Dog Advice

Dog Advice
Study: 850% Increase in Diabetic Dogs since 2011
May 19, 2016 at 8:52 am 0

Are you causing your dog to be unhealthy?

Do you feed your dog human food? You might be thinking you're giving them a treat, but a recent study has said you might be doing a lot more harm than good.

A study of 9,000 pets by UK pet insurer Animal Friends found that dogs have shown an 850% increase in diabetes diagnosis since 2011. One of the main reasons for this rise in diabetes was weight gain and that was caused, in part, by owners feeding their pets human food

black dog sad eyes

image from omwallpapers.com

Signs of canine diabetes

One of the first steps to knowing whether or not your dog has diabetes is to recognize the clues that might signal a trip to the vet. Pet Diabetes Month lists the following symptoms of diabetes in dogs:

  • Drinks more water than usual

  • Urinates more frequently, produces more urine per day or has accidents in the house

  • Always acts hungry, but maintains or loses weight

  • Has cloudy eyes

If your dog starts displaying any of these symptoms, give your vet a call and have fido checked out to rule out diabetes or another condition that could be affecting their health. 

dog drinking water

image from petnet.io

Treatment of diabetes

If your vet does diagnose your dog with diabetes, it's important that you follow their instructions for how to treat your dog. According to The Bark treatment of diabetes is as much an art as it is a science. 

Just as in humans, the key is to keep blood glucose levels close to normal. It will help your dog to feel good and to be less likely to develop diabetes-related problems in the future. The article goes on to say "the most common diabetic complication in dogs in cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eyes); over time, dogs may also develop hardening of the arteries, kidney disease, retina disease or nerve disease. And because bacteria thrive on a high-sugar diet, dogs with diabetes are prone to gum, urinary, skin and other infections."

dog sad eyes

image from goodwp.com

Dogs with diabetes will most likely need to be treated with insulin either once or twice a day to help treat their condition. Your vet will be able to tell you how much and when to administer the dosage to your dog.

Another important factor in treating your dog is to test their blood glucose levels regularly at home. This can reveal problems before they are apparent in other ways. Testing blood glucose can also let you know if the treatment plan you're currently using is working or if your vet should recommend another course of action. 

Of course an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Make sure you know and understand what's in your dog's food, give them regular exercise and have them visit a vet regularly to diagnose potential problems before they are too late. 



Does your dog have diabetes? What do you do to treat them? How did you first find out? Share your stories in the comments below. 

Dog Advice
Don’t Buy a Puppy from a Pet Store
May 14, 2016 at 2:29 pm 0

How much is that doggy in the window?

The answer is: usually much more than you initially expected. Even though it can be hard to walk by those sad, cute little faces, you can end up with a lot more than you bargained for. Leaving you with the potential for an empty wallet, unhealthy dog and sometimes a broken heart. 

In the vast majority of cases, dogs (and cats) that are sold in pet stores are from puppy mills. Not sure what a puppy mill is? They're "unregulated breeding facilities owned by disreputable breeders". An article from Dogster goes on to describe them as places where "dogs are often bred far too frequently, are kept cramped together in squalor and are not socialized with humans. In addition, these these breeders do not always care about the health and strength of the breed, which often results in genetic illnesses, poor health in general and unlikable personality traits."

golden retriever puppies cage

image from Dogster.com

All of a sudden that cute puppy isn't so cute after all, huh?

A sad story about a puppy from a pet store

Cruella is the story of a dog from Guelph who was bought at a pet store in Southwestern Ontario and ended up having serious health issues. The little puppy cost her owner Susan more than $4,500 in vet bills within the first month of her being home.

In a story written by the Guelph Mercury, Susan says on the day she bought Cruella, she was at the mall looking for a television. She and her daughter walked by a pet store and decided the ever-so-cute black and white shih-tzu/poodle cross was too hard to resist.

Six days after Susan and her daughter brought home Cruella from the pet store, she had lost weight and was no longer active. She lost consciousness when she was taken outside to pee and that's when her family rushed her to the vet. 

Cruella ended up having parvovirus, a highly contagious viral disease. She spent a week at an animal hospital on intravenous and drugged up on medication until she was fully recovered.

The pet store refunded Susan her $700 when confronted about how sick their puppy got, but Susan said she'll spend the next two years repaying the $4,500 loan she took out to pay for Cruella's vet bills.  

puppy mills canada

image from nopuppymillscanada.ca

Canadian law and puppy mills

Quebec is Canada's puppy mill capital. According to Humane Society International, although puppy mills exist all across Canada, Quebec hosts a large portion of Canadian puppy mills due to their poor legislation and enforcement of commercial dog breeding operations. 

Fortunately, some cities across Canada are starting to pass laws that prevent the sale of cats and dogs from puppy mills. Back in 2011, the city of Toronto passed a by-law stating that cats and dogs sold in pet stores must come from shelters, humane societies or rescue groups. 

Just this year, Ottawa has set in place a new by-law (similar to the one in Toronto) which restricts the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores. The stores will have to provide a certificate that indicates the source of the pet that is being sold. Pet stores that currently sell commercially bred cats and dogs will have five years to transition to the adoption-only model. Some say (myself included) that five years is too long to transition into these new laws, but at least it's a step in the right direction. 

How can I help?

