Clifford the Big Red Dog® teaches children important pet care in new book series

It's never too early to learn kindness and compassion towards each other, and for animals. Young children are often first exposed to animals through their first toy dog or stuffed bear. As they begin to learn reading skills and watch educational programming, it's a good time to show them the differences between the pretend care of their toy and real caregiving for their family dog.

Having a young child aware of what it means to care for another living creature, especially a beloved family pet, can help grow their empathy. A very popular children's character has been tapped to help educate youngsters in a new book series. 

Bayer Animal Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Carey
Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/AP Images for Bayer Animal Health

Bayer Animal Health has partnered with the iconic storybook character Clifford the Big Red Dog to create custom “Clifford Goes to the Doctor” books, which features tips for families to prevent bites from fleas, ticks and mosquitos which can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease and Ehrlichia, also known as companion vector-borne diseases (CVBD).

To celebrate the limited-edition book, Bayer Animal Health Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Carey joined Clifford at a local elementary school in Miami, FL to read the book to first graders and share important pet care tips.

Clifford Book Cover
Bayer Animal Health also donated more than 1,600 copies of “Clifford Goes to the Doctor” to elementary schools throughout the Miami-Dade School District.

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Why tick prevention medication and regular vetting of dogs is important

We live in San Francisco and had a dog who wasn't interested in going for hikes on local trails or up Mt. Tam. She loved a good neighborhood walk, and as a youngster, an afternoon at the beach or in the park. While we weren't terribly worried about her picking up ticks, we watched over her closely for fleas. We used a topical flea and tick medication every month that could penetrate her thick Husky-Shepherd neck fur. We also gave her monthly heart worm tablets.

Though we didn't like the idea of applying chemicals on our dog, we knew prevention was important and better than the alternative. In her final years, when she'd stopped going further than around the block, we stopped the topical flea and tick medication, and separate heart worm pill. We switched her to a tablet that offered flea control, heart worm protection and warded off intestinal parasites.

Unfortunately every year 1 in 79 dogs test positive for tick borne illnesses such Lyme Disease. Umbecca, a reader of the blog and our Facebook page shared this important story about a Catahoula dog named Ruger. I hope you'll read it and that it helps you understand better why our pets need to be protected from all nature of parasites.

Why tick prevention medication and regular vetting of dogs is important

Ruger was pulled by Janeen's Catahoula Rescue from the SPCA in Fresno, where he was turned in as a stray, with a plan to go directly to Oregon.  His vet check revealed that he has tick borne illnesses Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis. He is currently in temporary foster care in California until he is well enough to travel. If you are interested in helping fund his medical or travel expenses, following his progress, or adopting him after he is well, scroll to the bottom for more information.

This is Ruger's story:

Ruger

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Friendly reminder about keeping pets safe and warm in cold weather

While San Francisco may be chilly and wet, causing many dogs to hide under the blankets rather than face a wet butt and soggy feet outside, much of the country is freezing with heavy snowfall. 

The ASPCA has created an animated infographic highlighting essential tips to help keep animals safe when the temperatures drop. This graphic not only includes ways to protect your pet in chilly weather, but also has vital information on how to help dogs that may be left out in dangerously cold conditions or cats that are living outdoors. 

image from www.aspca.org

Baby it's cold outside! Here are five ways we can keep pups safe in cold weather:

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My what big ears you have!

My dog never gave me the "head tilt" like Lassie, Benji or even Rin Tin Tin might have on television, but she sure gave me an expression that said she was hip to my words. By the time we'd been together for a few years, her vocabulary was on its way to making our life together an adventure. While she still had her vision, I would use visual prompts to play games with her. Later when she couldn't see with her eyes, I watched as she used her ears to understand what we were saying. 

"Although we cannot say how much or in what way dogs understand information in speech from our study," Ratcliffe said, "we can say that dogs react to both verbal and speaker-related information and that these components appear to be processed in different areas of the dog's brain.”

image from news.discovery.com

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Is your dog showing signs of canine cognitive dysfunction?

