September 16, 2014
by Sam Bourne

How One Mosquito Bite Could Kill Your Dog

Heartworm Disease: Facts and Warning Signs of Infection

Heartworm Disease: Facts and Warning Signs of Infection

While the summer may be over, the chances of your dog developing a heartworm infestation are still high. With the right preventative medication for dogs – like Heartgard Plus from PetPlus – owners can take steps to prevent parasites from affecting their canines.

However, it’s important to know the warning signs of heartworm infestations. Here are some facts and symptoms to be wary of.

Learn all the facts
According to Pets Adviser, heartworms can start with a simple mosquito bite. While all dogs are susceptible, outdoor canines may be at higher risk if you enjoy taking your furry friend for long walks through wooded areas during the night. The male parasites are a few inches long and resemble angel hair pasta, while females can be much larger. They’re transferred from dog to dog through mosquitoes that ingest larvae from infected blood streams.

After being bitten, the larval heartworms migrate through the body over a period of six to seven months before arriving at the heart. Once there, they slowly mature into adult worms.

The disease is common in warm areas of the country where mosquitoes are active for most of the year. With each bite, your dog could get closer to a full-blown infection. Therefore, outdoor canines are more likely to develop heartworms than indoor pooches. Unlike tapeworms, which can resemble grains of rice in the stool, heartworms are harder to diagnose and most dogs will only show subtle symptoms until the disease has progressed into a more advanced stage, Cesar’s Way explained.

Keep an eye out
Given the challenge in identifying heartworm symptoms, pet parents have to watch for the common warning signs of the disease. These are the four most prevalent symptoms of an infestation:

  1. Coughing: If your canine seems to have constant case of soft, dry coughs, this might be a red flag of heartworms. While navigating through the body, the parasites will make their way into the lungs and start multiplying. They can start surrounding the veins and constricting blood flow, causing excessive coughing. This condition might be most noticeable after exercising.
  2. Exhaustion: Most dogs love to run and play outside, so when your active canine suddenly seems tired more often he may be suffering from heartworms, according to Pets Adviser. The parasites cause symptoms once they reach maturity after roughly six months of gestation. At this point, they can begin to sap dogs of energy as they maneuver through the body.
  3. Pot belly: While your four-legged friend may have a bit of a tummy, excessive bulging or bloating might be an indication that he’s infected with heartworms. Cesar’s Way explained that the pot bellied appearance is due to an enlarged liver and fluid accumulating in the abdomen. As their bodies attempt to fight the infection, dogs’ hearts and pulmonary arteries swell from obstructions caused by the worms or inflammation.
  4. Change in appetite: To control their eating habits, most dogs are only fed twice a day by their owners. Depending on their size, they can empty their bowls pretty quickly of any food. Pets Adviser reported that weight loss or change in appetite might be reflective of heartworms. During the disease, even minor physical activities like eating can become difficult and exhausting for sick canines. On the other hand, the parasites can also steal nutrients from dogs, causing them to show an increase in hunger. Any sudden changes in appetite can serve as red flags of heartworms.

Pet owners that sign up for a PetPlus membership are afforded easy access to discounted preventative medications for dogs that can prevent and kill heartworms, like Heartgard Plus. Join today to ensure that your family pooch is safe from these dangerous parasites.


September 12, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Why Petting is Better for Your Dog Than Verbal Praise

Why Petting is Better for Your Dog Than Verbal Praise

Why Petting is Better for Your Dog Than Verbal Praise

Whenever your family dog completes a task or follows a command, it’s important for pet owners to offer positive reinforcement to ensure future good behavior. Canines learn best when treated nicely with a scratch between the ears, delicious treat or simple “Good boy!” But one of these might be more effective than the others.

New research from the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University showed that pooches prefer petting over verbal praise and treats. Led by ASU professor Clive Wynne, Ph.D., the study focused on dogs’ responses to various forms of rewards.

“I spend half my day talking to my dog,” said Wynne, quoted by The Huffington Post. “She always looks like it’s valuable to her. It’s quite a shock to discover that what we say to dogs doesn’t seem to be rewarding to them after all.”

Published online in the journal Behavioral Processes, one part of the study had researchers observe 42 shelter and pet dogs as they interacted with two people in a room. One individual petted the dog, while the other use verbal praise. Wynne and his colleagues measured how much time canines chose to spend with each person they interacted with. The second half of the study involved 72 shelter and pet dogs placed individually in a room with a single person.

