Summer Camp – For Dogs!

Summer is here, dog lovers, and you know what that means: it’s time to pack up the car and take your pooch to summer camp.

Doggie summer camps are for real, folks, and their level of intensity ranges from day camping and hiking events with like-minded owners to kennel-free boarding at a pet “ranch” to the full-on summer camp experience with you and your pooch taking part in swimming lessons, costume contests and handicrafts.

Here are a several options you can either take advantage of this summer or go ahead and book for 2011.

Sleepaway Camp for Your Dog
For those who fear that their dog is getting a little too citified — or just need to travel without their pet — the Double Dog Ranch offers a service you might describe as adventure boarding. Think of this as a doggie dude ranch where your pup can romp around in the woods while you take a much-needed vacation to the beach. Or if your dog needs a little tutoring in the obedience department, these guys can help out with that too.

The Double Dog Ranch has two locations, one in Northern Oregon and the other in Southern California. For booking info, you can check their available dates online. They’re updated daily. Rates begin at around $40 a day.

A Camp That Caters to You and Your Dog
Just as camps for kids get booked up, so do canine camps. But if you are looking for a summer 2011 destination, consider Canine Club Getaway. This is one of the most hands-on camp experiences available to you and your dog. Canine Club Getaway is one part summer camp, one part dog-friendly resort. In fact, the camp is held at a scenic resort property in Lake George, N.Y.

But just because you’re not roughing it doesn’t mean you don’t get that classic summer-camp experience. Canine Club Getaway provides a smorgasbord of activities for dogs and owners such as “Barks and Crafts,” “Red Light Green Light,” “Guided Hikes,” and even “Doggie Weddings” (not legally binding in most states). “Last year, we had two dogs that were going to breed,” Costa tells Paw Nation, “So we had a little costume party ceremony. It was really fun and it was presided over by our staff Ph.D.”

Rates for summer 2011 start at $1,099 for a single room. If you are looking for a fall getaway, keep checking the camp’s website. Costa says that they’ve “been kicking around the idea of another event in October.” See a video of the camp below.

Day Camping and Hiking with Your Dog
Want to get in on some of this awesome dog camping, but don’t have the time for a week-long summer camp? The Dog Scouts of America might be the place to go for a slightly more introductory-level camping situation. Plus, you can meet like-minded dog owners in your area.

The Dog Scout motto is “Let us learn new things, so that we may become more helpful.” Who doesn’t want their dog to be more helpful? Maybe they can teach your dog how to start a campfire, or at least how to fetch you a cold beverage out of the cooler.

Troops are cropping up all over the nation, and offer dogs and owners the chance to bond over activities like backpacking, day camps, and of course earning merit badges.

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Pet-Friendly Dorms: Send Your Pet To College

Many college freshman bring family photos or a favorite blanket from home when they head off for school, but according to the New York Times, today’s freshman are ditching those inanimate objects in favor of something closer to their hearts: they’re bringing along the family pet now that more and more schools are allowing animals in the dorms. The Times reports that institutions that are allowing pets include including Stephens College in Missouri, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Eckerd College in South Florida.

As animal lovers, we understand the appeal of being allowed to bring a cherished pet to college. But as much as we love spending time with animals, we do see some potential hazards. Will the stress of sole pet ownership add to the pressures of college life? Will the dogs bark, for example, and disturb studying students? Will large numbers of loud students upset the animals?

The New York Times piece sparked so many questions about the logistics of allowing pets in dorms that they asked Deb Duren, the vice president for student services at Stephens College, to answer a few follow up questions, addressing many concerns, such as how the school plans to deal with the fur and poop that comes along with a building full of pets.

Duren explains that most of the campus is pet free, with the exception of two residence halls and a wing of a third so students with allergies don’t have to be affected by pets. There are special “poop dumpsters” for handling waste, and they offer doggie daycare to help keep the dogs happy while students are in class.

Even after reading Duren’s responses, we still aren’t sure how we feel about it. Some Paw Nation staffers think it’s a good idea to have pets on campus and others believe it is too problematic.

What do you think? Do pets belong in dorm rooms? Would you bring a pet to college with you? Do you wish you had been able to?

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What It Means When Your Dog Sniffs Down There

Some dogs are so affectionate that they’re not content with licking your face. They also want to share your more private smells which can prove embarrassing for you or an unsuspecting visitor.

Men and women alike are victims of this socially awkward behavior. Dogs do this out of a natural instinct to learn about this person (in the same way they sniff each others behinds) and out of habit. Keep in mind that dogs have a very strong sense of smell so they can learn a lot about a person through sniffing.

