Free Preview in April!

March 31st, 2012


Good news for our friends in Manitoba: if you’re an MTS customer, you can enjoy The Pet Network free of charge from April 1 to 30. We’re in free preview all month long, so it’s the perfect opportunity for you (and all the four-legged friends in your life) to sample our selection of the world’s best animal documentaries, movies, family shows and reality series.

You’ll find The Pet Network on channel 255, in the Kids Plus theme pack. Go to MTS.ca or phone 204-CALLMTS (1-800-883-2054 toll-free outside Manitoba) to subscribe.

Visit thepetnetwork.tv regularly for programming highlights, and tune in for more free preview news later this spring!


Napoleon’s Conquest

March 27th, 2012


Our hearts were a tiny bit broken the other day when we came across the story of Napoleon, a lively Boston terrier from White Plains, New York who’s had a rough time of it — he was recently forced to undergo emergency surgery to remove his left eye, apparently the result of an unfortunate misdiagnosis. You can find out more at his Web site, Napoleon’s Story.

Napoleon’s human, Chelle, is hosting a benefit this Friday March 30 to raise funds to cover veterinary costs, and you can get involved by making an online bid in the silent auction. Check out the auction items and place your bids HERE.

Our hearts go out to this little guy, and on behalf of The Pet Network family, we wish him health and happiness.

Marlies Dog Day!

March 27th, 2012


The Pet Network is pleased to support, once again, Toronto Marlies Dog Day!

The Marlies, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, are inviting hockey fans across the Greater Toronto Area to bring their dogs to the game on Saturday April 7, when the team squares off against division rivals the Grand Rapid Griffins. The puck drops at 3 pm.

Tickets in the Doggy Section at Ricoh Coliseum (100 Princes Boulevard, Toronto) are a mere $15, plus a $5 donation to support the Ontario SPCA.

Want to win free tickets to the game, so you can take your pooch? Just visit our FACEBOOK PAGE  any time between now and Monday April 2 at 5 pm ET to enter the Marlies Dog Day contest. Good luck!

CLICK HERE to visit the Toronto Marlies online. CLICK HERE for more information on the Ontario SPCA.

PETnews: The Purina National

March 23rd, 2012


Check out our first PETnews segment!

England has Crufts. New York has Westminster. And Canada has The Purina National®, a charity event for the Canadian Kennel Club Foundation.

It’s Canada’s most prestigious dog show, with top international judges on hand as hundreds of purebreds from around the world compete for their share of honour and prize money.

Cheap Chow For Bow Wows

March 20th, 2012


A salmon dinner for just $1.25? A French omelette for 97 cents? Yup, you read that right. Tonight’s episode of FIDO & WINE (airing at 8 pm ET/PT) reveals the secrets of making “Doggie Dinners On A Dime.” Producer extraordinaire Jen Mitchell has the scoop in the latest post on her must-bookmark blog, My Dog’s Breakfast:

Our latest episode of Fido & Wine, Dog Dinners on a Dime, set out to bust the myth that it’s too expensive to home cook for your dog. My team (Hey-yo Melissa Auger!) went on a mission to pet stores and grocery stores in our area and calculated the average cost of a half a can of wet food and a cup of kibble. (The amount of food each of my labs would need to eat twice per day). The processed meal averaged out at $1.45, so it was a challenge to create some divine dinners with wow factor for less than this!

In the first part of our episode, Kim Clancy of the popular website frugalshopper.ca shared cost saving tips with our hostess with the mostest, Laura Ducharme. She had a lot of great suggestions, and the one that worked really well for us in this case was to check the flyers for sales. We found a great deal on frozen wild salmon filets: Four bucks each. Portioned into four, and served with two sides,  this dinner deal rang in at even less than the average processed meal. TAKE THAT PROCESSED FOOD!

Fresh, wild salmon, pot barley (a better carb for dogs than rice), and vibrant green peas that we always have kicking around – topped with dollop of plain yogurt. I know a lot of people say that salmon is too expensive to eat often, and yes, the unfrozen, thick ruby beauties at the seafood counter are more appealing and cost more than these – but you can turn the less expensive frozen filets into a beautiful meal – just look at the picture! The trick, which I learned while developing this recipe, is to dry the bejeezus out of the filet first with some paper towels. You will get a mushy result if you simply thaw and broil, but a dry fish to roast will give you a nice crust on it like you see in the picture [above].

The other dinner Laura Pants will show you is a Fluffy French Omelette – only 97 cents! KA-CHING!! Get cooking for your dog already – and don’t let me hear you say it’s too expensive! OK, sure, if you’re feeding cheap kibble only, it’s going to be cheaper than these meals … but if you’re buying even a medium priced kibble and mixing with cans or feeding a can as a meal, you will not be breaking your bank with these dinners! Real food for your dog IS an option.

