Backpacks for Dogs as a Training Tool

30 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Training

Long walks with your dog are among the best ways to grow a human-canine bond while developing the dog’s trust in your leadership. Dogs with seemingly boundless energy can benefit from wearing a canine training backpack with an appropriate amount of weight inside. Such devices help them burn off extra energy within the time frame of your walk.

Selecting a Backpack

Most canine backpacks are composed of two saddlebags connected by a pad resting on the dog’s shoulders and upper back. Choose one with an adjustable chest strap that allows you to position the pack so it does not slide down to the dog’s lower back, which can cause problems. The pack should be hand- or machine-washable. The best packs for training have straps inside the saddlebags that hold the bag’s contents in position.

Introducing the Backpack

Introduce the backpack several days before heading out on a hike, using a treat reward to help your dog acquaint the pack with a pleasant experience. On the first walk, place a small amount of weight in the pack, increasing on subsequent walk. Using half-liter bottles filled with water can provide extra hydration for you and your dog on a long hike, or you can use bags filled with rice or sand that will conform to your dog’s body. You’ll increase the weight in the saddlebags over time, to a maximum of one-third of your dog’s body weight.

Do Lighter-Colored Dogs Have More Skin Problems Than Darker-Colored Dogs?

24 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Problems

Just as there are hundreds of shapes, sizes and breeds of dogs, there are many variations in the color of their coats. Coat color affects more than appearance. The degree of coloration of his coat could possibly have an impact on a dog’s likelihood of developing certain skin conditions.


Variations in coat color result from the amount of pigment a dog produces, which is determined by genetics. Dark-colored dogs produce more pigment than lighter dogs; white coat color results from a complete lack of pigment production. Even dogs of the same breed can have wide variations in their coat colors depending on their genetic make-up. Chocolate, black, and yellow Labradors, for instance, are often all born in the same litter.

Coat Color and Skin Health

Your dog can be affected by a variety of skin diseases, such as infections, immune-mediated processes and skin allergies. Although no evidence says dogs with lighter coat colors are more prone to any of these types of skin diseases when compared with dogs with darker coats, in one category color variation becomes important. A difference exists in the risk of developing skin cancer between light- and dark-coated dogs. Dogs with lighter coat colors experience more sun damage to their skin and therefore are at higher risk of developing skin cancers that result from sun exposure. In an interesting twist, dogs with dark coats are more at risk of developing melanoma, which is a tumor that arises from the cells that produce pigmentation.

Sun-Induced Skin Cancer

The three most common types of skin cancer in dogs that can develop from sun exposure include hemangiomas, hemangiosarcomas and squamous cell carcinomas. These tumors are most commonly diagnosed in dogs with light or white coats in areas where sun exposure is greatest. The most common locations are on the belly and inner thighs in dogs who like to “sunbathe” on their backs, and on the face around the nose and eyes. These tumors may appear as raised lumps or masses on the skin, as flat areas of discoloration, or similar to a blood blister. The behavior of these tumors can vary from benign to malignant. Have any suspicious lesions checked by your veterinarian.

Treatment and Prevention

Although your particular dog’s coat color may not make him more susceptible to certain skin conditions, have your veterinarian examine any abnormal areas of the coat, itchiness or other problems your dog may have related to his skin. If your dog is diagnosed with a suspected skin tumor, your veterinarian will make recommendations about treatment. If your dog develops a sun-related tumor or you have a furry friend with a light coat, your veterinarian may recommend preventative measures such as dog-friendly sunscreen, protective clothing or minimizing your pup’s time outside during times when sun exposure is highest.

What Is the Quality of Life for a Dog With Hip Dysplasia?

22 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Life Style

As your dog grows, the bones that connect her thighs and pelvis may grow at different rates. This creates a mismatched ball-and-socket joint that can lead to pain and a condition called hip dysplasia. The condition usually is hereditary but can result from diet and excess weight. Though painful, hip dysplasia is treatable. Medicines coupled with improvements in diet can greatly enhance an affected dog’s quality of life.

Hip Dysplasia Affects Mobility

Hip dysplasia begins development during the growth years. It can begin in puppies as young as three or four months, but typically sets in at about a year or two. The severity of the condition depends on how differently the femur and pelvic socket grow. Mild cases may not show up until well into adulthood, with mild to moderate arthritis. In more serious cases, a dog will likely have difficulty sitting or getting up, and may walk with a limp or favor one hind leg.

Quality of Life Depends

The qualify of life for a dog with dysplasia greatly depends on the severity of his condition and how you treat or manage it. Left untreated, hip dysplasia is painful and is sure to worsen as he ages. Anti-inflammatory drugs are one line of treatment. Though no drug can reshape the bones to make them fit properly together, prescribed anti-inflammatories can reduce the swelling of muscles and ligaments surrounding the joints, allowing your dog to move and live more comfortably.