  • Start by informing people you know. Let them know the dangers of buying puppies and kittens from pet stores that aren't from a rescue or humane society. Many people don't see any harm in bringing home a dog or cat they see in a shop window, but that's part of the problem.

    The reason why puppy mills continue to operate is because they continue to be profitable. I know it's hard to walk by that cute puppy saying "please take me home" but you have to remember that it's part of a bigger picture. Not only may you end up with a very sick puppy like the story of Cruella above, you're feeding an industry which profits off the systematic cruelty of animals. Google 'puppy mills' and if you're not already convinced they are horrible places, you will be.

    husky puppies pet store

    image from youtube.com

  • Show your support. There are many groups on Facebook such as People Against Puppy Mills of Ontario which you can join to keep up to date on laws and legislations as they change. If you see something happening in your local city, get involved! 

    Even before something is happening where you are, don't be afraid to email your city councillors and let them know how important these laws are to you. You have the power to make a difference, you just need to speak up. 

  • Are you thinking of adopting a dog or cat? Make sure it's either from a reputable breeder, such as one listed on the Canadian Kennel Club website, or from a local rescue organization. Again, part of stopping puppy mills means hitting them where it hurts — their wallets.

    Here's a list of a few local rescue organizations where you can start the hunt for your new best friend:

    Grand River All Breed Animal Rescue

    Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society

    Guelph Humane Society

    Cambridge & District Humane Society



Make sure that you're following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not only do we share pictures of cute dogs and interesting articles, we also share pictures of animals looking for a forever home. You might just meet your new best friend when you least expect it. 




Dog Advice
How to Stop Your Dog from Digging
May 12, 2016 at 12:38 pm 0

Spring is in the air

The nice weather finally feels like it's here to stay and that means we're outside a lot more. The snow has melted, the birds are making nests and our dogs are helping out with the landscaping. 

If you're like me, you love your dogs, but you don't always appreciate how they modify your backyard. Whether it's from boredom, to make a bed or just because they feel like it, your dog can decimate gardens, plants and overall just ruin the look of the yard you've worked so hard to maintain. 

dog digging hole

image from reddit.com

It's natural

First of all, digging is instinctual. Just like barking, some breeds dig and others don't. That means stopping it entirely is next to impossible. Instead, you're going to want to redirect the behaviour to teach them that it's okay to dig, but only in a certain area. 

To do this, burry some toys, treats, or whatever he or she likes in an area you designate as okay to dig. When they start to dig there, praise them and let them know they've done good. If you catch them digging in another area of the yard, fill the hole and redirect them to the digging area you'd like them to dig in.

Don't punish your dog for digging, they won't associate the punishment with what they are doing because they don't see digging as doing something wrong. Instead focus on redirecting and teaching them a new pattern of behaviour. 

Reasons dogs dig

There are multiple reasons a dog might dig and each will have it's own solution. The Humane Society of the United States, lists a few main reasons a dog may dig:

  • Need for entertainment — if you leave your dog in the backyard for a long period of time, they may get bored and begin digging as a way to entertain themselves.

    To fix this, give your dog regular exercise — two good walks a day should help. You can also enrol in a dog training class which will help to mentally stimulate your dog and keep them mentally occupied. 

  • Hunting prey — if you've got some other friends from the animal kingdom making a home in your backyard, your dog may dig to try to get at them. 

    Contact someone in your area to humanely rid your property of your unwanted guests. This should help to stop your dog from digging to try to uncover those new playmates. 

    dog digging

    image from petful.com

  • Seeking comfort or protection — most of the time when my dogs dig, it's because they want to create a hole to lay in. The dirt can make a cool bed on warmer days and I'm sure with their years of experience, they've learned how to dig the equivalent of a memory foam mattress out of dirt. 

    The solution here is to bring your dog indoors more often or provide them with a dog house so that they have an area to rest in that's comfortable. I let my dogs have one area that they can make into a bed, and that's it. Well, I try anyway.

  • Trying to escape — if your dog is digging around the fence, specifically at the bottom, they're more than likely trying to escape so that they can explore the world without you. Obviously this is very unsafe.

    The best way to stop this is to bury chicken wire under the dirt so that your dog doesn't want to dig there any more. You can also place some large rocks in the way, or bury the fence one or two feet under the earth so they can't get out. 

Breeds that dig

As I mentioned, some dogs are just bred to dig. Here's a small list of some common diggers and why they dig from DogTime.com

  • Nordic dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds will dig to keep themselves cool on hot days. They're also natural hunters and may dig to follow a scent they've found in the yard. If there was an award for being escape artists, these dogs would also be consistent nominees for the top prize.

    dog digging sand

    image from dogloveit.com


  • Terriers are another group of diggers. They were bred to hunt underground animals like gophers and weasels. It's in their genes to dig. Once they've caught scent of something, they'll try to dig their way to get at it. 

  • Shelties and Border Collies might dig out of boredom. These are smart dogs and they need to be kept entertained. Try filling a kong with treats or exercising them more regularly to prevent digging. 

If you're looking at bringing a new dog into your home and digging in a concern, iHeartDogs has put together a list of 15 dog breeds that dig the most.

Remember that digging is just one aspect of a dog and it is somewhat preventable with the advice I've mentioned above. Don't say no to a breed just because they're on this list. You might miss out on the best friend you could have ever asked for. 

Do you have a digger? What do you do to help keep your backyard looking good all summer long? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Dog Advice
Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds: Do They Exist?
May 10, 2016 at 6:26 am 0

Do you suffer from allergies?

