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3 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs and Cats

(Reposted from 2014)

Sanchez Great pumpkin

Your dog or cat may be curious about the pumpkins sitting on your front porch. Halloween is now in the past, and your pumpkin may be beautifully carved, but it might also be collecting bacteria. While it’s best they don’t eat that pumpkin, canned organic pumpkin (unsweetened – not pie filling), pumpkin seeds, and cooked fresh pumpkin have many benefits for dogs and cats. Pumpkin can help with the following pet ailments:

1) Digestive Health: Pumpkin is a fabulous source of fiber for our furry friends, as well as for us. Pureed pumpkin (with no added sugar or spice) can help dogs and cats with both constipation and diarrhea. Adding a tablespoon or two (in proportion to their size) to their regular meal is known to help keep them regular. It can also help dogs and cats with indigestion or upset stomachs. Gina LOVES it and would eat it right out of the can if allowed. Most cats are usually a little more finicky.

2) Urinary Health: According to Veterinarians Laci and Jed Schaible, co-founders of VetLIVE.com, pumpkin seeds are high in essential fatty acids and antioxidants (good for overall healthy skin and fur), and the oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds are believed to support urinary health. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron, and may even reduce the likelihood your pet will develop cancer.

3) Weight Loss: Dogs seem to naturally love pumpkin. If you are looking to take a few pounds off of your pooch or kitty, try reducing a portion of their food and replace it with the same portion of canned pumpkin. Their tummy will feel just as full, and they might even thank you for the additional flavor.

Raw, Cooked, or Canned?

Both raw and cooked pumpkin is safe for dogs. (If your dog or cat has diabetes or chronic kidney disease, always ask your vet first.) As far as our healthy pooches go, seeds and flesh of fresh raw pumpkins are safe provided, of course, it’s not a rotten pumpkin that’s been sitting on the porch for four weeks. Pumpkin parts do go rancid very quickly! If you choose to go with canned, make sure it’s organic and doesn’t have added sugar.

More Dog Cookies
                                                  Pumpkin Squeak Treats

Sanchez and Gina loved the Pumpkin Squeak Treats I made for them. I was delighted to discover they can be broken into tiny bites, which is always helpful for training. They are quick and easy and your pooches will love them!

“Pumpkin Squeaks” Dog Squeaks (compliments of Protect your Bubble pet insurance)

2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (low in sugar)
2 eggs (I used 3 for more moisture)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix ingredients together until blended, then spread dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into desired cookie shapes. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Let cool before serving. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Sanchez and Gina patiently wait for their cookies
Sanchez and Gina patiently wait for their cookies. Good dogs!

Do you feed your pets pumpkin? Any recipes you want to share? Thanks for posting a comment below and be sure to join our conversations on Facebook.

 

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5 Surprising Ways to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing

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It’s extremely common for senior dogs to gradually lose their hearing, often until it’s completely diminished. However, there are many small changes we can make to our sound environment to help protect their hearing.

Sounds are measured in decibels (dB), and each 10 dB increase represents a tenfold increase in sound energy. 90 dB is ten times noisier than 80 dB, 100 dB is ten times noisier than 90, and so on. Sound researcher Joshua Leeds, co-author of Through a Dog’s Ear, the first book to examine the powerful effect of the human soundscape on dogs, states, “Above 85 dB, you start playing with auditory fire. Inside the inner ear, irreparable cilia cell damage worsens with length of exposure and higher decibel levels. Your dog’s inner ear works in exactly the same way yours does and has an even wider range of frequency.”

Decibels of Common Household and Street Sounds

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  • Whisper: 30
  • Normal conversation: 40
  • Dishwasher, microwave, furnace: 60
  • Blow dryer: 70
  • City traffic: 70
  • Garbage disposal, vacuum cleaner: 80

Danger Zone

  • Lawn mower: 90
  • Screaming child: 90
  • Power drill: 110
  • Ambulance: 130
  • Gunshot: 130
  • Fire engine siren: 140
  • Boom cars: 145

Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Dog’s Hearing:

1. Take a sonic inventory.

Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. The sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment and take measures to improve it.

