Pet Health and Behavior Tips Archive

Cool Your Canines: Top Tips to Beat the Summer Heat

Beach Bound BeagleMaximize Canine Chillaxation

Nothing makes a summer adventure more enjoyable than having our beloved four-legged companions in tow! However for animals, the summer heat can be quite uncomfortable as our furry friends are covered with fur and walk directly on hot surfaces that can severely effect their body temperature. 

To help keep our critters safe and comfortable all summer long, check out the following  tips, ideas and products to keep summer from being a bummer for our pets!

1. Car Heat: Avoid heat exhaustion and DO NOT leave your pet alone in the car during the remotely warm weather. During warm weather the inside of your car can reach 120° in a matter of minutes, even if you're parked in the shade with the windows opened a little. Pet owners that carelessly leave their pets unattended in a hot car are now subject to hefty fines and possibly jailtime, so don't even think about it!

2. Let the Fur Fly: Dogs with extremely thick or long fur should be trimmed during the hot summer  Kool3 months. Regular use of a deshedding tool, such as the FURminator deshedding tool can remove tremendous amounts of undercoat hair.

3. Creative Cooling
: Water or gel-filled cooling mats, cooling vests and cooling collars are great for dogs that are kept outside or if you do not have air conditioning in your home. As well, an elevated pet bed can help keep pets cool and comfortable and the raised sleeping surface keeps your dog off the hard ground, away from bugs and has an added bonus of great air circulation.

4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets so they can stay cool. Be aware that water will vaporize on extremely hot days. Collapsible Water Bowls and Gulpy Water Bottles are convenient portable water sources for your pet, especially if you're on the road. 

Gulpy Muttropolis  5. Exercise at Dusk & Dawn: Pets need exercise, but on very hot days it is best to limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Keep in mind that asphalt and beach sand gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws. Consider protective booties to protect sensitive paws from hot pavement.

6. Avoid Sunburn: Pets can get sunburned too, and your pet may require special dog-friendly sunscreen his or her nose and ear tips. Especially pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears.

7. Be aware of the Signs of Heat Exhaustion: Heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, a staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue are all signs of possible heat exhaustion.  What to do in the event of heat exhaustion: Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or immerse them in cool (not cold) water. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes and consider taking them directly to a veterinarian.

Do you have some favorite tips to share to help our pets beat the heat? I welcome you to share them with fellow pet parents in the comments below!

Is Calling Your Pet “Pet” Derogatory? Experts Say Yes

Zazou Vizsla Halo Old Skool: "May I pet your pet?"

New Skool: "May I caress your companion animal?"  

According to the Journal of Animal Ethics, we have been unknowingly been insulting our beloved pets on a regular basis. A recent study compiled by university professors from America and Great Britain states that "pets" is downright derogatory and not an acceptable moniker for domesticated animals. They assert that "pets"  should instead by replaced with the term "companion animals"…which I whole heartedly agree with! 

Similarly, their findings maintain that words such as "owner," are also offensive, recommending instead that we be known as "human carers." (I personally would prefer "Lulu's mom" over "Lulu's human carer.") While technically correct in law, "pet owner" does kind of hark back to a previous age when animals were regarded as property. These academics believe that changing our vocabulary to companion or "parent" is essential to updating our understanding of the relationship between humans and the natural world. 

I have to say – I agree with their recommendations! What do you think? Will changing the way people refer to animals and pets help change the way they are treated?

source: Janet McCulley, The Daily Treat

Leave Your Pets at Home in Hot Weather

Dog in CarOverheating Kills: What To Do if You See a Pet Locked in a Hot Car

Temperatures around the nation have been off the charts lately and nothing upsets me more more than discovering a helpless pet locked in a hot car on a warm day.  WHAT IN THE HECK are these people thinking!?! Living in Southern California, I spend more time running around grocery stores and strip malls trying to find the clueless owners of these poor pets who then proceed to tell me they "…just ran into the store for a minute..." or  "…left the windows open, so he should be fine…"  My answer to them: No – your pet is not fine and here's why:

Point Number One: Even on a relatively milld 85 degree day, it only takes 10 minutes for the inside of your car to reach 102 degrees – even when the windows have been left open an inch or two. Within 30 minutes a car's interior can actually reach a staggering 120 degrees. Your car is now an oven.