Achoo! Red eyes, sniffling and an uncontrollable urge to sneeze. Sound like you? It sounds like me. Allergies are terrible. Fortunately, I feel like mine have gotten less severe as I've gotten older and really only affect me in the fall or when someone freshly cuts their grass. 

For some people, their best friend is what causes them to feel congested and sneezy. So what causes allergies then? Is there really such a thing as a hypoallergenic dog? What can you do to help if your dog makes you sneeze?  These are some of the questions we're going to answer today. 

Boston Terrier

image from vetstreet.com

What causes allergies?

Despite what many people think, it's not actually the hair of your dog that's causing you to sneeze. According to WebMD, it's typically it's the dander (flakes of dead skin) as well as the saliva and urine that tickle your oversensitive immune system.

As someone who lives with two very hairy and heavy shedding malamute mixes, I can attest to this. I often get comments along the lines of "I could never live with a dog who sheds so much because I'd be sneezing constantly". I tell these people that I never sneeze because of my dogs — even during their heavy shedding seasons. I explain how it's the dander, not the hair that causes allergies.

Do hypoallergenic dogs exist?

There's actually no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Some dogs can cause fewer allergy symptoms than others, but that depends on both the breed and the person with the allergies. 

Many non or low shedding dogs are sold as being hypoallergenic, but as we mentioned above, the hair of the dog isn't what causes your allergies in the first place. 


image from barkingbad.ca

How to prevent allergens

DogTime.com gives some simple tips for how you can live with a dog in your home, even if you suffer from allergies:

  • Establish a dog-free zone in your home, such as a bedroom, and install a HEPA filter to help with allergens floating in the air

  • Keep curtains and rugs to a minimum and vacuum frequently

  • Giving your dog a weekly bath can reduce allergens in her fur by up to 84%

  • Get yourself allergy shots from your doctor, these can help to reduce symptoms you're experiencing

Non-shedding and low-shedding breeds

So you have allergies, but you still want to have a dog. I can definitely sympathize. Here's a list of 25 non-shedding and low-shedding dogs from PetBreeds which should cause you to react less. You can also consider buying a smaller dog as their smaller size means they will produce less dander and therefore should affect your allergies less. 

  • Chinese Shar-Pei

  • Airedale Terrier

  • Portuguese Water Dog

  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

  • Bullmastiff

  • Bichon Frise

  • Papillon

  • Rhodesian Ridgeback

  • West Highland White Terrier

  • Vizsla

  • Maltese

  • English Springer Spaniel

  • Brittany

    brittany spaniel

    image from purebreeddog.ca


  • Mastiff

  • Chihuahua

  • Boston Terrier

  • Shih Tzu

  • Miniature Schnauzer

  • Doberman Pinscher

  • German Shorthaired Pointer

  • French Bulldog

  • Havanese

  • Boxer

  • Poodle

  • Yorkshire Terrier

As with anything, make sure you do your research first. Shedding hair is just one aspect of a dog breed. Get to know the dog entirely before you make a decision. You want a dog that suits your personality and lifestyle too. Just having a dog that doesn't shed shouldn't be all that you make your decision based on. 

Do you live with allergies and have a dog? What do you do to cope? Is there a breed I missed that you think should be added to this list? Share your advice or suggestions in the comments below.

Dog Advice
Can I Teach My Old Dog New Tricks?
April 27, 2016 at 11:06 am 0

The origin of an old saying

According to MythBusters, it was an English man who first coined the saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". Fitzherbert was literally talking about dogs when in 1523 he wrote "the dogge must lerne when he is a whelpe, or els it wyl not be; for it is harde to make an old dogge to stoupe."

Today the saying is used in many contexts. Generally it's used to mean that it's near impossible to change someone who's set in their ways. But does it hold true when it comes to dogs? Does a dog, past a certain age, lose the ability to learn? 

old dog 2

image from yourdog.co.uk

You can and should teach an old dog new tricks

Not only can older dogs learn new things, it's important to keep them mentally stimulated (as much as it is younger dogs). I've lost count of the number of times someone has come to me with a dog that they exercise like crazy and can't seem to figure out why the dog is still unsettled. 

The answer in many cases can be a lack of mental stimulation. For most dog owners taking their dog for a walk every day makes sense. Whether they do it themselves or hire an awesome dog walker to do it for them, the idea of a dog needing exercise seems natural. It's easy to forget that dogs need to use their brains too. Dogs are smart, and teaching them to use their brains is both fun and rewarding. 

Teaching an old dog is like a broken elevator

So while teaching an old dog isn't impossible, it can be more difficult. It's why I always express the importance of getting a puppy trained when they are young instead of waiting until the dog is older.

Another old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" also applies here. Better to nip behaviours in the bud before they have to be untaught or retrained later on. 

dog elevator

image from kare11.com

Think about yourself. No matter how old you are, you're set in some of your ways. Getting you to change your habit takes effort. Whether it be to become more active, to eat healthier or quit smoking. Old habits die hard. 

I liken the experience to a broken elevator. Pretend for a minute that you live in an apartment building on the 5th floor. You've lived in this apartment for just over three years now. Each day you come home from work, enter the lobby press the up button and wait for the elevator to arrive and open its doors. Each day the same pattern starts to develop: Press button, wait... elevator doors open. Press button, wait... elevator doors open; etc.. 

