Friday, May 29, 2009

Breed Profile: Chow Chow

The Chow Chow is mostly kept as an indoor companion. Chow Chows are considered to be very loyal and devoted to their family, and if visitors come to their master’s home they can get quite jealous. Because Chow Chows have a naturally dominant nature, they need a strong-willed owner - otherwise they will quickly run amok. Chow Chows do not train very easily; they are relatively friendly with others pets but, as mentioned already, rather suspicious of other humans. Their average lifespan ranges from nine to twelve years. One of the most common genetic disorders of this pet is something called Redundant Forehead Skin. Excess forehead skin can droop over the eye and lead to eye disease and even blindness. Also, because the Chow Chow is susceptible to eczema, its coat and skin hygiene must be monitored very carefully. Grooming, in fact, with a steel brush is recommended every day.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Gentle Giants: the bulldog

The Bulldog is the third least intelligent dog. Bulldogs are considered one of the most gentle breeds of dogs around - very affectionate and excellent with children. The Bulldog, however, is a classic drooler. Its head is shorter than that of others dogs, and this shortens the passages of their salivary glands. When a Bulldog wants something, it drools very easily. Even though the Bulldog looks menacing, it is in fact a rather ineffective watchdog. It is quite friendly to strangers and other pets, and does not require much exercise. The average lifespan of a Bulldog is between eight and ten years. Genetically, Bulldogs run the risk of developing mitral valve defects, which can create a leakage of blood into the heart. This will cause the Bulldog to tire easily and even faint. Although there is no cure for this condition, it can be managed with a special diet and exercise restrictions.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Basenji: breed profile

The Basenji, as the second most unintelligent dog, is famous for its unique bark, which is said to sound like a human cry or laugh. Basenjis tend to be very active and temperamental, though a lot of human contact as a puppy can help to offset this trait. Basenjis will often groom themselves for hours in a day and just stare out the window. On average, they live between fourteen and sixteen years. Basenji’s tend not to be very friendly with other pets and, because of the “least intelligent” moniker, they are not very trainable at least when it comes to advanced skills. This is not to say that Basenjis are completely un-trainable. Rather, they require a lot of more work from a dedicated owner, one who is prepared to patiently teach the dog whatever he needs to be taught. But if you want your dog to be able to do somersaults and back-flips, you should look elsewhere.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What about the least intelligent?

What about those dogs considered the least intelligent? I earlier mentioned the top five intelligent dogs: Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Doberman Pinscher. Taking first place for the least intelligent dog is the Afghan Hound, followed by the Basenji, then the Bulldog, the Chow Chow, and finally the Russian Wolfhound. I’ll be expanding on these dogs later, but for now let’s start with the Afghan Hound. Afghans are considered to be sweet and sensitive, having a very low dominance level. In this sense, they’re considered to depart from what are traditionally thought of as dog traits. Afghans are thought of as noble, and courageous when called for. They are one of the most ancient breeds of dogs, and some even consider them the “king of dogs”. For this reason, intelligence should not necessarily be the decisive factor in what dog you choose to own.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Doberman Pinscher

Finally, the Doberman Pinscher. Dobermans are utterly loyal dogs to their owners. They are assertive and fearless, and have incredible stamina. Generally, they are quite a dominant breed, though this is not absolutely true, and some Dobermans can even be quite docile. Although they are not vicious, a Doberman will very aggressively protect its master if he or she is threatened. At a young age, Dobermans can be susceptible to a certain skin parasite called demodectic mange, a disease that should be treated by a veterinarian. Dobermans are highly affectionate to their owners and generally quite amiable to other pets and other people. They have moderate exercise requirements. They live on average between nine and fifteen years. The area in which a Doberman shines the most is as a watchdog. It is categorically considered one of the best guard dogs available.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The perfect family pup: Golden Retrievers

After the German Shepherd, comes the Golden Retriever. Golden Retrievers are loyal, loving, perfect with children and very keen to please their masters. Apart from being on the list of the top ten most affectionate dogs, Golden Retrievers are also one of the most intelligent. Initially, they were bred to retrieve waterfowl, and they had a reputation as a superior hunting dog. Golden Retrievers have a highly developed sense of smell. They love carrying and fetching things, which is why they are your classic “throw the ball” dog. Golden Retrievers have an almost infinite patience with children, and will play with them for hours on end. They have a quite generous lifespan of around twelve to fifteen years. They are exceptionally friendly to strangers and other pets, so they are probably not the greatest watchdogs, but what they lack in guarding ability they make up for in a plethora of other ways.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Intelligent pups: The German Shepherd

