Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chocolate: A Canine's Sweet but Deadly Seducer

My good friend, Carol Pollack, once told me a story about the horrifying time she found her two Jack Russell Terriers hovering over a huge-- and empty --bitten up box of dark chocolate.

Panicking, she called the vet late at night and was told to give her dogs a little bit of hydrogen peroxide, and then have her son run the two pups down the street in order to induce vomiting.

Her husband came home to find his hysterical wife at the bottom of the stairs and his exhausted son, running the dogs down pitch black Syosset streets.

When he found out what happened, he cried: “I ate all those chocolates last week!”

Safe to say, the poor, innocent pups, with upset stomachs, were apologized to every day for the next week.

The Dangers of Chocolate and What to Do if Eaten

Chocolate makes up at least 75 percent or more of cases involving pet ingestion of dangerous human foods, said Sharon Gwaltney, DVM, Ph.D., Vice President of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).

“It is, by far, the number one people food that we have issues with,” she told The Daily Paw, attributing this mostly to the fact that chocolate is found in most homes.

Typically, the darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is to dogs, with baking chocolate as the most lethal. And depending on how much and what type of chocolate was ingested, symptoms can range from vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, to abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures. In a worst-case scenario, the sweet seducer could even lead to death.

What to do in an emergency:
If your pet ingests chocolate, or any other poison, first contact your veterinarian. Depending on how much chocolate the dog could have eaten, a vet may suggest that you give your dog a little amount of hydrogen peroxide in order to induce vomiting. Don’t rely on the internet since information posted on the web may not always be credible.

For emergencies, contact the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), where experts are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at (888) 426-4435. Although the call is toll-free, pet owners should be advised that a $60 consultation fee will be charged to their credit card. This includes follow-up consultation should you or your vet need further assistance with your pet’s case. Be ready to provide your pet’s species, breed, age, sex, weight, symptoms, information regarding the exposure, including the agent, amount ingested, and time elapsed since the ingestion. It is also helpful to have the product in a container for reference as well as anything collected in a sealable plastic bag of what your pet may have vomited or chewed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Losing Man's Best Friend

We all think our dogs are invincible.

Well, they have to be, right? Because who else would be there to eagerly greet you at the door like you were the best thing since bacon strips, without fail, every single time?

I could never imagine losing my dog. The thought of not being able to see her sleepy, smushed up face first thing in the morning, even before slamming the snooze button, breaks my heart years before it even has to.

Because my dog is only three years ago. Three. Yet every birthday is more like a tragedy than a celebration. Maybe it's because I'm morbid. Or maybe it's because we all know dogs can't live as long as we do, which I believe to be an unbelievably cruel part of life.

I don't want her to get old.

And unless you've had a dog, you just don't get it. Because it's not "just a dog." And you can cry two hours into Marley & Me, but unless you've witnessed firsthand how truly deep a dog can love you, you just can't get it.

And that's why after I write and post this upcoming article about how owners have dealt with the pain and how vets say to handle it, I never want to have to imagine this again.

Because my dog is invincible.

She has to be.

Melissa Chan

Coming Soon: Better Beaches For Your Dog

Though Mud Creek County may not sound appealing at this time-- with its rampant poison ivy and stray glass shards-- there are several dog beaches on Long Island that are fun and safe enough for your favorite set of paws.

Coming soon.

Avoid this Suffolk County dog park for now

Although it may be tempting to visit Suffolk County’s first dog beach, the Mud Creek County Dog Park poses many dangers to you and your pooch.

In fact, warnings have been issued to locals around the area and are posted on their website. The park itself is extremely overrun with poison ivy and broken glass has been found scattered throughout the sand.

The dog park, which opens onto the Great South Bay, located on 450 Roe Avenue, in Patchogue, began as a pilot project under the Five New Dog Parks initiative, which LI-DOG signed into law in May 2007.

It is an off-leash beach, so dogs are welcome to run, swim and play, without any restrictions, on a sandy beach that runs approximately 300 feet long and 300 feet deep. But since the beach is surrounded by what officials call “natural borders,” this means that there is no protection of chain links or fences.

Unlike many dog parks, the Mud Creek County Dog Park does not offer water fountains, trash receptacles or dog waste bag dispensers.

Although it is set to reopen to unleashed dogs starting July 1, you may want to skip this park.

Melissa Chan

Photo Picks: "Doggy Dreamland"

Sweet dreams, One One! ... And try to keep it down!

This sleepy Yorkshire Terrier from Fresh Meadows just blew out her 11th birthday candle!

