February 27, 2015
by Sam Bourne
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Stopping Terrorist One Whiff at a Time – Bomb Sniffing Dogs

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Everyone can picture a pooch with their muzzle inches off the ground, sniffing for the remnants of a long lost scent trail. And while no human could even fathom a whiff, within minutes the pooch is off and running after some invisible prey with their human companion hot on their heels.

Dog owners might have some complaints about their furry friends’ weird habits, like lollygagging around an aromatic tree stump during what is supposed to be a brisk morning walk. That said, the canine sense of smell can be put to good use. Just ask members of the Transportation Security Administration at Detroit Metropolitan Airport how they feel about their bomb sniffing dogs.

Bomb Sniffing Dogs Are Keeping Travelers Safe

Skift reported the new TSA employees’ responsibilities at the airport in Romulus, Michigan, where an extra layer of security is added through specially trained bomb sniffing dogs, including black Labrador retriever Nestle. She’s one of the latest hires as a passenger screening canine who sniffs around suitcases, jackets and shoes to determine if there are any explosive odors to be detected.

The TSA has employed Nestle and other canines to locate potential threats at security checkpoints all over Detroit Metropolitan Airport. With four specially trained dogs, the safety administration hopes to add improved layers of protection to incoming and outgoing passengers at the facility. What separates these pooches from others is the extensive, specialized training they undergo prior to deployment.

According to the TSA, canines and their handlers participate in a two-month training course at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Each week, the teams engage in several hours of proficiency exercises in environments that simulate airport operations. This includes the smells and distractions commonly associated with mass transit hubs, including bus terminals and train stations. While active, these teams can screen more than 400 passengers in an hour, which can significantly improve the process as a whole with no reductions in security levels.

Dogs’ sense of smell is one of their most powerful assets, which makes them ideal for bomb sniffing, hunting, search and rescue, and many other useful roles.

Finding the cream of the crop

While all pooches have exceptional noses, some happen to be superior to others. DogTime explained that specific breeds are best suited for sniffing tasks. Examples of champion-sniffing dogs include:

  • German Shorthaired Pointer: These pooches have exceptional scenting and trailing abilities that make them perfectly suited for hunting trips in open fields. With their noses pressed low to the ground, Pointers can follow scents intensely without looking up.
  • English Springer Spaniel: These popular sporting canines are bred to either be show or field dogs, depending on owners’ preferences. The field Springers are prized hunters for their sense of smell, which allows them to detect a range of scents such as explosives, narcotics, counterfeit money and human remains.
  • Beagle: Fresh off a Westminster victory, this hound breed has as many scent receptors as the larger German Shepherd. These pooches are even used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to detect contraband in airports. Beagles on the job have recognized almost 50 different odors for the USDA.

Even with strong noses, canines need to be well cared for to maintain their sniffing abilities. Owners should sign up for PetPlus to purchase dog medication and other products that promote fit pooches.

February 23, 2015
by Sam Bourne
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Why Are Some Pooches Winter-Loving Snow Dogs?

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With winter in full swing, snow has begun to accumulate around the cooler climates in the U.S. As the powder covers the ground and creates piles ripe for playing, you’ll probably notice some snow dogs frolicking around and enjoying the seasonal flurries.

But why do so many pooches transform into snow dogs once winter rolls around? Is it the texture of the powder or the feeling of snowflakes on their noses? Or could it be something deep within their DNA?

Understanding the Snow Dogs’ Mentality

Taking your pooches for walks into snowy areas can be great fun for everyone, but there’s never been a real connection made between the white stuff and dogs’ obsession with frolicking in the cold weather. In a new article at Scientific American, decorated professors weighed in on the matter.

According to John Bradshaw, Ph.D., visiting fellow at the University of Bristol, the novel nature of snow might be the key to this fascination. Typically, canines develop quick habits with the objects they play with, such as towels, tennis balls and squeaky toys. When it snows, the precipitation changes the sensory characteristics of everything dogs touch, especially scent. This can renew dogs’ interests in familiar surroundings and items, turning on exploratory behaviors.

