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Safety First: Avoid winter dangers for your pets

Winter is well underway and we are seeing some of our coldest temperatures of the season just ahead.  You have probably spent time and energy to winterize your car and your house.    But what have you done to winterize for your pet?

I would like to share 6 of the most serious threats to your pets in the severely cold weather.  Some may catch you by surprise.  So, give these a little thought as they relate to your cats and dogs.  You can take action to avoid these dangers.

Winter Dangers:

  1. Dehydration/Undernourishment- In cold weather, keeping warm requires a lot of energy.  If your cat or dog spends a lot of time outside, you’ll want to increase their supply of food, to keep them ---and their hair coat ---in top shape.  Also, outdoor pets may become dangerously dehydrated if their water freezes solid.  A heated water bowl prevents this problem.
  2. ‘Cats Love Warm Cars Issue’- Outdoor cats are drawn to the warmth of a parked car’s engine, and may cuddle up beneath the car or inside the engine compartment to soak up the warmth.  They run the risk of serious injury or death if the engine is started, so knock on the hood of your car or honk the horn to warn cats away before you turn the key.
  3. Lost Dogs- More dogs are reported lost during the winter than any other season, as they often lose track of scent trails in the snow and can become disoriented.  Dogs may also panic during snow storms and run away.  When outside a fenced yard, dogs should always be kept on leash and should wear current identification tags so you can be reached if your dog is found.
  4. Severely Dry Skin- The air in most houses becomes dry during the colder months, depleting moisture from dog skin and fur.  A dog whose skin is dry and itchy may habitually scratch or bite at their skin, possibly creating sores.  To improve skin coat, brush your dog regularly and vigorously.  Pet shampoos formulated with oatmeal can help soothe dry skin.
  5. Chemical Poisoning- Chemicals and salts that are used to melt ice on sidewalks and roads can also be poisonous.  Dogs and cats can pick them up on the pads of their feet during a walk; afterward, licking their paws could cause stomach upset or illness.  It’s best to rinse the pet’s paws with lukewarm water as soon as possible after the walk.  Antifreeze that leaks or spills from your car’s radiator can kill dogs and cats alike.  They are attracted by the sweet taste of the antifreeze, which almost always results in death of the pet unless treated immediately.  Keep antifreeze containers sealed tight and out of reach, and clean spills immediately.
  6. Fire Danger- Portable space heaters may be handy, but in homes with active dogs and cats they could be deadly.  Every year, numerous house fires start with space heaters knocked over by pets.  If you choose to use one, make sure it is the type that will shut off automatically when it is tipped.

Take a few moments to get in the “winter thinking mode” when it comes to the care of your pets.  And enjoy the cold days ahead with the reassurance that your pet is safe.

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Posted on 12/30/2014 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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A GMO Grain by Any Other Name Might Be…‘Natural’

Probably the number one question I get asked over the internet is if our Hubbard® Life products (esp. dog and chicken feeds) are made with GMO grains.  For a while I would try to explain GMO and non-GMO grain differences but I found it did not matter.  So now when I get that question, I just say ‘Yes’.  They are all made with GMO grains.

I have been pondering how to help spread the word that GMO is not the result of a mad scientist working in a lab modifying grains to take over the world (that was Brain’s job if you remember the show Pinky and the Brain).  I was reading my Drover Cattle Network e-letter and an article from Dan Murphy called Commentary: On the meaning of ‘natural’ that gave me a chuckle.   He starts out asking what is “natural” and suggested that most of today’s modern production is called “unnatural” by critics.  But he continues to say the “tolerance” about natural is much broader in other areas outside of grains in agriculture.

The first analogy he has is seedless fruit, particularly watermelon.  Since animals will consume normal fruit to move seeds for the plant, a seedless fruit seem to be a “waste of time” in nature terms.  But people like seedless fruit and thus breeders will take male pollen with 22 chromosomes and cross with a female flower with 44.   The resulting plant has 33 chromosomes which makes it sterile.  Very similar to a mule by crossing a horse with a donkey.  But with a mule, the sterility is a bad thing whereas it is a good thing with the fruit. 

But if you look at a website that talks about modern seedless watermelon, most negative comments were about how it did not taste as good as a watermelon with seeds.   But not one comment was about it being unnatural or how we should not consume it.

The next analogy he makes is about dogs today.  I breed purebred Shelties and Collies.  But how many of you have heard of Dorkies or Schweeines?    Many people are taking purebred lines and breeding them for these different types/names of dogs for the fun of it.  Isn’t that un-natural too?  I remember when those were called mutts or Hienz-57, but never a breed.    But no one thinks as these “Frankenmutts”, as Dan put it, as unnatural.   

So as far as I can tell, some grain made someone mad and now the world is getting back at it as it is being changed to fight that nasty herbicide or other insects.  It doesn’t matter that we have to produce more food with less water, ground and other resources as the world’s population keeps growing and growing.  Maybe we can come up with a way to feed more seedless watermelons to our animals and then people would not complain as much.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of 'hype' and negativity surrounding GMO’s and in some cases that hype may come from a place of misunderstanding.  Perhaps by thinking about these two other analogies that seem perfectly acceptable, we can begin to understand that using GMO’s in our animals’ feed is not really a bad thing after all.

Posted on 12/10/2014 by Dr. Ed Bonnette  |  Category: Equine, Poultry, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Sheep, Goat, Specialty
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