Nutrition Matters

A better diet and some supplements can vastly improve your dog’s quality of life. The main goal is to keep her thin and as light as possible and still be healthy. Less weight to carry puts less stress on displaced hips, leading to less discomfort. In addition to a properly monitored diet — ideally composed of fresh, natural foods — glucosamine and antioxidant supplements lessen the deterioration of ligaments that protect thigh and pelvic bones from rubbing together. Do not alter your dog’s diet or administer supplements without your veterinarian’s approval.

Limit Exercise and Calcium

Larger breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia because they tend to grow rapidly. When exercising an at-risk puppy, be sure to monitor and control his play and exercise. Discourage high-impact play, such as wrestling or games of Frisbee. Also critical to monitor is his calcium level. Too much calcium may encourage uneven bone growth and lead to dysplasia. Puppies of at-risk breeds who eat commercial diets should never be given calcium supplements. Consult your veterinarian for specific plans and diets to help treat dysplasia.

Hereditary Health Problems of a Basset

19 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Health

Originally bred as a hunting companion, the wonderfully good-natured Basset hound is a loyal and mellow family oriented canine. According to Just Basset Hounds, these stocky low-riders are generally strong, healthy and long-lived dogs. However like most dog breeds, there are certain hereditary health issues to which Basset hounds are predisposed.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus

Gastric dilatation-volvulus, commonly called bloat, occurs in dogs with deep, narrow chests like the Basset. It develops when a dog takes in tremendous amounts of air during exercise or when gulping food or water. If the air is not released properly the stomach rotates, cutting off blood supply to the heart. If not treated almost immediately it can be fatal. Symptoms include swollen belly, excessive drooling, abdominal pain, restlessness, panting, shallow breathing and nonproductive vomiting or retching.


Glaucoma occurs when extreme pressure builds inside the eyes. According to, if not treated in its early stages glaucoma can cause blindness. Signs of glaucoma in Bassets do not typically appear until a dog is approximately 2 years old, but when they do appear the disease progresses rapidly. Symptoms to watch for in one or both eyes include redness, squinting, tearing, bulging, enlarged pupils, cloudy corneas or indicators of pain such as rubbing or pawing at the eyes.

Bleeding Disorders

Canine thrombopathia and Von Willebrand’s disease are hereditary bleeding disorders common in Basset hounds. Both of these conditions prevent proper clotting and cause prolonged or excessive bleeding. Signs of a bleeding disorder include blood in stools or urine, excessive bleeding from wounds, bleeding from the nose or gums and red splotches on the belly.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap pops or slides out of its normal position. This condition is usually present at birth but typically does not manifest until much later. There are four grades ranging from occasional luxation to severe dislocation that may require surgical correction. Signs of patellar luxation include intermittent lameness, abnormal gait, hopping or skipping and pain while running.

Joint Dysplasia

According to Just Basset Hounds, hip and elbow dysplasia are common conditions in Bassets. They occur due to abnormal development in the hip or elbow joint. Hip dysplasia can cause debilitating lameness and arthritis. Signs of hip dysplasia are staggering, difficulty running or jumping, abnormal gait and difficulty standing or sitting. Elbow dysplasia usually can be treated but may lead to arthritis as your dog ages. Signs of elbow dysplasia are stiffness or lameness in the front legs.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Like other breeds with long spines, the Basset is prone to intervertebral disc disease. It’s important to support your Basset’s back and bottom when lifting him, and to not allow him to jump up or down from extreme heights. Symptoms of back problems include difficulty raising up on the hind legs, paralysis and loss of bladder or bowel control. Depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, treatment can range from anti-inflammatory medication to surgical correction.

Pekingese Grooming Styles

14 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Gooming

An ancient Chinese breed, the Pekingese is well known for its long, fluffy coat. If you’re thinking of clipping your Peke’s coat, you can select from different grooming styles. Which you choose depends on personal preference and how much time you have for brushing and maintenance.

Show Groom

The American Kennel Club requires that show dogs only be trimmed to accentuate their natural form. Any obvious clipping or sculpting is severely penalized in the ring. A show groom entails only a minor trim to even off the coat. The hair between the pads of the paws is also trimmed to avoid matting. For a dog with a show groom, the hair should be brushed and washed regularly.

Puppy Cut

Also known as a teddy cut, the coat for a puppy cut is clipped to around 1 inch all over the body. Your Pekingese’s face should also be clipped short, and her tail fur can be trimmed to a length of your preference. This is a much easier way to keep your dog’s fur, as it requires less maintenance than a full-length coat.

Lion Cut

The lion cut provides a cute and interesting way of clipping your Pekingese. In this cut, your dog’s back, legs and are shaved to a length of roughly a half-inch, and her tummy is shaved to around 1 inch. The hair on her face, neck and shoulder is kept at its full length, as is a small tuft on the end of her tail. The goal of this cut is to be reminiscent of a lion’s coat and mane.