Point Number Two: Even if the temperature outside is a pleasant 70 degrees, the inside of your car may be as much as 20 degrees hotter. Parking your car in shade does not offer protection on a hot day because the sun moves.

Point Number Three: While humans have sweat glands all over our bodies that help regulate our body heat, dogs cool down mostly by panting, which is much less efficient than sweating. In only a short amount of time, a dog with a high body temperature can suffer critical damage to his nervous system, heart, liver and brain.

Do Something! What You Can Do

At least 14 states and many municipalities have enacted laws to address the problem of animals left in cars in extreme temperatures. Under these laws, you, police, animal control agents, peace officers and others may be authorized to enter a vehicle by whatever means necessary to remove an animal. Learn more about the regulations in your area here >

If you’re out and about on a hot day and see an animal alone in a car, you should immediately try to find the car’s owner. If you have no luck, or if the owner refuses to act, contact local law enforcement and/or animal control. 

In my opinion, if the local law enforcement or animal welfare officer can't arrive quickly enough, I say get the dog out of the car  - keeping in mind that you shouldn't put your life in danger either. As well, the ASPCA has created these handy Pets In Hot Cars flyers (pdf) which you can print out and distribute in your neighborhood to help educate people about the danger of leaving pets in hot cars.   

I am going to keep these flyers stocked in my car glovebox – I encourage you to do the same!

Article reprint courtesy of Animal Planet's The Daily Treat with Janet McCulley

Recycle + Re-use with Antler Chews

Digging Dog at Biergarten at The Standard Hotel NYC We spotted this adorable and clearly bored dog last week outside of Biergarten at The Standard Hotel in New York City. He was having quite the time rearranging the flower beds possibly searching for Scooby snacks that had been left by other guests. Whatever he was digging for, I am sure he was motivated by a host of reasons, not the least of which was boredom.

Mr. Spots here drew quite a crowd as he inspected and subsequently shredded the plants in the planter box. If only mom and dad had provided him with a little somethin' somethin' to keep him busy whilst they dined, they likely could have avoided what certainly was a very dirty dog at the end of the evening.

Chews Wisely

Free from dyes, preservatives and the typical smelly-dog-treat- smell, Antler Chews have become one of my favorite new super durable dog chews for my Schmoo and Zazou, particularly if I am going to be leaving them alone for a bit of time. Naturally shed from deer, the antlers natural, preservative-free composition doesn't leave stains on carpets, floors or doggies' muzzles and the antlers are nutrient-packed and marrow-filled, providing a source of calcium. Antler Chews

Starting about $5, you can find Antler Chews at Muttropolis.

Top 3 Interactive, Durable Dog Toys to Beat Bowser Boredom

The Bouncy Bone

Many of us have learned the hard way that a bored dog can be not only hazardous to your furniture, but also hazardous to your favorite sling-backs and quite possibly your neighbor’s aural threshold for excessive barking.

With all of us working long hours to ensure recession-resilience, some our beloved four-legged family members may be engaging a bit more me-time than they’d prefer.

Busy Buddy Dog Toys to the Rescue

My frenetic 3-year old Vizsla, Zazou, requires a host of daily outlets for his energy or it’s curtains for him. Literally. He will be all up in the curtains when we’re not home. Regular exercise and mental stimulation are key to maintaining our pets positive mental and emotional state of mind, so I’ve tried out a bunch of interactive dog toys on him to keep him engaged when we’re out.  A number of the toys I've tested have been a big disappointment, as Zazou is often able to quickly eliminate all “interactive functions” of the toy with a couple of well-placed, well-executed chomps.

In search of a durable and tough interactive dog toy that might last more than 15 minutes, I was thrilled discover the super tough Busy Buddy and Everlasting interactive and functional treat dispensing dog toys – all of which have enabled me to manage home alone mania without breaking the bank.

