Identifying Dangerous Foods and Plants

From the archive: Identifying Dangerous Foods and Plants

While we know that every dog loves table scraps, sometimes the things they are begging for are very harmful to them.  Do you know all the dangerous foods and plants in your home?

We’ve compiled a list of some common household foods and plants that are dangerous to your pets’ health.  Click the file below to print our pamphlet!

 

POISONOUS PLANTS

Sure, that flower is pretty. But is it placed low enough for your furry friends to sniff? Here are some plants that are poisonous to your pets at home:Azalea
Castor Bean
Chinese sacred or heavenly bamboo
Choke Cherry
Cyclamen
Daffodils
Fig
Holly berries
Kalanchoe
Lillies
Mistletoe berries
Poinsettia
Tulips

DANGEROUS DRUGS
Medicines are supposed to help you feel better, but some are very dangerous for your canine buddy:Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Aloe Vera
Antibiotics (unless prescribed by a vet)
Antidepressants
Antihistamines (unless prescribed by a vet)
Aspirin
Benzodiazepines
Calcium supplements
Ibuprofen (Advil)
Nicotine
Sleep Aids
Vitamins for Humans

HAZARDOUS HOUSEHOLD ITEMS

Also watch out for these other common household items:Batteries
Detergents
Fire-starter Logs
Fluoride
Hand Sanitizer

 

FORMIDABLE FOODS
It may be fun to give your pup a treat, but some of your favorite foods are dangerous for your pets:Alcoholic Beverages – Causes intoxication, coma, and death
Avocado – Causes vomiting and diarrhea
Candy containing the sweetener Xylitol – Affects the heart and nervous system
Chocolate – Affects the heart and nervous system
Coffee, tea, caffeine – Affects the heart and nervous system
Fat trimmings – Causes pancreatitis
Garlic (also in powder form) – Causes red blood cell damage; could lead to anemia
Grapes and Raisins – Causes kidney failure
Hops (used in making beer) – Causes panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death
Macadamia Nuts – Affects the digestive and nervous systems; causes tremors and hypothermia
Moldy/Spoiled Food
Mushrooms – Affect multiple systems in the body; causes shock and could result in death
Onions & Chives (also in powder form) – Causes red blood cell damage; could lead to anemia
Peach/Plum Pits – Causes obstruction to the digestive tract
Potato – Affects the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems
Raw Undercooked Meat/Eggs/Fish/Bones – Can contain Salmonella and E. Coli; can cause seizures and death. Bones can splinter and wreak havoc on the digestive tract
Rhubarb (leaves/stems) –Affects the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems
Salt – Large amounts can cause tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and death
Tomato (leaves/stems) – Affects the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems
Yeast Dough – Can expand in the digestive system, causing pain and possible ruptures to the stomach and intestines

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG INGESTS SOMETHING POISONOUS

ASPCA ANIMAL POISON CONTROL 888-426-4435

Remove your dog from the area.
Check to make sure that your pet is safe (breathing and behaving normally)
Collect a sample of the material, including the packaging or container and save it – you will need that information when consulting a vet or emergency hotline
Do NOT give home antidotes
Do NOT induce vomiting without consulting a veterinarian or emergency help hotline
Get Help! Call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center

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Introducing a New Dog to Existing Household Cats

From the archive: Introducing a New Dog to Existing Household Cats

We’re often asked if it’s possible for pit bulls and cats to live together successfully.  Dogs and cats don’t have to be enemies; in fact, many of them become the best of friends! However, it’s very important to properly introduce your new dog to your existing household cats in order to get them off on the right “paw.” Here are some tips and tricks to help you safely introduce your new dog to your cats at home!  Click the file below to print our pamphlet!

Step 1: Cats Rule
Before bringing your new dog home, prepare your house in such a way so as to protect the safety of your cats. Because cats are often the smaller, more-fragile animal in the house, it is important to establish that cats and their safety come first. This has nothing to do with dominance; it’s just about territory and who gets to go where. For example, your cat may be allowed on your sofa (or a cat tower) while your dog is not. Your cat may be allowed to free-roam throughout your house while you are gone, and your dog may need to be crated. This is important because it gives your cat(s) a place to “escape” to should they become overwhelmed by the dog’s presence or desire to play.  Make sure that you always provide your cat with a “way out” of any situation. Whether that is a high cat perch, an open door that only the cat can get through, or a sofa/bed to hide under, your cat should never feel trapped with the dog. Before your new dog comes home, try to analyze each room in the house to ensure that “ways out” are available in each one.

You should also never leave your cats and dogs alone unattended, even if they appear to be the best of friends. It’s just not a smart idea. Dogs and cats communicate very differently, and things can go wrong should communication lines get crossed (for example, dogs avoid making prolonged direct eye contact with one another and can perceive direct eye contact as more threatening. They “look away” to show that they are not threatening. Cats, on the other hand, make a lot of direct eye contact and use blinking as a way to show that they are not threatening!).

Step 2: Bringing Your New Dog Home
When you first bring your new dog home to a house where cats already live, keep your cats in a separate room completely with the door shut. Allow the new dog to wander throughout the house and smell all the new smells while getting familiar with his or her new surroundings. If possible, leave out a blanket on which the cats have slept; the dog will be able to smell them on the blanket and throughout the house.

It is probably wise to keep the dog and cats fully separated for a few days at least. Try to get a blanket or pillow on which the dog has slept and leave it in the room with your cats. Your cats will smell the dog, and they will also hear the dog through the door.

Step 3: Working on “Leave It”
This step is one you can begin the moment your dog comes home. The “Leave It” command is a very important one for any dog to know. It helps your dog develop self-control and control over its natural prey drive (desire to chase/hunt running small animals).

To begin working on the “leave it” command, start by getting 2 types of treats: 1 high-value treat (liver treats, chicken, hot dog) and 1 lower-value treat (kibble or basic dog treats).

Hold the lower-value treat in your closed hand. Let your dog sniff/lick at your hand as much as he/she wants (without nibbling/biting). The moment your dog looks away or stops licking/trying to get at the treat, say “yes!” (or use a clicker if you are doing clicker training) and immediately reward him/her with the high-value treat from your other hand. Continue to do this until the dog clearly catches onto the fact that not trying to get the treat in your hand means that he/she gets the better treat in your other hand!

At this point, take a low-value treat in your hand, hold it out, and say “leave it!” The dog should look away/stop trying to go after the treat as he/she has already learned. Say “yes!” (or click) and reward with the high-value treat in your other hand.

When your dog has mastered the “leave it” command with a treat in your closed palm, try holding the treat in your open palm. When the dog goes after the treat, close your hand, and say “leave it!” Say “yes” and reward the moment the dog looks away.

You can go further and put the treat on the ground in front of the dog, put a series of treats on the ground and walk by w/ dog on leash, etc. Best of all, try using the leave-it command with a rolling ball. Roll the ball away from the dog and say “leave it,” encouraging the dog to stay put. Immediately say “yes!” and reward if the dog does not move.

The Leave-It command can also be taught using toys or whatever best motivates your dog! Knowing the “leave it” command will enable you to use

Step 4: Letting Dog & Cat See One Another
After about 3 days, put a tall baby gate in the doorway separating the “cat room” from the dog. Let your cats and dog see one another and, if interested, sniff or communicate through the gate, but do not let them directly interact. Keep your dog on a leash during the first through-the-gate meeting.

If the dog lunges or barks (even in play) at the gate, put your whole body between the dog and the gate, and say, firmly “Leave It!” If the dog continues to lunge around your legs, give an “ah ah!” Or “Leave It!” command, and back him or her up using your whole body (this is a technique called “body blocking”). Then, take the leash, and lead the dog away into a separate room/bathroom. Close the door, and take a 30-second “time out” to let the dog calm down.

Try again. The moment the dog begins to lunge or bark at the cats, give another “Leave It” and take him/her back to the separate room for another time out.

Encourage any and all positive behavior by having some sort of high-value treat (like boiled chicken or liver treats) ready. When the dog is calm, quiet, and giving calming signals (like sniffing away from the cats, looking away, “shaking off,” etc.), praise the dog and give him/her a special treat. If the dog obeys your “Leave It” command even slightly, say “yes!” and reward the dog. If your cats enjoy treats, also give them some treats to establish that the presence of the dog is a positive thing.

Continue working with your dog and cats this way until both are relaxed with the “through the gate” separation.

Step 5: Removing the Gate
When the time comes to remove the gate separating your cats and dog, ensure that your dog is leashed. This doesn’t mean the dog has to be restrained; he/she can simply drag the leash around. Having the leash on provides you with a quick and easy way to stop the dog should he/she begin chasing the cats.

More than likely, your cats will want nothing to do with the dog when the gate is first removed. The more important thing is that the cats are able to run away without the dog chasing them. Remember to use the “Leave It” command whenever the dog begins to chase the cats. You can also step on or pick up the leash to immediately stop the dog, and then walk him away from the situation.

If the dog goes to sniff or interact with the cats and the cats hiss or growl, give the “Leave It” command. If the dog does not leave the cat be, body block him away from the cat, clearly establishing the cat’s “personal space” with your body.

You should leave the leash on the dog until you reach a point where you are confident that the dog will not typically chase the cats. Even then, remember to use body blocking to re-establish the cats’ personal space any time the dog does not listen to the cat’s signals (hissing, growling) to leave it alone.

Dog Park

From the archive: Why We Advise Against Dog Parks

A fenced in place to run and play.  Socialization.  Convenience.  Seems like good idea, right? As dog owners we have to look at every angle of the activities we decide to engage in.  Consider these points:Not all dog owners are as diligent about supervision as we are. This means that while we are busy supervising our dogs to ensure a safe, fun, and successful experience, others may be sitting on the sidelines with their attention focused elsewhere.
It only takes a second for rough play to escalate into a disagreement between dogs and result in tragedy.  Even if every dog owner is diligent in supervising their dog, signs of trouble can be missed.  What starts out as a spat between two dogs can turn into a brawl that includes every dog in the park.
Dog parks can be a breeding ground for diseases.  Even if the area appears to be well maintained, germs, spores, and parasites have an opportunity to seep into the ground and infect your dog.
It’s the responsibility of every pit bull owner to ensure that our dogs are good breed ambassadors.  Setting up an opportunity for failure at the dog park not only reflects on your own dog, it is seen as a reflection on ALL of our dogs.  So what can you do instead, even if you don’t have a yard?Go for walks.  The longer, the better. Add some nature trails and uphill climbs and you’re sure to burn off excess energy.
Work on training.  Engaging your dog’s mind is a great way to channel excess energy.  It may not tire him out but it will satisfy his need to work.
Set up play dates.  Socialize your dog with other dogs you know well.  While your dogs are happily playing with each other, you and the other dog owners can relax a little and be a little social yourselves.
Remember, the best way to keep your dog well socialized is to set him up for success and prevent a fight from ever happening.

Summer Heat Safety Tips

From the archive: Summer Heat Safety Tips

The weather is getting warmer and the humidity is climbing.  Here are some things we should not forget about our dogs: They get hot.  We must remember that if we are hot they are hotter.  We can sweat.  They can’t.  We can wear fewer clothes.  They wear fur.  We can willfully move out of the sun.  They have to be given access to shade.   Think like a dog on hot days to keep your dog comfortable.
Check water bowls more frequently.  Between evaporation from heat and animals being thirstier the depth of the bowl can seem a lot shallower in the hot weather months.
NEVER, EVER leave your dog locked in the car.  Not for five minutes.  Not for five seconds.  If the temperature is 70 degrees or more your car will turn into an oven as soon as the windows are rolled up and your dog will start to bake.  Cracking the windows is not enough to lower the temperature or relieve heat stress.
If you see someone else’s dog locked in a car on a hot day call 911.  That is an emergency and the fire department will come to the rescue.
The street can scorch paws!  If you can’t walk on it barefoot neither can your dog.  Save walks for early morning or late evening hours.
Don’t take your dog running if it’s hot and humid.  Yes, he probably loves exercise and you probably love the company but the risk of heat stroke is not worth it.

 

SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE

Your dog acts drunk: disoriented, looks confused, has trouble walking
Rapid panting
Skin inside ears is red and hot to the touch
He refuses to drink
He passes out

 

WHAT TO DO

Hose him down with cool water.  Do not use cold water, it will make his core temperature plummet and that can cause organ damage.
Once his temperature is below 104* rush him to the vet.  He will need IV fluids and observation to be sure no internal damage has been done.

Debunking the Myths

From the archive: Debunking the Myths

A “pit bull” is a breed of dog.
Actually, the term “pit bull” does not refer to a specific breed.  It is a generic term most commonly used to refer to the following dogs that originate from combining bulldogs with terriers:

The American Pit Bull Terrier – recognized by the United Kennel Club (UKC)
The American Staffordshire Terrier – recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC)
The Staffordshire Bull Terrier – recognized by both the UKC and the AKC
However, in recent years this term has come to identify any short, muscular, big headed, short haired dog.  Other breeds and mixes of such commonly but incorrectly identified as “Pit Bulls” include Bull Terriers, American Bulldogs, Boxers, Mastiff breeds, and other mixed breed dogs. To learn more about the origins of the modern day “pit bull” visit our breed history page.

 

All pit bulls are BAD dogs.
Pit bulls are intelligent, loyal, highly trainable and make excellent family pets!   They are wiggly, cuddly, affectionate dogs, so if you don’t like dog kisses then consider another breed! Millions of pit bull type dogs live with everyday families, raised by responsible owners.  Pit bulls are super athletic and excel in activities such as agility, flyball, and weight pull competitions.  Their strength, courage, and tenacity also make them excellent working, police, and search and rescue dogs.

However, the same wonderful loyalty and eagerness to please that make them great family and therapy dogs, unfortunately makes them a prime target for dog fighting, abuse, and criminals that exploit these traits for nefarious purposes. The irresponsible actions of these individuals have given these dogs a “bad rap” and has lead some areas to adopt Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

“My kids are around pit bulls every day. In the ’70s they blamed Dobermans, in the ’80s they blamed German shepherds, in the ’90s they blamed the Rottweiler. Now they blame the pit bull.”- Cesar Millan

All pit bulls are GOOD dogs.
No dog breed is entirely good or entirely bad.   While it’s true that the overwhelming majority of pit bulls are smart, loyal, highly trainable and make excellent family pets, each dog’s temperament should be evaluated on an an individual basis.  Just as responsible breeders carefully select dogs for stable temperament and other features, it is our responsibility as a rescue to identify those that meet the same stringent requirements. Occasionally, whether it be due to bad breeding, over breeding, neglect, abuse, etc., we identify dogs that would not make good family pets and do not meet the requirements for entrance into our program. However, there are also dogs that overcome incredible odds.  The reality is that there are “bad dogs” of ALL breeds and is important to evaluate each dog as an individual, not based on physical characteristics or generalizations.

Pit bulls have locking jaws.
As many pit bull websites, including APBA, cite the same expert, Jolanta Benal of The Dog Trainer emailed Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin directly to ask him about his research. Professor Brisbin wrote back: ‘Sorry, but this issue is so ludicrous that it defies logical refutation. If the Pit Bull jaw ‘locked’ on closing, how would they ever reopen it later to eat or drink?’ Hey, good question! Not content with mere logic, though, Professor Brisbin told [her] that he had participated in research on Pit Bull jaws from the collection of the Smithsonian Institution and “found no evidence of any locking mechanism.” (3)

“The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of “locking mechanism” unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier.”(2)

Pit bulls have a bite pressure of (insert huge number here) psi.  
Dr. Brisbin and numerous other experts, testified under oath that this a myth.  “Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that Pit Bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs.  No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a Pit Bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build.  He stated that… assertions that a pit bull can bite with a ‘force of 2,000 pounds per square inch’ have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof.  The testing of dog bite strength has never been done, and would be difficult if not impossible to perform.”(4)

“To the best of our knowledge, there are no published scientific studies that would allow any meaningful comparison to be made of the biting power of various breeds of dogs. There are, moreover, compelling technical reasons why such data describing biting power in terms of “pounds per square inch” can never be collected in a meaningful way. All figures describing biting power in such terms can be traced to either unfounded rumor or, in some cases, to newspaper articles with no foundation in factual data.”(3)

Pit bulls make excellent guard dogs.
The pit bull temperament differs significantly from that of breeds in the guardian category,  such as, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Dogue de Bourdeaux, Fila Brasileiro, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and others.  Like other dogs they are naturally protective of their family and their property, but because pit bulls are so people-orientated they do not make good guard dogs.

Resources
1 –
2 – Bridgers, J. M., and I. L. Brisbin, Jr. 1989. Mechanical advantage in the pit bull jaw. Bulletin of the South Carolina Academy of Science LI, p.  51.
3. Benal, Jolanta. 2011. Personal communication, May 16, 2010.  Myths About Dogs. Retrieved from http://dogtrainer.quickanddirtytips.com/myths-about-dogs.aspx
4- http://www.sconet.state.oh.us/rod/docs/pdf/6/2006/2006-ohio-975.pdf

Is a Pit Bull the Right Dog for You?

From the archive: Is a Pit Bull the Right Dog for You?

A pit bull is not for everyone.  Pit bulls are energetic, extremely family oriented, and thrive with regular exercise.  If you’re considering adding one of these athletic superstars to your family, be prepared to spend at least an hour a day exercising your pooch.  Also, like many terriers, these loyal clowns can be quite head strong.  Potential owners should be prepared to dedicate plenty of time to training.  Your Ambassador should always be on his best behavior while out on the town!  Pit bull type dogs are often discriminated against, thanks to irresponsible owners and media hype.  Many counties in the United States have even gone so far as to ban pit bulls from residing within their city limits.  Be sure to check here for a complete listing of areas affected by Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).  Also, be prepared to defend your dog against harsh stares and sometimes even snide remarks.  As a responsible owner, you’ll need to do your homework and have a thorough and realistic understanding of the breed.  The best weapon against breed discrimination is education!

Every breed of dog needs training, however pit bulls will need lifelong training from a dedicated owner.
It is a pit bull owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under control at all times.  These guys aim to please, so they naturally excel with obedience training.  If you are as opportunistic as your bully, aim for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate!  Pit bulls also tend to be amazing agility dogs, and there are many different things you can do with your energetic canine.  Every dog adopted from our program is required to complete an obedience class within three months (90 days) of adoption.  This also helps establish you as the “leader”, form a bond, and your pup will totally respect you!

Every breed of dog needs training, however pit bulls will need lifelong training from a dedicated owner.
It is a pit bull owner’s responsibility to keep their dog under control at all times.  These guys aim to please, so they naturally excel with obedience training.  If you are as opportunistic as your bully, aim for the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certificate!  Pit bulls also tend to be amazing agility dogs, and there are many different things you can do with your energetic canine.  Every dog adopted from our program is required to complete an obedience class within three months (90 days) of adoption.  This also helps establish you as the “leader”, form a bond, and your pup will totally respect you!

All of our dogs are carefully temperament tested before entering our program.
There will, however, be times when we have dogs with varying levels of dog tolerance.  The Terrier Group in general tends to have less tolerance for other animals, therefore, we do not fault the breed for this trait.  With proper supervision around animals, these dogs can often be the best of ambassadors.  Responsible pit bull owners understand canine body language and their dog’s personal limits to avoid any potential mishaps.  You can learn more about the different levels of dog tolerance here.

Dog Tolerance – Pit Bull Style

From the archive: Dog Tolerance – Pit Bull Style

Before we dive into this topic let’s preface it with this statement:  Dogs are individuals.  They should be evaluated and judged as individuals. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at dog tolerance.

It’s true that breed characteristics exist.  Some are good, others not so good.  For example, herding dogs tend to be excellent workers. They are also known to be quite bossy and will attempt to herd small humans, often by nipping at their heels.  Guardian dogs are almost always extremely loyal and will do anything to keep their family safe.  They may also make it very difficult, and in extreme cases, impossible to have house guests unless they are confined away from visitors.  See where I’m going with this?

Pit bulls have many very positive traits.  They are exceptionally smart, eager to please, and tend to fall in love with people in a split second.  Their main drawback, though, is their tendency to be dog aggressive and prey driven.

We’ve mentioned prey drive in this article only because, while a pit bull may be dog tolerant, small dogs can and often do resemble prey animals.  When this is the case different management procedures are required to keep it from being a problem.  We’ll talk about that another time.

There are different levels of dog tolerance that can mostly be categorized in four groups.  They are Friendly, Tolerant, Selective, and Aggressive.

Dog friendly pit bulls are what we call “cold” dogs.  They don’t have an ounce of natural dog aggression in them.  Truly cold dogs are few and far between but they do exist.  Owners of these types of dogs need to always be alert, just in case, but basically have it pretty easy in the management department.  Dog friendly pit bulls make the best breed ambassadors because of their ability to attend awareness functions where other dogs will be.

Dog tolerant pit bulls are generally pretty laid back and go with the flow.  They don’t seek out the company of other dogs but they’re indifferent if another dog is in their space.  They may be easily annoyed by other dogs, especially if another dog is displaying rude canine behavior such as rambunctious attempts to play.  They will usually ignore another dog’s antics and may resort to a warning growl before removing themselves from the company of a dog who is bugging them without further incident.

Dog selective pit bulls appear to be pretty hit and miss with other dogs.  They will act friendly with one dog and aggressive with another.  Owners will often times try to figure out what traits trigger the different responses, but the truth is, sometimes it’s as simple as chemistry.  Rather than attempting to force a selective dog to be friends with a dog he doesn’t like it’s more productive to manage and expose him to dogs he interacts positively with.

Dog aggressive pit bulls, while they may be able to live peacefully with another dog within his family (but never, ever left alone), are unable to interact with any other dogs.  Seeing another dog will trigger some type of heightened response, whether it be rigid stance and pricked ears or a full on display of snarling and lunging in an attempt to attack.  This type of dog is every bit as happy and loving in the home with his people as a dog friendly pit bull, he just cannot be exposed to other dogs.  Period.

Dog aggression is a hard wired behavior and cannot be trained away.  Temperament ALWAYS trumps training, and while training is a strong tool to be used in managing this type of behavior, it WILL NOT cure it.  Owners should never believe anyone who says they can train this trait away.  Doing so will only lead to disappointment, if not tragedy.  Do not set your dog up to fail, accept him as he is and manage him accordingly.
It is also important to note that just because a pit bull is aggressive towards other dogs and/or extremely prey driven does not mean he is aggressive towards humans.  Those are two different types of aggression that have nothing to do with each other.  The very rare exceptions to that rule are dogs that are genetically unbalanced.  More on that later.

If you need help identifying which type of tolerance your pit bull has contact us and we can help you.  If you are looking to adopt a pit bull be sure to think of these tolerance levels and decide whether you can handle a dog selective or dog aggressive dog.  It’s OK if you can’t.  If the dog you’re interested in has a lower level of dog tolerance than you feel you can handle there is nothing wrong with continuing your search.  We will be glad to help you find the dog that is right for you.
Remember, the decision to adopt a dog should always be made because you want him for you, not for companionship for another dog.  Pit bulls do not need dog friends.  They would much rather have you all to themselves.  His devotion to you is one of the things that make being owned by a pit bull one of the most rewarding experiences in the world.