Friday, 26 September 2014

RECALL ALERT: Kong Aussie Sticks Dog Treat

Kong Aussie Sticks dog treats have been quietly recalled by the product manufacturer, JAKKS Pacific of Walnut, California due to possible contamination with mold.
As of the time of this writing, neither Kong nor JAKKS Pacific has posted any public information webpage giving specific details about this event.
The products being recalled have the following item numbers:
Item 75559
Item 75560
And these “Best Before” dates:

Where Was the Product Sold?
According to a letter obtained from JAKKS Pacific and forwarded by Kong to The Dog Food Advisor, the recalled product was sold only at PetSmart.
No further store location, online sales or other distribution details have been provided by either company.

Silent Recall?
We are troubled by the covert nature and lack of transparency exhibited by both companies associated with this particular event.
Obtaining confirmation and collecting details about this recall were especially challenging. Apparently, the companies only notified PetSmart and relevant distribution centers.1
And evidently they made no effort to post a public notice.
According to a company spokesperson:
The products were not dried properly so a small percentage of finished goods have gone moldy.
Majority of the product is fine, and the mold was caught at our DC, but some product may have made it to PetSmart so we are recalling all the product at PetSmart and destroying all the product we have at our DC.

What to Do?
According to JAKKS Pacific in that same email, the “product can be returned to PetSmart for a full refund.”
Just the same, here are the customer service contact numbers for the two companies:
You may contact JAKKS Pacific at 877-875-2557, Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5:00 pm PT. Kong can be reached at 303-216-2626.
U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.
Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

*article originally sourced from

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Falling in Love with Fall....the Safe Way

Fall is a great time to build some special memories with your pet: cozying up by the fire, taking in the crisp fall air, walking through fallen leaves, and enjoying all the sights and smells of the season.
As with any change of season, your pet is coming in contact with new experiences and exposures both around the house and outdoors that perhaps weren't present in the previous season. To protect your pet this fall, here are some common hazards that you and your family should be aware of:

School supplies
Now that the kids are back in school, your pet may be tempted to snack on some school supplies that may be lying around, such as crayons, markers, glue, or pencils. These objects can be a choking hazard or can be toxic for your pet to ingest. Keep school supplies in areas where your pet can’t reach them and share this important tip with your children.

We do not recommend the use of rodenticides.  However, their use tends to be higher in the fall, when mice are starting to look for somewhere warm to go for the winter. Rodenticides are toxic to more than just mice, so make sure they’re placed in areas not accessible to your pets. As an alternative, we recommend a holistic deterrent of vinegar and pepper mix spray.

Engine coolants
If you’re changing your engine coolant this fall, avoid ethylene glycol-based coolants and instead go for the less toxic glycol-based coolants. Glycol-based coolants could still make your pet sick if ingested, so any spills should be cleaned thoroughly.

With days getting shorter, there may be less daylight during your dog walks. Make sure both you and your pet are wearing bright colours or consider purchasing a collar with an LED light.

Indoor and outdoor heating sources
Keep your pet from getting too close to potentially dangerous heating sources. That means keeping your fireplace cover closed and keeping pets away from outdoor fire pits and electric heaters. Remember to also turn off electric heaters if no one is home.

While most wild mushrooms aren't toxic, it can be difficult to distinguish a toxic mushroom from a non-toxic one. Keep your pet away from areas where wild mushrooms are found. If you see that your pet has eaten a wild mushroom, contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.

As the weather gets cooler, snakes will start getting ready for winter hibernation. Make sure you’re familiar with poisonous snakes in your area and keep your pets from going off trail or in areas with long grass.

Following these tips this fall, can ensure your pets stay safe while enjoying the new season.

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Secret to Keeping Your Dog Happy

Your dog brings you joy. Do you ever look over at her while she is sleeping and wonder if you make her as happy as she makes you? Is she as glad to be yours as you are to be hers? How do you know if your dog is content? All social species have the same basic needs, just different ways those needs are fulfilled.

Physiological Needs
Clean water - The most basic and most vital need for dogs is fresh clean water. Give your dog virtually unlimited access to water. The only exception is limiting a few hours before bedtime when housetraining. Keep water bowls clean and free of debris. Make sure outside water does not freeze in winter or overheat in summer. Change water in outdoor containers often. Stagnant water can lead to disease. It doesn't have to be Evian, but it should be fresh! If your dog has a habit of knocking over her water bowl, it's not because she doesn't want water. It's because dogs live in the right now, and right now it's fun. It doesn't occur to her that later, she won't have any water to drink. Weighted water bowls will solve this problem.