The elevator is still broken, what do you do?

One day you get home from work and the elevator isn't working. You press the button like you normally would and you wait and wait, but no elevator arrives. Do you:

A) Say "oh well" and take the stairs right away (with enthusiasm)

B) Throw a rope with a hook attached up the side of the building and start climbing 

C) Frustrated, press the button repeatedly saying "C'mon you stupid thing.. work!"

old dog
If you were being honest, your answer was most likely C. It's the same with your dog. When you're trying to change behaviour, they're always going to try what worked for them in the past first. They'll take the path of least resistance (the elevator) before looking for another option (the stairs). 

Essentially when you're teaching your dog a new behaviour (or shaping an old one), you're teaching them about the stairs in the apartment scenario. In order to reinforce taking the stairs as the default behaviour you also need to reinforce that the elevator (the old behaviour) is broken - no matter how many times your dog tries to press that "up button".

If you're consistent, your dog will go for the stairs first because it is the path of least resistance that creates the same desired effect. Obviously the longer a dog has used the elevator (or their old behaviour), the longer it'll take them to learn to use the stairs. 

old dog bed
Old dogs still have lots of love to give

Training an old dog isn't impossible. It might take some time, but it can be done. All of us are stubborn in our behaviour patterns. Patience and consistency are the keys to creating positive change and teaching your dog a new trick. 

If you're interested in the MythBusters findings about training an old dog new tricks (mentioned above), you can find them here.

Senior dogs can be the hardest to find homes for. Many people prefer a young puppy instead of the old classic. Old dogs can have lots of love and fun left in them (we'll write about great reasons for adopting an older dog in another post). So if you're thinking of bringing a new dog into your family, consider adopting one in their golden years. 

Looking for an older dog? Contact the Grand River All Breed Animal Rescue or your local Humane Society of Canada and see what dogs they have searching for their forever homes. 

Dog Advice
Dog Poop Problems: What do Different Colours Mean?
April 25, 2016 at 6:45 am 0

Gross, right?

Alright, I get it. Nobody wants to talk about poop. It's gross, it smells bad and it's not something you really want to deal with. Promotional plug: if you really don't want to deal with cleaning up after your dog, sign up for our popular poop removal service and you won't ever have to again!

Poop isn't a fun topic, but just as in humans, it's an important one. Why? Because poop is an indicator of our internal health. When you're dealing with an animal that's unable to speak and tell you in words when it isn't feeling well, poop can be an important indicator that something else is going on inside. 

The problem is that most people don't know what to look for. They may pick up their dog waste but not really be sure when something is normal or when it requires the attention of a veterinarian.

For our wonderful customers who use our regular yard clean up service, notifying you of potential issues is part of what we do. For the rest of you dog lovers, this will give you an overview of what you can look for in your dog's stools. You'll learn when it's time to seek medical help or just pay attention to other signs they may not be well. 
dog running stick grass

The three C's

There are three main areas we're going to cover when we talk about your dog's feces in a three part series. The three C's are: colour, content and consistency. If you can remember these three C's, you'll be able to easily identify when something is kinda off in your dog's stools. This post will cover the colour of your dogs feces, both what's normal and what you should be aware of. 


Most dog poop should be brown (duh). It will vary in different dogs, breeds and diets. It shouldn't be too soft or too hard. The best way to tell when something is off with your dog is to pay attention to what their normal poop looks like and to notice when it changes. 

CanineJournal.com lists common poop colours and the conditions that they can indicate:

  • Black or Very Dark — Can be a sign of gastrointestinal or stomach ulcer. Human medications such as Aspirin can cause stomach ulcers in dogs. Never give human medication without consulting your vet first. 

  • Red or Streaks of Blood —Bleeding further down the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Streaks of blood can be colitis (inflammation of the colon), a rectal injury, an anal gland infection or a possible tumour. 

  • Pink or Purple — Anything that looks like raspberry jam, could indicate hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE). A lot of dogs die each year from HGE but most will recover with prompt treatment.

  • Grey or Greasy Looking — This could indicate Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI). EPI is when the pancreas does not produce the necessary enzymes to digest fat. EPI is treatable.
    golden retriever grass

  • Green — This could mean your dog has eaten a large amount of grass. It can also be from a parasite, rat bait poisoning or other internal issues. If your dog has green poop, call your vet right away. 

  • Orange — Seeing orange poop can indicate a liver issue or biliary disease (or undigested carrots). Orange feces can also mean your dog's poop moved too quickly through the GI tract to pick up the bile which changes poop to the normal brown colour. If you see orange, call your vet. 

  • Yellow — Yellow mucus usually means a food intolerance - especially if you've recently changed their diet. Look at what your pet has been eating and try to rule out any new ingredients that could be causing them to have an upset stomach. 

  • White Specks — Worms often look like white grains of rice in your dogs stool. This is very treatable, so see your vet right away to make your dog healthy again. 

If you see something abnormal in your dog's poop, it's best to call your vet and ask them what to do or if you should take your dog into see them. If you're one of our regular weekly, biweekly or monthly yard clean up clients, we'll let you know right away if we spot something strange in your dog's feces. We want your dog to live a long and healthy life too!
boxer rolling grass

The importance of a good diet

Diet plays a huge role in the health of your dog and the colour of their feces. Buying a good quality dog food will save you money in the long run (less trips to the vet) and give your dog a longer, healthier life. We wrote about a 2015 study that showed 94% of dog foods didn't pass their series of tests. Did your dog food make the grade?