The German Shepherd ranks just behind the Poodle in terms of intelligence. Considered one of the best guard dogs available, German Shepherds have a range of uses for home protection and in the police service. If raised with a loving but firm hand, they are excellent with children. They are moderately friendly with other pets, but can tend to be rather suspicious of strangers. They have quite high exercise requirements - not as high those of the Border Collie, but high enough to warrant it being exercised every day. Perhaps one of the biggest genetic weaknesses in the German Shepherd is hip dysplasia, which occurs when the hip joint is badly formed and which leads to arthritis. In humans, a total hip replacement with an artificial hip is a very successful procedure, and the same procedure can be used on dogs. However, the results are not as successful as in humans, and it tends to be quite expensive.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Breed Profile: Poodle

Next to the Border Collie, the Poodle is considered the next most intelligent dog. Like Border Collies, Poodles hate to be left alone and love being around people as much as possible. Poodles generally have a long life expectancy, from thirteen to fifteen years. While they don’t have enormous exercise requirements (certainly nothing compared to the Border Collie), Poodles need company and companionship. They are moderately friendly with other pets, and are very amiable to strangers. Later on in life, many Poodles can suffer from disorders of the eyes, skin and heart. It should be noted that there are some small differences between the Toy Poodle and the standard Poodle. Generally, Toy Poodles require less exercise and are slightly more affectionate. But both can be trained just as easily, and both are considered to be equally as intelligent.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Breed Profile: Border Collie

Did you know that the Border Collie is considered the most intelligent breed of dog? Border Collies insist on having some kind purpose or job to do. It’s why they’re so ideal for herding sheep. If you aren’t able to spend a lot of quality time playing with your dog, then a Border Collie is definitely not the dog for you, because without a job to do, or at least a way to exert their enormous superabundance of energy, Border Collies can quickly become destructive. Border Collies have a very good tolerance for cold and rain, but never for too much heat and inactivity. They tend not to be too friendly with other pets, and can quickly become neurotic. But because of their superior cognition and trainability, Border Collies really do set the benchmark for skills such as agility and obedience. In this arena, they leave most other dogs wanting.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cat Urine

So what’s the best way to treat a urine stain or smell on your carpet from a cat? Firstly, it must be said that the earlier you treat the urine stain the easier it will be for you to remove the foul odour. As the urine decays while sitting on your carpet or sofa, it will partly convert to a gas form, which causes the strong ammonia smell. If left untreated, the urine can seep below the carpet to the tiles or wood underneath. One of the best ways to treat cat odours or stains is by mixing white vinegar and water, and then blotting it using a thick (and old!) bath towel or heavy cloth. If the urine has been there for some time, you may need to investigate some specific products intended for stain removal, but give the white vinegar and water mix a try first and see if you come right.

Night time visitors!

One night, as I was sitting at my desk working, I heard a rustling in the bushes outside. Because I was sitting so quietly, the cat intruder jumped in through the window and walked straight past my bedroom and into the kitchen, where I heard it start munching on the biscuits it had been stealing for weeks on end. Now, I knew I needed to evoke a response in this cat such that it would stop coming into my house at all hours and spraying on my carpet. So, I slowly got out of my chair and began stalking it. When I was close enough, I yelled as loudly as I could, “Get out!” This cat got such a fright that it did a half somersault in the air. It bolted right under legs, and back through the bathroom window. Suffice it to say, I’ve never seen it since!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love your Cat!

Where did the phrase “cat got your tongue” come from? Apparently, there are number of theories about its origins. According to one theory, it derives from a practice in the Middle East where liars had their tongues ripped out and fed to the king’s cat as punishment. Another theory is that it came from the Middle Ages. If you a saw a witch, her cat (witches always seem to have black cats, don’t they?) would control your tongue in such a way that you would be unable to report that you’d seen her. Yet another theory comes from English maritime and the cat-o’-nine-tails (which is a whip with nine knotted cords). If an officer had been privy to something secret, but he told people things he wasn’t meant to, he would “get the cat”. When others wanted to know these secrets, they said ask if the “cat got your tongue” i.e. “are you not telling us because you’re afraid of the cat?”