2. Don’t expose them to loud bands or loud street fairs.

Humans hear sounds between 20-20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 55,000 Hz. While it’s great that more events and public places are dog friendly, so often those environments are created for humans. A fundraising party for dogs and their people that benefits your local shelter doesn’t benefit your dog when a loud band is playing. Please be careful of your dog’s sound environment.

3. Provide simple sounds at home that calm the canine nervous system.

Minimize intricate auditory information found in most music. The clinically tested music of Through a Dog’s Ear is intentionally selected, arranged and recorded to provide easeful auditory assimilation. Three primary processes are used to accomplish this effect:

  • Auditory Pattern Identification
  • Orchestral Density
  • Resonance & Entrainment

Take a listen with your pup and enjoy a soothing sound bath together.

4. Be aware of your dog’s unresolved sensory input.

When it comes to sound, dogs don’t always understand cause and effect. You know when people are in your home yelling at the TV during a sports game that it’s all in good fun. But, it may not be much fun for your dog, who is still trying to orient whether all of those crazy sounds are safe. Put Fido in a back quiet room, listening to music especially designed for dogs. This can not only safeguard his hearing, but also his behavior.

5. Don’t play two sound sources simultaneously.

Remember that your dog’s hearing is much finer than yours. One family member may be in the living room blasting the TV, while another is in the kitchen listening to the radio. Your dog is caught in the middle, absorbing both sounds and getting stressed. Try and only have one sound source at a time, playing at a gentle volume.

Hear no Evil

My senior dog, Sanchez, is 11 years old. I have been more cautious about his sound environment than any previous dog. I even play the grand piano with the lid down, as he loves to lie underneath it. I am happy to say that he has shown no signs of any hearing loss.

Those of us who love our pets often assume that our environment is the best for them. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking, to assess whether what works for us, works for our beloved pets as well.

Are you committed to becoming a sound aware dog lover? Thanks for posting a comment below and sharing some ways that you can improve your household sound environment for your dogs and cats. Ultimately, the 2-leggeds in your household will also benefit.

 

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Prozac for Pets Grows in Popularity, How Sad is That?

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When my dog, Sanchez, was recovering from a slipped disc in his neck, for a short time he was on some of the same medication that my mother takes for her back pain — gabapentin and tramadol. Fortunately, his acupuncture treatments were very successful at relieving his pain, and he was off of drugs pretty quickly. In addition to pharmaceutical drugs, psychiatric drugs have also grown in popularity for the 4-legged population.

An in depth article in Salon reported the results of a survey taken of insured Americans:

“One in five adults is currently taking at least one psychiatric drug. Americans spent more than $16 billion on antipsychotics, $11 billion on antidepressants and $7 billion on drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 2010. And according to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, 87 percent of people who visit a psychiatristc office leave with a prescription.”

Animal pharmaceuticals are a booming business. Salon also reported that the pet pharmaceutical business has grown from $6.68 billion in 2011 to a projected $9.25 billion by 2015. Zoetis Inc., once a subsidiary of Pfizer, is at the top of the pharmaceutical chain, with yearly sales of Pfizer’s animal pharmaceuticals worth roughly $3.9 billion. Reconcile is an FDA-approved just like Prozac, except it comes with a beef-flavor and is chewable.

One in seven dogs has an anxiety disorder that has been treated by a veterinarian. The company “Lilly” funded a study in 2007 that reported 17 percent of American dogs have separation anxiety.

Clomicalm by Navartis was also recently FDA approved for pets. The active ingredient duplicates the active ingredient in Anafranil. Novartis claims that it helps calm dogs with separation anxiety. Their website says, “CLOMICALM has been shown to be effective when administered in combination with behavioral modification techniques for the treatment of anxieties and stereotypies (obsessive compulsive disorder).”

Herein lies the problem. The majority of people want their dog’s anxiety problem solved, and solved quickly. And it’s much easier to give their pet a pill rather than try behavioral solutions or combine the two. While veterinary behaviorists may prescribe anti-anxiety medication, they only do so in combination with behavioral treatment. But, behavioral treatment often takes time, and pet parents would often rather solve the short term problem now than invest the time to solve the problem long-term.