Owner, Annie, says she loves One's unbelievably loud but also cute snores when she sleeps.

Keep watch when your dog is in the yard

Even in the safety of your own home, you should always supervise your dog in case he swallows something harmful.

In a best-case scenario, your dog swallows some dirt and eats a tiny worm or two. You scrunch up your face but virtually, there’s no harm done.

But in a small neighborhood near downtown Colorado, several dogs have fallen prey to poison.

Award-winning pet journalist, Sharon L. Peters, reports in USA Today that two dogs have already died after eating poison that was thrown over the fence and into the yards. At least 10 similar incidents in the neighborhood have occurred since the beginning of March.

Even in Cumberland County, New Jersey, three dogs, including 5-year-old golden retriever, Raymond (shown in the picture), have died after eating poisoned, raw meatballs that were placed along hiking trails, according to

And in Schertz, Texas, early this month, poison as well as meatballs and sausages with medicinal pills inside were found in the yards. It has happened at least six times within a few weeks there.

Photo Picks: "Let Me Out"

Using the incredible power of her beady little eyes, the then three-month-old Pomeranian Poodle, Shorty Michelle, begs to be let out of her cage.

In her Fresh Meadows home, these eyes get her anything from car rides to cookies. And she only gets better by the day at tweaking her skill.

Do you have a great photo to share? Send it to

It’s Dug From Up!

From the Pixar movie Up (2009), Dug is the lovable, sweet but simple-minded, dog who is able to speak through a high-tech collar that gives voice to his thoughts.

Dug: “Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, ‘I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.’ Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.”
Although it isn't completely clear, Dug is definitely a Golden, whether it be a Retriever, Labrador, or mutt.

At first, he belongs to Muntz, but struggles to fit in with his owner’s pack of tough dogs in the wilderness of Paradise Falls.

He meets our heroes, Carl and Russell, on one of the mindless missions given to him so that he’ll be kept busy. Dug immediately loves his future friends. He says, "I have just met you and I already love you."

To see a video clip of when the three meet, click here.

And, you can even follow Dug on Facebook!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coming Soon: The Best Dog Parks on Long Island

It’s time to tell Fido to start stretching.

Home to dozens of dog parks, Long Island has acres upon acres of open field and woods, lakes and sand, and richly forested hills and valleys for you and your four-legged friend. With separate areas for large and small dogs, just about any dog can enjoy them.

Coming soon.

Adoption Days at Petco Riverhead: What you need to know to adopt

Clover, a three-month old hound mix, joins the several hundreds of rescued dogs and cats that now wait for a loving home.

Teaming up with Last Chance Animal Rescue, Petco Riverhead brings you Adoption Days every Saturday, when the organization’s rescued animals are presented at Petco each week and pet lovers can meet their future best friends or simply just say hello. Both puppies and adult dogs are available.

Petco, 1524 Old Country Road, Riverhead, NY. 11901.
Every Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What you need to know:
In order to adopt, you must be at least 21 and have valid identification with a current verifiable permanent address.

You must also have stable housing, in which each member of the household agrees to the adoption, and you must have a verifiable phone number.

If you are a renter, you must show a copy of the lease or other proof from the landlord confirming that pets are allowed.

Children in the household must be mature enough to interact appropriately with the new pet.

Besides filling out an adoption application, you may be interviewed in-person or on the phone. The application takes two to three days on average to be processed and approved.

Animals cannot be put on hold or reserved.

At the time of adoption, a donation of $200 for dogs over six months old and $300 for dogs 6 months and under is requested before the animal is placed in a new home.

About Last Chance Animal Rescue:
Last Chance is a charitable, nonprofit organization that rescues animals located in “kill” facilities. They also work with local veterinarians for spay and neuter services until the animals find a permanent, loving home.

Last year alone, 850 animals were saved.

For more information, please call (631) 478-6844, visit, or e-mail

Melissa Chan

Hounds in Headlines: Canine Math Whiz

They don't teach this in puppy kindergarten.

We know that Border Collies are unofficially, but almost without a fight, the smartest dog breed in the world.
See here.
But a 3-year-old white pug in Xi'an, Northwest Shaanxi Province, may be giving Collies a run for their bones.

This exceptional math whiz, named Wawa, can count up to 10 and add, subtract, multiply, and divide. And it only took six months of training by owner My. Pang.

The canine can correctly answer questions like "How many is 2 plus 2 equal to?" and "How many is 3 times 3 equal to?" Wawa answers by barking the appropriate number of times and then sitting when he is done.

