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Woof Wednesday: Dog Water Maniacs

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magic standing in water bowl

Magical-Dawg as a baby LOVED to play in his water bowl--messy!

Is your dog a water baby? Today’s Ask Amy responds to a reader with a “water maniac” dog who can’t seem to stay dry no matter what. Some dogs come by the urge due to breeding, such as retrievers who live for diving into water. But even my Magical-Dawg thinks chasing the water from the hose is nearly as good as Frisbee Fetch.

But how do you handle waterlogged pooches as the weather gets cold? Water play and games can be a wonderful pastime in hot weather. Some parts of the country continue to suffer unseasonably warm weather and you can refer to these tips including water games to keep hot dogs cool.

My concern, though, would be for Magic to become used to splish-splashing in the tank (that’s Texan for “man-made pond”) and then try to do the same and fall through winter ice. There’s probably no chance of that this year–our drought has dried up the tanks–but drowning can be a problem for water-loving hounds. Just because they can swim doesn’t mean they won’t drown if they can’t get out of the water. Here’s an article on drowning first aid and water safety as a “just in case” that I hope you’ll never need.

Are your dogs water fanatics? Or do they avoid getting furry tootsies damp? How do you keep them safe? What other suggestions would you have for the owner of the doggy-slob in this Ask Amy?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Heat Stroke, Hot Weather Games & Pit Bull-Kitten Luv

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Savannah takes a dip in her water bowl to cool off.

Dogs may be “man’s best friend,” but parrots, cats, lizards and horses also form connections to human beings. Not only can having a pet cheer you up and reduce your stress levels, but your pet could save your life. These pets may be able to detect diabetic crises, seizures, migraines and Parkinson’s “freezing,” helping owners get timely — and often critical — help.

Dogs can actually be taught to detect cancer. Melanoma is the least common but most deadly skin cancer, accounting for 79 percent of skin cancer deaths. Diagnosis relies mostly on the way the skin looks — even though many melanomas are invisible to the naked eye. But cancer causes the body to release chemicals into our urine, sweat and even breath that smells different than normal. My most recent Huffington Post article gives even more cool details about how pets can avert human health crises. 

Of course, it’s up to the human part of the equation to keep our pets happy and healthy. At my house, PLAYTIME offers great brain candy and mental health breaks for both the furry and two-legged family members. But this $%$%^&^&! hot weather makes that a challenge.

What games does your puppy play during hot weather? Do you know how to give your pet first aid for heat stroke? When the temperature climbs near to 100 degrees, pets have trouble staying cool. But they don’t know any better and can over-exercise and risk death—yet they need healthy exercise. What’s a pet parent to do?

I’ve come up with some options for the Magical-Dawg. I’ve shared a few of them in this article about safe hot weather games for dogs.  Of course, the Seren-kitty (aka “coyote bait”) doesn’t go outside even in comfortable weather. I found a fun YouTube video that offers suggestions for cat-dog games and couldn’t resist sharing.

What creative games do your fur-kids play? Do the dogs and cats get along? Seren’s fav game of all is getting Magic in trouble. Please share your furry foibles!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Ask Amy, Puppy Baths & Skunk-icity

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7-22 magic & hose
Magic loves water–for play! Bathes are a different story.

Last week during a ramble through the 13 acres of our Rosemont homestead, Magical-Dawg emerged from the treeline and scared my husband half to death. He threw himself on the ground (the dawg, not the hubby!), and rolled-rolled-rolled and scrubbed his face in the grass and dirt. Mahmoud thought he’d been bitten or stung by something, said Magic even seemed to foam a bit at the mouth and was nearly impossible to motivate him vertical so they could head back to the house.