Alexandra Horowitz, Ph.D., from the department of psychology at Barnard College, echoed similar sentiments about novelty. Her dogs exhibit signs of newfound pleasure when it snows, leading her to believe the changed landscape and topography of snow excites canines when they go outside. The “new” feelings and smells are so engaging for dogs that they become excitable and leap around the yard in joy.

These theories show that dogs enjoy playing in the snow as much as their families do and are happy to be frolicking through mounds of the powder because it offers them new experiences. However, before letting Fido investigate the latest mountain of snow created by the local plow drivers, owners should prepare for potential health complications.

Caring for Your Snow Dogs in the Winter

Dogs may love to run around outside in the cold, snowy weather, but it’s important that pet parents ensure that their pooches don’t fall victim to health conditions caused by winter. For example, the drier temperatures mean that your snow dogs’ skin and fur might be negatively affected by the blustery weather.

When they experience dry skin, treat your furry friends with Animax Ointment. The dog medication is a combination of antimicrobial, antifungal and corticosteroid ingredients used to treat skin disorders characterized by inflammation or dermatitis. Animax effectively treats an array of conditions, including eczema and seborrhea.

All of the frolicking can also put a lot of strain on your canines’ joints, so it’s smart to stock up on Deramaxx to control pain and inflammation. It’s particularly effective against osteoarthritis, which directly impacts joints. Deramaxx comes in beef-flavored chewable tablets that make it easy for your furry friends to consume with meals.

Don’t forget to sign up for PetPlus to purchase these helpful treatments at affordable prices.

February 16, 2015
by Sam Bourne
1 Comment

Blind Dog Saved After Plunging Into Frozen Pond

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Sometimes, the winter can be a hard time for dogs depending on their background, as some are better suited for the colder temperatures than others. Other times, it doesn’t matter if you’re an Alaskan Malamute or a Jack Russell Terrier – winter just happens.

For one elderly, blind dog in the U.K., the horrors of winter were made abundantly real when he fell through the ice and into the frigid waters of a Hampstead Heath pond.

Escaping the chilly grip of the water

Hampstead Highgate Express reported that a 15-year-old terrier fell  into the icy waters of the Model Boating Pond, sending passers bye into a frenzy to free him. To make matters worse, the blind dog was largely unaware of the full nature of his situation, or the attempts to save him.

Ron Vester, a local man who was on the scene with a camera, said that the blind dog struggled to find his way back to shore because he didn’t know which way to turn. Luckily, he managed to scramble his way to a wire mesh that was being used to hold up a bank of reeds along the water. With the help of passersby, Vester called a Hampstead Heath ranger and lifeguard to arrange the rescue mission.

Wearing waist-high waders, the lifeguard walked about 20 feet along the outer edge of the reeds and grabbed the dog from the water. The terrier’s owner was waiting on the shoreline with her coat, wrapping the shivering dog in warmth before taking him home in her car.

The elderly Terrier was lucky to have had people nearby who were ready and willing to rescue him. It’s important for owners to know some basic winter safety tips in case they experience similar scenarios during winter walks.

Protecting your best friend from the cold

It’s common to walk your dog through the chilly woods, even during the winter months. It guarantees your pooch daily exercise and saves you from dealing with a hyperactive, cooped-up canine. However, dog owners should be wary of thin ice on ponds and know how to handle emergencies like this on the spot.

If your dog falls through ice into freezing water, PAW Rescue recommended wrapping them in a towel immediately to capture as much heat as possible. This maneuver can help prevent hypothermia, which can quickly lead to death in animals. If your pooch isn’t breathing after you rescue them, lay them flat on their side and make several quick compressions on their chest to expel water.

In the event that you don’t feel a heartbeat, you’ll want to begin making one or two quick, firm compressions on the chest wall and start artificial respiration. This involves firmly closing your dog’s muzzle and blowing air into their nose, which you should adjust depending on the size of your dog. Execute about 15 breaths followed by chest compressions until your pooch regains consciousness, then bring them to the veterinarian for a follow-up.