Good Nutrition - Ask a dozen people what dog food is the best, you will get a dozen answers. The elusive Absolute Best Brand has not yet revealed itself. However, there are better and worse choices. Feeding a quality dog food means your dog will be healthier from the inside out - from a stronger heart and bones to a shinier coat with less shedding and itching. The little extra money spent on a better food is more than made up for in fewer Vet visits. Nutritionally balanced dogs get sick much less often, fewer ear infections, fewer outbreaks of worms, fewer UTIs, and even fewer injuries. There is even evidence that better food makes for a better behaved dog, as well! A quality dog food will have meat as at least the first 2 ingredients and little or no corn as a filler. Dogs are primarily meat eaters. If your dog has a dull coat and flaky skin, it could be her food! 
In addition to the right type of food, your dog also needs the right amount of food. This is a case where you can get too much of a good thing. Being overweight causes health problems in dogs just as in people. Since dogs have a shorter life span than humans, the ill affects are even more severe for them. Overweight dogs are not happy dogs. Lucky for them, it's much easier for them to follow a diet than it is for us. We control their access to food. They can only eat as much as we give them. Feed them a measured amount on a schedule, usually twice a day, rather than free feeding. The dog food bag tells you how much to give. Even that is too much for some dogs. Observe your dog's weight and adjust the amount you feed her accordingly. A dog is at her ideal weight when you can easily feel the ribs and can see the outline of the ribs when the dog turns sideways. She is underweight if you can see the ribs easily, and overweight if the ribs and hip bones are not easily felt and she has no waist. 

Exercise - In addition to proper nutrition, exercise is vital for good health. Not only will it increase your dog's longevity, it will also decrease her unwanted behaviors. A dog's energy has to go somewhere. If she doesn't get enough exercise, she may find undesirable ways to expend that extra energy or even develop neuroses such as obsessive spinning. Just as you should see your doctor before starting an exercise program, so should your dog see hers! Some breeds need more exercise than others, and some cannot tolerate intense activity. Be sure your dog's exercise program is right for her breed.

Good Hygiene - It's true, dogs love to roll around in the stinkiest thing they can find. They don't seem to mind being dirty or smelly. However, for a dog's overall happiness, cleanliness is next to dogliness! Dogs may not care how they smell, but people sure do. A smelly dog does not get petted by people and generally isn't allowed in the house, and a dog shunned to the back yard with little or no human contact is not a happy dog. Filthiness can also lead to health problems. For example, dirty ears can lead to ear mites which are itchy and can cause ear infections. Being too dirty can also be painful, especially for a long-haired dog. Mats in a dog's fur pull on the skin and are extremely uncomfortable. Nails that grow too long can cause a dog to walk awkwardly and lead to problems in their joints and muscles. Keeping coats brushed, ears cleaned, and nails trimmed is essential for a happy dog. Bathing too often can lead to dry itchy skin. Dogs need a bath only when they start to smell bad. If your dog is on a quality food, this won't be very often. 

Chew Toys - Dogs have a physiological need to chew. This is especially true for teething puppies. Providing them with safe chew toys will help them satisfy this urge without having to gnaw on your coffee table. Thick rubber toys like Kongs are a good option because they will not break apart and become a choking or obstruction hazard. 

Elimination - Dogs need reliable and sufficient opportunity to eliminate away from their sleeping area. Normal healthy dogs will not eliminate where they eat and sleep. Dogs who do use the bathroom in their dens do so because they have learned that they will not be given sufficient opportunity to eliminate elsewhere. For optimal happiness, make sure your dog doesn't have to hold it too long. 
In the wild, dogs are able to seek out shelter when they need it to get out of the rain, to shield themselves from the cold, or to find relief from the heat. In a domestic environment, we keep them confined to a limited area. They don't have the option to go out and look for adequate shelter. Therefore, it is up to us to provide it. The ideal place for your dog when it's raining or cold is in the home with you. Most dogs are happiest living inside with you. It's also the easiest way to provide appropriate shelter. However, if your dog is one of the few who prefer living outdoors, or bringing her inside is not an option, you can make sure she is well-sheltered outdoors. 
Some breeds are simply not equipped to deal with cold weather and should not be left outside in winter. This includes most of the small breeds and the short-coated large breeds, such as Dobermans. Remember, these are man-made dogs. Cropped coats and tiny dogs do not occur in nature. Likewise, some breeds are not equipped to deal with the heat of SC summers and should not be left outside in hot weather. This includes the arctic breeds such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and St. Bernards. These dogs living outdoors are not only unhappy dogs, they are also not safe! They could literally die from the heat.  
Happy dogs feel safe in their environment from threats either real or perceived. Dogs who live confined outdoors but without a physical fence are not secure. Invisible fences and chains may keep the dog in the yard, but they do not keep other animals out. A dog living this way is a sitting duck. She is vulnerable to attacks from coyotes, other dogs, and even mean people, and she has no way to escape. The dog who lives this way is not a happy dog.