You should also pay attention to the people food you feed your dog (if you do at all). Not all food humans eat is good for dogs. Some things can make them very sick or even cause death. Here's a list of Nine people foods you should never feed your dog.

Did you learn something? Have you ever noticed something strange about your dog's poop and then it ended up being something worse? Share your stories in the comments below!

Dog Advice
Nine Foods to Never Feed Your Dog
April 24, 2016 at 10:22 am 2

Do what mom says

Growing up, we had a dog named Jessie. She was a black and white cock-a-poo and no matter how hard she tried, there was always one consistent rule in our house: don't feed the dog from the table. My mom's reasoning is that once Jessie learned she could get food from the table, she would always try to repeat that behaviour in hopes of getting the same reward.  

Having two big dogs of my own now, I follow the same logic. There might be times that I give them food I can't finish, (sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) but I won't feed them from my plate or when I'm eating. I make them work for everything they get. A simple "sit" or "down" is enough, but I'll write more on that in another post. 
golden retriever treats

Is feeding people food okay?

It can be alright to give your dog some of your food, some of the time. If you're thinking of switching them to a whole-food diet from kibble, make sure that you do it slowly. Introduce some lean meat and vegetables over a week, by changing ratios of that food to kibble. 

There's a lot of ways you can start to incorporate real food into your dog's diet, but it's probably best to talk to your veterinarian first. Dogs of different ages and types have different nutritional requirements. Your vet will know what's best for your dog and be able to recommend some things to try. 

Foods to never feed your dog

Another reason I don't feed my dogs my food very often, is that some of it just isn't good for them. Many foods that are delicious and good for us, could be poisonous to our canine companions. Here's a list of 9 foods to avoid feeding your dogs:

  • Alcohol — According to Dogster, there are a few reasons that dogs shouldn't have alcohol. Number one, their bodies just can't handle the alcohol. Another obvious reason is that the principle ingredients are bad for dogs and dogs are much smaller than humans (in most cases). This means they can become intoxicated or poisoned much quicker than we can.

  • Chocolate, Coffee/Caffeine — Chocolate and caffeine are bad for dogs and most people already know that. While it's rare to cause death in canines, petinsurance.com warns eating chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, urination, hyperactivity, heart arrhythmias, tremors and seizures. Different types of chocolate are more toxic with the general rule being the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is.

  • Citrus — That sour taste we love so much isn't good for our dogs. Lemons, limes, oranges and especially grapefruits are very toxic for our dogs. Reactions can be anywhere from lethargy, depression, diarrhea, vomiting, photo-sensitivity, drooling, trembling and sensitivity to light. Fidosavvy.com adds that the peel, pith and seeds are the most dangerous parts of the fruit.
    dog eating watermelon

  • Grapes & Raisins — Veterinarians aren't quite sure why, but grapes and raisins can be very poisonous to dogs. According to Woofipedia poisoning from grapes doesn't affect all dogs, but when it does it can lead to kidney failure and as little as one grape per pound of dog is enough to cause an issue. 

  • Macadamia Nuts — Although not considered fatal, The Merck Veterinary Manual warns that macadamia nuts can cause your dog to get quite sick. They found that dogs who were given macadamia nuts would develop weakness, depression, vomiting, ataxia, tremors, and/or hyperthermia within 12 hours of ingestion. All of the dogs were better within 48 hours without treatment. 

  • Milk & DairyDogFoodAdvisor says milk and dairy products won't affect some dogs at all and others will experience accute intestinal distress (gas, diarrhea or vomiting). I give my dogs cheese once in a while and I haven't noticed anything wrong them. They're no more gassy than usual anyway. 

  • Onions/Garlic/Chives (Allium Species Plants) — Plants belonging to this group are popular in a lot of things that we cook, but are very toxic to dogs. Petinsurance.com says it can take up to two to four days for the symptoms to appear and these symptoms can include: breathlessness, lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse.


  • Salt & Salty Snack FoodCan I Give My Dog...? says it's best to avoid giving dogs salty snacks like chips or pretzels. Excess salt in our furry friends can cause serious dehydration. They continue on to say that a few chips won't hurt your dog, just make sure there's lots of water around. Unless your dog has a serious illness, they should be fine. 

  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that's widely used as a sugar substitute. Naturally, it's found in berries, plums, corn, oats, mushrooms, lettuce and some varieties of trees. While this popular sweet substitute is safe for humans, it's extremely toxic for dogs. Dogs who ingest even a small amount can experience hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure or even death. More information can be found on the VCA Animal Hospitals website

No matter how much your dog begs, or looks hungry, it's probably best to avoid feeding them people food unless you know it's safe for them. It's not worth risking anything from a sickness to death. 

If you're looking for an easy way to give your dog food you can make at home, try out our Peanut Butter Dog Cookie Recipes. They incorporate banana, pumpkin and bacon into three separate recipes that your dog is sure to love. 

What are you rules regarding feeding dogs in your house? Do you share scraps with them or do you go all the way and feel them a natural diet? Share your thoughts on dogs and people food in the comments below. 



Dog Advice
420 with Fido
April 20, 2016 at 8:38 am 0

Happy 420!

