Florida Animal Friend Introduces New Florida Specialty License Plate Design to Benefit Statewide Spay and Neuter Programs

Florida Animal Friend, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of unwanted cats and dogs throughout the state of Florida, today announced a new specialty license plate design to raise funds for organizations that provide complimentary and low-cost spay and neuter services.

“As we celebrate our 10 year anniversary addressing the critical issues of pet population and health in Florida, I’d like to acknowledge the many organizations that are on the front lines managing important programs that make a real difference,” said Lois Kostroski, Executive Director, Florida Animal Friend. “I encourage Florida residents to purchase the new specialty license plate, which is not only adorable but will result in a more humane pet population statewide.”

The new specialty license plate features a very cute dog and cat against the backdrop of a beautiful Florida beach. Each plate purchased through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides $25 for Florida Animal Friend’s mission. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual grants are awarded to municipal and non-profit organizations that are striving to make a difference in the pet over-population problem by providing free or low-cost spay and neuter programs for cats and dogs. Earlier this year, 22 organizations were awarded more than $478,000 in Florida Animal Friend funds.

Each grant application is reviewed by Florida Animal Friend’s Grant Review Committee and scored for strengths in the following areas: target of important animal populations, ability to increase surgery numbers above the existing baseline, the cost-benefit ratio, the track record of the applicant and the applicant’s sustainability. In its 10 year history, Florida Animal Friend has awarded more than $4.5 millionto meet the organization’s critical mission.

This Shelter Gives Dogs Cottages, Not Cages

The worst part about visiting an animal shelter is seeing all of those animals in cages. Even if there’s a room to stretch out and maybe a blanket or a bed inside, it’s hard to see those sad little furbabies behind bars. That’s exactly why one Oregon shelter is doing away with the bars and giving their pups cottages instead, to help them feel more at home while they wait for their forever families.

At the Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene, Oregon, each dog has his or her own little cottage, complete with cozy furniture, paintings, and other necessities that make the rooms look like a home. The cottages offer the pups a home-like environment that minimizes stress while they wait to be adopted. They also have the benefit of allowing the rescue center staff to see exactly how the dog behaves in a home environment, which gives them more information to pass on to potential adopters about each dog’s likes, dislikes and temperament.

The cottages aren’t the only puppy perk at Luvable Dog Rescue. The rescue center sits on 55 acres of land that includes forests, meadows, and hiking trails for the dogs to get their exercise.

Liesl Wilhardt, executive director of Luvable Dog Rescue, told PupJournal that she has always been drawn to pit bulls, even as a young girl. She started off by fostering pit bulls and over the years began turning her hobby into a full-time career with a mission to give all dogs the special lives they deserve. In addition to the cottages, Wilhardt recently built a “pit bull palace” for bigger dogs, and she hopes to build a maternity ward for doggie moms to share with their newborns.

Wilhardt said the goal of Luvable Dog Rescue is to make each dog’s stay as comfortable and stress-free as possible. She hopes that “those who have lost their families, or ‘pack,’ or have never had one, can finally feel a sense of belonging there.”

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Here Comes Custom Meal Delivery … For Your Dog

Pets are family. When you choose a food for them, chances are you look at ingredients and nutrition just like you would for the humans in your household. But a number of companies are taking things one step further. You can order personalized meals — often with fresh ingredients and no additives — and have them delivered right to your home, customized for your pet’s particular needs.

Brett Podolsky started The Farmer’s Dog as a solution to his Rottweiler Jada’s health issues.

“She had a lot of health problems, mostly surrounding a sensitive stomach … and was having loose stools every day,” Podolsky says. “It was heartbreaking to me to see that my dog was uncomfortable like that.”

Vets recommended foods to try and nothing helped, until one suggested that Podolsky try home-cooking for her for a few days.

“The solution I was so desperate to find was right in front of me,” he says. “And I found that a lot of people were looking for better food with better ingredients.”

Podolsky and his business partner, Jonathan Regev, offered their food to a few pet-owning friends, who helped spread the word. By the time their business launched in July, they had a waiting list with a few thousand names on it.

“The common denominator really is people that understand the power that food has on health. It pretty much is as simple as that,” Podolsky says. “All our customers love their dogs and treat them as part of the family. But really they all understand that food has a major effect on health.”

Although their company is based in Brooklyn with nary a pasture in sight, Podolsky and Regev named their company The Farmer’s Dog because they believe their mix of fresh ingredients is what a pastoral canine would eat.