A happy dog trusts her owner to not put her in harm's way. She knows exactly what is expected of her and what happens when she doesn't follow the rules. She does not fear her owner because she knows he will do her no harm. She is also not overly dependent on her owner because she feels secure in being alone sometimes. A trained dog is a secure dog.
Social Needs
Dogs are social animals who thrive on companionship with others. They are unique in the animal world because they enjoy companionship with people as much as they do with other dogs. A dog who lives in a backyard with only minimal human contact is a lonely dog, like a hermit living on an isolated mountain. The happy dog gets lots of ear scritches and belly rubs. She gets to associate with lots of different people and dogs because she has been well-socialized and trained in basic obedience and manners. She is a dog who can go anywhere, and people are happy to see her.  

Esteem Needs
Do dogs have a sense of self-esteem? If you doubt it, just watch a dog who has accomplished a complicated task. See how she holds her head high and struts! Dogs need to have confidence in themselves and their ability to master tasks. Training a dog builds her self-esteem. It makes them feel good to master the perfect Sit and earn your appreciation! Learning tricks is fun for dogs. There are also all sorts of canine sports available that dogs enjoy. Agility, flyball, ultimate frisbee, and lure coursing are just some of the examples. A dog with a hobby is a fulfilled dog.

Cognitive Needs
Dogs are more than just instincts. They also have the ability to think and problem solve. They need to experience more than just the same old scenery of their own home. Mental stimulation leads to a happy dog. Just walking a different path and letting her smell new smells and see new sights provides mental stimulation. At home, puzzle toys like the Buster Cube let her put her brain to use. You can play games with her like hiding and she has to find you, or hiding a treat that she has to find. Learning new tricks also works her brain. Put her to work. Make her fetch the paper (make sure it's safe first) or bring you a drink from the fridge. Yes, working makes for a happy dog!

The Secret to Happiness
The meaning of life is to live it. The secret to a happy dog is to help her live a fulfilled life. That means she actively participates in it. She plays, goes places, and does things. Basically, the secret to a happy dog is not much different at all from the secret to a happy person. 

Keep those happy tails wagging
Bear's P4ws

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Home Alone Dog

"Now, Muffy. Mummy has to go out and leave you, but here’s your toys and water and cookies. Now, you be a gooood girl and Mummy will see you soon. Here, let Mummy give you a big hug and kiss. Now, please, be a good girl."
Is Muffy consoled? NO. Does Muffy understand any of what Mummy said? NO. Is Muffy confused? YES. Does Muffy feel anxious? YOU BET!

One of the worst elements of being a 9 to 5 out-of-the-house dog owner is the guilt that we heap on ourselves at leaving the little one at home "all by herself." So, we turn ourselves inside out to dote on the dog, even more than we normally would, just prior to our leave taking.
On our return home, our guilt-ridden behaviour intensifies. "Oh, Muffy. Did you have a good day? Did you miss Mummy? I wuv my widdle Muffy. Oh, Mummy’s sorry she had to leave her little baby. Want something to eat? Want to go walkies? You Mummy’s little love?"
Is Muffy consoled? NO. Does Muffy understand any of what Mummy said? NO. Is Muffy confused? YES. Does Muffy feel anxious? YOU BET! Does Muffy have ANY idea what is expected of her? I doubt it.

