Monday, March 31, 2008

Sweets for Your Sweetie

We now have dog cookies here at GreenPets created by our neighbors, the famous chocolatiers at ACKC Cocoa Gallery.

But don't panic! There's no cocoa on these cookies, because, as most everyone knows, cocoa is very poisonous to dogs. These cookies have only white chocolate which has NO cocoa, and is therefore safe for dogs.

Not only are these sweets human-grade (that is, appropriate for humans to eat), they're darned tasty, too (as tested by our own staff)! Come by and share some with your dog!

Who Says You Can't Train a Cat?

Friday, March 28, 2008

100 Dogs Who Changed Civilization

You’ve heard of man’s best friend, the dog. This book spotlights 100 best friends for their feats of heroism, acts of love and contributions to the sciences and arts.

There’s Laika, a simple mutt from the streets of Moscow who became the first earthling in space. Her historic 1957 flight handed the Russians a major victory in the race to land a man on the moon. (Laika died several hours into her mission, however, possibly from fright.)

And there’s Ginny, a schnauzer/husky mix who was named “Cat of the Year” in New York because of her knack for finding and rescuing stray cats and kittens.

Not a dog person? Not to worry. Check out the author’s companion book, 100 Cats Who Changed Civilization.

Featured felines include Oscar, a shipboard cat who survived three sinkings in World War II, and Pulcinella, a composer’s cat who inspired an 18th-century harpsichord sonata by walking up and down the keyboard.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Have a backyard fence that blocks your dog's view? Consider giving him a window on the world with the Pet Peek.

The Pet Peek gives your doggy an acrylic plastic bubble, in a very 50s style sci-fi design, to stick his snout through and explore the unknown of your next door neighbors lawn. For $30, it’s not that much of a price to pay to give your doggy their dream.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wheelchairs Keep Disabled Pets Moving

SHELBURNE FALLS, Mass. (AP) -- When Gary Mikus learned that an incurable nerve disease was starting to paralyze the hind legs of his German shepherd, he immediately dismissed the idea of putting the dog to sleep. Then he spotted an ad in a pet food store: ''Eddie's Wheels For Pets. Help for Handicapped Pets.'' Now the dog named Bear, which has been Mikus' constant companion for a decade, has a lot of living left to do -- much of it in his new pet wheelchair.

''He's healthy in every other way,'' Mikus said. ''Until something tells me otherwise that he's failing, I'll do everything I can to keep him mobile and happy.''

A growing number of pet owners are turning to custom-built wheelchairs to restore mobility to furry friends whose legs, hips or backs don't work. The owners' goals are simple: to reward their pets' unconditional love with whatever it takes for the animals to live normally.

The two-wheel carts support the dog's midsection with a padded saddle, and are secured with a shoulder yoke and chest strap. Most dogs have rear-wheel carts to compensate for lame hind legs, though a growing number of front-wheel carts are being ordered for animals with front-leg problems.

Donna Blain's 7-year-old Maltese named Gizmo hopped and hobbled on his deformed front legs before she adopted him a year ago. She ordered his cart after learning the odd gait had damaged his spine and would have required surgery.

Now he wheels himself around for hours on sidewalks, in parks and anywhere he can find treats and praise.

''He's into everything,'' said Blain, of Woodstock, Conn. ''He just wants to live, after all those years of really hobbling and not being able to get where he wanted to be.''

Eddie and Leslie Grinnell, founders of Eddie's Wheels, built their first pet wheelchair in 1989 when their 10-year-old Doberman, Buddha, lost the use of her rear legs because of disc disease and spinal problems.

Their veterinarian, impressed by Buddha's revived mobility and vitality, started referring others to the Grinnells. In 1998, they started their own business.

Similar wheelchair makers can be found in Montana, Maryland, Oregon, Washington and elsewhere. Most dog carts start around $250 and can exceed $500 based on the size of the dog, while the cost of wheelchairs for other animals can vary depending on the type and size of animal.

Since launching the business, Eddie's Wheels has shipped carts worldwide -- the largest to a 220-pound Saint Bernard in Great Britain -- and has made wheelchairs for several cats, a ferret, alpacas, goats, sheep, a rabbit and a possum.