Shelter pooches were partnered with a stranger, while pet canines interacted with their owners. These interactions were recorded over eight three-minute sessions, and each meeting varied between petting, praising or both, as well as zero interaction with the dog. The ASU researchers found that canines showed more interest in people who petted them compared to praise. More surprisingly, the dogs showed no more interest in vocal praise than in having no interaction at all.

According to study co-author Erica Feuerbacher, M.S., assistant professor of anthrozoology at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, previous studies showed that dogs’ heart rates and blood pressure drop during petting. However, a combination of talking and petting can still benefit owners and canines alike during training sessions.

Learning all the right movies
Vetstreet explained that the way owners pet a dog can make all the difference in their interactions. Some petting tactics can send dogs running, while others will get their tails wagging and heads drooped in your lap. This is especially important when approaching a new dog that you might be adopting into your home.

First, potential parents should start by waiting for the dog to initiate contact. If the pooch is lying down or running around, it’s best if you wait until he or she approaches you before trying to engage in petting. Instead of reaching out, coax the canine into making the first contact by squatting down to his or her level.

When dogs seem fearful or reserved, you should turn your body to the side to make yourself seem less threatening. This makes humans appear more inviting to interacting with the dog.
Friendly dogs will approach you with their ears slightly head back and tails out at a medium height with a wide, sweeping wag. If he or she initiates eye contact, it’s mostly an indication of friendliness and you can start reaching to pet the canine. It’s best to start slowly in areas that the dog is comfortable with, such as the shoulders or the base of the neck.

Where petting and verbal praise may fall short in improving your dog’s mood and attitude, there are certain dog food supplements that can be used to bolster their health – physical and mental. With a membership to PetPlus, canine parents have access to discounted medications and treatments that fortify their pooches’ well-being and enhances their personalities.


September 9, 2014
by Sam Bourne
1 Comment

This Dog Goes NUTS for The NFL Season Opener

dog goes nuts for football

Looks like football is going to the dogs. Literally.

This dog goes NUTS for football.

If you thought football was exclusively for people, prepare to have your preconceptions rocked! After sitting calmly watching a little King of Queens, his owner switches the station to the NFL season opener on Thursday. Once the station is switched, Georges (the dog in the video) positively loses it — in the most adorable of ways!

See for yourself.

Isn’t that insane? At first you think it might be the guy getting Georges all worked up, but then he switches the channel and the dog totally calms down! I wonder what it is about football that gets this dog all excited?

The easy answer would be all the running, the whistles, and the ball — but something tells me that this goes deeper…

AHA! I’ve figured it out!




Well, there you go! A true fan.

And this was just his reaction to the Packers/Seahawks season opener. Imagine his reaction after his Vikings routed the Rams on Sunday; he must have leapt straight through the ceiling!


September 9, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Stop Your Dog From Eating Nonfood Items

Stop Your Dog From Eating Nonfood Items

Stop Your Dog From Eating Nonfood Items

It’s common for dogs to exhibit a few irregular eating habits when they’re puppies. Some might chew on the legs of chairs, while others shred apart newspapers and drink from toilet bowls. However, the consumption of foreign objects and items not meant for eating may indicate a deeper health issue.

The Oregonian reported that a 3-year-old Great Dane was admitted to the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Northwest Portland in February 2014. The pooch’s symptoms included lack of appetite, repeated vomiting and retching. After being checked in, Ashley Magee, D.V.M, brought the dog into the back room for X-rays.

Upon discovering a vast amount of “foreign materials” in the canine’s stomach that couldn’t be digested, the doctor opted to surgically remove the objects. During the two-hour procedure, Magee uncovered the source of the ailments: The Great Dane had eaten more than 43 socks.

Due to the bizarre nature of the problem, DoveLewis entered into a contest run by magazine Veterinary Practice News called “They Ate WHAT?” The publication highlights pets’ strange eating habits that land them in the animal hospital. The sock-eating fiasco netted the office a $500 prize, which they donated to a fund that helps low-income pet owners pay for vet bills.

Although the Great Dane’s story is unique, pets can suffer from a specific type of eating disorder that causes them to ingest things they shouldn’t.

Learning about pica
When dogs consume nonfood items on a regular basis, they may be suffering from a condition called pica, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. While it might indicate malnutrition, puppies and younger dogs might ingest foreign objects out of boredom. However, if gone unchecked, it can develop into compulsive behavior that doles out considerable damage to a pooch’s digestive system.