Confronted with these displays, Muffy will do one of two things; shrug her shoulders and go find a corner, curl up and go to sleep for the next eight hours (highly unlikely) or, watch the door close and then, because "Mummy" has instilled such a sense of anxiety, Muffy will look for an outlet for her frustration such as, chewing furniture, defecating, urinating, shredding curtains or paper or barking while running helter-skelter throughout the house.
How did Muffy’s owner make Muffy anxious? She just hold her how much she loved her and how much she would miss her (assuming that Muffy would miss her as much!) and made a BIG fuss of her when she left. Mommy acted like this was a BIG problem? Why would that give Muffy an anxiety attack?!

Dogs are wonderful creatures but they are creatures of habit and routine. Once a routine is established, dogs are quite happy knowing what’s what, what is likely to happen next and what is expected of them when it does.

Does Muffy know what’s happening? (Mummy’s leaving! Aghhh!!) Does Muffy know what’s going to happen next? (When Mummy comes home again, she’s going to be upset! Aghhh!!) Does Muffy know what’s expected of her while Mummy is gone. (Aghhhhh! What to do? What to do??)
How do we avoid this scenario?

First of all, DON’T be guilty because you’re leaving the house for the day. This is a fact of life and dogs are very clever creatures. However, they communicate in dogese ... not English. They understand your para-language (whining and cooing, etc) and your body language and they interpret it accordingly. Although some dogs have a fairly extensive vocabulary, much of their interpretation of what is actually said (as you understand it) is by your para and body language.
So, how do we get out of the house? In the words of Ian Dunbar, "Close the door." Too simply stated? Then teach your puppy that you are leaving the house ... daily ... and that he has to learn to like (or at least, tolerate) his own company. Puppy (or dog) should be confined to an area (oversized crate or a room where he cannot destroy things), given his supply of water, toys, cookies, Kong toys ... anything to keep him amused. Tell him, in a normal tone of voice, "Ta, ta.
Look after things while I’m gone, Kid. See you later." Then, simply leave.
Is Kid consoled? NO. Does Kid understand any of what was actually said? NO. Is Kid confused? NO. Does Kid feel anxious? NO.

When you return? Leave the puppy (or dog) in his confined space but troop through and say, "Hi. How’s it goin’? Cool your jets and I’ll come and get you in a minute." Then, hang up your coat, put your purse down, go change your clothes, grab a beer as you pass the fridge and then, and only then, go and let Kid outside for a piddle and a Frisbee throw (or whatever Kid considers fun!).

Does Kid need consoling? NO. Does Kid understand any of what was said? Maybe, although probably not. Is Kid confused? NO. Does Kid feel anxious? NO. Does Kid have any idea what’s expected of him? YOU BET! Is Kid happy with his routine and his owner’s expectations? Probably.
How do we get a Kid and not a Muffy? Ideally, you start from the minute your puppy enters your home. If your regular routine is to be out of the house during regular working hours, that’s the routine your puppy is introduced to at the start. It is far easier for an eight-week old puppy, who has limited life experience, to handle this fact of life. This puppy learns his routine early and becomes accustomed to being alone.

Folks who are fortunate enough to have the summer months free from the workplace, often think it is an ideal time to acquire a puppy. Not so. This eight week old puppy is ’trained’ that people, and sometimes kids, are available all day and all night every day and every night. Then, when he passes his fourth month birthday, the house empties and he finds himself totally alone. This is a difficult adjustment for a young dog. What happened? Was it something he did? Where did everyone go? Where’s my entertainment? This puppy should be trained, prior to school beginning again, in short spans of time gradually built up, that he will be left alone, confined, with his own company.

Your dog is an adult and you find that you are returning to the workplace? All is not lost. Start teaching your dog that there are times that he will be alone. Put your dog in his spot, give him his toys (even adult dogs love stuffed Kongs) and with no fuss or bother, leave the house. When initially teaching your dog this new "game", just leave him for an hour or so and return. Build up the length of time that he’s alone gradually. Again, no fuss or bother. If you don’t make a big deal of this, neither will he. He may not even notice you were gone!

Being a 9 to 5 out-of-the-house dog owner is a way of life for many of us. Teach your puppy or dog to handle this. Spend quality time with the dog during the evening hours and you’ll both be happier for it. And, prepare yourself. If you teach Muffy that your going and coming is nothing to concern herself with, in no time, Muffy won’t give a hoot if you leave her for the day or not. Ever notice how much dogs sleep? That’s what she’ll do with her day. Play a little and sleep a little and sleep a little more. She will, however, just like Kid, be very happy to herald your return!

Keep your tails wagging
Bear's P4ws