My dog was always independent. She loved having the freedom to hang out with us on the couch or get up, and walk to another room. Sometimes she left to go take a nap in a quiet spot or watch the front of the house for the mailman. 

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

When she lost her eyesight from diabetes, we took extra care to guide her around the house hoping to keep her confident in her independence. We didn't move furniture. We kept to a routine hoping to effectively manage her expectations. 

But, because we actively changed our own behavior, it was clear that our sweet dog wasn't getting lost in a room because we left an ottoman in her path or moved her food bowl. Her behavior wasn't related to not being able to see, she was dealing with doggy dementia, also known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction.

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Five ways we can be more green with our dogs

Whenever I walk our dog around the block, I often get inspired by a neighbor's landscaping, more so lately because California is in a drought situation and I'm finding beautiful flower pots filled with succulents. Who says you can't marry practical with pretty?

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

If we let her, our dog would happily help with the composting. Here in San Francisco it's required to compost your food waste, and if there ever was an upside to having a senior dog, it's that at thirteen, our Cleo is no longer able to counter surf. We can leave a milk carton filled with food scraps in the sink without fear that she'll leap up and sneak it off to the bedroom for an afternoon snack.

Rainy and cool fall weather on the horizon has us thinking about indoor projects, and various ways we can reduce our dog's carbon footprint as well as our own. Are there ways that we can be more green in the winter? I looked around the house and saw quite a few projects, starting with making my own shampoo for Cleo! She has always had sensitive skin.

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If you missed SPARCS 2014 here are a few highlights for the doglover

Does it make you a dog dork if you want to spend your money attending a conference promoting applied research in canine science, when you are not a behaviorist, dog trainer, or even a Ph.D. student? I'm only an animal lover, and a really huge dog lover. My nightstand typically holds nonfiction books on animal psychology, dog behavior that I enjoy reading for fun and because I'm incredibly curious.

I take advantage of the San Francisco Public Library and its extensive lending system that allows me to get academic textbooks and various white papers from notables like James Serpell, Konrad Lorenz and more. Again, for fun. I mix those tomes with science fiction and spy novels. Maybe it's my love of a good mystery that has this layperson interested in understanding dog behavior and ethology? What about you?

image from www.companionanimalpsychology.com

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Evolution in the debate about our treatment of animal companions

A new book "Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs" by author and science journalist David Grimm explores how the roles of pets have evolved from wild animals to family members.

 

image from www.cbsnews.com

 

Here's more from CBS News,

Today, there are animal anti-cruelty laws in all 50 U.S. states, with penalties that include fines or prison time. Custody battles have been waged over family pets, and emotional-distress damages have been awarded for harm to a pet. Dogs and cats can even inherit money, Grimm said. But they're still considered property, "no different from a toaster in the eyes of the law," he said.

Now, a growing effort seeks to grant personhood to animals, including cats and dogs. Driving this movement is an increasing awareness of animal intelligence and their emotional capabilities.

Research on the canine mind has exploded in recent years, Grimm said. Dogs can understand pointing, an ability that chimpanzees lack, and research also suggests dogs are capable of empathy, and perhaps even abstract thought.

What do you think about the notion of personhood for animals? Will this help prevent animal abuse? Will this reduce or eliminate the homeless pet population? 

 

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In-Home Veterinary Service Expands into San Francisco

If you’ve followed Grouchy Puppy for awhile, you probably know that my dog Cleo stress pants like Thomas the Tank Engine whether we drive across the Bay Bridge or around the block. Now add in a destination that isn’t a romp on the beach but a vet visit, and we have one very unhappy stressed out dog.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com
Cleo's "coping" car ride face and stress pant

Cleo is a diabetic dog. Did you know her level of stress from the car ride can have a negative impact on her blood glucose test once we arrive at the vet's office? It can also be a challenge to get her in to see her regular veterinarian, and since she’s a senior dog it’s more important than ever not to put off check-ups.

Here comes BarkCare, a new in-home concierge veterinary service. I had a chance to ask co-founder and COO, Carly Strife, and Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Rob Proietto, who oversees training of all local vets some questions as they expand this service into San Francisco.

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Guest Post: Our Experience With Holistic Treatments (Part Two)

I believe that it's important for dog lovers to share our personal canine experiences in our own voice, which is why you will find occasional guest posts on Grouchy Puppy doing just that -- do remember Maggie's two-part series on pet adoption or Elisa's series on her experiences dog fostering?

Today, Jana Rade is sharing part two of a two-part guest post discussing her experience with holistic treatments. Jana is a graphic designer by profession and never aspired to learning about dog health issues until she met Jasmine. Unfortunately, she received a crash course in the subject due to Jasmine’s many health issues and has since become an advocate for other pet owners and their four-legged friends.

Our Experience With Holistic Treatments (Part Two)

Here is a little note: any modality is only as good as the vet using it. Truly. It is one thing to decide to go with either conventional modern medicine or alternative holistic medicine and it is another thing all together to find a vet who is good at it. I know people who curse holistic medicine just because they stumbled upon a bad apple and things went wrong. Holistic vets are good or bad just like conventional vets are good or bad. This is important to keep in mind. If you’re not getting the results you want, you might be using a wrong approach OR you might be using a wrong vet.

Jasmine

After our first non-traditional experience, I did change my point of view and always considered using holistic approach before resorting to conventional medicine. 

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Guest Post: Our Experience with Holistic Treatments

I believe that it's important for dog lovers to share our personal canine experiences in our own voice, which is why you will find occasional guest posts on Grouchy Puppy doing just that -- do remember Maggie's two-part series on pet adoption?

Today, Jana Rade is sharing part one of a two-part guest post discussing her experience with holistic treatments. Jana is a graphic designer by profession and never aspired to learning about dog health issues until she met Jasmine. Unfortunately, she received a crash course in the subject due to Jasmine’s many health issues and has since become an advocate for other pet owners and their four-legged friends.

Our Experience with Holistic Treatments

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was an oblivious dog mom. I figured that taking my dog to a vet and then do what they said was all I needed to do. In an ideal world, it should work that way. In this one, it often does not.

There were things they just dismissed instead of digging deeper for a diagnosis. And there were times when the treatment seemed worse than the disease.

And then there was the fact that Jasmine often had bad reactions to various drugs.

Jasmine

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Guess this means I'm more than a napkin to my dog

Throughout the day my dog will either poke her snout or wipe her eyes on some part of my body. When we first adopted her, I thought it was her clumsy way of playing. She's a big girl and was never that coordinated. Years later, as she lost her vision, I imagined she was using me as her guidepost. Tapping her wet nose on my leg as she navigated the hallway. Now according to a new study, it might be something a little more than my pant leg being a substitute for a paper towel or sensory beacon.

image from newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

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How many common household items could harm your dog?

National Poison Prevention Week is a week nationally designated to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. You probably know about chocolate being toxic to your dog but what about that mulch you're thinking about? How about that pack of sugar-free gum next to the phone or that Jade plant by the front door? You may be surprised by what we've found [...]

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

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When you're dog has skin allergies, a dermatologist is part of the team

Our veterinarian specializing in dermatology retired recently. Dr. Reinke was part of Team Cleo for many years. Cleo is a very allergic dog so I was conflicted when the vet's letter arrived announcing her decision. I was happy for her. She was kind enough to suggest a new practice for us to try, but still, I was bummed. It has a taken a long time to curate this team of trusted caregivers.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com/blog
Cleo follows Dr. Reinke for her blood draw

 

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Do you know if your dog has dental disease?

As our dogs get older taking care of their teeth and gums remains important. If you adopt an adult dog like we did, you don't have the opportunity to introduce teeth brushing as a puppy. Your dog may also have had poor nutrition as a puppy and come to you with compromised teeth and gums. After we took Cleo for her first teeth cleaning we quickly discovered this was the case, and shortly afterward had paid for two root canals.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

How do you tell if your dog has dental disease? 

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