Owners should sign up for PetPlus to purchase discounted pet medication to use during their dogs’ recovery from accidents like falling through frozen ponds.

February 11, 2015
by Sam Bourne
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3 Reasons Small Dogs Rule

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It’s not uncommon for people to have particularly strong opinions about the kind of dogs they bring into their homes. Some may be influenced by family dogs they had growing up, while others might have their preferences shaped by canine experts.

But when it comes down to it, small dogs are versatile, charming and easy to maintain compared to larger breeds of canines. Here are three reasons why small dogs are the best.

1. Price

No one really wants to think about dollars and cents when buying a pooch, but it’s a necessary factor to consider. Big dogs can be more expensive in a number of ways, including the cost of food, professional grooming services, as well as pet medication, customized leashes, and collars. Conversely, smaller canines don’t take up as much space than their larger counterparts.

The same rings true for veterinarian treatments. Once dogs hit their senior years, it’s smart to bring them for annual check-ups to ensure that there are no serious conditions developing. If services are needed, it’s likely that total costs, including the procedure itself and rehabilitation efforts, will be far less expensive for smaller dogs than large ones.

2. Location

Depending on where people live, their homes may not be suitable for certain dog breeds. For example, living in a small urban apartment in a city like New York might be ideal for Pomeranians, but Bernese mountain dogs require more space then one might find in an urban home. If owners already have a larger breed and are trying to relocate, they’ll have a harder time finding an appropriate place to live.

This also plays into house training dogs, as owning a smaller pooch makes it easier to take them in and out of the building to do their business. Larger canines are more challenging to maneuver, too. When you’re planning to live in the big city, a small dog might be the best option for you.

3. Care

Owning a dog who weighs 25 pounds or less has many distinct advantages, especially when it comes to pet care. Because their bodies are smaller and support less weight, small pooches experience fewer joint problems, which can usually be treated with Dasuquin for Dogs. It’s also a lot easier to bathe a smaller dog, keeping their coats well-groomed and shiny throughout the year.

No matter the size, keep your dog healthy with medications and supplements purchased from PetPlus.

February 5, 2015
by Sam Bourne
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Hero Cat Saves Abandoned Baby Boy from Freezing to Death

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Cats have sour reputations as aloof animals who seem to care little for their owners and prefer solitude. However, cat parents know this couldn’t be further from the truth. Especially one Russian family, whose cat bucked the trend by caring for an abandoned child.

The furry godmother and her infant
A Russian baby boy was left abandoned in a stairwell by his mother as temperatures dipped below zero during the night, The New York Post reported. The unlikely hero – a stray tabby cat named Marsha – happened upon the infant and followed her feline instincts to save his life.

She climbed into the box that the boy had been left in and kept him warm for several hours until residents were alerted by his cries. They came out of their homes to find the surrogate furry godmother curled up around the infant and licking his face. Even though he had been left outside for a few hours, Marsha’s efforts left him undamaged by the experience.

Once the boy was discovered by residents, the local paramedics were called to the scene. As the EMTs took him into the ambulance, the feline reportedly ran after them like a worried mother.

The baby was said to be around 2 to 3 months old, and was checked over by medics and doctors after arriving at the hospital. He was declared fit and healthy, despite spending hours in the freezing cold. For her efforts, Marsha has been heralded as a hero by locals and rewarded with food.

Feline winter care tips for owners
The weather during the winter months of the year means that cat owners need to be mindful of health risks that pop up from the change in temperature. Ideally, all cats would be kept safely indoors during the harsher months. However, for many the standard is “once an outdoor cat, always an outdoor cat,” – freezing temperatures or not.  If you own a feline who refuses to remain cooped up indoors, Alley Cat Allies has some tips for protecting them during the winter months.

Shelter is important for hiding from harsh winds and precipitation, and should be placed in an area well removed from foot traffic. A good sized shelter is at least 18 inches tall, which helps trap the heat inside and keeps the cold out. In addition, owners should insulate the shelter with straw to repel moisture and ensure that cats are warm and dry.

Pet owners should sign up for PetPlus and make sure their feline friends’ prescription cat food is always stocked up for the winter.