You may not realize it, but today is an important holiday for many people in the world. April 20th (or 4/20) is an annual day for many marijuana smokers to celebrate and partake in one of their favourite hobbies. What started as a group of students (The Waldos) meeting at a statue after class in California in the late 70's to smoke up, has turned into an international code for getting high and smoking weed.

Marijuana can be a way for people to relax, to laugh or to kick back and enjoy life for a while. It's also been widely used for medical reasons and has been shown to have many health benefits for people. The question is does marijuana have the same effect on our dogs? Is it okay to get high with your pooch on 420?

dog stoner hippie

image from main.acsevents.org

Weed and dogs

Just like their human friends, dogs can get stoned by breathing in second hand smoke or by eating it. How it affects the dog can depend on its size and age according to Dr. Robin Downing, a Colorado doctor of veterinary medicine. Obviously a 100lb German Shepherd would react differently than a 20lb Shih-Tzu. 

Dogs who ingest marijuana can experience the following symptoms:

  • lethargy

  • breathing problems

  • lowered blood pressure

  • abnormal heart rhythyms

  • loss of balance

  • incontinence

As with any drug, not every trip is a good trip. Some dogs aren't calm and relaxed when they smoke or eat pot, but instead display signs of panting, pacing and appear to be quite distressed. according to Dr. Tina Wismer, the medical director at the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center.

In my personal opinion, whether or not dogs enjoy pot doesn't matter so much as their inability to give consent - I couldn't imagine someone getting me intoxicated without me wanting to do so. So whether or not it's fun for dogs doesn't matter to me, they can't really give their consent so I won't be sharing with my dogs. 

Medical marijuana and dogs

There are biscuits, edibles and capsules containing cannabis compounds that are being marketed to owners of ailing or elderly animals as natural pain relievers and anti-inflammatory supplements. According to Matthew J. Cote of Auntie Dolores (a manufacturer and online retailer for edibles), there are many parts of the cannabis plant. While many people use it for the euphoric effect of THC, they overlook cannabidiol (or CBD) which is non-psychoactive.

Matthews said they've seen dogs respond very rapidly to the CBD in their edibles. He tells a story of one woman who was ready to put down her dog due to how sick and in pain he was, but then the day before he was scheduled to go under, she administered treats by Auntie Dolores and the dog was able to get up, walk around, and act normal again. 

Just like any new medication, it's hard to be sure what you're getting until it's been tested and regulated. Different manufacturers may produce different doses or contain different ingredients. I can honestly say that if one of my dogs were in pain or suffering, I'd be willing to give this kind of thing a try. 

dog marijuana field

image from 3milliondogs.com

My dog ate my pot, what do I do?

Anyone who has a labrador retriever (aka the canine vacuum) can attest to their dog's ability to eat just about anything. A curious puppy of any breed can mistakenly eat your weed thinking it's a snack or treat left out for them. So what do you do when your dog eats your pot?

First of all, don't get mad or sit there laughing, you're gonna wanna call your vet. Usually the vet will try to induce vomiting to get anything they've eaten out of their system. If the dog is too lethargic, according to Bark Post, inducing vomiting would be dangerous because the dog could swallow it and asphyxiate. The normal treatment when a dog ingests marijuana is to monitor the dog for seizures and to give them plenty of fluids in an attempt to clear out their systems sooner. Then you need to just wait it out. 

Can your dog die from marijuana? Yes, but that's unlikely. It takes a LOT of marijuana to kill a dog. In a study of dog reactions to cannabis butter, just two of the 125 dogs died. Research has yet to determine whether the primary cause of death is in fact the pot or the food that it's mixed with (chocolate for example). In any case, keep your weed in dog proof container so that you don't have any unhappy accidents with your dog. 

If you're looking for a fun way to celebrate 420 with your dog, why not bake him or her some cookies? We've got three easy and delicious peanut butter cookie recipes for your dog that you can try. Alternatively, why not enjoy a dog-friendly beer with Fido? There's a few companies that manufacture these non-alcoholic drinks for canines. 

Do you celebrate 420? Has your dog ever eaten your pot? Share your thoughts on dogs and marijuana in the comments below. 

Dog Advice
Dangers of Retractable Leashes
April 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm 0

The idea seems good

As adults, we enjoy our freedom. We're able to go just about anywhere that our body can take us and apart from legal or physical restrictions, there aren't too many places we can't go.

It makes sense then as good dog owners, we want to give our furry best friends that same sense of freedom. To be able to sniff, walk and enjoy nature without the restrictions of a 4ft or 6ft nylon leash seems like a naturally good idea to most dog-loving people. 

Gadgets like retractable leashes are popular with dog owners. They provide a comfortable way to give you dog freedom to roam with the benefit of your dog still being safely attached to you. 

There are a few reasons why I don't like retractable leashes however. As both a dog walker and a dog trainer I've seen some dangerous yet avoidable situations caused by these tools.

1. Less control

When your dog is on a retractable leash, they have up 26 feet of leash length. That means there's a potential 26 foot radius away from you without any way to reel them in quickly if there was an emergency. This could potentially be a danger if there's traffic nearby or another not-so-friendly dog. All it takes it one jolt to send your dog running with little ability to stop them.

