Your Pets & Halloween

October 29th, 2013


Trick or treat! It’s Halloween (almost), and Fido & Wine‘s Jen Mitchell Oddi and Laura Ducharme have a column in this month’s On The GO Magazine with some spook-tastic seasonal safety tip for pet owners. Read on … if you dare!

It is well known that we must keep our dogs away from chocolate, but there are many other pet safety hazards related to Halloween that you should be aware of.

Keep your pets indoors and in a safe place. Not only might they dash out the door during times of frenzied trick or treating, they are at risk for cruel treatment by so called Halloween pranksters. They can be taken and injured by these sick people. Many adoption agencies have banned adoption of black cats around Halloween for this very reason.

Make sure that your pet is not able to get near your jack-o’-lantern or any candles. One wag of a tail or an acrobatic cat can knock them over and start a fire. Consider using battery operated LED candles instead.

It’s not just chocolate that shouldn’t be fed to dogs (or cats for that matter). Some candy includes xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic and can cause seizures. Wrappers and sticks can pose a risk as well. Keep the candy bowls away from your pets and make sure your kids understand the dangers of sharing their loot with their furry friends.

Cute costumes are hard to resist — but if you’re going to dress up your pet in costume, make sure they’re comfortable and safe. Never, ever leave them unsupervised when in a costume.

Halloween is a great time to remind us to make sure our pets are identifiable with a microchip or tattoo, preferably. At the very least, make sure your pet’s wearing a collar with a tag.

Catch the Pet Network original series Fido & Wine weeknights at 6:30 pm Eastern.

And don’t forget to check out Jen’s blog, My Dog’s Breakfast. She posts a ton of great recipes and ideas for folks who want to prepare healthy and delicious meals for their canine companions.

A Helping Hand For Toronto Beagles

October 23rd, 2013


Fido & Wine‘s Jen Mitchell Oddi and Laura Ducharme published a column recently in On The GO Magazine about the great work being done by Toronto’s Big On Beagles. We’re grateful to Jen and Laura for giving us an opportunity to share the article on The Pet Network blog!

Our friend and colleague Angela Jager and her husband Nick are blessed with the most entertaining and cuddly little beagle named Olive. One of the many things we respect and admire about Angela is that she has committed to helping fundraise and promote the assistance/adoption agency Big On Beagles. Here’s what she has to say about the dogs and the cause.

Beagles have an insatiable zest for life and are known for following their noses — and hearts — in most situations. Along with soulful eyes and silly grins, they have amiable, even-tempered personalities and rank high on the intelligence scale. Despite these great qualities, their stubborn tenacity combined with a tendency to howl first and think later get these often misunderstood hounds landed in shelters at an alarming rate.

That’s where Big On Beagles comes in. A Toronto-based assistance agency for beagles experiencing troubled times, B.O.B has spent over 10 years helping down-on-their-luck beagles with health, weight, and emotional issues find foster and forever homes. Veterinary care for these homeless howlers is expensive, but B.O.B is committed to getting every beagle that enters the program the best care possible, regardless of cost.

Fundraising events like the annual “Beagle Bash for Cash” along with donations — both big and small — make these life-changing efforts possible. In short, B.O.B founder Marna Gale and the rest of the B.O.B team strive to give second chances to dogs that might otherwise be forgotten.

If you have a big heart for hounds, the Big on Beagles community would love to meet you! B.O.B meets frequently in dog parks all over the Toronto & Mississauga area to fundraise, mingle, and watch their dogs play. It’s a great way to meet new people and socialize your dog.

For more information on fostering, adoption and meet-ups, please visit www.bigonbeagles.ca.

Stay tuned: we’ll be posting Jen and Laura’s Halloween tips for pet owners soon!

Don’t forget to check out Jen’s blog, My Dog’s Breakfast. She posts a ton of great recipes and ideas for folks who want to prepare healthy and delicious meals for their canine companions.