Unexpected Visitors

Cats are great pets, no doubt. But what do you do when you get some unexpected visitors coming in at night? Something like this happened to me, recently. There was a cat from a few houses down the road who found my secret little window. I always keep this window open for my cat: it allows her access in and out of the house as and when she needs it. Unfortunately, this intruder cat was using this window to come in at night. Not only was he eating my cat’s supply of tasty biscuits, he insisted on leaving his mark by spraying on my carpet. Cat urine, especially from males, has a very pungent, ammonia-like odour. And day after day I’d wake to this awful smell in my house. I knew something had to be done it, but I’d have to catch this cat in the middle of his crime.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cats or dogs?

Some people prefer cats, while others prefer dogs. This can often say a lot about the owner. Dogs are almost always friendly: they lap up attention, they love to play, and they’re always game for anything fun. Cats, however, are more selective in how much love they give out in any one instance. One of the things that can so frustrate cat owners is how inconsistent cats seem to be in their affections. One moment they’re your best friends, cuddling next to you, purring loudly, until you are utterly convinced that you are the person they love most in this world. The next moment, however, they act as if they hardly knew you at all, and you find yourself running after them wondering what you did wrong! Unlike dogs, cats don’t seek approval from their owners. They are more independent. As the well-known joke goes: a dog has an owner, but a cat has staff.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Traditionally, cats are always seen to lap up milk with eagerness and excitement. However, many cats are in fact lactose intolerant, and can get diarrhea if fed too much milk. Kittens need milk, of course, but that’s milk made by their mother, and not cow’s milk. A similar argument has been forward in favour humans, too. There is no other animal, it is argued, that naturally drinks milk past its infancy. This leads them to the conclusion that milk is not actually good for us in our adulthood. But humans, like cats, often find milk and milk-related products absolutely delicious. So, while it’s not wrong to give you cat some milk every now and then, it’s definitely not an essential component of their diet. Cats need a good quality food with lots of high-quality, meat-derived protein, and fresh water that is always available. Milk can be a treat, but don’t overdo it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Raining Cats and Dogs!

When it pours like crazy, we often say that it’s “raining cats and dogs”. But where does this phrase actually originate? There are a number of theories about its origin, but the most likely explanation goes as follows. In seventeenth century England, the heavy rain would often carry in its wash the dead bodies of animals that were lying on the streets. Obviously, these animals didn’t literally come down with the rain, but the sight of them draining down the streets with heavy torrents of water created the association that when it rains especially hard, it’s as though it’s raining cats and dogs. In “A Description of a City Tower”, Jonathan Swift, describing the torrential downpours and poor sanitation of London town, said that “Now in contiguous Drops the Flood comes down,/Threat-ning with Deluge this devoted Town.” […] “Drown’d Puppies, stinking Sprats, all drench’d in Mud,/Dead Cats and Turnip-Tops comes tumbling down the Flood.”

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Unusual Animal Laws

Here are some strange, but unusual animal laws: It is illegal for hens to lay eggs before 8 am and after 4 pm in Norfolk, Virginia. In Pennsylvania, no one is allowed to shoot bullfrogs on a Sunday. French Lick Springs, Indiana, once passed a law requiring all black cats to wear bells on Friday the 13th. In Texas, it's illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow. It is illegal to ride a mule down Lang, Kansas' Main Street in August, unless the animal is wearing a straw hat. Over in Berea, Kentucky and also in Willamantic, Connecticut, horses are not allowed out on the streets and highways at night unless the animal has a "bright" red taillight securely attached to its rump. Horses may not wear cowbells inside the city limits of Tahoe City, California. In Washington, though, every cow wandering the streets of Seattle must be wearing a cowbell.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cat health - diabetes