Puppies typically outgrow chewing and eating nonfood items after roughly six months, but they might continue to consume strange objects and need your help to stop. One of the easiest ways to tell if your dog has developed pica is if he or she seems intensely motivated to find and eat bizarre items like rocks, plastic bags or clothing. In addition, dogs will often eat grass when they feel sick to make themselves vomit and improve digestion. Because grass and soil can serve as dietary supplements, this kind of pica doesn’t usually cause much concern among pet owners.

Fixing issues with pica
The best option for interrupting your pooch’s bizarre eating habits is to take preventative measures, Cesar’s Way explained. This can involve simple steps such as moving items out of the dog’s reach to investing in new locks and cabinets to store objects out of sight.

Similar to how parents babyproof their homes for newborns by removing sharp items and padding table corners, pet owners can make efforts to impact their dogs’ pica. Although investing in locks might not be ideal, it’s considerably more affordable than expensive surgeries like the sock removal procedure that was conducted in Portland. Dog owners can also distract their canines with mental exercise to keep them busy, such as playing with a variety of toys that are safe to chew. They should keep a close eye on their four-legged friends as well and be ready to fish any nonfood items out of their mouths to discourage irregular eating habits.

Another option is joining PetPlus, where owners can have access to discounted medications and veterinarian appointments that can’t be found anywhere else. Visit the site today and learn why it’s the best place to turn to for medical assistance and food supplements for the family dog.


September 9, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Know How to Include Dogs in the Pool Area

Know How to Include Dogs in the Pool Area

Know How to Include Dogs in the Pool Area

Pet parents can have an easier time than dogs beating the summer heat when the temperature climbs into the upper 90s, such as taking cold showers or turning up the air conditioning. But most canines are left to pant heavily and slurp water from their dog bowls to cool themselves down after a long day.

One Maryland city decided to throw the area’s dogs a bone to relax and avoid the September humidity.

The Baltimore Sun reported that the Westminster Municipal Pool in Carroll County hosted its second Pooch Pool Party on Sept. 3, 2014. The event was open to dogs of all sizes and ages, allowing them to experience a swim in the public pool or lounge around the swimming area. For some, it was their first time ever taking a dip.

“I don’t think she knows what to do!” said Valerie Witt, as her Goldendoodle Gracie edged along the water near the side of the pool to the steps. “She’s all puppy. She has boundless energy.”

However, other canines felt more comfortable frolicking in the water, such as chocolate Labrador retriever Nyla. She jumped straight into the pool once her owner, Christopher Orwig, tossed her toy in.

While granted unfettered access to the local swimming area, the pool did include a few rules to ensure safety of all the dogs. All canines were checked for current rabies tags and owners were told that overly aggressive pooches wouldn’t be allowed to participate. Other than those stipulations, pups were free to enjoy the open areas around the pool, playing fetch and running with one another.

To prepare for the event, the city closed the swimming area on Labor day and cleaned the entire pool before and after the dogs’ arrival. The chlorine levels were closely monitored the day of the party, as the chemical needs to be very low so as to not harm dogs.

Bringing dogs into the pool area
Although it may not be for everyone, many families can enjoy letting their furry friends join in on pool time. According to Cesar’s Way, swimming is one the best physical exercises for dogs and can be psychologically calming as well. Therefore, it’s suggested that owners swimming with their four-legged companions can be mutually beneficial.

However, it’s important to know the pros and cons of allowing your pet into the pool. River Pools and Spas explained that swimming areas with vinyl liners are out of the question for pet parents. The family pooch’s nails can tear into or puncture the structure, potentially leading to major leaks and high maintenance expenses. Yet, fiberglass and concrete pools are rarely going to get damaged by a dog. In addition, depending on the size of the dog, a sufficient number of steps might be required to ease entries and exits.

The chemical components of the pool water are also important to the safety of the family canine. Too much chlorine can cause eye irritation, dog ear infections and discoloration of the fur. Today, saltwater systems are becoming increasingly popular among pool owners. These types of chemicals are less harmful to both dogs and humans alike, producing a low level of chlorine that’s easier on the skin.

Owners might also be concerned about the state of their filtration systems, as dog hair is much harsher on filters than human’s. However, by simply upping the frequency of their maintenance, pet parents can ensure that their dog enjoys the pool without causing any significant damage.

Allowing your dog to swim in your pool will ultimately be up to your own discretion. But by joining PetPlus, pet parents can have access to discounted accessories that can help keep their canines cool during the final weeks of summer.