I checked the boy over for bites and stings–one side of his jowls did seem a bit swollen–but Magic didn’t act tender and seemed fine. The repair folks arrived shortly thereafter to fix the oven/stove (that’s another story!) so Magic kenneled-up in our bedroom for the duration. An hour later when they left and I opened the bedroom door and released Magic from his kennel–

Ginger, the Morkie, can’t believe she’d ever need a bath! Copr. eamylove

WHEWIE! I hadn’t noticed it before, but confinement increased Magical-Dawg’s pungent-icity. Not a bug bite or sting at all–nope, my inquisitive fellow had a close encounter with a skunk. Luckily it wasn’t a direct hit or we’d have noticed much more quickly. So today, the Magical-Dawg will get a bath with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap–a bubbling miraculous solution for de-skunking the stinkiest pooch. For directions how to get other stuff out of the fur (tar, paint, chewing gum and more), you’ll find detailed how-to advice in the First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats.

Puppies shouldn’t be bathed until they are at least four weeks old—six or eight weeks is better. The little guys have trouble regulating their body temperature at that age, and can become chilled. While some breeds need more bathing than others, excessive baths can strip natural oils from the coat and dry the skin. For puppy-licious bathing advice, check out 13 Steps for Bathing Your Puppy (hot off the virtual press!).

Some dogs HATE bathes, though. Does yours? Magic LOVES the idea of chasing the water but doesn’t want to hold still for rinsing. Today’s Ask Amy explains some of the “whys” about dogs who hate bathing. How often do you bathe your dog? Or…HISSSSSSS…do you ever bathe your cat? Did you and the cat survive? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Tuesday Tips: Disaster Preparation, Egypt and Fire!

Do you have a disaster plan for yourself and your pets? If not, make plans now! You never know when disaster will strike. For instance, I hadn’t a clue that the several “booms” yesterday followed by a power outage was more than a temporary inconvenience. Then I noticed smoke—outside—quite some distance from the house. No problem—the next door golf course often burned trash. But when the dog barked (GOOD BOY!), and I left my upstairs office to check, smoke had begun to come into the kitchen. Yikes! I grabbed my phone, and ran out to check – this video (about 3-4 minutes) will show you what I found.

We were lucky. Grass fires are common in North Texas, and other parts of the country. Would you know what to do if (heaven forbid!) your pets were caught in the burn? Here’s a brief first aid guide to treating pet burns and smoke inhalation, but I hope you’ll never need it.

On the same “disaster prep” theme, I wanted to update you on my friend and colleague Heike. She’s safe in Germany with her son Jan. But she had to leave her pets behind. Heike was prepared, though, and made arrangements for a neighbor to care for the kitties, and left her dog with Candy’s Kennel, a terrific facility. Enjoy the pictures.

Egyptian Persian mix Sir Kimo
Heike writes, “(above) our Egyptian Persian mix “Sir Kimo”, rescued on 31/12/2004 when we found him severely injured and undernourished on our staircase.”

Egyptian Siamese Miss Noha
“Our Egyptian Siamese, Miss Noha.”

Jan with dog Lucky

“My son Jan Henrik Syllwasschy and our dog Lucky “Woolsy” Syllwasschy.”

Donkey cart transport
“Typical transportation means, donkey & cart, often overloaded.  Also many other animals which do not directly work in the tourism industry, e.g. donkeys pulling carts, are suffering from overloading of vehicles, groundless punishments and beating, and malnutrition.”

Camels, Horses for tourists at Giza pyramids
“Camels & horses waiting for tourists @ Giza pyramids, very often undernourished even in good times. As tourists refrain from visiting Egypt these days, many riding stables let their horses and camels starve to death since they lack income and cannot afford the food for their animals. dpa and n-tv report on dying horses in the streets around the Giza pyramids, where usually horses and camels carry the tourists to the

Candys Kennel
“Candy’s Kennel, private kennel operated by Mrs. Hend Kotb, currently home to 30+ rescued dogs, all food/medical treatment/labor privately financed.” This is where her dog currently is being housed until Heike’s return (she hopes) this week. Few companion animals in Egypt have it so good, though. This article about Cairo’s cats will strike a chord with all animal lovers, and the efforts of a fledgling animal welfare effort give hope. Check out Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA).

Heike further writes, “The current political situation increases the suffering of the animals in Egypt.  Many animals are suffering from wounds resulting from bad saddles, or suffer from injuries of joints from overload or other abuse, resulting in terrible pain when carrying people.”

Check out the FaceBook page for The Egyptian Society for Animal Friends. Heike says, “ESAF are doing tremendous work to save horses/camels together with Brooke Hospital, and they have tons of pics on their page. You can contact one of their members Sonia Zollner for permission to use some pics in your newsletter. I have already written to her that we are raising causes, and just mention my name to her, i am sure she won’t object!”

So spread the word–and the furry love. Be prepared for the worst, hope for the best, and reach out to help when disaster strikes.

Woof Wednesday: Cold Weather Hazards and Carbon Monoxide Danger

Magic would stay out in the cold forever--and freeze his nether regions off!


It’s snowing—again! Ice and snow shut down N Texas last week for 4-5 days, melted over the weekend, and returned last night. 

I hope y’all have taken safety steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning–yep, it affects pets, too. My brother’s pet bird, Gumby, saved the family’s life several years ago when symptoms alerted them to the danger. Read more about carbon monoxide poisoning and pets here.

When the temperature drops overnight, people pull on sweaters. Dogs don’t have the benefit of pulling something out of the closet to wear. Magic-the-wooly-wonder would spend hours outside if he had his choice. Yes, that’s him in the picture during last week’s storm, but even cold-loving dogs can have too much of a good thing.

Old dogs get less cold tolerant as they age, because they lose muscle and fat mass that insulates, increases their metabolism, and keeps them warm. Aging skin and fur also tends to get thinner. Little dogs have less body mass to generate natural heat, too, and often benefit from a doggy sweater especially when they must do outdoor bathroom duty. 

Pets often develop dry skin, dull coats, and static-filled fur during the winter as a result of artificial heat from furnaces. Ask your veterinarian or pet products store about fatty acid supplements. These help counteract the drying effects of winter weather. You can also take a USED dryer sheet and pet your cat or dog with that, to help reduce the fly away fur from static electricity.

Pets stay warm by burning fuel—the food they eat. They need more calories to generate increased body warmth, too, especially if they’re outside pets and can’t rely on your warm lap. You can feed adult dogs a puppy food which increases the calories—or feed a “performance” diet. Just remember to switch back to a maintenance diet in the spring or you risk adding pounds and can end up with a fat Fido.

Provide your outdoor pets with shelter. Getting wet, or sitting in the cold wind, allows body heat to be stripped away and predisposes pets to cold risks. When fur stays clean, untangled and dry, it traps a warm layer of air next to the pet’s skin that helps protect them from the cold.

Outdoor shelters should be only slightly larger than the curled-up pet. Put a dry blanket or straw bedding inside for the pet to burrow and snuggle. Small areas can be warmed and actually heated by the pet’s own body, so avoid offering accommodations that are too large. 

Staying in the garage helps keep the wind off their backs, but cats and dogs still need a small cubbyhole to hide inside—even a cardboard box can help. Providing a light bulb overhead can offer some warmth, or you can invest in pet warming beds available from pet products stores.

When outdoor shelter or a garage isn’t available, pets should be inside when temperatures drop below about 40 degrees or the weather turns nasty.

Better yet, bring ‘em all inside and snuggle together under a blanket. That old Eskimo saying—“It’s a three-dog night”—certainly applies, and you’ll all welcome the warmth!

Woofs & Warm Wags,


A Kindle-ization Update & Bonus “Furry” Reads

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The news about my Kindle journey continues to be positive, with Complete Kitten Care continuing to sell well, now into the double digits in less than a month. I’m told (by them-thar experienced E-authors) that the key to sales is tags-tags-tags, and reviews-reviews-reviews. Well, that’s one part of the key, anyway, but the sales puzzle has a combination lock that challenges the most savvy biz people. I’m still learning. In the weeks ahead, I plan to set up a paypal for offering the PDF (full color!) version of the book via my website. 

