About Clare Bristow

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Winter Grooming Tips


Winter can be unkind to your dog’s skin and coat, so here are 5 grooming tips for keeping him looking his best this winter:

Brush Your Dog Regularly

During winter we keep the radiators/fires/heaters on most of the day with the windows firmly shut – although we stay warm this does leave the air in the house very dry.

A dry atmosphere can cause your dog’s skin dry out and become flaky, both of which will irritate him and cause him to scratch and shake himself on a regular basis.

If you brush your dog regularly this will remove any flaky skin as well as stimulate his circulation which help to keep his skin and coat healthy.

Consider using a humidifier to reduce the dryness – a cheap alternative is to place a bowl of water in the room. You will know how dry the atmosphere by how quickly the water evaporates.

Remove Mats from Your Dog’s Coat

One of the ways your dog keeps warm is by trapping warm air between his fur; this is called piloerection.

Keeping your dog’s cost free of hair mats will help to keep him warm because matted hair cannot trap warm air.

Make Sure Your Dog Has an Appropriate Haircut

Whilst it’s good dog care to keep up regular visits to the groomer, don’t let your dog’s fur be cut too short during winter – ask your groomer to leave your dog’s coat an extra inch or two longer.

If your dog has a thick undercoat, and he spends a lot of time outside, make sure this isn’t stripped out is it will help to keep him warm. Retaining the undercoat will be less important for dogs that spend most of their time inside.

Whatever haircut you go for, don’t shave your dog – leaving your dog with no fur in the middle of winter is not going to help to keep him warm!

Don’t Stop Bathing Your Dog

You’ll probably be happy to bath your dog in winter – apart from covering themselves in mud, wet dogs tend to smell and need a bath to get rid of that doggy odor.

Bathing your dog is fine as long as you make sure he’s completely dry before letting him outside. Wet dogs chill quickly and the risk of hypothermia increases.

Monitor Your Dog’s Diet

Your dog will use up energy just keeping warm, particularly if he’s outside during the day or you spend a lot of time on outside activities.

Make sure your dog is getting a good quality food and increase the amount of food he’s eating during winter.

When a dog is underfed, one of the first things to loose condition is his coat.

Michael Vick’s Dogs – How are They Doing?

If the following videos are anything to go by, they seem to be doing pretty well.

49 of the dogs recovered from Michael Vick’s property in Virginia are now in sanctuaries and rescue groups being rehabilitated for adoption.

Considering these dogs spent almost eight months in shelters and dog pounds before going to their new foster homes in January this year they appear to be adapting to their new life very well.

Excuse me for the indulgence but here are 4 short videos showing the great work BAD RAP (the pit bull rescue and education group Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls based in Oakland California) and foster parents have done in rehabilitating Hector, Jonny Justice, Uba and Ernie.

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Stem Cell Therapy for Dogs

little dog with big stick

A company called Vet-Stem, which is based in San Diego, California, has started offering stem cell therapy treatment for dogs with arthritis or tendon and ligament injuries.

The company claims to have successfully treated 3,000 horses with tendon and ligament injuries since 2004, and is now offering a similar treatment for dogs via veterinary surgeons trained by Vet-Stem.

The stem cell therapy treatment takes place as follows:

  • your dog is anesthetized and two tablespoons of fat are taken, usually from his abdomen or around the shoulder blade;
  • the fat cells are sent to a Vet-Stem laboratory where the stem and regenerative cells are isolated;
  • these isolated cells are returned to your dog’s vet in ready-to-inject syringes; and
  • your dog is treated by a course of injections.

Studies by clinics using this procedure on dogs with osteoarthritis and orthopedic soft tissue injuries show the benefit of each injection to last from several months to over a year.

According to Robert Harman DVM and founder of Vet-Stem, the treatment works because stem cells do more than just morph into the required body tissue – they provide growth factors and chemicals that help the injury heal by, amongst other things, reducing inflammation and preventing scar tissue from forming.

This sounds good, but as with all new therapy treatments the long term effects are as yet unknown.

The treatment is costly – according to a Live Science article it ranges from US$2,000 to $3,000 – but may be worth considering as a treatment option if you have an arthritic dog who’s in severe pain and has difficulty moving around.

The Vet-Stem web site has more information about stem cell therapy for dogs and lists the vet’s it has trained to apply the treatment.

Songs to Make Your Dog Happy

dog in headphones

Two songwriters based in Laurel Canyon, California have produced a CD called “Songs to Make Dogs Happy”.

Working with animal communicator Kim Ogden-Avrutik the songwriters, Dana Walden and Skip Haynes, identified which topics dogs liked and what style of music made dogs’ tails wag.

After interviewing 214 dogs Ogden-Avrutik found that favorite dog topics included: I want my owners to love me, I want to tell my owners I love them, and I love my dog bed; and a Latin rhythm got the dogs’ tails wagging.

12 songs were then written and tweaked until they were given the ‘Paws Up’ by a series of focus groups made up of about 90 dogs.

Here’s a sample from the most popular track “Squeaky-Deakey” [audio:squeaky-Deakey.mp3]

If you’d like to listen to a sample of the tracks, head over to PetCDs where you can listen to an extract from all 12 songs.

Not convinced?

Apparently PJ, a dog living in Chicago, used to chew on curtains and couches whenever his owner left him alone in the house, but after listening to the CD PJ stopped his chewing and preferred lounging on the couch instead.

Still not convinced?

PJ’s owner video-taped the newly relaxed pooch for 3 days to prove the CDs had a calming effect. Apparently Walden and Haynes have many other similar testimonials that they use to market their music.

I played all the sample tracks to Zoe and Fritz – Fritz was interested in ‘Squeaky Deakey’ and did start wagging his tail, he barked uncontrollably through ‘Adventure Dog’ (due to a dog barking in the background) and got up and left the room when ‘I Like to Go Outside’ played. Zoe lay on the floor unmoved by any of the tracks.

As we only listened to samples, it wasn’t really a fair test of the music – has anyone else had experience of this CD?

The article on Songs to Make Dogs Happy appeared was published in the Los Angeles Daily News.

How to Walk Your Dog Safely this Winter


Venturing out for a walk with your dog in the middle winter does come with a number of hazards, but armed with common sense and remembering that if you’re feeling cold and miserable your dog probably is too, you can enjoy your winter walks together.

Here are my 7 tips for walking your dog safely this winter.
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Ideas for Homemade Dog Toys

Here are few ideas for homemade dog toys that I’ve gathered from the web and comments that you’ve posted on this site.

I hope they provide you with some inspiration for making your own dog toys – please add to the list with any other suggestions you have.
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Dog Toys from China – The Alternatives


I’d like to thank everyone who commented on my article Dog Toys from China – Why We Should be Worried. I was horrified by the number of you whose dogs have been suffering inexplicable seizures and which are now on long term medication to control them.

The common denominator appears to be dog toys purchased from a variety of stores, and all of which were manufactured in China.

In response to Theresa’s question yesterday as to whether there is a list of toys that have been recalled, I’ve found what I can on the toys recalled, and put together a list of toys that are manufactured in the US which you may feel are safer to give your dogs to play with.
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Donald Trump helping Homeless Dogs

Donald Trump, The Dog. (from CollegeHumor)

Donald Trump and his ‘celebrity apprentice’ teams are partnering with PEDIGREE ® to help raise awareness for the United States’ four million homeless dogs.

Four years ago PEDIGREE ® created the Annual PEDIGREE ® Adoption Drive to encourage dog lovers to adopt dogs from shelters and breed rescues.

This year’s Adoption Drive starts on 7 February, and this episode of the Celebrity Apprentice aims to boost awareness of the event.

The challenge for the teams is to create a community awareness campaign which conveys the message of the Adoption Drive.

This special episode of “The Celebrity Apprentice” airs at 9pm EST / 8pm CST on Thursday 10 January.

Source: Reuters.com

Tips for Buying Prescription Dog Medication Online


Discount Pet Drugs – No Prescription Required.

Enticing as this message sounds, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that buying prescription dog medicines from online suppliers who promote this and similar messages could be putting your dog’s health at risk.

Research by the FDA has identified web sites that are selling medicines which are,amongst other things, counterfeit, out of date, or not FDA approved.

Whilst these web sites are in the minority, they do good business by promising prescription medicines at low cost.

Unfortunately I can’t find a list of the web sites identified by the FDA, but if you are looking to buy prescription pet medicines online here are a few tips on how to ensure you are buying quality medicines for your dog:

  • Use a web site that is based in the country you live in;
  • Use a web site that will send you the medication only after you supply with them with a prescription from your vet;
  • Ask your vet for a recommendation. Whilst most vets prefer you to buy your medications through them they should be able to recommend an online supplier; and
  • Avoid web sites that offer to evaluate your dog’s condition with an online/telephone conversation and then prescribe a drug based on the outcome of the discussion. A vet needs to physically examine your dog before any medication is prescribed.

Did You Buy Diamond Pet Food in 2005?


Diamond Pet Food has made available a settlement fund of $3.1 million in respect of the pet food recall of it’s Diamond Brand and Country Value Brand products in December 2005 (a full list of the products covered is in the settlement agreement).

It’s understood that the recalled pet foods contained moldy corn which harbored a fungus called aflatoxin. 100 dogs died after eating the contaminated dog food.

The settlement provides that settlement funds will be paid to:

  • consumers who purchased recalled dog food and did not return it for a refund may receive money, provided they can establish they purchased the recalled Diamond Dog Food and did not return it for a refund; and
  • consumers who can show that their dog was injured or that they incurred a veterinary bill as a result of their dog eating recalled Diamond Dog Food products will be entitled to payment for veterinary expenses; and
  • attorneys to cover their fees, costs, and expenses incurred in this lawsuit – an amount of $475,735 has been requested.

Needless to say Diamond Pet Foods denies that the settlement fund is an admission of any wrongdoing on its part.

In addition to either buying the product and not getting a refund, and/or your dog suffering injury or illness from eating the product you need to have lived and purchased the recalled food in one of 23 States listed on the recalled pet food website during 2005.

The recalled pet food web site also tells you in more detail how to qualify for compensation, the forms you need to complete, how to download a copy of the court documents and the dates for:

  • objecting to the settlement (26 February 2008)
  • the exclusion deadline (16 March 2008)
  • settlement fairness hearing (26 March) to consider whether to approve the settlement and request for legal fees
  • claim form submission deadline (April 15 2008)

The settlement agreement provides examples of what you will be required to produce in order to have a valid claim – having read the agreement I’m not sure how many people will be able to do this.

Only on second reading did I realize this article related to a pet food recall in 2005. I wonder how long it will be before any settlement funds are set up in respect of the most recent pet food recall in March 2007?