Catch us in Free Preview on Rogers!

December 19th, 2012


It’s our way of saying Happy Holidays!

The Pet Network is in free preview on Rogers right now. If you’re a Rogers customer, you can check us out free of charge until February 4. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample our refreshed program lineup, which features great new shows like Hope For Wildlife along with more of such viewer favourites as Animal 24:7, Pit Boss and Pet ER.

Don’t forget to tune in Saturdays through December and January, when we’ll be presenting special Pet-A-Pawlooza marathons of all your favourite shows.

You’ll find us on channel 268. To subscribe to The Pet Network, visit Rogers.com.


In Dog We Trust

June 13th, 2012


Do you believe in Dog? In their latest column for On The Go magazine, our Fido & Wine team of Laura Ducharme and Jen Mitchell explore the many fascinating connections between pets and spirituality, from “blessing of the animals” services to pet memorials.

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

Don’t forget to catch Fido & Wine on The Pet Network every Tuesday and Saturday at 8 pm ET/PT.



Growing Old Gracefully

May 1st, 2012


Posted by Dr. Pamela Barker

When you share your life with a beloved pet, the years fly by all too quickly. One day your children come home with a tiny kitten they found under the neighbour’s porch. In no time, those same kids are attending university and that endearing kitten is a long-treasured member of your family.

The good news is that our pets are living longer than ever. Thanks to vaccinations and improvements in veterinary care, many domestic animals now live well into their teens — and a few even reach a third decade.

It’s important to remember that pets age on a different timeline than their owners. The adage about one human year equaling seven pet years really only applies to a fairly narrow range in the life of a dog or cat. If you think of human aging as a diagonal line, pet aging looks more like bell curve. There is a comparatively short youth, followed by a much more rapid progression of old age.

Cats and small breeds of dog mature quite rapidly, generally reaching physical and sexual maturity between 9 and 12 months of age. So a year-old cat or small dog is essentially at the same stage of life as your typical high school senior. (Parents of teenagers may wish their own kids could sail though adolescence in a few short months!) Larger breeds of dog may take anywhere from 18 months to two years to reach maturity.

From there, pets tend to age fairly uniformly — but by the age of six or seven years, the aging process again begins to vary widely. Among giant breeds of dogs, for example, ages eight to 10 are the geriatric years. Many of these lovely breeds, sadly, do not live into their teens.

For healthy cats and most other dogs, however, these years represent the prime of life. Indeed, cats and some toy breed dogs may be well into their early or mid teens before owners start to notice the physical signs typical of advancing age. On the other hand, larger dogs — such as retrievers, shepherd-type breeds and others of similar size — will begin to show signs of aging earlier.

Regardless of their chronological age, once pets reach their geriatric years they begin to show the same kinds of physical changes that we see in ourselves as the retirement years approach.

Many owners become concerned when they notice the cloudy blue haze that sometimes appears in the eyes of older dog or cat. It shouldn’t be cause for alarm, though. If there’s no sign of discharge or redness, and no evidence (such as blinking or rubbing) to suggest it’s causing pain, then what you’re seeing is likely just a natural consequence of advancing age — a gradual hardening of the lens of the eye, which is the structure that allows us to adjust our sight for fine motor tasks. Unless your pets like to read or do needlepoint, they won’t be troubled by it.

A progressive loss of hearing is another common sign of aging; it may even afford a degree of comfort to a senior pet, as it does help turn down the volume if the household is a particularly boisterous. Owners, however, sometimes find it a bit distressing to discover that their pets don’t always come when called anymore. (Then, again, if you have cats you’re probably used to being ignored.)

Arthritis in geriatric pets is as common as it is among senior citizens. If you live long enough, the years of wear and tear on your joints begin to add up. The joints become less flexible — and in advanced cases can cause quite a lot of pain. Cats and dogs usually signal this pain through a decrease in their normal activities, or a reluctance to do things they used to do, such as jumping up on a bed or climbing stairs. Dogs suffering from chronic pain may pant even when they are neither hot nor tired. Pets may also sleep excessively to escape the discomfort.

Some changes in behaviour can indicate a potentially serious health issue. Owners of senior pets should be especially alert for any change in appetite. An animal that gradually loses its appetite or that must be coaxed into eating with treats should see a veterinarian. The change may be caused by infected, loose or painful teeth, or may signal the nausea resulting by an internal organ problem. Cats or dogs that eat voraciously but still lose weight might be suffering from diabetes, kidney disease or even cancer. Excessive thirst is also a warning sign. It’s a common symptom of several serious but treatable diseases.

Keep an eye out for these signs. Pets, like people, stand the the best chance of recovery when illness is diagnosed in the early stages.

Next time, we’ll discuss ways to help keep your aging pets happy and comfortable in their twilight years. There is nothing quite so comforting as the warmth of a old cat snoozing in your lap, or a loving look from the faithful, grey-muzzled dog you’ve raised from a rambunctious pup. There are many things you can do to make sure this will be a wonderful time for both of you.

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.

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.


Her Dog’s Breakfast

February 17th, 2012


Jen Mitchell, the producer of our series Fido & Wine, has a new blog devoted to her current passion: home cooking for dogs. We’ll be reposting recipes and insights from My Dog’s Breakfast whenever we can. Here’s her recipe for a hearty treat called Pumpkin Rye Crunchers, made with Ryvita crispbreads:

-6 Ryvita crispbreads, crumbled 

-1 cup pure pumpkin puree

-2 cups rye flour or whole wheat if you don’t have it

-1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds

-1/3 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the two cups of flour to your mixing bowl. Then add the pumpkin puree, seeds and peanut butter. Mix together. Crumble in two of the Ryvita crisps and the pumpkin seeds. Mix again. On top of the rough dough ball you’ve formed, sprinkle remainder of crumbled Ryvitas on top, let them fall off the sides to bottom of bowl. Lift the ball and and gently place the bottom on top of these fallen Ryvita crumbles.

Form cookies of any size you like from the dough ball, by gently making cookie balls. Place them on parchment lined baking tray and press down to make into a cookie shape. Don’t manhandle these ones too much,you want the crispy crumbles to stay somewhat on top of the dough so that they are still crisp after baking.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Follow Jen’s blog HERE.


Fit Or Fat?

February 8th, 2012


Posted by Dr. Pamela Barker

We all want the very best for our pets — but these days it seems that our pets may be getting too much of a good thing, in the form of food and treats. Obesity in dogs and cats has reached epidemic proportions in recent years. No longer required to burn calories by hunting game, herding livestock or ridding the farm of unwanted rodents, most pets are now creatures of leisure. Little energy is expended lounging on the couch, and modern pet foods are densely packed with protein, fats and carbohydrates. For many pets, this combination of dietary excess and inactivity is a recipe for disaster.

Really, though, what’s a few extra pounds? How bad can that be? Turns out, over the course of the pet’s lifetime, it can have serious — sometimes fatal — consequences.

First, let’s put things in perspective. Let’s say your 5.5 kg (12-pound) pet should actually weigh closer to 4.5 kg (10 pounds). That’s only one little kilogram, right? But for your pet, that’s an extra 20 percent on top of their ideal weight. That’s the equivalent of adding 30 extra pounds on a person who should weigh about 150 pounds. In my practice, I commonly see 45 kg dogs whose ideal body weight should be around 34 kg. These poor dogs are tired, sore and don’t like to do much. And no wonder! It’s like a person carrying around a 40 pound backpack, 24/7.

And the story is even worse for those dogs with short legs and long backs — the extra weight on their frame puts tremendous stress on the spine. Think of it as being like putting several pairs of wet jeans on a coat hanger. The vertebral column sags and puts pressure on the soft disks between the bones. This crushing effect causes pain, arthritis of the spine and — not uncommonly — paralysis. This condition, known as intervertebral disk disease, often requires expensive surgery to prevent permanent paralysis.