I earlier mentioned some thoughts about the disturbing rate of diabetes in cats. The cause of diabetes in cats is unknown, and, as I mentioned, some have suggested that a dry food diet may put cats at a greater risk of developing the disease than wet food. Because dry pet food has a higher carbohydrate content than canned food, it has been argued that it is less suitable for an obligate carnivore such as a cat. However, a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia claims that it is weight gain, and not diet, which is the cardinal contributor to this problem. The study compared a colony of cats in California raised on dry food with a New Zealand colony fed canned food. After comparing glucose tolerance tests, which measure how fast glucose is being cleared from the blood after eating, researchers found no significant difference between a dry food diet and a wet food diet.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cat food information

It has been contended that feeding your cat dry foods is the number one cause of diabetes in cats, as well as being a huge contributing factor to kidney disease, obesity, crystals, urinary tract infections, and a host of other problems. Food allergies, so the argument goes, are very common when feeding dry foods. Rashes, scabs behind the tail and on the chin, are all symptoms of food allergies probably from the grains in these types of foods. Constipation, for instance, is sometimes blamed on dry food because it does not provide enough moisture. Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, and so unlike dogs they don’t need cereal or fibre. The problems associated with dry food are that they are loaded with carbohydrates, which many cats (carnivores) cannot process. Also, most of the moisture a cat needs is supposed to be in the food (cats are not naturally big drinkers), but in dry food 95% of the moisture is zapped out in the processing. Finally, most dry foods don't use muscle meat as the primary ingredient, but use vegetable protein: not good for an animal that has to eat meat to survive.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pet Insurance

Have you ever considered insurance for your pet? It’s always good to expect the unexpected, and if your cat or dog is suddenly afflicted with a virus or some such sickness, pet insurance can make all the difference in the range of treatment options you’re able to offer them. Blood tests, injections, and surgical treatment can add to up to being a very costly affair. But with pet insurance, you can have the peace the mind that if anything goes wrong you’re covered financially, and you won’t have to sit with a massive bill to pay after your pet is well again. Many pet owners are, sadly, forced to consider euthanasia when the cost of treatment is just too high. Instead of having to deal with all this stress, consider paying a small amount every month for the peace of mind that, if anything goes awry with your friend, you’re both covered.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good Nutrition for your pet

What role does good nutrition play in your pet’s overall health? Though they are cheaper, many of the foods that are found in grocery stores do not quite make the grade when it comes to adequately meeting your pet’s nutritional requirements. Specifically, grocery store pet food often contains a lot more fillers such as corn (often listed as maize) or corn gluten meal (which is just a cheap way of increasing the protein content of pet food) than the more expensive kind often available only at your veterinarian. Food purchased at your vet often contains higher amounts of quality, meat-derived protein such as chicken and beef. Also, it’s better to try and avoid animal by-products, which are those parts of the animal that are not intended to be eaten by humans. All in all, remember that better nutrition for your pet generally translates into less frequent visits to your vet for medical check-ups later on in life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting to know your cat

I was never a “cat person” until I was forced to be. My neighbors decided they were immigrating to Dubai and needed homes for their cat and her eight kittens. The kittens found homes almost immediately, but for some reason no one wanted the mother. She was still very young: three years is not at all old for a cat. Now, I’m terribly allergic to cats. In fact, I have to take an antihistamine whenever I’m around them. One day, as I was walking down the street, my neighbors came up to me and told me they’d found homes for all their pets except this one cat. They said that they’d be forced to put her down unless I took her, because no one else wanted her. In essence, they were putting the life of the little guy in my hands! I decided I’d take her, albeit that I was allergic. I have to say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. She is such fun to be around, always racing around the house, and chasing almost anything that moves. And on really cold nights, she snuggles up close to me, and purrs like a gentle tractor.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Man's Best Friend

There’s something so wonderful about having a pet in your life. The old adage that a dog is man’s best friend, for instance, is a well-deserved cliché. Dogs will not judge you. Dogs are always happy to see you, tails wagging, mouth agape as though they were smiling. And all they ask in return for their affection, for their playfulness, and for their general exuberance, is that you take the time to feed them good quality food, you play with them, you scratch behind their ear every now and then and, when they’re sick, you take care of them and give them the best care possible.Dogs demand so little, yet give so much. So the next time your furry friend does something which irks you like spraying on the carpet, or diving into a food tin that’s not for him, just remember how many good things he brings into your life.