Pet Trim

A pet trim is halfway between your Pekingese’s natural coat and a puppy cut. The fur all over your dog will be cut to between 2 and 3 inches long. Rather than being cut evenly all over, the groomer will try to retain the shape of your dog’s natural coat. This is the best of all worlds, as you get the attractive appearance of a natural coat but with less brushing required.

Homemade Beef & Rice Dog Food

11 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Food

When you’re cooking for your favorite dog, you have to make sure his homemade diet includes all the nutrients the animal needs. Homemade dog food is a great supplement or alternative to commercial dog foods. Beef, rice and veggies contain a good combination of the protein, fats and carbohydrates that dogs need to thrive. A recipe with the right ingredients for Duke is easy to put together.

1Dice the carrots so they are about the same size as peas. You can also substitute frozen peas and carrots in place of fresh vegetables. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium heat.

2Add the ground beef to the pan and cook, stirring often to break it up into small chunks, until it is almost completely cooked.

3Add the carrots and peas, and cook until they have softened. Do not drain the beef first, because the fat will help cook the vegetables as well as provide good nutrition for your dog. It should take 4 to 5 minutes for the vegetables to soften.

4Add cooked brown or wild rice to the mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are well-combined and remove the pan from the heat.

5Stir in the omega-3 supplement, which is typically available in liquid form, and allow the food to cool. Omega-3 fatty acids are great for your dog’s skin and coat. You can stir in any other nutritional supplement that your dog may need, but speak to your vet before you give any supplement.

6Portion size will vary based on your dog’s size and activity level, but a basic rule is that they should eat about 2 percent of their body weight in meat per day. If you have a 25-pound dog, this recipe will last for three days.

7Store the leftover food in the refrigerator. You can reheat a portion for 15 to 20 seconds in the microwave before serving if your dog doesn’t like cold food, but don’t serve it hot.

How Many Dog Breeds Come From Germany?

7 Sep 2015 | Filed in Dog Breeds

Germany is a nation steeped in history and culture. Through its rich history run the bloodlines of more than 30 breeds of dogs. From the magnificent Great Dane to the diminutive Pomeranian, dogs with German origins are remarkably diverse. Every group classification within the American Kennel Club and United Kennel Club contains one or more breeds with Germanic origins.

Working Dogs

Some of the most well known working dogs originate in Germany. Doberman Pinschers, developed in the 19th century by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, are wonderful companions as well as superb police and military dogs. Rottweilers are loyal, alert guard dogs and intelligent, gentle family pets. The rare Leonberger’s ancestors include the Great Pyrenees, Newfoundland and St. Bernard. Loyal and fond of children, they’re excellent family pets and farm dogs. Other working dogs with German origins include boxers, German pinschers and giant schnauzers.

Sporting and Gun Dogs

Weimaraners, dubbed “grey ghosts” because of their speed and distinctive coat color, are strong, efficient hunting dogs as well as treasured family pets that love being part of the pack. As hunting companions, German shorthaired pointers exhibit confidence on land and in water. As family pets, they’re friendly, intelligent and willing to please. Other German sporting dogs include German wirehaired pointers, German rough-haired pointers and German longhaired pointers, small Münsterländers, large Münsterländers and pudelpointers.

Herding Dogs

German shepherds, standardized by Captain Max von Stephanitz in the late 19th century, were first used to herd and protect flocks. Today they’re valued as police and military dogs as well as loyal, affectionate family companions. Although not recognized by the AKC, white shepherd dogs are direct descendents of the German shepherd. The first white shepherd puppy appeared in 1882. These calm and intelligent dogs are primarily kept as companions.

Toy Dogs

Despite their close association to French culture, toy poodles have German origins. Initially bred as water-retrieving gun dogs, they are now almost exclusively kept as pampered family companions. Affenpinschers, affectionately dubbed “monkey dogs” because of their primate-like faces, were originally used as ratters on farms. Today these playful, affectionate dogs are popular companions. Other toy breeds from Germany include the Pomeranian and miniature pinscher.

Terrier Dogs

Miniature schnauzers are most likely descended from crosses between standard schnauzers and affenpinschers. Developed as ratters, today they’re kept primarily as spirited, lively family companions. Kromfohrländers are good-natured, docile little dogs with moderate hunting instincts. Sometimes reserved with strangers, they are wonderfully affectionate family companions. Jagdterriers were developed at the turn of the 20th century. More versatile than most terriers, these sturdy little dogs are adept at hunting, tracking and retrieving.

Hound Dogs

In German, dachshund means “badger dog.” Originally developed to hunt and track badgers and other burrowing mammals, today these courageous, devoted little dogs are popular companions. Bavarian mountain hounds are German bloodhounds, capable of tracking a cold scent for hours, even days. The little known Deutsche bracke was bred to track large and small game, but is highly adaptable as a loving family pet. Other German hound dogs include plott hounds, Hanoverian hounds and Westphalian dachsbracke.