Sometimes the taut line of a leash can make the dog's chest puff up and make them appear more aggressive than they are. Other dogs can read this body language as a threat and react accordingly. What happens when your dog gets into an argument with another dog and it's 26 feet away from you?

dog retractable leash

image from dogs.thefuntimesguide.com

2. Reinforces bad training

Retractable leashes aren't great for training either. When I'm training a dog to walk on a loose leash, part of that training is to teach the dog that there shouldn't be any tautness in the leash. Eventually, your dog could potentially walk beside you without a leash because they're relying on your commands and body language rather than feeling something attached to their neck. 

As Dr. Karen Becker says, retractable leashes are an especially bad idea for dogs that haven't been trained to walk politely on a regular leash. By their very nature, retractables train dogs to pull while on leash, because they learn that pulling extends the lead.

dog retractable leash

image from dogster.com

3. Safety

It might not seem obvious but there have been cases of serious injury resulting from the use of retractable leashes. Burns, cuts and even amputation of a finger have happened from people trying to grab onto the rope of a retractable leash while their dog bolts away.

In an article written by Dog Time, they also mention that a dog can easily jerk the large handle of a retractable leash out of the human hand holding it. The sound of that big piece of plastic hitting the ground can frighten the dog and cause it to keep running.

Another thing to keep in mind is your centre of balance. When your dog is so far out from you, it totally changes your tipping point and makes it easier for you to fall over or be dragged to the ground if your dog decides to run quickly after something (a squirrel for example). 

Maybe, sometimes?

Can a retractable leash ever be okay? Well, maybe. If you're not confident with your dog completely off a leash and you're walking along a trail away from traffic and other animals, a retractable leash might work. Or if you were on a beach somewhere and you want to let your dog enjoy sniffing and swimming without being right next to you, a retractable leash might be a good choice. 

In either case, I'd personally opt for the non-mechanical type of leash. I'd buy a lead that was 25-100 feet long so that you can have the safety aspect without the potential for the retractable mechanisms to break. 

Do you use a retractable leash? What are your experiences with them, good or bad? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Dog Advice
What Are You Really Feeding Your Dog?
March 17, 2016 at 6:50 am 1

The mysterious world of dog food

Admittedly, I don't know much about dog food. I know generally what to avoid, but I trust the people working at the pet store I visit to recommend food that they know to be good for my dogs.

That trust is important, because it can be hard to tell at a glance what food is good for your dog. Many brands claim to be all-natural, or premium and by reading the label alone, you might not know exactly what you're getting for your four-legged amigo.

bulldog dog food bowl

image from livescience.com

A 2015 study found that out of the 2,223 dog food formulas investigated, just 134 actually passed their standards. With a 94% failure rate, those aren't great odds you'll find something healthy for your dog by chance.


Which brands won?

The study included experts in the dog food industry such as veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviourists, university researchers and authors. Together, this team invested more than 1,400 hours into gathering their results. At the end, these ten brands were the winners:

  1. Orijen
  2. ACANA
  3. Eagle Pack
  4. Fromm
  5. Nature's Logic
  6. Stella & Chewy's
  7. Wysong
  8. Pinnacle
  9. Primal
  10. Hi-Tek Naturals


Ingredients to look for and avoid

Here's a quick list of ingredients you should look for in your dog's food and also a list of things to avoid:

image from Reviews.com

Why is good dog food important?

As with humans, healthy food means a healthy life. If you're feeding your dog bad food, it will definitely have a ripple effect on their health. Dogs need the right combination of protein, fat, moisture, fibre and nutrients  in order to avoid a long list of health problems (both physical and mental).

image from aussiepm.com.au

image from aussiepm.com.au

Issues like obesity are just as much of a problem for dogs as for people. Many poor grain-based ingredients in dog food can be to blame. Many dogs are sensitive to wheat and corn which are both popular fillers in dog food.

In the end, feeding your dog good food is as important for their health as exercise and love. Buying a good quality food is one way to ensure your best friend has many years of couch snuggling and squirrel chasing ahead of them.

You can read the full dog food study on Reviews.com.


What kind of food do you feed your dog? Will you be changing brands after reading this article? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Dog Advice
Should Your Dog Share Your Bed?
March 8, 2016 at 4:38 pm 0

Dogs in the bed

I love Sundays. As I've gotten older (not that old mind you), my favourite time of the week has moved from Friday night to Sunday morning. There's something so beautiful about waking up slowly, without an alarm, and just knowing you have the whole day to do whatever you want.

My dogs don't sleep in my bed. Not necessarily because I don't want them to, it's their choice. It could be because I toss and turn too much or maybe I fart in my sleep, but for whatever reason, they prefer to sleep in other parts of the house.

dog sleeping in bed

image from hellogiggles.com

When it's really cold or I'm having a nap though, they will sleep near me. (I didn't get malamute mixes because I love to vacuum). But is that a good thing? Can inviting your dog to sleep in your bed be harmful or unhealthy?

Things to consider

I'm the kind of person that even if my doctor bluntly said to me "You are sick because your dogs sleep in your bed", I'd still disagree. There are however some things you should consider before you let Lassie hop into your bed with you:

Bacteria where you sleep

Possibly the most common fear is that your canine best friend, without knowing it, might track bacteria into the place where you sleep. The good news is that even though homes with pets will contain more bacteria, that's not necessarily reason to kick your dog out of the bed - whew!

