November 26, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Why Do Dogs Kick Their Legs When Scratched?


You come home from a long day of work and who is standing right by the door? It’s your dog itching for a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. You oblige, and once you hit a sweet spot, they start kicking a leg – but why does this happen?

According to Colorado-based canine expert Marc Bekoff, D.V.M., dogs kicking their legs while being scratched is an involuntary reflex of self-preservation, The Huffington Post reported. At times, the sensation of scratching or tickling might be reminiscent of your dog itching from being infested with fleas or other dangerous parasites. As such, the kicking is a built-in reflex to remove the insects from their skin.

The movement is akin to when you burn your hand on an iron and immediately – and involuntarily – yank it away from the hot surface. That entire sequence involves your brain recognizing the pain, sending signals to your spinal cord and your nervous system responding by forcing you to pull back from the iron.

Veterinarians might use a dog itching reflex to diagnose potential neurological problems in pooches. This is similar to when your doctor taps your knee with a rubber mallet to measure reflexes.

What’s the best spot to scratch your dog?
According to Shiba Shake, most canines enjoy a healthy scratch on the top of their heads. The ideal spot is around the ears, which can cause your pooch to twitch and kick his or her leg. Some dogs might also enjoy petting on their muzzles or between their eyes, but you should always approach each pooch differently, especially if they’re not your own.

VetStreet also recommended giving canines some good scratching on their chests, shoulders and the base of their necks. These spots can be hard for them to reach on their own and you could be seriously soothing some dog itching. In addition, dogs have specific spots where they love to be petted, such as the base of their tails or the area of their necks where the collars sit. A long day of leather or chain rubbing on their skin can get irritating, so take off their collars once they’re inside for the night and massage their necks.

By signing up for a PetPlus membership, dog owners can purchase foods, treats and accessories that can keep their pooches happy and healthy for years to come.

November 26, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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Airports Enlist Calm Dog Breeds to De​-stress Passengers


Therapy dogs have worn many hats over the years, from visiting with the elderly to lying down with sick or injured patients to brighten their spirits. Recently, airports have jumped on the therapy dog bandwagon and are starting to employ calm dog breeds to help de​-stress passengers before flights.

USA Today reported that Mineta San Jose International Airport in California has 13 teams of volunteer handlers and pooches that patrol terminals a few hours each day throughout the week. The K-9 Crew visits with passengers to ease anxieties about traveling through the air. The dogs include a variety of calm dog breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and Mini Schnauzers.

Every canine on the team is certified by Therapy Dogs International, which tests potential therapy pooches on factors like obedience and willingness to be approached in noisy environments, such as airports. Handlers also go through security clearances before joining the team.

Following the program’s success at SJC, roughly 27 airports have brought therapy dogs into their facilities, including Miami International Airport, San Antonio International Airport and Will Rogers World Airport. Even Los Angeles International Airport launched its own Pets Unstressing Passengers program on April 15, 2013, with 31 dogs wearing red vests that indicate “Pet Me” to patrons.

A fear of flying and canceled or delayed flights can raise people’s stress levels, but with pooches by their sides these situations might be more manageable. Especially when you’re traveling with your furry friend in tow.

Keeping your dog relaxed in flight
Whether your pooch belongs to one of the calm dog breeds or not, preparing Fido for a long flight can be very challenging for owners. Pooches often experience their own levels of travel-induced stress. The airport and entire experience might be completely new to your canine and it’s important to make sure they’re prepared for the endeavor.

According to VCA Hospitals, travel requirements for pets will vary between airlines and destinations. What’s acceptable at your departure city might be entirely different from where you arrive. If your pooch is small, they can most likely be brought on board in a carrier that fits underneath your seat. Breeds like Shih Tzu’s and Yorkies are able to stay with their owners during the flight.

But keeping your dog relaxed during flights can be stressful, as you don’t have a way of knowing how he’ll react to the travel experience. Pet Travel Blog recommended placing the carrier in your lap so it faces the window, blocking your dog’s view of the passengers. You can also hug him tightly during the trip to console him if he starts whimpering.

Prior to taking the trip, check out PetPlus for any supplements or accessories that could make flying with your dog easier.

November 21, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Keep Fido Happy, Warm and Dry During the Winter


Recently, it seems like every winter has been harsher and colder than the last. While our furry friends have some thicker coats to protect them from the frigid temperatures, sometimes it’s not enough to keep them warm.

KOAA Colorado reported that Denver police officers were quick to visit the home of dog owners who left their pooch outside in the cold and snow. After considerable public outrage, the city’s law enforcement arrived and told the people to let their dog inside because he lacked adequate shelter. Continue Reading →