The Xi'an Daily and the Sanquin Daily reported:
"Mr. Pang began tutoring Wawa in math two years ago after noticing that the pooch showed a natural sensitivity to numbers. He began with hand gestures, showing one finger and saying, 'Wawa, this is one,' and training the dog to bark once. After a few weeks, Wawa graduated to 2, 3, 4 and so on."
Think about that the next time you give Fido a treat for giving you his paw.

Photo Picks: "Dog Nap"

Two Jack Russell Terriers enjoy a lazy afternoon together.

Sister Scout, 16, shares one of her many beds scattered across her Syosset home with baby brother Hunter, the family's newest addition.

Separated by generations, although from different litters, the two pups were both from the same breeder.

Do you have a great photo to share? Send it to

Stroll Through Old Westbury Gardens with Your Favorite Four-Legs

It’s barely above freezing now, but in mid-April, you can take in the sights and scents of a blooming spring in the beautiful and historical Old Westbury Gardens.

The Ladies Kennel Association of America welcomes all leashed dogs for a “Dog Day Afternoon," in which there will be plenty of walking, games, and contests. You can even put your pup to the test in the Canine Good Citizen challenge.

Westbury Gardens welcomes visitors of all ages for guided in-depth tours of the historic 200 acre land that's spotted with formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.

For those interested in the tour, exhibitors will be available only on Saturday, April 16 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Where: Old Westbury Gardens 71 Old Westbury Road Old Westbury, NY 516-333-0048 Dates: Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17 Times: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Costs: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 children (free for children under 6)

How much do you know about this Pixar pup?

Who is he? What movie is he from? What breed is he?

Send your answers to

Can you name 38 Disney and Pixar Dogs?

How many dogs in Pixar and Disney movie can you identify in the picture to the left? In this online quiz, you'll have 10 minutes to correctly name the dog and the movie they're in. Be forewarned, it's pretty difficult.

Click here to take the test.

It's Scud from Toy Story!

Scud, a Bull Terrier, belongs to the young villain, Sid, in Pixar's Toy Story (1995).

Buzz: Hmm, sure is a hairy fellow.
Woody: No, no, that's Scud, you idiot.

Scud is, if not equally, quite close to being as terrifyingly terrorizing and destructive to toys as his owner. As Sid blows up toys using dynamite, Scud finds and tears them apart.

We see how truly horrifying Scud is when Woody tries to escape from Sid's house, where he and Buzz Lightyear are being held hostage by the little terror. Scud, sleeping halfway down the stairs, blocks their way out and is suddenly awoken when Woody's pull-string gets caught on the railing. Scud viciously bears his teeth and charges at the two.

And that's not the last we see of Scud. The Bull Terrier gives our heroes one last final chase down the street, as they frantically try to catch up with the moving fan.

We just have to keep reminding ourselves: There is no such thing as a bad dog; there are only bad owners.

It's Max from the Little Mermaid!

Max is an Old English Sheepdog and is Prince Eric's pet in Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989).

We first meet Max when Ariel and her friends secretly decide to get a closer look at Prince Eric and the other humans. Against her father, King Triton's warnings, they swim to the surface and watch Eric's birthday celebration from the side of the ship.

Max, with his signature shaggy fur covering his eyes, catches Ariel's scent and follows his nose to find her. Ariel gets scared and ducks to hide. When she turns back around, Max is waiting there for her, smiling and panting. He gives her a big kiss on the cheek.
Ariel: Oh... he's very handsome, isn't he?
Scuttle: I don't know, he looks kind of hairy and slobbery to me.
Soon after, the ship catches on fire and Max is left behind to fight against the furious flames. Eric jumps back onto the ship to rescue him.

Perhaps in the best scene of all, Max, the only character in the movie who recognizes Ursula in disguise as the beautiful Vanessa, growls ferociously at her and then later bites her in the butt to help stop the wedding. Three cheers for Max!

How much do you know about this Pixar pup?

Who is he? What movie is he from? What breed is he?

Send your answers to

How much do you know about this famous Disney dog?

Who is he? What movie is he from? What breed is he?

Send your answers to

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What You Should Know Before Your Next Haircut

Want to avoid THIS bad haircut?

Save your dog the embarrassment.

Before your next appointment with the groomer, ask yourself what kind of cut you want for your canine and inspect the condition of her hair.

And what could drive your groomer to shave your dog completely? Find out here.

Coming Soon: How bad is feeding your dog table scraps?

Hail the Hero: Courageous Canine Drags Wounded Dog Off Busy Freeway

As if you needed another reason to love dogs.

In this one-minute video clip that has received hundreds of thousands of hits on Youtube so far, a surveillance camera captures the heroic rescue of a good Samaritan, risking his own life to drag a wounded dog off a busy freeway in Chile.

Only, the good Samaritan has four legs and a tail.

The video shows a dog dodging through speeding cars to cross at least six lanes of traffic to pull the body of another dog, motionless after being struck by a vehicle, off the road and onto the median strip.

Using nothing but his paws and teeth, the rescuer slowly lead the wounded dog to safety.

It has been reported that both dogs survived.

After the video went viral on Chilean television stations and various websites, viewers have called in with hopes of adopting the courageous canine, who is apparently homeless and had run away shortly after the incident.

There was no sight of the heroic hound after highway workers and a television crew went searching.

Melissa Chan

To watch the video, click here.

Border Collies: The Smartest Dog Breed in the World

According to Animal Planet, Border Collies are hands-down the smartest dogs. Considered the rocket scientists of canines, Border Collies are highly trainable, athletic, and born to complete difficult tasks. However, they're not meant for everyone. For novice dog owners, Border Collies can be very destructive.

Poodles trails close behind, unofficially ranking second as the smartest dog breed.

Click here for a list of the top ten smartest breeds.

How to Handle Happy's Horrible Haircut

By Melissa Chan

Dog groomers may seem paranormal with their enduring patience in keeping your wiggly Westiepoo still for so long, but they are no mind readers. Although most cases result in more angst for the owner than the humble hound, this leaves Lassie vulnerable to the victimizing bad haircut-— complete with the cheesy bandanas and bows.

Here’s what you need to know before you shell out $50 the next time your dog meets the clippers:

Be specific

According to Peter Likos, a professional groomer at Chance and Belle’s Pampered Paws in Wantagh, it is all about voicing your specific expectations instead of just dropping off Fido without instructions.

“It’s just like when you sit down in a chair to get your hair cut. You wouldn’t just let somebody do as they please,” Likos said. “It’s easier if owners tell groomers how they want it cut. Exactly how short is short? Do you want to cut off two inches or half an inch?”

Consider the breed
Breed is also a factor in choosing the right cut. For instance, Malteses and Golden Retrievers have their own specific cut, but mixed breeds do not. Owners of mixed breeds must specify which breed’s cut they want-- if they want their dog to look more like a Pomeranian or more like a Poodle. This is all based on the owner’s personal preference.

Inspect the coat’s condition
Be realistic. The more mats the dog has, the higher the chance of getting shaved. Mats, which are knots in the hair or fur that have become so tightly tangled that it bounds to the skin, are big problems for groomers since they cannot be brushed out like a regular knot. Any attempts to brush out mats induce great amounts of pain for the pet.

“We don’t want dogs to associate groomers with pain. You always want to make it a good experience,” Likos said.

The only way to safely and humanely remove a mat is to shave the area. In the case of extensive mats, this can mean shaving the whole dog, which frequently upsets owners.

To avoid this, owners should take in their dogs for trims always in the summer and every five to six weeks.

“When owners wait too long for haircuts, dog’s hair end up getting matted, which commonly results in fleas that hide under the mats,” Likos said.

Constant bathing also results in the build-up of mats when the dog is not properly groomed, brushed, or dried.

Dogs, large and small, should bathe only every six to eight weeks.

To avoid the absolute shaving of your pet due to mats, Likos advises owners to “brush, brush, and brush. There’s no two ways about it. It could be every day or every two days."

Grow it back
This is not the end for you and your furry canine. Similar to the rate of hair growth for humans, the average rate of hair growth for a dog is 0.5 millimeters a day. With typical trims and cuts, hair should grow back within five or six weeks. If a dog has been shaven, a quarter-to half-an-inch should grow back within six weeks.

Average smooth short-haired coats, like that of Chihuahuas, Boxers, and German Shepherds, take about six months to grow back completely and silky long-haired coats, like that of most Spaniels and Retrievers, take about 18 months. Also, in cold weather seasons, dog undercoats grow thicker and faster.

In the meantime, try adding Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to your pet’s menu. The high-quality fatty acids prevent dry skin and promote a thick, healthy, glossy coat.

When the silver lining seems as thin as your dog’s new coat, learn first how to avoid the situation-- starting at home and then with your first foot in the groomer’s door. Like a soothing mother would tell her daughter, a calming groomer would tell his clients, “Hair grows back!”