According to Pets.WebMd.com, you should only really need to kick your pets out of the bed if you're an allergy sufferer. That dander and hair can make it so that you have trouble sleeping and that can have a ripple effect on other parts of your life.

dog sleeping on bed

image from tumblr.com

There are studies on both sides of the coin. Technically your dog (or cat) has the potential to make you sick. They can carry with them all kinds of bacteria and parasites, some of which could lead to things such as salmonella or heartworms. But even the studies I found that suggested there could be potential for pet-borne illness, state the risk for such an occurrence was low.

As long as your pet is properly vaccinated and you regularly clean your sheets, it's okay to have your dog sleep in your bed. In fact, doing so might help you to sleep better because you feel more safe and secure.

Behavioural issues

Another reason you might consider not having your dog sleep in your bed is for behavioural reasons. When I first got Casey, her and Dakota were still figuring things out between the two of them. I could tell Dakota was trying to show Casey that it was her house and she would often do things like climb onto the bed and not allow Casey on there.

I quickly decided that neither of them would get to be on the bed. No couch, no toys, no anything without my permission. I made them work for everything until they got into their heads that I was in charge of the resources and neither one of them ranked above me in the house.

dogs sleeping on couch

Casey (left) & Dakota sleeping on the couch

Now they are inseparable. They talk to each other all day and hang out like they are the best of friends. The pack leader role goes back and forth between them depending on what the situation is, but they have a deep love and respect for one another. Oh, and just try keeping them off the couch now!

It's up to you

With two malamute mixes, I live in a storm of hair about twice a year. That hair gets into just about everything, including my bed. Depending on the breed of dog you have, you'll have to deal with a different kind of dirt (or drool) in your bed. But if you're like me, and love nothing more than your dogs jumping up on the bed to say good morning to you or to curl up beside you for a nap, there's plenty of reasons to let your dog sleep in your bed - no matter what anyone else might think.

Keep your pets vaccinated, bathe them regularly and there shouldn't be any problem letting your best friend snuggle up with you for a nap or for the night.

Do your pets sleep in your bed? Share your stories in the comments below.

Dog Advice
Littermate Syndrome: Is Buying Two Puppies at Once a Bad Idea?
February 17, 2016 at 11:58 am 0

Two are better than one

I often tell people how glad I am that I have two dogs. They are quite simply the best of friends. They play together, snuggle together and seem to have their own special language. Having two dogs, is twice the benefit without really being twice the work.

If I'm going for a walk anyway, it's nothing to bring an extra dog. The same goes for feeding, grooming and everything else. It can be more work, but if I'm already doing it anyway, it's not that much more work to do it twice.

So while I absolutely advocate for having two dogs at the same time, there's a big difference in my situation and in getting two puppies at the same time. Let me explain.



My dogs are three years apart. Dakota, the black Alaskan Malamute/Golden Retriever cross, is seven years old now. Casey, the red Alaskan Malamute/Siberian Husky cross, is four. Dakota was four when I got Casey at a year old from the Grand River All Breed Animal Rescue. Having that age gap made a big difference in how they were trained.

Firstly, the younger one (Casey) learns from the older one. I had a few years to train Dakota into the wonderful dog she is before Casey came along. Neither dog is perfect, but Dakota certainly had some good habits in place before I brought Casey into my home.

Casey and Dakota on bed

Casey (left) & Dakota (right)

The difference when you adopt two littermates is that they don't get that separation. Many people feel like adopting two puppies at the same time is just like having two older dogs. They believe they'll play together and have an inseparable bond between one another. The difference is the separation aspect.

When you have two puppies, that bonding with each other can be at the cost of bonding with you. According to Jeff Stallings of betternaturedogtraining.com, this strong bond can create behavioural issues at key development periods in the puppies lives. This deep bond impedes their ability to absorb and grasp nuances of human and canine communication. Since fear is the default reaction to odd or unfamiliar stimuli in dogs, continues Stallings, this can cause impaired coping mechanisms later on.



As I've said, having two dogs is one of the best decisions I've made. Doing the dog chores I need to do on a daily basis (going for a walk, feeding, grooming, etc.) isn't that much more of an issue when adding the second dog.

Even if you know you're going to get a second dog anyway, there are many good reasons for separating the adoption dates of both dogs out a bit. As Pat Miller of whole-dog-journal.com points out, two puppies at once means a lot more work than owners initially expect. The obedience training, house training and clean up is doubled. Even if you have two kids who each want their own puppy, it's better to wait.

If you're looking to have a playmate for your puppy, find friends who have other puppies. Doggy daycares, dog parks, or recommendations from your trainer are great ways to find another puppy for your puppy to play with.


I've adopted two puppies! What do I do?

If you're reading this and thinking oh crap! I've already adopted two littermates, what the hell am I in for? Relax. Nothing is set in stone and there are lots of ways that you can prevent littermate syndrome from becoming an issue.

The biggest thing you can do is to separate the dogs. Take them on separate walks, do their training separately and give them time apart. They need to bond with you and learn to meet other dogs and people without their sibling close by.

two rottweiler puppies

image from petful.com

I've seen littermates become bullies at the dog park. They tag team another dog and ignore their owner and, well you can see where this is going. Take the time to separate your dogs, take them to training classes and be conscious of the warning signs of littermate syndrome.

As with anything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's much easier to train a puppy than it is to un-train and re-train an older dog. Be proactive in training your dogs, and you'll have two amazing friends like I do.
Do you or do you know someone who adopted littermates? What was your experience? Do you have any advice to add? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.