Salon interviewed Nicole Cottam at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University who had this to say,

“50 to 60 percent of the people who come to the Tufts clinic want drugs for their dog, cat, or bird. Most of our clients don’t call or come back after the initial appointment, unless it’s to get refills. When people leave with a prescription and behavioral exercises, they tend to only use the pills.”

Hear no Evil

There are many alternative choices for natural behavioral treatments. Humans hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Dogs hear at least twice as high, sometimes all the way up to 60,000 Hz. Since a dog’s hearing is their second strongest sense (after smell), it’s not surprising that dogs  respond to music clinically tested to calm their nervous system. For thousands of dogs, the sound therapy has helped calm them instantly, even those with severe anxiety issues who formerly had jumped out the window during fireworks. (Click for sound samples.)

For others, there are desensitization tools combined with training protocol by world-renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell. The goal is to change your dog’s association with the “bad noise,” i.e. fireworks, thunderstorms, construction sounds.  Yes, that can take some time. But, like most humane dog training, the payoff is huge.

Other natural remedies include anxiety wraps, pheromone sprays, and calming caps. I highly encourage anyone with an anxiety ridden dog to try all of these natural solutions (and combine them as needed) before putting their dog on a doggie downer.

What has been your experience with treating canine anxiety problems? Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a comment below.

Delivering Calm, Four Paws at a Time!

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for our newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dog in 33 Seconds

As well as I thought I knew my Labrador, Gina, she even surprised me recently during this recent run at an AKC agility trial.  It never ceases to amaze me how much I continue to learn from my dogs. Here’s what Gina taught me in 33 seconds:

1. Don’t ever give up.

Even when you fall flat on your butt, you never know what will happen next. Get up, go on and finish.

2. Life (and dog training) is supposed to be fun.

Don’t take life too seriously. When life throws you a curve ball, have fun with it.

3. Be prepared.

We practice cues from a huge variety of positions and locations ~ the floor, on the sofa, while doing a plank. And even though I never said “over” from the floor, I never knew how much all that practice would come in handy.

Gina snooker jump EM

4. Praise and attention keeps you going.

Gina really responded to all the cheering at the end and picked up speed. Praise feeds your soul, no matter your leg count.

5. Reward. Reward. Reward.

Everybody likes to get paid, even dogs. She was immediately rewarded for a job well done. First with the cheering, next when she jumped on me right after the run, followed by her favorite treat, and then a game of fetch with her squeaky ball reserved especially for agility.

Lisa and Gina Palo Alto Agility

Good girl, Gina!

What life lessons have you learned from your dogs? Thanks for sharing in a comment below.

Photo Credits:
Top Photo: Ian Coggins
Gina Jumping: Erika Mauer
Gina posing with Lisa: Karen Gough

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for our newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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Using a Sonic Inventory to Reduce Stress

 

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What is a sonic inventory?

Sound researcher Joshua Leeds and veterinary neurologist Susan Wagner co-authored Through a Dog’s Ear, the first book to examine the powerful effect of the human soundscape on canines. They suggest taking a “sonic inventory” of your environment. Sound is like air. We rarely notice these two common elements unless the air suddenly becomes polluted or the sound becomes chaotic. This sonic inventory is one way of becoming aware of the noise in your pet’s environment.

  1. Sit quietly for 30 minutes, pen and pad in hand.
  2. Tune into the sounds you hear inside your home and outside on the street-the hum of the fridge, the cycle prompt of the dishwasher, the beat of a dryer, the alarm clock, hair dryer, vacuum, television, computer sounds, text alerts, traffic, car alarms, children playing, music, etc.
  3. Notice your dog’s behavior. Does he actively respond to the sounds? Is there a lack of reaction, or an overreaction to sounds you take in stride? When TV, radio or music is playing, does your dog move closer to the source or away from it?
  4. Rate the sounds from one to ten, ten being the most disturbing, one the least noticeable. Use two columns-one for your pooch and one for yourself. The goal is to have the lowest numbers you can.
  5. Ask yourself how you can make your home a calmer, more peaceful place. Which sounds can you change? Which can you avoid, turn down, or mask? Often, just by listening, we become more sonically aware, an important first step.