Anyway, the Kindle Boards has been extraordinarily helpful. One of the ongoing threads supports authors with tags, each poster encouraged to tag all the other posted books in order to garner the same courtesy. One of these kind souls also posted a link to a similar Facebook-Amazon-Tag group which offers a similar service. For those who missed the explanation in a previous blog, the tags describe the content of a given book and are suggested by both the author/publisher and by readers. Then visitors to that amazon book page have the option to vote and agree the tag accurately describes the book. Those books with large numbers of tags in a given subject theoretically rise in the amazon rankings so that should a visitor to amazon search for a book with that content, YOUR book so tagged will be high on the list and get the attention it deserves.

Thus far, my Complete Kitten Care has garnered 30-58 “votes” on the various tags that include cat, kitten, breed and the like. I’m also grateful to Fran Pennock Shaw, Carol Shenold, Dena Harris and others for their glowing reviews. Note: I will happily give you and your books a shout-out should you happen to review my book. *s*  Hey, as with cat training, bribes are legal, right?  I’ll keep you posted on when the other books are kindle-lized. 

Breaking news–I just learned that Barnes and Nobel will offer pubit! coming this summer. This is their version of the Ebook, with a free self publishing platform similar to the Kindle model, to publish on the Nook.  Smashwords is another option which can be downloaded on the Sony reader (and yes, I’m looking into all of these option).

Meanwhile, on the article-writing front, I’ve been typing my fingers down to the claws.  So as promised, here are some free “furry reads” as a thank you to all the folks following this blog. Please share with your other pet-loving friends.

For cat lovers–do you understand what she’s saying? Cat language stymies even the most loving cat owners. Did you know, for instance, that wetting on your bed (ew!!!) actually might be a cat compliment? Understanding felinese…cat talk…can help owners solve behavior problems and enrich the relationship you have with Kitty. Here’s how to understand cat communication.


            On-the-go dogs delight in outdoor adventures, but too often they sniff out pesky bugs that prove aggravating or even dangerous. Recently my happy-go-lucky German shepherd pup Magic morphed into a miserable crybaby, courtesy of “something” that bit or stung. His eyes swelled shut, muzzle inflated, and hives made fur stand off his body in an itchy checkerboard pattern that prompted nonstop scratching.

            Fur offers some protection but paws and sparsely furred tummies are at risk especially in areas that host fire ants. Dogs who play with bees, wasps, spiders or scorpions suffer stings on the face, head or even inside the mouth. Bites and stings beneath the fur may be hard to see or treat, but first-aid usually is all that’s needed to relieve any minor swelling, itching or redness.

·         Bees leave behind the stinger, which may continue to pump venom into the skin. Use a credit card or similar rigid tool to scrape it free.

·         A cold pack or compress applied to the bite helps reduce the swelling. A bag of frozen peas or corn works well, and molds against the pet’s body.

·         A baking soda and water paste works great to soothe the sting, but it can be messy when applied to fur so use only on exposed tummies.

·         Ammonia works great to cool the pain of fire ant bites. Moisten a cotton ball and dab on the stings. Calamine lotion also soothes ant bites.

·         For stings inside the mouth, offer ice cubes or ice water for the pet to lick and drink.

·         You can also mix a teaspoonful of baking soda into a pint of water, and squirt the solution into his mouth with a turkey baster or squirt gun, if he’ll allow you to do this.

·         As long as your dog continues to breathe with no problem, a veterinary visit may not be necessary even if the face swells quite a bit. Benadryl, an antihistamine, counters swelling and itching. A safe dose is one milligram for every pound your pet weighs or a Benadryl ointment can be used directly on the sting.

            Hives usually go away on their own after a day or so, and sooner if treated with an antihistamine. Magic felt better within only twenty minutes of the first dose of Benadryl but it needed to be repeated when it wore off. Benedryl also causes drowsiness as a side effect so the pup slept through the night and recovered by the next morning. Today he gives fire ant mounds a wide berth.