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News: JoAnna Lou
“Groupon” for Pups
Two daily deal websites launch for pets this year

Daily deal coupon websites, like Groupon and LivingSocial, have surged in popularity over the last two years. These websites partner with companies to offer a different deal each day. 

Occasionally, there will be a pet-related deal. I once got a $50 gift certificate to a local boutique pet store for $25 and a voucher to participate in an Outdoor Bound group dog hike for $35.

Earlier this year, pet lovers got two of their own daily deal sites, PetSimply and Barking Deals. These two sites feature a different deal per day, often a pet product with free shipping. 

According to the companies, these deals are 50 to 90 percent off of retail price. However, the value of the deals vary greatly. For instance, two medium Kong Squeakair Tennis Balls for $2 is a pretty good deal, while two Petmate plastic can covers for $5 seems a bit steep. Many of the product prices are similar to existing discount pet catalogs such as Jeffers and JB Pets.

What I’m more excited about are the company-specific deals. For instance, PetSimply recently offered a $20 gift card to PurestPets.com for $10. I’m hoping that as the membership grows at both websites, they will start offering more unique offers you can’t get anywhere else.

Have you gotten any cool pet deals from a daily deal website?

News: Guest Posts
Outfoxing Foxtails
New hood aims to provide protection for field dogs

Foxtails are nasty—pure and simple. If you have a meadow-loving dog and live in a region with these barbed grasses, you know what I’m talking about.

Known by different names in different parts of the country, these plants have hard seed-bearing structures with sharp points at one end and microscopic barbs. When they become embedded in a dog’s fur, paws, ears, nostrils or eyes, they work their way one direction—in. Foxtails can wind up virtually anywhere in the body, wreaking havoc. (Check out Protecting Your Dog Against Foxtails by Nancy Kay, DVM.) I’ve heard of dogs enduring repeat surgeries to remove foxtails traced as far as 10 inches, and still not tracking them down. It’s the sort of thing that could drive a person to keep their dog inside or invent a solution, i.e., the OutFox Field Guard. This sort of a spooky-looking—at least, at first—loose-fitting hood, made of lightweight vinyl mesh, protects those areas that are particularly vulnerable to foxtails. The Field Guard (starting at $38) is attached to a dog’s collar with breakaway straps. According to the manufacturers, dogs can breath easily, still drink water, and grab sticks and balls in their mouths. My pups haven’t field-tested it, but it sounds pretty ingenious. What do you think?
News: JoAnna Lou
Calming Music for Rescue
Through a Dog’s Ear offers free music and a chance to help shelters

It probably comes as no surprise that classical music has a calming effect on animals, as well as humans. Many animal shelters and boarding facilities play soothing music to create a less stressful environment for pets.

A few years ago, concert pianist and Julliard graduate, Lisa Spector, and sound researcher, Joshua Leeds, teamed up to figure out what exactly about classical music had a soothing effect on animals. They discovered that certain rhythms and musical patterns were more effective in calming dogs.  

Based on their research, the duo founded Through a Dog’s Ear and recorded a series of Calm Your Canine CDs. Today their music plays in over 125 shelters internationally. 

If, like me, you’ve been curious to hear Through a Dog’s Ear’s music, this week the company is making seven of their songs available to download for free. A new song will be featured each day. When I played today’s download, Cello Sonata in D, my crew was already napping, but I must say the music is pleasing and calming for humans too!

Additionally, Through a Dog’s Ear is running a word game throughout the week to help out animal rescue. The company regularly gives CDs to worthy organizations, but this week you can have a say in who receives their next donation. The first 10 winners of the word game will decide which rescue group will receive a set of Calm Your Canine CDs. 

Visit the Through a Dog’s Ear website to try out the music for yourself and play a fun word game to help out a good cause.

News: Guest Posts
Poop Power
Converting dog waste into light

If you’ve been reading Bark’s blog for any length of time, you know my pet peeve is dog waste. I hate wrapping it in plastic and adding it to the landfill almost as much as I resent people leaving it on the street and in the park. So I LOVE lemons-to-lemonade/sow’s-ear-to-silk-purse stories that start with this all too bountiful raw material.

  Therefore, howls of gratitude to Cambridge, Mass., artist Matthew Mazzotta who has created a dog-poop-to-methane converter that fuels a park light, known as the “Park Spark.” Mazzotta has succeeded where others, including the City of San Francisco, have failed.

 

News: Guest Posts
Are You Afraid of Coyotes?
Humane fence roller keeps pets in, wild animals out

Having lived in New Orleans for most of my adult life, it was a shock to see my first coyote in our semi-rural neighborhood in northern Illinois a few years back. One look at their confident gait and hard yellow eyes and there is no mistaking them for a dog. Some of my friends told me horror stories about coyotes snatching pets, but I still found them to be exotic, a curiosity.

This summer, new road and bridge construction about a mile away from our house is pushing hungry, homeless wildlife into our area, including a coyote pack. While walking three of my dogs one afternoon, I saw a coyote hunting mice in a neighbor's pasture. He looked up and saw us, but didn't budge. My Catahoula started baying, eager to chase him, which set off the other two dogs. I managed to hold onto their leashes and turn around to go back the way we came. Even though my dogs were not afraid, I was surprised to find my heart thumping out of my chest and feeling fearful.

