such a thing as a Chihuahua being too small. She requires special care and handling which she gets in abundance. 

Then there's little 4-year-old Tuna, who was abandoned as a puppy and rescued on the streets of San Diego, whose overbite adds character to the little four-legged character.

"I consider Tuna's overbite, coupled with him being an underdog, his super power," Tuna's owner, Courtney Dasher, told me. "At just one glance, you know he's different, but it's his difference that brings joy to so many people globally, and brightens their days, which ultimately, has the ability to be a catalyst to change their lives. To me, that's really super, and powerful!"

Tune in and meet The Super Underdogs. Every dog deserves a loving home and who among us is perfect? These Underdogs are perfect in their owners' eyes and are obviously wonderful companions.

Meanwhile, here's a "sneak peek!"