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

1) The Bouncy Bone
The durable Bouncy Bone is composed of a durable nylon bone, a rubber ball and replaceable, long lasting Gnawhide® treats. Unlike other dog toys that have a life-span of approximately 3 minutes, the Bouncy Bone is still going strong after six months and its still got lots of Bounce left! Starting at $5.
Kibble Nibble
2) Kibble Nibble Activity Ball
Zazou bumps this thing around my office all day long. And better yet – its rubber bumpers minimize noise and marks on floors and walls (…but they don’t eliminate his whining when he manages to roll it under the couch). The Kibble Nibble encourages Zazou to work for his food and it mentally stimulates him by appealing to his natural prey and stalking drive. We’re going on 4 months with the Kibble Nibble and it’s still righteously rolling. Zazou has even learned to place it on the top of my desk once he’s emptied it! Starting at $22.

3) The Everlasting Fire Plug Dog Toy
Made of highly durable, tear-resistant proprietary material, Zazou absolutely loves this toy whether we fill it with the Everlasting Treats or other treats he enjoys for a chewing

Everlasting Fire Plug Toy

challenge. The unique design of this toy allows it to roll erratically…indeed so erratically that Zazou rolled it down our driveway rendering it MIA until it magically reappeared 2 weeks ago.  Hide them around the house for a fun game of hide & seek, or even feed meals out of them to turn meal time into a game. Starting at $19.

Do you have a favorite, durable interactive dog toy that your dog loves and hasn't destroyed yet? Share your findings in the comments below!

Reprint courtesy of The Daily Treat

Top 8 Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds

Portuguest Water Dog

Earlier this year, President Obama and the first family welcomed Bo the Portuguese Water Dog into their family, particularly for his hypoallergenic coat, since their daughter Malia has allergies. She is not alone in her plight, as approximately 10 percent of Americans are allergic to dog dander … including yours truly, which I discovered just a few months ago. With a household and office full of pets, this explains why I’ve pretty much sneezed my way through life.

While no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic, there are many non-shedding breeds that the American Kennel Club suggests for allergy sufferers, as they produce less dander.  As well, many mixed breeds found in shelters can quite possibly be a mash-up of some of these hypoallergenic breeds (such as my very own rescue mutt Lulu Schmoo, who was found wandering homeless in the streets of Mexico) and be just hypoallergenic enough for you. So if you are specifically looking for a hypoallergenic dog to add to your family, consider your local shelter or peruse for candidates!

In no particular order, the top eight hypoallergenic breeds according to the AKC are:

1. Portuguese Water Dog
An athletic and active breed, the Portuguese water dog requires daily vigorous exercise. Very intelligent and responsive to obedience training,  their profuse coat requires regular maintenance. It may be kept in the lion clip (the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle are clipped to the skin) or the retriever clip (the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog).

Bichon Frise 2. Bichon Frise
A naturally gentle and playful dog, they love activity and require regular exercise. Their hair grows continually and does not shed, so extensive grooming is a must to prevent mats.

3. Chinese Crested
Cresteds make alert and playful companions and do well in families with gentle children. However, they are prone to more frequent skin irritations, allergies, and sunburn than a coated dog would experience, so owners should take appropriate precautions.

Irish Water Spaniel4. Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish water spaniel is an active and energetic companion and possesses the natural instinct to please, making them elatively easy to train, but regular exercise is important. Their hypoallergenic coats require brushing every few weeks and trimming every two months to neaten and shape the coat.

5. Maltese
Despite their diminutive size, the Maltese tends to be brave and without fear. They are one of the most gentle of all little dogs, but are also full of energy and very playful, making them great family dogs. Maltese should be brushed daily, and groomed often to prevent Maltese Dog Breedmats from forming in their long, white coat.

6. Poodle
Exceptionally smart and active, the Poodle is the only breed that comes in three size varieties, and so can accommodate nearly any size living quarters. Their hypoallergenic coat requires regular professional grooming.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Dog Breet7. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Wheatens tend to be less scrappy than other terriers but they are true terriers and will be more active than many other breeds, enjoying plenty of exercise every day. They relate well to children and can adapt to city, country, and suburban life. The Wheaten is single coated and sheds minimally, but it needs regular grooming to keep its coat mat-free.

Miniaure Schnauzer Dog Breed8. Miniature Schnauzer
While all schnauzers have hypoallergenic coats, the miniature in particular adapts easily to any living situation and loves children if the two are introduced while the dog is under a year of age. Despite their small stature, the miniature schnauzer can give an alarm just as well as a larger dog, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They shed very little, but require grooming every few months.

Did we forget anyone? Goldendoodles and Labradoodles are definitely gaining in popularity as are other breeds. Feel free to share which other breeds might be considered hypoallergenic in the comments section below!

Reprint courtesy of Animal Planet's The Daily Treat with Janet McCulley

Adventures at Cardio Canine Class

Cardio Canine Class

                Team McCulley going for gold.

With summer upon us, it is most enjoyable to get our daily exercise in the fresh air of the great outdoors versus the stale air of the not-so-fresh gym. As well, I find that some of my most enjoyable workouts tend to be the kind that include friends, whether they be two or four-legged.

So when I spotted a new fitness concept called “Leash your Fitness” on the local news, I had to give it a try.  The only fitness concept of its kind in the Southern California region, Leash Your Fitness encompasses both you and your dog in a circuit style workout that involves cardio, strength, balance, yoga and dog obedience all in an hour workout – fun! 

After speaking with Leash Your Fitness founder Dawn Celapino, who is an ACE certified group and personal trainer, I was sold. So Zazou squeezed into his unitard and Schmoo threw on her legwarmers and off we went to our first cardio canine class.

The great thing about the class is that it not only challenged me physically, but the dogs were also challenged both physically and mentally. Schmoo and Zazou have never really done the whole “agility” thing (does counter surfing count?) and were initially unsettled with the idea of crawling through a tunnel or jumping over an obstacle. However, after a few pep talks, they couldn’t have been more pleased with themselves once they mustered up the mojo to tackle the tunnel and other major feats.

Little did I know that some of my best personal trainers are the ones curled up at my feet right now!

Check out our adventures with cardio canine class in this week’s video and watch it now>

Cardio Canine Class

Article reprint courtesy of AnimalPlanet's The Daily Treat with Janet McCulley.

The Swamp Cooler: A Cooling Vest for Dogs (not a backwoods cocktail)

Muttropolis Ruffwear Swamp Cooling vest for dogs
Zazou rocks the swamp cooler cooling vest.

With the temperatures rising during the summer, I'm always looking for ways to keep my pets cool, especially my crazy dog Zazou, who doesn't let 100 degree weather slow him down, despite my best attempts to get him to take a proverbial chill pill.

To beat the heat, many dogs need something akin to a personal air-conditioner, particularly active dogs that spend a lot of time outside in the heat, perhaps hiking and the like. Ruffwear's innovative Swamp Cooler is just that…a lightweight vest designed to help dogs both large and small stay cool, happy and active. Dogs can beat the heat and stay cool while you're hiking or biking, playing on the beach, boating on open water under full sun, or perhaps waiting for their turn during outdoor agility trials in the heat.

How the Swamp Cooler works:
The swamp cooler uses evaporative cooling to keep dogs cool in the heat and exchanges the dog’s heat with the coolness of the stored water.  The vest releases the heat as the water evaporates and the three-layer construction maximizes the cooling effects, with the top air-mesh layer generating evaporation and releasing heat. The middle layer absorbs and stores the cooling water and the bottom layer cools the dog.

Swamp Cooler Dog Vest - how it works

The light color of the vest reflects sunlight and ultraviolet rays for added sun protection! Starting at $52, you can find the Swamp Cooler Dog Vest at

Article reprint courtesy of The Daily Treat with Janet McCulley at