With five large dogs and the removal of a tempting chicken coop, I don’t expect to see coyotes leaping our six-foot wooden privacy fence anytime soon. But that incident along with concerns over our occasionally outdoor cats climbing the fence and becoming a coyote meal lead me to check out the Coyote Roller.

This new product is installed atop any fencing, chain link, wooden or iron. The roller prevents an animal – even large birds like crows – from getting traction. There is no electrical shock; the animal simply rolls off. Seems like a win-win situation to me, assuming you can afford it. (See video demo below.)

Personally, I can do without the scaremongering of the company’s “Top 10 Reasons Why You Need the Coyote Roller.” As suburban sprawl aggressively swallows wide, open spaces, it’s important to remember that we’re the invading species, not coyotes, raccoons, skunks or other animals that are conveniently labeled as pests.

Do you live among coyotes? If so, how do you keep your dogs safe? What would you do if you saw a coyote in your neighborhood?
 

News: Karen B. London
Kong Love
Dog toys make me happy

Maybe it was when I started using the Kong keychain, but at some point I realized that I was a bit over the top with my enthusiasm for Kong toys. I get excited about new ones that come out, and maintain a breathless enthusiasm for the original, too.

  I love that dogs have such fun with them, and that Kongs can truly enrich their daily lives. Dogs often consider them a higher quality fetch toy than regular balls, perhaps because of their erratic bouncing. It’s cool that many dogs who chew everything else to pieces can enjoy the same Kong toy for years. (I am aware, of course, that a small percentage of dogs do chew them up, though the Extreme Kongs work for many of these heavy chewers.)   Kong toys can alleviate boredom for dogs by giving them mental exercise, and they are great for independent play as well as play between people and dogs. I use Kong toys to treat many behavioral issues from high arousal and destructive chewing to separation anxiety and aggression.   Are Kongs in your life? What do you and your dogs love about them?  

 

News: Karen B. London
ChocoTox
An iPhone app that can help dogs

ChocoTox is an iPhone application that determines whether or not a dog has ingested a toxic amount of chocolate. You enter the dog’s weight, the amount of chocolate eaten, and the type of chocolate. The type of chocolate is as critical as the other two factors because the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and theobromine is what is actually toxic to dogs. Once you’ve entered this information, ChocoTox lets you know if a visit to the veterinarian is warranted.

  In her blog about ChocoTox, Nancy Kay, DVM and author of Speaking for Spot points out that there are situations in which veterinary intervention is essential. These include if more than one dog has gotten into chocolate so that there’s no way of knowing how much each dog consumed; if the wrapper or other packaging was also ingested; or if anything else toxic (such as drugs) was in the chocolate that the dog ate.   I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever had a dog eat chocolate by mistake. My Lab mix once helped himself to a giant serving of chocolate chip cookies that were cooling on the counter. Luckily, he ate far too little chocolate to suffer anything more than perhaps an overly full belly. Has your dog gotten into anything chocolate, and if so, did it become a serious situation?

 

News: JoAnna Lou
Smart Cameras
FujiFilm develops pet face detection software.

It’s not easy to take a picture of people, let alone fidgety pets. Recent face detection technology has attempted to make photography easier, taking a picture only when a person’s eyes are open and looking at the camera.

Now FujiFilm has developed a new technology that includes animals on the face detection bandwagon. Their Finepix Z700 point-and-shoot camera features technology that waits until your pet turns to the camera before snapping the picture.

Like human face detection technology, FujiFilm’s pet version has its limitations as well. For now, the company has provided a list of dog and cat breeds that are easier for its technology to identify. Dark fur, long hair, and excessive movement can affect the camera’s ability to recognize faces.

The camera will be available later this month and will retail for $280.

For every nice photo I have of the pups, I have hundreds of blurred heads. FujiFilm’s pet face detection technology is pretty cool, but for now, I think I’ll stick to my regular camera. The early version seems like more trouble than it’s worth (Shelties aren’t even included on the list!), but it is interesting that they are developing this technology.

Will you buy the new FujiFilm camera?

News: Guest Posts
EPA on Flea and Tick Products
Sign up for webinar about adverse reactions

Check out the EPA’s webinar on Wednesday, March 17, 4-6pm EST to hear the findings of the agency’s nearly yearlong evaluation of topical flea and tick products. This intensified scrutiny of the products is in response to the growing number of adverse reactions, including burns, neurological problems, and deaths, linked to these treatments. Pet owners are advised to register for the Webinar and can submit questions to EPA officials. Learn more in a story by Lisa Wade McCormick in a story for ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

 

News: Karen B. London
Chastity Belts For Dogs
What will they think of next?

There’s a whole section of my mind devoted to ideas of the now-I’ve-seen-everything variety. The newest arrival to that part of my brain is the chastity belt for dogs. Its real name is PABS (Pet Anti Breeding System) and the purpose is to prevent an accidental breeding of a female in heat. Accidental breedings have happened on occasion to the dogs of some of the most responsible people I know, so I recognize the need for a plan to prevent such events.

  Dexter Blanch invented PABS as an alternative to neutering and spaying, which he does generally support. Still, he points out that when an animal is not surgically treated to prevent breeding because of health concerns, an unwillingness by the people to do it because it makes them “squeamish” or because they plan to breed the female later in life, PABS is an option.   I don’t personally know of anyone who has tried this “chastity belt” on a dog, so I’m curious to hear from anyone who has. And for anyone else, what do you think of this device?

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