“When you think of a farmer’s dog, you think of the healthiest, happiest dog. A happy dog eats fresh, real food and has a big yard to run around in,” Podolsky says. “The farmer’s dog embodies what we want all of our dogs to be.”

The Farmer’s Dog uses an algorithm developed by veterinary nutritionists and tech experts to determine the right formula for your pet. You answer a few questions about your dog’s age, breed, activity level and a few other features, and you get a personalized food recommendation. The food is then shipped directly to your dog’s doorstep.

Of course, this kind of personalized pet nutrition isn’t inexpensive, and can easily run three or four times the cost of even premium packaged foods.

“I can tell you from my own personal experience that I haven’t had to take my dog to the vet in 2 1/2 years except for her shots and I used to take her every month,” says Podolsky. “We tell people to give it a try and see the benefits and then reassess to see if you think it’s worth it.”

Here’s a look at four companies that offer customized, home-delivered foods for your dog. (Because prices range significantly depending on your dog’s size and the proteins in the food you choose, the examples below are based on the information entered for my dog — a 30-pound, border collie mix — so you can get an idea of cost.)

The Farmer’s Dog

After answering questions about your dog’s age, weight, breed — and how picky he is and how often you feed him treats — you’ll get a recommendation for meals that come in frozen, proportioned packages. Everything is made to order for your pet and shipped out shortly after it’s made.

Customer service reps will check in with you to monitor your dog’s progress so serving sizes can be adjusted accordingly if your dog is gaining or losing weight. And if your dog doesn’t like any of the food, the company will replace it and send a return label so the food can be donated to a shelter. There are also DIY recipes on the website if you want to try making your own food.

Although small dogs start at $3/day, Brodie’s recommendations were either the turkey, beef or pork formulas, which ranged from $36 to $39 a week. There’s also a free two-week trial.

Ollie

It’s the same plan at Ollie, where you enter info about your dog’s age, breed, activity level and any allergies. Then a formula spits out a recommendation for the right meal for your pet: hearty beef or chicken goodness. The beef comes from corn-fed, humanely treated cattle on family-run farms and the chickens are vegetable-fed with no hormones. There are no byproducts, fillers, artificial flavorings or preservatives.

The food arrives cold or frozen and comes in insulated, recyclable, sealed trays. It comes with a custom scoop so you can measure the exact amount recommended for your dog. All you have to do is scoop, serve and remember to wash your dog’s bowl after every meal. “You wouldn’t use the same salad bowl day after day without washing it would you?! Same goes for your pup when you’re serving them fresh food,” the Ollie website points out.

My dog could have his choice between hearty beef for $75.58/two weeks or chicken goodness for $84.66/two weeks.

Just Food for Dogs

Several years ago, founder Shawn Buckley became curious about what was in the commercial foods he was feeding his dogs. When he discovered all sort of byproducts, preservatives and chemicals, as well as cooking processes that reduced the nutritional value of healthy ingredients, he assembled a team of business partners, nutritionists, a pet chef and plenty of canine taste testers. Buckley opened a Just for Dogs kitchen and store in Newport Beach, California, where pet owners could come in and buy freshly made dog meals.

All ingredients are food-grade, certified for human consumption, with no preservatives. Every recipe is made in small batches for quality control in their kitchen and is immediately vacuum sealed and frozen to preserve nutritional value.

These days, Just Food for Dogs sells food out of four locations in California, delivers locally and ships nationwide. The company sells six regular recipes including fish and sweet potato, venison and squash, and beef and russet potato, and eight special recipes for pets with health issues, including skin, kidney and liver concerns. Company reps will also work with you and your vet on custom formulations for allergies, cancer and other health problems.

After filling out a simple questionnaire, you get several recommendations for diets and feeding amounts. You can also live chat with a nutrition consultant or send an email if your dog has health issues, dietary needs or you need help choosing a formula.

Brodie could choose any of the six regular recipes. One difficult thing to figure out in our case, however, is that the foods are not packaged in the same recommended feeding amounts (for example, it said to feed 16 ounces a day of the turkey mix, but it only comes in 7, 18 and 72 ounce packages). Prices depend on the protein, but in my dog’s case, it would be about $175 and up per month.

Just Right by Purina

Unlike the other options mentioned, Purina’s Just Right personalized offering is dry dog food. Unlike the other foods mentioned, it’s obviously a processed food, which means the price is considerably cheaper and (bonus!) you get your dog’s photo on each bag.

To find out which blend is right for your dog, you’ll answer similar questions about your dog’s age, breed, weight and activity level. You’ll also be asked about how quickly he eats his food, the quality of his coat and his stool, and whether you want to avoid grains or any other ingredients. Red meat, poultry and fish are the three main proteins. There are also grain-free formulas available.

In Brodie’s case, they suggested salmon with ground rice and oatmeal. It would cost $37.99 for 12 pounds (a month’s supply).

Human Foods That Are Good For Dogs Too

There are many human foods that are good for dogs. The thing is that you must keep it healthy, low quantity and not do it too often.

There are many human foods that can be dangerous and toxic for dogs so make sure that you only give healthy foods to dogs.

Keep in mind that every dog is different, dogs with certain health conditions, food sensitivities and weight issues have different nutritional needs. If you are not sure of the dog nutritional needs, you should get guidance from the veterinarians.

Here is a list of nutritious human foods that are safe and can be eaten by dogs.

These are Human Foods that are Good for Dogs

  • Apples (no seeds)
  • Apricots (no pits)
  • Baby food (all-natural)
  • Bananas
  • Berries (fresh and frozen)
  • Bouillon
  • Bran cereal
  • Bread (without raisins or nuts)
  • Broccoli (raw)
  • Carrots – Good for the dog’s teeth.
  • Cashews
  • Cauliflower (raw)
  • Celery
  • Cheerios
  • Cheese (American, cheddar)
  • Chicken (cooked, no bones or skin)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream cheese
  • Croutons (plain)
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggs (cooked)
  • Flax seed (ground or oil)
  • Ginger
  • Green beans (canned, no salt)
  • Melons
  • Mint (helps with bad breath)
  • Nectarines (no pits)
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange slices (no rinds)
  • Organ meats (giblets, liver, tongue, heart, gizzards
  • Parsley
  • Pasta noodles (cooked)
  • Peaches
  • Peanut butter (creamy or chunky, preferably all-natural)
  • Peas
  • Pineapple (fresh or frozen)
  • Popcorn (no salt, toppings or kernals)
  • Potatoes (mashed, no butter, skin or green parts)
  • Pumpkin (canned)
  • Rice (cooked)
  • Rice cakes
  • Sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes (no greens or stems)
  • Tuna (and the juice from canned tuna)
  • Turkey (cooked, no bones or skin)
  • Yogurt (plain, lowfat, unflavored, unsweetened) – Good source of calcium and protein.
  • Watermelon

It’s National Dog Day! So What Are The Best Breeds For Florida’s Climate? We’ve Got The List…

Humans can slug a cold glass of water, sweat profusely, or chill in front of the AC. Dogs, however, don’t have it so easy when it comes to cooling down in a super hot environment. Their survival depends on their coat and fur, along with how much energy they are putting out. “Keep an eye on humidity levels as well as temperature,” says Dr. Amara Estrada of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and a diplomat for the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine—Cardiology. “Animals use panting to take heat away from their bodies, and if humidity is too high they are unable to cool themselves.”

Not all dogs are created equal when it comes to staying cool, though. If you want a happy companion on your next summer adventure, consider these ten breeds that perform well in hot weather, especially if they can hop in a nearby river.

German Shorthaired Pointer

This is a dog that can do anything—track, hunt, point, pull sleds, detect bombs, and of course, join you on a hike or a run on a warm summer’s day. Pointers vary greatly in color, but are easily recognizable in their instinctual pointing stance with a hard gaze, head down, a lifted paw, and tail up.

They were bred for water retrieving and have a short, flat water-resistant coat that helps them regulate their temperature and also repels dirt. These pointers are great athletes (they love to jump) and have heavy, durable nails to keep trucking through dirt and rocks. Hyper and energetic, these pups need space to play and roam, but live a long life—often up to the to mid-teens.

American Water Spaniel

This pooch is another breed that is perfect for warmer climates and will love the hot months. The medium-sized dog has a stocky, strong build and needs both physical and mental exercise. American Water Spaniels are very vocal dogs and have a unique, wavy coat with curls that helps protect them against water, weather, and briars getting stuck as they run through the woods. Similar to a Cocker Spaniel, the American Water Spaniel sports longer, curly ears.

Great Dane

A great dane might not join you on a hike, but will certainly snuggle up with you. They love to laze around on the couch, the bed, or even your lap and they love to lean on you, but they especially love the heat. “They are obsessed with heat, whether it be the heater vents or the fireplace—they are right next to them if they’re on,” says one owner of two Great Danes, Bella and Gabby. “When it’s 90 degrees outside, they will lay right where the sun is beating down and we have to beg them to come in and cool down.”

These gentle giants are part of the Mastiff family and aren’t actually from Denmark—the breed was developed in Germany. Danes are one of the tallest dogs but have one of the shortest life expectancies.

Border Collie

“When I think of border collies, I immediately think of frisbees!” says Estrada. “Border collies are so perfect for the park in any warm climate.” This breed is extremely energetic, acrobatic, smart, and athletic. Not ideal for apartments, collies need plenty of space and nice weather to run around in. They are one of the most intelligent breeds (hello, Lassie!), but with that, they’ll need to be trained or else you’ll be dealing with a terror of a dog—this breed isn’t good for first time owners or families who won’t have time to deal with obedience.

Estrada says that border collies herding instincts, along with trainability, speed, agility, and stamina, have allowed them to dominate in dog activities like flyball, frisbee, and disc dog competitions. Ultimate four-legged frisbee anyone?

Australian Cattle Dog

Another top herding dog, the Australian cattle dog thrives on change and new experiences, says Estrada. This breed is recognizable by its blue or red color, and often has a “mask” on its face with a dark patch over one or both eyes. They have extremely high energy, which makes them perfect for hiking—even if you might get winded, they never will. Be sure to bring plenty of water for not just yourself, but your pooch, too, and try to take breaks in the shade. If your dog is in the sun for a long time, consider some doggy sunscreen, says Estrada, for their ears and other exposed (furless) areas such as tummies.

This breed is devoted, dedicated, and loyal to its owners, and is considered a very athletic dog. And if you live in a rainy state or have a long rainy season, the Australian Cattle Dog is perfect with its rain-resistant double-coat that allows for water to simply bead off.

Airedale Terrier

These extremely smart dogs are much like humans—crazy smart can often lead to getting bored really easily. The largest of the terriers, make sure to keep Airedales busy with toys, exercise, and running around in the woods, your yard, or a park, but be wary of the shining sun. “Watch out for hot flooring,” says Estrada, “and remember that dogs don’t wear shoes, so hot surfaces like rocks or plastic playground equipment can be really dangerous to their paws.”

The breed is a hunting breed for both on land and in the water, but are still playful and a bit goofy, too, with plenty of endurance for summer exploring. Airedales’ coats make them extremely easy to take care of in hot climates—strip their coat down a bit further when the temps rise, and if it gets chilly in the winter, just let it grow out.

Golden Retriever

Another popular dog, and one that’s great for families, is the Golden Retriever. This breed was established near Loch Ness in the 1860s and hasn’t yet lost its love for the water—or retrieving. Head to the park for an endless game of fetch, or hike near a pond with this natural swimmer who sports a water-resistant coat and webbed feet.

“Goldens are very smart and social dogs that typically gets along with other breeds very well,” says Estrada, which is important when doing activities where many dogs might be present, like heading to the park in the summer, so that you don’t need to worry about negative interactions. “When I think of Goldens, the first personality trait that comes to mind is an eagerness to please, so they are great at obedience and agility training but also amazing service dogs who thrive in a situation where they are working alongside their owner.”

Be warned that with all the running and jumping Goldens do, they are often prone to hip dysplasia, which needs to be treated lest you want a pooch that is suffering in pain.

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Another water-loving pooch, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever is a large dog that looks similar to a labrador. Vets warn, though, that the Chessie personality is much more standoffish and has a stronger temperament than the Lab, and is also extremely hard to train—don’t get this breed as your first dog and be prepared to spend some time training hardcore. This temperament and will to work lead to a breed that performs the best when it comes to hunting waterfowl, even in icy, cold conditions. The dogs will even use their broad and strong chest to bust through the ice. Whether it’s in the winter or in the summer, Chessies dry quickly because of their waterproof, oily coat.

The state dog of Maryland, these retrievers won’t disappoint with a game of fetch, especially if you’re by the water. Known to be strong, powerful, and a bit intense, this breed comes with a lot of energy and needs space to run around, rather than a quick trot around the block.

Labrador Retriever

Labs are a special mix of toughness and playfulness that can thrive in both cold and hot temperatures, but if you think your Lab loves to play in the yard or roll around in the snow, just get him near a lake or ocean. “Labs typically love anything that has to do with water—lakes, pools, beaches,” says Estrada. “When I think of labs, I think of a fun-loving and boisterousness along with a lack of fear of anything so they are always game for new adventures. Labs are high-energy dogs who never seem to tire and are constantly looking for activity with their owners.”

The breed actually comes from the Newfoundland breed, so the water-loving gene make sense as Newfies are known for being rescue water dogs. Estrada notes that Labs are not only great around the water, but they are also the perfect breed to take running on the beach. Got a bright orange floaty toy and a lake? You and your four-legged friend will be set for hours.

Labs have webbed paws that make it easy to stay afloat and swim for quite a distance, as well as a water-resistant, slightly oily coat and a rudder-like tail to propel the pooch along.They are also great jumpers and can fly off a pier without a problem.

American Foxhound

The American Foxhound is one of America’s few native breeds. In fact, George Washington himself bred these tall hunting dogs with lots of energy. A walk twice a day will suffice, though a yard to run around in is ideal. “Exercise in the early morning or early evening and avoid hottest times of day,” recommends Estrada.

The Foxhound’s coat is made up of short hair, which helps keep the breed cooler in hotter temperatures. Don’t be fooled by it’s cute look and pleasing attitude—this breed can often be stubborn, so it needs to be trained, but it does get along well with families and other pets.

Study Finds That Your Dog Loves Your Praise More Than Treats

The next time you want to treat your pooch, you might want to consider giving it some kind words rather than a snack, because new research suggests that many dogs would rather get our praise than our prosciutto.

The first-of-its-kind study mixed brain-imaging data from canines with a series of behavioral experiments, and came to the conclusion that dogs really do value the relationships they have with their owners. In other words, we’re not just a means to get food.

“We are trying to understand the basis of the dog-human bond and whether it’s mainly about food, or about the relationship itself,” said neuroscientist Gregory Berns from Emory University.

Berns’ team studied 15 dogs, with each animal being monitored through almost 100 separate trials. Only two of the dogs were found to clearly prefer food over praise from their owners, with the other 13 either preferring praise or appearing to like both equally.

To get an idea of what kind of owner behaviorr the dogs were most interested in, the researchers trained the dogs to associate three different objects with three different outcomes: a pink toy truck meant a food reward, a blue toy knight represented verbal praise from the owner, and a hairbrush acted as a control object that signified no reward at all.

Neural activity was recorded using an fMRI machine as the dogs were tested on each of the three objects. Four dogs showed stronger neural activation for praise, compared with just two dogs that showed a stronger stimulus for food, while in the nine others, the levels were around the same for both.

Next, the dogs were shown around a Y-shaped maze, with one path leading to a bowl of food, and the other leading to the dog’s owner (facing away from the dog). The dogs that showed a stronger response to praise in the first experiment also chose to go to their owners instead of the food 80 to 90 percent of the time in this second test.

According to the researchers, the results suggest that the stronger neural stimulus spotted on the brain scans does affect the way the dogs will behave.

Academics have been trying to figure out ‘man’s best friend’ for a century at least: right at the start of the 1900s, Ivan Pavlov found that dogs ‘learned’ to start salivating when their owners (and the possibility of food) appeared, rather than just at the sight of the food itself.

That in turn gave rise to the idea of classical conditioning as a way in which animals can learn to connect certain objects and people with certain consequences. But the relationship between people and dogs might not be as clear-cut as Pavlov thought.

“One theory about dogs is that they are primarily Pavlovian machines: they just want food and their owners are simply the means to get it,” said Berns. “Another, more current, view of their behaviour is that dogs value human contact in and of itself.”

It’s worth pointing out that Berns’ study is definitely on the small side, with only 15 animals taking part.

But until there’s further research with a bigger pool of animals, as dog lovers, we’ll take any evidence we can get that our canine companions really do care about interaction just as much (if not more) as where their next meal’s coming from.

Keeping Cool with Man’s Best Friend As The Temps Continue To Soar

The swimming pools are like bathwater, the surf report recorded the ocean temperature at 86 degrees last week. No one is going to disagree – this has been an oppressively hot summer, even for Florida.

Our bodies sweat. It’s our body’s way of cooling us off. We can also remove ourselves from the heat, get cool water to drink, crank up the air conditioning, and yes, sweat. Our dogs cannot do any of these things. They rely on us to keep them from overheating.

Dogs pant, they do not sweat, and panting does not cool them down effectively. Plus they are wearing those fur coats. Whoever said “It’s a dog’s life” was not talking about August in Florida.

To keep your dog comfortable, healthy, and to prevent heatstroke, there are things you can do:

1. Make sure your dog’s water bowl is filled with fresh, cool water. Generally I refresh the water in Odin’s and Crissa’s bowls three times a day, when they are fed. This summer I have been finding empty water bowls by midday, and they are inside with the air conditioning.

2. Keep your dogs inside. This is not good weather for them to be out. If they must be out, provide them a place that is shaded all day, and a good supply of clean, cool, fresh water.

3. Walk by 8 a.m. or after the sun goes down. It will be better for you, and better for your pup. The sidewalks and roads heat up during the day. If you are unsure, take the back of your hand and place it on the pavement, or stand in one place on the pavement in your bare feet. The pads of your dog’s paws are far more sensitive than your hand or feet.

4. Some dogs enjoy playing in the ocean or swimming pool. Do not allow them to drink the salt water in the ocean. A small baby pool may be a fun activity for your dog. Just make sure there is cool water in it.

5. Have them groomed, or brush them, regularly. Odin has been shedding excessively this summer. I try to brush him every couple of days, not only to keep down on the corgi tumble fur, but also to cut down on the fur he is carrying around.

6. Leave them at home when you go out. Please, if you love them, don’t leave them in the car, not even for a minute, not even with the window down. Not only is it against the law, it’s a crummy thing to do to a dog that loves you without reservation. For heaven’s sake be worthy of that devotion.

Hopefully we are on the down swing and cooler weather will be here in a few weeks. Until that time – stay cool.

Flomurica… A Florida Man Is Fighting To Keep His junk Food Eating Pet Alligator

Retired firefighter David Van Buren has had his beloved pet alligator Gwendolyn for an astounding 47 years, since he was just 9 years old. And in those nearly five decades, Buren and Gwendolyn have become inseparable. He even took him (Gwendolyn is a boy alligator, apparently) (alligators don’t care about your concept of gender, okay; they’re very progressive) away to college with him! But now Florida Fish and Wildlife is stepping in, because at a whopping 13 feet long, they claim that Gwendolyn is now too big to live in Buren’s yard.

Gwendolyn’s massive size may be due in part to his diet, which consists of pizza and snack food like Chips Ahoy!, and uh, other stuff that an alligator is supposed to eat, probably. At one point Gwendolyn was even living indoors with Buren, who says, “Once he was in the house, he didn’t want to leave. I think it took us like three weeks to get him to go back outside. He was on the couch all the time or in the bathtub…”

Well, it’s no wonder Gwendolyn is so attached. And thankfully it looks as though he’ll get to stay with his owner, as Florida Fish and Wildlife agree that the best outcome for the gator will be to remain with Buren, pending changes to his property.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of a story like this. Earlier this year, Mary Thorn of Lakeland, Florida, was in danger of losing her beloved pet gator “Rambo” for similar reasons. There’s been no updates to Thorn’s story, but we hope that she and Rambo are still off riding ATVs together.

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Why Do Dogs Like To Ride in Cars?

The jangle of car keys or the mere sound of the word “ride” can send some dogs into paroxysms of happiness. There’s frantic dancing and joyful bouncing until the car door opens, then an ecstatic leap inside for a ride of what must seem like pure euphoria.

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of research about why so many dogs enjoy car rides, but many dog owners have witnessed the glee firsthand. Experts surmise it may have to do with things like the smorgasbord of smells or simply who’s in the car with them.

Stanley Coren, dog behaviorist and professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, points out that dogs have 225 million olfactory receptacles in their noses, compared with the mere 50 million we have.

“If you crack the window,” Coren tells the Globe and Mail, “a dog gets a kaleidoscopic view of the world through his nose, as the scents are changing all the time. We [humans] are visual animals … A dog lives through his nose.”

Imagine the smells he’s picking up as you zip out of your neighborhood, past parks and restaurants, schools and businesses, and places where lots and lots of other dogs have been.

“I’m not sure they’re getting a high, per se,” Dr. Melissa Bain, a veterinarian at the University of California, Davis, tells Car and Driver. “But they are getting a lot of input at higher speed.”

Plus, it may just feel good.

But it may not be just the smells that dogs like when they’re in the car.

Vermont dog trainer Kevin Behan believes dogs like being in the car because it stirs up feelings of being on the hunt.

When your dog is in the car with his “pack” — the people he’s bonded with — and you’re all swaying and moving together and facing the same direction, this synchronized motion can give your dog the feeling that he’s part of a group that’s on the hunt, Behan says.

Behan explains that some dogs are so overtaken by this urge that they think the animals and objects they see outside the window are prey. Once they get out of the car, they need to get rid of all that energy:

“For some dogs the feeling can grow so strong that when their emotional or carrying capacity is exceeded, they strike at things going past. This is when the prey instinct, an automatic, hardwired reflex, takes over in order to make the kill. (We need to remember that it’s only in our mind that a dog on a sidewalk is motionless relative to the dog in the moving car. For the dog in the car, the dog on the sidewalk is moving 30, 40 or 50 mph and that’s a pretty fast prey animal.) Some dogs have a higher carrying capacity and can retain a feeling of arousal for the potential moment in the future when they will be let out of the car so as to express the internalized energy in a concrete way, such as running around, rolling on the ground, playing Frisbee or going for a hike with their owner.”

Although there could be serious hereditary instincts kicking in when your pup vaults into the backseat, the explanation might be simpler, says Dr. Brian Hare, Duke University associate professor of evolutionary anthropology and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center. Your pup likely has figured out that a car ride usually means you’ll end up somewhere interesting.

At the very least, he tells Car and Driver, “dogs associate the car with a good outcome: ‘When I get in this thing, good things happen.’ At the most they understand that they’re going somewhere.”

But the other good part? They’re just happy to be going somewhere with you, Hare says.

“If you give dogs a choice between being with a person or with other dogs, dogs prefer to be with ­people.”

New FDA-Approved Drug Can Calm Anxious Dogs During Fourth Of July Fireworks

Dogs who love to stay outdoors likely wouldn’t fare well this firework-filled holiday weekend. Loud noises from fireworks, thunder and the elements can indeed make dogs anxious, extremely afraid and reeling from what’s called noise aversion.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, just recently approved the first and only drug made to help furry friends with this problem.

A low-dose version of canine sedatives, Sileo oromucosal gel hit the U.S. market last month after being approved in late 2015 for noise aversion treatment in dogs. This condition causes symptoms that range from panting and trembling to extreme panic to running away and injuring themselves as a result.

“It has rapid speed of onset, is easy to administer at home and works ‘in the moment,’ without any other treatments or training,” said Dr. Shelley L. Stanford, group director at Zoetis, the firm marketing the oromucosal gel product in the country.

Sileo is administered to dogs through placing the gel between the cheek and gum for oral transmucosal absorption. It usually takes effect within a half to a full hour after application – said to offer a calming effect without sedating.

Its manufacturer, Finnish company Orion, tested the medication on 144 dogs on New Year’s Eve and revealed that 75 percent of canines taking Sileo had less anxiety than expected during fireworks, compared to 33 percent of those on placebo. The results were based on dog owners who were asked to document their pets’ reactions.

“It’s not a tranquilizer, per say. It works on the nervous system to inhibit the release of adrenaline or nor-epinephrine,” explained veterinarian Dr. Gary Yarnell in a CBS News report, however cautioning that dogs suffering severe breathing, heart, kidney or liver issues should not be given the drug.

The first remedy, he added, is to comfort one’s pet first before turning to drugs. Those with serious noise aversion condition, for instance, should be accompanied at all times and never left at home alone.

Zoetis estimated that around one-third of dogs are affected by noise aversion, which could be incited by noise events such as July Fourth festivities. Fireworks in fact emerge as one of the leading triggers, with July Fifth as the busiest day for shelter intakes in the country.

Sileo is only one in a sea of pet remedies. Dog vest ThunderShirt promises to address anxiety through applying mild pressure. The previous week, a wearable device called the Calmz Anxiety Relief System was launched to provide “calming frequencies” for dogs to hear and feel.

Factors other than fireworks and other forms of noise can cause stress and anxiety in dogs. Yes, these include even mere hugging – a sign that the gesture meant to express affection could be differently interpreted by these creatures.