Personally, I consider it my responsibility to be considerate of Sanchez and Gina‘s sound environment. I play music for them daily that is designed to calm the canine nervous system. When I occasionally want to blast my Zumba playlist, I make sure they are outside. I put them in a quiet room with a treat when I vacuum, and I don’t take them to public places with loud music playing.

Those of us who love our pets often assume that our environment is the best for them. However, sometimes it requires a different way of thinking, to assess whether what works for us, works for our beloved pets as well.

Are you committed to becoming a sound aware dog lover? Thanks for posting a comment below and sharing some ways that you can improve your household sound environment for your dogs and cats. Ultimately, the 2-leggeds in your household will also benefit.

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Tips for Keeping Dogs Safe on Halloween

Sanchez Great pumpkin

It can be very fun for children to dress up as ghouls and goblins. But, dogs don’t understand the concept and can be very fearful of people wearing masks and costumes. And the huge number of children ringing the doorbell and yelling “Trick or Treat” can cause excessive barking and put many dogs into sensory overload. In my early adult years, I had a small dog with a heart murmur that had a heart attack on Halloween and died. The constant activity was too much for him. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept him away from the stress of all of the noisy activity and immersed him with canine sound therapy.

Tips for providing a safe canine Halloween:

1. Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day.

2. Keep your dogs inside while trick or treaters are out, preferably with human companionship.

3. Provide a safe place inside for your dogs to retreat, away from the front door. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option.

4. Keep the curtains and windows closed.

5. Make sure all your dogs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting collar (especially if they have access to the front door).

6. Leave your dog something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats.

7. Add some Canine Sound Therapy: Through a Dog’s Ear available on iCalmPet.com is specially designed classical music clinically demonstrated to calm canine anxiety issues. Options for listening: Free listening samples, downloads, CDs, iCalmDog.

Gina the Rabbi and Sanchez the Bumblebee
Gina the Rabbi and Sanchez the Bumblebee

Should I Dress My Dog in a Halloween Costume?

While it can be very fun for humans to dress up their dogs, many dogs don’t prefer it, and some hate it. Please don’t force your dog to wear a Halloween costume if they don’t enjoy it. And, certainly, don’t dress your dogs in a costume that restricts their breathing or movement. While Sanchez and Gina don’t love wearing costumes, they are always extremely well paid for doing so. In addition to their favorite treats, when they dressed in costume for my annual student Halloween recital, they also received tons of affection from my piano students, something they absolutely loved.

Do your dogs enjoy wearing costumes? Thanks for sharing your stories and adding any safety tips of your own in a comment below.

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for the iCalmPet / Through a Dog’s Ear newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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High Tech Gadgets for Pets (Win an iCalmDog)

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Italian Greyhound rescue Cyrus

The technology age may have been created by humans, but why shouldn’t pets also benefit? After all, Buster’s iPawd may relieve his canine anxiety issues, and Fluffy’s litter box could actually save her life.

4 High-Tech Gadgets for Pets:

Health Meter cat litter is not only biodegradable, but acts as an illness detection and odor eliminator. The litter actually changes color if your cat has any sign of urinary stone or kidney problems, bladder infection, or liver disease.

Tagg the Pet Tracker finds your lost dogs GPS tracking.  Tagg receives alerts and finds your pet on a map. And with their new activity tracking, you can also see how much exercise Fido is getting.

Speaking of exercise, you can now see how much activity your pooch gets when you are away from home. DogTek Eyenimal Pet Video Camera is the world’s first pet video camera. The small camera attaches to your dog’s collar and can capture up to two and a half hours of video. Besides monitoring their activity level, it could be very interesting to see the world from your dog’s perspective.

Dogfast443
 

iCalmDog is the portable solution to canine anxiety… anywhere! The portable, compact player plays music clinically demonstrated to relieve canine anxiety issues. The small device with fabulous sound quality fits in the palm of your hand. But, as you can see in the main picture above of Italian Greyhound rescue Cyrus hugging his iCalmDog, you may not be able to get it away from your dog. You have your iPhone and iPod, now Buster has is own iPawd. Want to win an  iCalmDog for your dog or your favorite rescue organization?