They even keep a supply of tiny wheels on hand for a gerbil or hamster.

Veterinarian Derek Fox, a University of Missouri professor specializing in orthopedic surgery for dogs, cats and other small animals, said pets that once would have been irreversibly crippled are benefiting from a variety of advancements: improved hip and joint replacements, better physical therapy and wheelchairs.

''Even if a treatment is expensive, these are people who say they'll do anything to keep their pet moving, to keep them happy, to keep their quality of life up,'' he said.

Many of the dogs who need the chairs become disabled from degenerative myelopathy, a neurological disease common in German shepherds, golden retrievers, Labradors and other large sporting breeds. Others, like Corgis and Daschunds, are vulnerable to disc and spine problems that eventually leave them lame.

''Dogs don't understand why this is going on, but they're very accepting: 'Oh, this is the way I am today.' So when we put them in the cart, they're like: 'Oh, now I'm back to normal. I can go where I want,'' Leslie Grinnell said.

That was the case with Max, an 8-year-old German shepherd whose owners, Gordon and Linda Landry of Granby, said his degenerative myelopathy left him dejected and hobbling behind their other dog, Molly.

As he tried his new cart for the first time, the dog whimpered at the door to go outside and promptly wheeled his way down the walkway, around the parking lot and past Molly as she peered at him from the Landrys' truck.

''This just amazes me,'' Linda Landry said as she watched him, laughing at his vigor. ''We never get to see him like this anymore. It's like having a younger Max back.''


On the Web:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dogs Sniff Out Hypoglycemia

Already known for their capability of leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and helping the physically disabled with daily tasks, dogs may also prove helpful in maintaining the blood sugar levels of diabetics.

This suggestion comes from researchers at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who are looking for evidence to verify whether dogs can reliably detect dangerous blood sugar level drops in diabetics.

"Anecdotal reports suggest that some dogs can perform early warning of hypoglycemia by using their sense of smell to 'sniff out' if their owner's blood sugar levels are dropping," Live Science quoted lead researcher and psychology professor Deborah Wells as saying.

Diabetics have to test their blood glucose levels on a regular basis to avoid the peaks and valleys that can result in organ failure.

Some organizations in the US train dogs to detect low glucose levels. Mark Ruefenacht, the founder of Dogs for Diabetics in Concord, California, says that dogs that successfully complete training can detect low glucose levels with 90 per cent accuracy.

However, it is still unclear what the canines notice when a person experiences a blood sugar low is still a mystery, Ruefenacht admits.

"We just haven't come up with the right answers. Every time we think we have the answer, we find that we don't," he said.

Larry Myers, a veterinarian and professor at Auburn University in Alabama, says that scientists are still investigating whether dogs can truly detect low blood sugar levels. He, however, agrees that it is a possibility worth exploring.

The expert, who has trained dogs to detect everything from drugs to agricultural pests for 25 years, points out that dogs olfactory ability are not universally sensitive to all chemicals.

"Do hypoglycemic individuals, in fact, emit an odor that is characteristic? I don't know, and I don't think anybody does know right now," he said.

Myers suggests that a possibility other than scent may perhaps be an ability in dogs to notice extremely subtle physiological changes in their human companion, which the canines are believed to use for seizure detection.

"It turns out what the dogs are really sensitive to is subtle changes in behavior of the individuals just prior to seizing. It's more of a fact that dogs are very, very, very observant of human behaviour," Myers said.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Viagra Saves Dog's Life

The anti-impotence drug Viagra has been credited with saving the life of a down-and-out dog in England. Talisker, a three-year-old border collie, developed heart problems after suffering a lung infection.

The dog would lose consciousness when he got excited because his blood could not pump fast enough. Vets warned Talisker would die from the condition but suggested his owner give the dog Viagra, as the sex pill improves blood flow to the heart.

Lesley Strong, a former pub landlady, of Yardley Hastings, Northants, said she was "shocked" by the vet's advice but the little blue pills had given Talisker a "new lease of life".

She said the prescription - labelled Talisker: Strong - had taken the local chemist a little by surprise.

She added that Talisker received his medicine in his food.

"I was shocked when the vet recommended Viagra and it raised a few eyebrows when I first collected the prescription. But it's given Talisker a new lease of life," she told the newspaper.

Viagra, normally associated with middle-aged male impotency, has also been used to treat humans with the rare disease pulmonary arterial hypertension.

In 2007, researchers suggested Viagra could be used to help people recover from jetlag.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fat Brits = Fat Dogs

Nearly two million dogs in Britain are overweight as obesity levels soar in our pets, a leading charity has warned

Many animals are experiencing problems such as heart disease, breathing difficulties, diabetes and arthritis which is causing their quality of life to be drastically reduced.

An overweight Dalmatian
Many people believe their pets to be healthy when they are actually overweight

A report by PDSA, the veterinary charity, found that almost one in three dogs is currently overweight, an increase of nine per cent over the last year.

Owners have been blamed for taking their dogs for fewer walks and for giving them treats when they want attention rather than playing with them.

Many people have a distorted image of what their pet should look like and believe their animal to be of healthy size when it is actually much larger than average, vets have said.

The charity has drawn up a map to show the levels of canine obesity in Britain and it coincides with obesity problems in humans and the areas with most overweight people have the most overweight pets. This would suggest that owners' lifestyle habits are affecting their pets although a direct study linking the two has not yet been carried out.

The north-west of England was found to have the worst problem with 31 per cent of dogs classified as overweight shortly followed by the Midlands at 29 per cent.

A recent study on obesity in men and women by Portsmouth University found that the West Midlands had the highest figures with up to 22 per cent in some areas. London has the slimmest dogs, according to the PDSA report, with just 19 per cent classified as overweight.

The report was based on 9,000 dogs that were assessed at voluntary pet health checks across the country in 2007 and 2006. A total of 30 per cent of the animals were found to be overweight, the equivalent of 1.95 million when this figure is applied to the 6.5 million dogs living in Britain.

Elaine Pendlebury, senior veterinary surgeon at PDSA, said: "Levels of dog obesity have risen greatly in the past few years. "If a dog wants attention, owners should be taking it out for a walk or playing with it rather than throwing them a bit of food from their plate.

"Dogs should really be walked at least two times a day for between two or 10 miles, depending on the breed, but our increasingly inactive lifestyles mean that we are reluctant to do this.

"Many people seem to have a distorted image of what their pet should look like and believe that they should look like a plump, healthy Labrador even if their breed is much smaller."

Obesity is also likely to shorten a dog's life expectancy and studies have found that an obese Labrador would live two years less than average.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SSSpecial Petssssss

Owners of pet snakes don't expect a lot of sympathy from outsiders.

So when headlines like "Feds move to ban pythons and boas" started to show up on message boards and blogs, the hobbyist community caught fire. Hundreds rushed to post messages decrying the possibility of adding pythons and boas to the list of species that it's illegal to import or transport between states.

Snakes are more popular pets than you might believe. An estimated 4.8 million American households own one or more pet reptiles, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association.

Although some special expertise is needed, the care of snakes is not time consuming, and for many who are fascinated by them, it's hard to stop at just one. Some species are even bred for special colors and patterns, like more familiar pets.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says it is just gathering information about which species might be of environmental concern at the moment, and what the economic impacts might be. No new rules have been proposed. The agency is accepting public comments until April 30, and if any new species end up being proposed to add to the regulated list, there will be another comment period at that point.

The inquiry began after Florida began coping with a growing number of released Burmese pythons.

Snake expert David Barker of Texas says that these snakes, which can grow to six meters long and more than 90 kilograms, are valuable when they're small and when very large. But in between, at about 2.5 to three meters in length, owners often find that they've become a handful, and are unable to sell them.

"They get irritable - they're teenagers," he says. "You can't get rid of one; you can't give it away."

This can lead irresponsible owners to release their pet into the wild.

Linda Friar of Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Park says the problem there has been increasing: in 1993, they found only about 27 of these snakes, but in 2007 the number was 250, and the educated guess is that "for every one we find, there are 10 more."

Officials are concerned about possible effects of these snakes on native species.

Snake enthusiasts like Barker, author of two books and numerous scientific articles, don't discount environmental issues. In fact, he says he chose to focus on ball pythons back in the 1970s because he expected that they'd eventually need protection by captive breeding.

But it's somewhat understandable that snake owners react strongly to the threat of legislation, given the confusing patchwork of widely varying local and state laws that affect them. For example, conservation regulations in some states ban the keeping of native species-even individuals bred in captivity-to protect them from being collected from the wild. This worthy goal means it can be illegal to own, for example, a corn snake, which is a good first pet snake for children.

Reptiles may also fall under laws regulating dangerous animals, wildlife or exotic pets, which may ban or require permits for certain species. The logic behind the laws doesn't always make sense to snake enthusiasts.

For example, the city of Baltimore bans any snake longer than 1.5 meters. But there are 1.5-meter-long snakes that are not much thicker than your thumb, and are unlikely to endanger anything bigger than a mouse. And Delaware currently requires a permit for any non-native species of reptile, no matter how small and inoffensive.

Regulating snakes as "wildlife" also raises the question of how long an animal must be bred in captivity before it is no longer considered wild. Barker argues that his ball pythons now essentially are domesticated: "They're selected for their ease of feeding, their temperaments. They've been bred in captivity for 10 generations."

Of course, domestication doesn't mean no regulation - after all, in most places you have to license and vaccinate your dogs. Barker points approvingly to Florida's approach: new laws require the giant species of snakes to be microchipped so that, if released, the owner can be identified and penalized.

Florida legislation also treats captive-bred varieties differently in one case: regulations on red-eared slider turtles have an exception for those that have been bred in special colours.

But hobbyists are passionate in their defence of the rewards of keeping snakes - and the freedom for responsible owners to make their own choice about which animals share their lives. As one poster to the government website put it, "Not everyone is a puppy, kitten sort of person."

Friday, March 14, 2008

GreenPets Accepting Donations for Animals Affected by Fire

D.C. Fire Forces About 200 From Homes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fire ravaged an apartment building overnight, forcing the evacuation of several neighboring buildings and damaging a church.

No residents were injured as flames engulfed the four-story building in the city's Mount Pleasant neighborhood, but about 200 people were forced from their homes, authorities said.

Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the fire broke out shortly before midnight Wednesday and destroyed at least half the building. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Some people climbed down fire ladders, while firefighters carried others out of the building, authorities said. Many people were loaded onto buses to stay warm.

"I only grabbed the children, who had no shoes, no anything, and we ran down the stairs," said building resident Abigail Escobar, who fled with her two young children.

Hundreds of firefighters from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia responded to the five-alarm blaze, which smoldered hours later Thursday morning, Etter said. One firefighter was treated at a hospital for smoke inhalation.

Flames that erupted from the roof of the apartment building spread to the Meridian Hill Baptist Church, which suffered roof damage, Etter said. Other nearby buildings were evacuated as a precaution but were not damaged.

The apartment building has been plagued with electrical, plumbing and infestation problems and has been fined by the city, D.C. Council member Jim Graham told WTOP radio.

The apartment building also served as one of the few remaining pet-friendly buildings in the area. At this time city councilmen are trying to gather information about who needs assistance for their pets. GreenPets, located at 1722 14th St. NW will be collecting donations and monetary contributions for these animals.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dogs Helping Autistic Children

Matthew Plunk pulls away from Ajax but can't go more than 2 1/2 feet, the length of the tethering strap securing him to the Great Pyrenees-boxer mix.

This, his parents say, is just one of the benefits of having an assistive dog to help their mildly autistic son navigate not just their Norcross home but the world outside.

Before they got Ajax, Jennifer Plunk said, Matthew was prone to darting away, especially if he became frightened or upset. And when he was in the middle of a meltdown, behavior common in children suffering from Asperger's syndrome such as Matthew, he was inconsolable.

Not with Ajax. He's trained to recognize the situation, and he moves in to nuzzle 7-year-old Matthew to avert the behavior.

Matthew was diagnosed with Asperger's at age 3. He was socially aloof and moved constantly, Plunk said. When the family ventured away from their home, people stared at him, and Plunk imagined they saw just another over-indulged brat — and a mother badly in need of parenting classes.

Now people see Ajax tethered to her son and are less judgmental and more empathetic, she said. When she saw a news special about assistive dogs, she knew then that "this could be something huge for Matthew."

Within months of receiving Ajax last year, Plunk said, Matthew started to change.

"He's more calm and comfortable in his skin," she said. "He's interested in what's going on around him, more in tune with people."

Kelly Martin hopes her son Carter can be so lucky. She believes an assistive dog could help him live a more regular life, too.

That freedom, however, comes with a $13,000 price tag, the price charged by 4 Paws for Ability. The Ohio-based nonprofit, where the Plunks got Ajax, trains service dogs for children and adults with various disabilities.

"It would be his own personal guide into this crazy world we live in," Martin said. "This dog will give Carter and my family back a lot of freedoms that we've had to forgo because it is too hard for Carter to do normal things."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Show You Care With Kuranda

Next door at our brother facility, Dogs By Day, they use lots of Kuranda beds for the dogs to relax on during the day and sleep on at night.

Check out the Kuranda Web site (; these dog beds are amazing! They are like cots, with material stretched across a tubular frame. The design is patented, very durable and comfortable for dogs because they don't have to sleep on a hard surface.

Kuranda beds are perfect for pets -- and for animal shelters. The company makes it very easy to donate a bed. Click on the "Donate a Bed" link and you can choose from a list, by state, of shelters that are hoping for donations.

Just select the shelter and follow the instructions to order a bed for donation. The retail price is reduced 30 percent to 35 percent for donated beds. The donation will be sent directly to the shelter in your name.

Kuranda USA is based in Annapolis, Md. Spokeswoman Carol Grandmougin, who sent the photo of a dog in a Kuranda bed, says that the company tracks all donations and posts the names of shelters with exceptional donation rates.

For more information, visit or call (800) 494-7122.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Masayan Blessing of the Dogs

MASAYA, Nicaragua (Reuters) - Hundreds of dogs, many dressed as babies or clowns, were taken to celebrate mass in this Nicaraguan town on Sunday, an annual ritual where the owners pray for their pets to be cured or avoid falling ill.

A long queue of Catholics, carrying their pets or leading them on leashes, waited their turn to pass by an image of a saint in a tiny church in this town 20 miles to the south of the Nicaragua capital, Managua.

The faithful thank the saint for curing their pets or ask for the dogs to be protected from illness. The town's priest always conducts a special canine mass.

"We brought him so he does not get sick," said local resident Nora Espinosa, talking about her six-month-old Basset Hound, dressed in a soccer outfit.

Locals say the tradition goes back to the colonial period after the Spanish conquest.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Xylitol is not for dogs!

In the world of sugar substitutes, we have all been accustomed to products with Nutrasweet, Sweet N'Low (and other saccharins), Equal and Splenda.

However, research indicates dogs should avoid one sweetener in particular: xylitol, which according to a Veterinary Medicine article by veterinarian Eric Dunayer, could be toxic. Dunayer is a staff veterinarian for the ASPCA Animal Control Center in Urbana, Ill. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener in many products, including sugar-free gum, chewable vitamins, oral-care products and baked goods. Although xylitol consumption is considered safe in people, dogs can develop serious, even life-threatening signs from its ingestion. Ironically, the symptoms brought on by xylitol do not mimic hyperglycemia (as in diabetes), but rather the opposite effects (hypoglycemia).

Xylitol's popularity is based on the fact that on a measure-for-measure basis, it carries only two-thirds the calories of sugar and causes very little insulin-release in people. Therefore, xylitol is viewed as a solution in the diets of many sweet-craving Americans.

How does that work? In simple terms, xylitol doesn't require insulin to enter cells, and therefore blood-level concentrations of glucose are significantly lowered. The consequence in xylitol-sensitive dogs is that hypoglycemia can result from so much storage of glucose in the cells.

The sensitivity of xylitol in dogs has been documented by the ASPCA's Poison Control Center database from 2003 to 2006. Eight cases have illustrated that very small amounts (less than 0.1 gram per kilogram of body weight) can cause symptoms in dogs. Furthermore, it has been shown that serum glucose concentrations can dip in as soon as one to two hours after ingestion. Therefore, if symptoms of weakness and lack of energy are seen in your dog after sweet goodies are eaten, seek veterinary assistance.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tips for Preparing Your Dog for Your Baby

In a recent column, household tip columnist, Heloise, advised her readers on how to help a dog prepare for a new baby in the household:

Dear Heloise:
I wanted to send in these helpful hints I thought were good ideas regarding bringing a new baby home to pets. I am a real pet lover, and if these hints would help with newborn/pet relationships, it would be a good idea if you printed them! — L.B., in Iowa

L.B., not only will I be glad to print the hints, but I'll also add a few from Heloise Central, so read on:

1. Tape-record a newborn crying and play the recording in your home as often as possible to familiarize your pets with the upcoming "new" noises.

2. Cradle, hold and carry a baby doll around your pets. Helping them learn how to "act" around the doll might make it an easier transition when mother and baby come home.

3. Use baby products such as powder or lotion ahead of time to help pets get familiar with the "smell" of a baby.

4. If you are going to change sleeping arrangements (e.g., taking pets out of your bedroom), do this at least a month before delivery so pets do not associate the "displacement" with the baby.

5. If you cannot get a tape recording of baby sounds, there are television shows devoted to newborn babies that you could leave on so your pets will get used to these sounds.

6. Temporarily replace a solid door into the baby's room with a screened or glass-type storm door. You can still see in, but pets stay out!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Popularity Contest

According to AKC records, in 2007, the Most Popular Dogs in the U.S. were:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier

3. German Shepherd Dog
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle

6. Boxer

7. Dachshund

8. Poodle

9. Shih Tzu

10. Bulldog

For the first time since 1935, the Bulldog has broken into the top 10. The organization says that this breed has recently gained appeal to a very wide range of dog lovers. The Bulldog is both docile and adaptive, and can thrive in small or large homes. It's also one of the few dog breeds to be adopted as a mascot for some sports teams.

The Bulldog was first recognized by the AKC in 1886, just two years after the organization's founding, and was most popular in 1915 when it peaked in 5th place. The breed's popularity ebbed and flowed throughout the mid-20th century, but since hitting a low of 41st place in 1973, its ranking has steadily increased.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cave canem!

A man found himself cornered by the two Tibetan mastiffs he was trying to steal last Tuesday night in Tianjin.

The thief, Zhang, had heard about the valuable pedigree dogs several nights before he tried to steal them, when he dined with their owner's neighbor.

But the well-trained dogs would not be persuaded with the food he offered and rushed at him as he clambered into the backyard.

Zhang spent four hours with his back pressed to a wall, trying to fend off the dogs. Their owner found him the next morning.

Tibetan mastiffs are considered one of the oldest, rarest and fiercest dog breeds and were first tamed by humans 6,000 years ago.

"It's quite lucky he didn't try to move - I wouldn't like to imagine the results," Wang Jian, the dogs' owner, said.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Join GreenPets in Observing Earth Hour

World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour is catching on across America following the tremendous success of last year's event in Sydney, Australia. This global phenomenon will spread across six continents in 2008, including hundreds of U.S. cities.

Chicago will serve as the U.S. flagship city for Earth Hour in 2008, with Atlanta, Phoenix and San Francisco joining as leading partner cities. But everyone throughout the U.S. and around the world is invited and encouraged to turn off their lights for an hour on March 29 at 8 p.m. local time—whether at home or at work, with friends and family or solo, in a big city or a small town.

What will you do when the lights are off? Why not change out those old energy-wasting light bulbs to new, inexpensive and efficient compact fluorescents. Earth Hour is also a great time to consider what you and your family can do in the days and months to reduce emissions and live more sustainably.

To alter the course of climate change we must act now. The U.S. is the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide—over 20 tons per person every year. One person committed to reducing energy consumption can make a difference, and millions of us working together can change the world.

GreenPets is part of the Earth Hour movement in Washington, D.C. this year. Won’t you join us?