This strong sense of smell also leads to another reason canines might sniff that private area – because some dogs can actually sense prostrate cancer. They can detect a problem just sniffing people but, according to a recent study, can actually pick up the scent of chemicals associated with early prostrate cancer in urine.

Courtesy of RadioFence.com, a Leading Internet Retailer of Pet Supplies including Pet Gates, Dog Training Shock Collars and Bark Collars

Flea Control

The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouth parts to pierce the skin and siphon blood. For millions of pets and people, it is a remorseless enemy.

When a flea bites your dog, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of dogs become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of dogs – flea allergy dermatitis.

If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, several changes may result:

  • A small hive may develop at the site of the flea bite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts over.
  • The dog may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”).

This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin.The distribution often involves the lower back, base of the tail, toward the back, the abdomen, flanks and neck. It may become quite generalized in severe cases, leading to total body involvement.Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your dog may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your dog carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood.If one dog in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.

If you see tapeworm segments in your dog’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released, the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control.

The Life Cycle of the Flea

The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult flea uses your dog as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the dog where they may drop off or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the dog’s living area. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupae that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the dog. The adult flea emerges from the pupa and then hops onto the host.

This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupae can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.

Fighting the Flea

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot-on insecticides.

In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.

Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet.

As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.

One group of products works to control fleas by interrupting the development of fleas by killing flea larva and eggs. These drugs are called insect growth regulators (IGRs). These products do not kill adult fleas, but they dramatically decrease the flea population by arresting their development. One common oral product used is lufenuron (Program®). Lufenuron is given monthly, and is combined with heartworm protection in the product lufenuron/milbemycin Sentinel®. Lufenuron is also available as an injection that lasts 6 months. Methoprene and pyriproxifen (Nylar®) are also very effective IGRs that are available as sprays or collars.

Other products kill the actual flea (adulticides) and work quite rapidly. These include both spot-on and oral products. Spot-on products are usually applied on your pet’s skin between the shoulders. The medication is absorbed into the skin and distributed throughout the body. Fleas are killed rapidly on contact with the skin. Spot-on products include fipronil(Frontline®), Metaflumizone (ProMeris® and ProMeris Duo™), imidacloprid (Advantage®), and Selamectin (Revolution®). A recently developed oral adulticide is nitenpyram (Capstar®), that when given begins to kill fleas in 30 minutes. All these products are safer, easier to use and, if used correctly, the most effective method of flea control.

Additionally, some have the added benefit of efficacy against other parasites. Some veterinarians are even recommending a combination of an adulticide and insect growth regulator (Frontline Plus®) as a more complete method of flea control.With all these choices it is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet’s life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced.

Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments, especially in areas of high flea risk, is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.

Blind Dog Has Her Own Seeing-Eye Dog

These two dogs are more than just best friends, they share a rare bond.

Ellie, a young cavalier King Charles spaniel in England, is almost completely blind. While her owner and a local animal organization are working to raise money for a vision-restoring operation, a German shepherd named Leo has taken matters into his own paws, and is protecting and guiding her.

“Ellie has cataracts on both eyes and is only aware of shadows,” explains Jean Spencer, manager of Rochdale’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in an interview with the Manchester Evening News. “But Leo, who’s an absolutely massive dog, has become her eyes. It’s touching to watch them together. She follows him around and snuggles up to him.”

Ellie was part of a litter of five puppies rescued from harsh conditions by the RSPCA, says Julie Lander, an RSPCA volunteer and Leo and Ellie’s owner. “As well as having cataracts, Ellie’s eye muscles haven’t developed as they should have as she’d been kept in the dark. The puppies had no light or heating. I felt so sorry for her when she arrived, and knew she’d need a special home. But I also knew she would be all right with Leo, as he just loves little dogs and they took to one another straight away,” Lander tells the Manchester Evening News.

Lander goes on to explain how Leo’s almost 90 pounds of bulk helps keep his new charge safe. “I take them for walks in the park and Leo guides Ellie around. He is so protective and herds the more boisterous dogs away from her,” Julie says.

No one has commented on whether Leo can actually tell that Ellie is disabled or if he is caring for her based solely on her size. If Ellie’s problem is ever fixed, it will be interesting to see whether she will continue to share the same bond with Leo.

Although they already have had at least one fundraiser, the RSPCA does not yet have enough money to pay for Ellie’s operation. If you would like to donate, go to www.rspca-rochdale.org.uk.

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