Find recipes and more from tonight’s episode HERE. Follow Jen’s blog HERE.



March 15th, 2012



We’re all a little bit Irish on March 17 — and that goes for our dogs as well. Fido & Wine producer Jen Mitchell decided to get her Irish on and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by creating these shamrock-shaped dog treats. She used spinach and peas instead to colour her “ShamBowWow Treats” the glorious green of the Emerald Isle. You can find loads more fabulous recipes for Fido on Jen’s blog, My Dog’s Breakfast. (Bookmark it now!)

Here’s how she made them:


* 1 cup of whole wheat flour
* 1 cup of cooked peas (from frozen, they’re greener than the canned ones)
* 1 cup of spinach
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 1 egg
* tsp sea salt
[Optional – 1 additional egg for egg wash]

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a big bowl, add the cup of flour and tsp of sea salt.

Now, puree a cup of peas and a cup of spinach with the canola oil. If you don’t have a power tool – get one. OK, if you don’t, just mash your peas and chop chop chop that spinach like a chump. Er, champ!

Add the green mixture to the flour, and crack in your egg on top. Blend together until dough forms – it will be a damp dough. Now, I like to wrap in parchment paper and put in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes, but you don’t have to.

Now, sprinkle dough with flour and roll out to about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. You don’t want them too thin or they will turn brown on the edges in the oven. Use your shamrock cookie cutter to cut out your shapes, or use your wily ways with a knife to make them look like a shamrock. OR … you can make circles or squares, they’re still gonna be green and be festive for St. Patty’s day.

[Optional – lightly beat an egg and brush it on top of the treats to make them glossy. You don’t have to do the egg wash, they’ll still look great without it.]

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Follow Jen’s blog HERE.


Video Blog: Travel Tips

March 14th, 2012


Looking forward to a spring getaway? Make sure your vacation plans include provisions for your pet while you’re away. In this video blog post, The Pet Network’s Melissa walks you through the best options, from posh doggie hotels and spas to professional dog walkers and nannies.


Why Soundness Matters

March 13th, 2012


Posted by Dr. Pamela Barker

So you’ve made the big decision: you’re going to get a puppy. Congratulations! You’ll enjoy unconditional love and lowered blood pressure — and you’ll give total strangers a socially acceptable excuse for striking up conversations with you.

For many of you, your ideal companion will be found at the local animal shelter or adopted from one of the many fine rescue organizations that help provide loving homes for dogs in need. We’ll talk about how to find that perfect match in an upcoming post.

Others of you may have your heart set on a certain breed. Maybe your family had a Doberman Pinscher when you were growing up. Or maybe you’ve long been dreaming of a St. Bernard or an elegant Afghan Hound. If you are interested in a purebred dog (and there are several hundred breeds to choose from), the wisest course is to do your homework first. Dogs have been bred for centuries to perform different tasks, and their behavioural tendencies and activity levels vary as much as their appearances.

Even if you’ve already decided on a particular breed, it’s still important to do some research before shopping for a puppy. Virtually all breeds have a national club with a Web site offering a wealth of information — not only about physical and behavioural qualities, but health concerns as well. No breed is entirely free of genetic health issues, and you’ll want to know what questions to ask. These inherited disorders can spell pain and heartbreak for you and your pet, and may require expensive corrective surgery or lifelong treatment to manage symptoms. Moreover, many — if not most — such disorders don’t become apparent until a puppy has reached maturity. A one-week return guarantee means little if your much-loved family member becomes disabled or develops epilepsy as a young adult.

So how do you know if the breeder you are considering is responsible and ethical breeder or a backyard breeder?

Many people believe that if you have no intention of showing or breeding your dog, it’s not particularly necessary to seek out a high-quality breeder who might have a long waiting list or require a spay/neuter contract. It’s certainly true that high prices and a flashy Web site do not, by themselves, mean quality and health. But there are sound and sensible reasons to steer well clear of backyard breeders.

One reliable way to identify a reputable breeder? He or she will have a long list of questions for you. They will want to know why you chose the breed and what expectations you have for your new dog. They will inquire about your household and the environment where the dog will be kept. They may ask if you have a fenced yard or other pets in the family. They will want to know the ages of your children and what plans you have for the dog when family members are at work or school. They may even ask for references.

Quality breeders will expect you to have questions too. They will be well-versed in the health and behavioral issues associated with the breed, and will be able to produce documentation of health clearances for their breeding animals.

Bear in mind that every breed has issues, and that health screening tests are the only way to definitively identify such potential concerns. Dogs that have’t been tested for health issues aren’t necessarily free of them — theirbreeders simply choose not to know.

Breeders who are taking steps to produce healthy puppies will be proud to explain the process — and, most important, can provide documentary proof that the puppies come from sound breeding stock. Registration papers themselves only signify that a dog is purebred. They give no indication of health or quality of the dog.

A quality breeder will serve as a resource for you throughout the life of your dog. They will always be there to answer questions. And, if for some reason you are unable to keep the dog, they may require that the animal be returned to them. This is one way that responsible breeders ensure the puppies they produce do not end up being abandoned or joining the thousands of purebred dogs that are surrendered to animal shelters every year.

Many buyers don’t realize that they can get a healthy, stable puppy from a quality breeder at a price comparable to what they would pay for an unsound, randomly bred dog from a backyard breeder or a puppy mill. Responsible breeders don’t use puppy sales as a money-making endeavour. They breed their dogs carefully and give great forethought to how these dogs will contribute to the breed. Only a fraction of the puppies they produce will go on to be winners in the show ring. But the remainder will be exceptional dogs puppies, exemplary of their breed: physically and mentally sound, and destined to make a wonderful addition to your family.

Dr. Pamela Barker is a professional veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience, currently practicing in 100 Mile House, B.C. Her special areas of interest include animal behaviour and training, nutrition and condition for canine athletes, and public education about animal health and care. If you’d like to suggest a topic for one of her future blog posts, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Cures for Your HAIRY HOME

March 9th, 2012


The Pet Network’s Fido & Wine team of Jen Mitchell and Laura Ducharme have published their latest column in On the Go magazine. This month’s article offers welcome advice for anyone who’s ever felt like they’re waging a losing battle against encroaching pet hair.

On the Go is available at TTC and GO Train stations in the Greater Toronto Area. CLICK HERE to check out the current issue.

Oh, and this is probably a good time to remind you about our contest: The Pet Network and Fido & Wine will be giving one lucky viewer the ultimate shedding solution: a FURminator deShedding Tool, courtesy of our friends at SuperFetch Bloor in Toronto. To enter, visit The Pet Network on FACEBOOK. Contest closes Friday March 30, 2012.


Pets and Plants

March 7th, 2012


Posted by Dr. Pamela Barker

With Easter coming up and spring planting to follow soon after, now is a good time to take inventory of the plants in your house and give thought to what you might be growing in the yard or garden this summer.

Cats and dogs are curious creatures, especially the young ones, and some pets just cannot resist a taste of any greenery that may be within reach. Many of the most common houseplants are toxic if ingested by animals. For example: lilies, which are so popular during the Easter season, contain a toxin that is especially dangerous for cats. Ingesting even a few leaves of the plant has been reported to cause fatal kidney failure.

There are dozens of types of houseplants that can be poisonous to pets, and it’s important to remember that some parts of a plant may contain particularly high concentrations of the toxin. Many flowering bulbs fall into this category. When the ground thaws in the spring, some dogs are inclined to dig vigorously to investigate all the wonderful smells and treasures that have been lurking for months beneath the snow. The discovery and ingestion of a newly sprouting flower bulb can result in one very ill canine.

Certain plants may become more toxic as they wilt or dry out, so take care to dispose promptly of any dropped leaves or remnants of pruning. Other plants have non-toxic leaves, but poisonous roots or rhizomes. And many common flower and plant seeds are also toxic to pets. The fruit of the apple, for instance, is perfectly edible — but the leaves, stems and seeds actually contain cyanide. The pit of many fruits, including apricots and avocados, also contain this toxin. Meanwhile, onions and members of the onion family (including garlic) contain a chemical that can cause the breakdown of red blood cells.

Incidentally, dogs and cats are not the only susceptible pets: house rabbits, guinea pigs, birds and pocket pets should all be closely monitored when they are allowed access to areas with plants.

In many cases, the consequences of ingesting a toxic plant are limited to the various forms of gastric upset, such as drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Irritation of the mouth is also common. In certain situations, however, the result can be heart arrhythmias, seizures and even fatal organ failure. The ASPCA has an extensive Web site that lists both toxic and non-toxic indoor and outdoor plants and flowers. You will likely find nearly all the plants in your house described there in detail. Know what’s dangerous and what’s not: your pet will be safer, and you’ll enjoy peace of mind.

CLICK HERE for the ASPCA’s comprehensive guide to toxic and non-toxic plants.

Dr. Pamela Barker is a professional veterinarian with more than 15 years of experience, currently practicing in 100 Mile House, B.C. Her special areas of interest include animal behaviour and training, nutrition and condition for canine athletes, and public education about animal health and care. If you’d like to suggest a topic for one of her future blog posts, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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