Cats don’t get off so easily, either. Excess weight in these pets — just as in humans and in dogs —dramatically raises the risk of diabetes. And diabetic pets require the same kind of treatment as diabetic people. They must receive insulin injections at strictly spaced intervals, usually once or twice a day. Their blood sugar must be monitored frequently (yes, with a needle!), and they must eat special food when they receive their medication. And, since there is no known cure for diabetes, the disease must be managed for life. Some lucky felines — if they are diagnosed early and their blood sugar is brought under control quickly — will go into remission. Even these cats, however, must be monitored closely for recurrence. And if they remain overweight, the problem may recur.

In addition, overweight cats are at risk of a life-threatening condition called “fatty liver syndrome” or hepatic lipidosis. This can occur quite suddenly when an overweight cat stops eating regularly, for whatever reason. The liver becomes overwhelmed when the cat’s body starts using its stored fat as a source of energy. This process can quickly prove fatal without hospitalization and intensive treatment. Serious cases may require the surgical placement of a feeding tube, which may need to stay in place for weeks until the cat recovers.

As if all this weren’t bad enough, some evidence suggests that overweight animals are more susceptible to certain kinds of cancers. And we know for a fact that one of the best pain-relief remedies for arthritic pets is to maintain them at their ideal body weight.

So how do you know if your pet is overweight? Like watching the grass grow, it can be difficult to notice, since it happens so gradually and we see our pets every day. Plus, our concept of what a slim, fit pet looks like has changed over time. We see so many overweight animals now that it skews our perception of what normal actually looks like.

Determining your pet’s level of fitness — officially known as the Body Condition Score, or BCS — requires a hands-on approach. You need to work your fingers through the coat and feel for fat deposits that indicate that your pet is packing a few extra pounds. There are different BCS scoring charts available online to help guide you through the process.

Your veterinarian is the best resource for determining if your pet’s weight is appropriate, or if there are steps you need to take to help your pet achieve an active, healthy life.

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.


Five Foods You Didn’t Know Were DANGEROUS FOR PETS

February 8th, 2012


A new monthly pets column by Laura Ducharme and Jen Mitchell, host and producer, respectively of The Pet Network original series Fido & Wine, makes it debut in the February issue of On the Go magazine. Congratulations, Laura and Jen! We’ll be reposting their columns here, so check back every month for more great advice and insight on living with and caring for pets.

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

Holiday Specials on The Pet Network

December 22nd, 2011


Here’s a quick rundown of the holiday specials we’ve got lined up for the next few days:

Friday Dec. 23 @ 10 pm ET/PT and Saturday Dec. 24 @ 9 pm ET
From the Chipmunks to Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, meet the animal stars of the holiday season’s most beloved screen specials.

Saturday Dec. 24 @ 6 pm ET
Jane Seymour
lends her voice to the title character in this animated holiday special about a plucky young dog who enlist Santa’s help in her quest to find the perfect Christmas tree.

Saturday Dec. 24 and Sunday Dec. 25 @ 6:30 pm ET
This touching family drama tells the uplifting story of a young woman with Down syndrome who rescues a homeless puppy at Christmas time.

Saturday Dec. 24 @ 8:30 pm ET and Sunday Dec. 25 @ 5:30 pm ET
[Pictured above] In this delightful animated adaptation of the Dylan Thomas classic A Child’s Christmas in Wales, a young boy asks an elderly man “What were Christmases like in your day?” The answer takes us to a fantastical world where wolves wandered in Wales, mermaids splashed in Swansea Bay and hippos lumbered through the snowy streets.

Don’t forget: The Pet Network is available to all Rogers digital customers in free preview until Wednesday, Jan. 4. You can find us on channel 268. Have a safe and happy holiday season, everyone!


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