Here’s how to win the… 

     icalmdog_logo

icalm_handEnter a comment below and tell us where your dog would go with his/her own iCalmDog. Or tell us how your fave rescue org would benefit. You will automatically be entered to win an iCalmDog by Through a Dog’s Ear. For additional chances to win, share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, and leave a separate comment for each social network. Winners will be chosen by random drawing and will be announced in a future blog post by Lisa Spector. Good luck!

(Please note: Contest is open to Lisa’s blog subscribers with a U.S. mailing address. If you purchase an iCalmDog before the winner is announced and you win, you can choose to donate your iCalmDog to a rescue or shelter, or we can refund your money. Prize value = $79.95)

Photo Credit of Cyrus hugging his iCalmDog in bed: Lori Brown

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from the Calm your Canine Companion music series when you sign up for the Through a Dog’s Ear newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

 
 
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Do NOT Play This at Home For Your Dogs

While I record music specially designed to calm dogs, Sanchez and Gina experience the full range of my concert repertoire. In addition to the slowed down, simplified classical arrangements on the Through a Dog’s Ear recordings, I am often practicing music that is loud, fast, and lively.

Keep in mind that I am the person at the piano, so being near the piano for them also means being near me. Sanchez originally taught Gina to go to her bed when I sit down to play the piano. Well, Sanchez isn’t exactly in his bed during the video, but he’s sitting near my side at the piano, looking like he’s either ready to turn the pages (if there were any to turn), is preparing for a nap under the piano, or he’s giving a stress signal.

What does Sanchez think about the introduction to Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude? Click to watch and let us know what you think his reaction says in a comment below.

 Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series  when you sign up for our newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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Free Irish Reel Download on St. Patrick’s Day!

Gina and Sanchez feeling lucky

I’m not Irish, and Sanchez and Gina are not Irish Setters, but I know enough about St. Patrick’s Day to realize that people want lively music on this holiday.

Well, you are in luck! In addition to recording music that abates canine anxiety issues and calms the canine nervous system, we actually know how to have fun and cut it up. I dare you to listen to this Irish reel without kickin’ up your heels. It might even inspire your dog to start dancing, too! I hope it puts a smile on your face and a little skip in your step on St. Paddy’s Day. It’s your FREE download of a triple fun Irish Reel just for you.

To Download: 
Right-click on this link (or control-click on a Mac) and select “Save As…” or “Save Linked File As…” depending on your system. Add to iTunes or other Mp3 player as you wish. Enjoy!

And if the flute causes your dog to start barking, just go over to our listening samples from our Through a Dog’s Ear recordings, and (s)he’ll be snoozing in no time.

Have a fun and musically festive St. Patrick’s Day!

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series  when you sign up for our newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!

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Nightly Rituals with Dogs

Truth be told, I am a late night owl and Sanchez and Gina aren’t. They usually go to sleep hours before me. By the time I retire, I listen to Through a Dog’s Ear music to help me fall asleep, not them.

However, our nightly ritual involves me playing the piano last thing every night, just before I go up to bed. While they have a choice of several dog beds, they always choose to sleep on their beds under the piano when I am playing music from the Through a Dog’s Ear 7-CD series.

I hope you enjoy a segment of our nightly ritual. The music is one of my personal favorites from our Calm your Canine series, Schumann’s “Kind im Einschlummern” from Kinderscenen (Scenes from Childhood). While the German really translates to “Child Falling Asleep”, I’d like to title it “Hunde im Einschlummern” or “Dogs Falling Asleep”.

Do you have a nightly ritual with your dogs? If you haven’t slumbered off into all zzzzzzzz’s watching the video, thanks for sharing your ritual in a comment below.

Delivering Calm, four paws at a time…

Receive a FREE DOWNLOAD from our Calm your Canine Companion music series  when you sign up for our newsletter and/or Lisa’s Blog. Simply click here, enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy!