Every family with a furry companion needs to be aware of swimming pool and water dangers. Their dog will end up in the pool, often involuntarily! But what if you’re not there?

The unexpected often happens with Fido falling into the pool-dogs are chased, doors are left open-accidents can and do happen. Many households own at least one dog, and many of those own a swimming pool. Those of us fortunate enough to have the companionship of these wonderful canines, need to take into account unforeseen problems   that can arise at the beach, rivers and lakes too. The issue of water safety, especially around pools and beaches, is thus an important one and can make a difference in your dog surviving an unsupervised fall into the swimming pool or being caught in a rip current.

Following these tips can be life-saving for your canine:

Introducing your dog to the swimming pool, the beach and rivers-cautiously but with tons of positive reinforcement.

Learning pet CPR. Accidents can happen at any time.

Watch out for rip currents at your beach or river -never let your furry-friend swim in the ocean when there are rip currents.

Stay away from shallow river-lake water- there are higher levels of bacteria in these waters.

Teaching Fido where the steps are in the swimming pool, so that he is familiar with getting out of the pool. You can mark the steps with a pot plant or another large object. Dogs cannot see the steps, which are hidden underneath the pool water.

Keeping safety alternatives such as water-escape devices, that are designed to prevent dogs and animals from drowning and allow them to exit water on their own. Safety ramp floats for dogs. Dogs can see the ramp breaking the water’s surface and leading out of the pool.

Allowing for your furry-best friend to have the means of getting out of the pool by himself without panicking, if unsupervised.

Fencing your swimming pool and never leaving toys in the pool. Brightly colored pool toys could tempt your dog to try and get at them or to remove them from the pool.

Water-immersion collars help dogs with compromised sight or that are disabled and old.

Young dogs and puppies need extra supervision when in the water.

And finally ,sparing no expense when it comes to dog water safety .Remember canine drownings do happen .

Claudia Bensimoun

Copyright © 2012

Canine freelance writer



DANGERS OF CRATING THE FAMILY DOG.                                                                          

The Smiths’ have recently adopted a German shepherd mix. Then there’s the usual story. They bring him home only to find that he chews everything to shreds in their home. They then call in a trainer. The reputable trainer advises them to buy a crate and to crate their new family pet, whenever he is not being supervised. They take his advice. After all he is a reputable trainer and they do want their home in one piece.

The problem with all the above is that many families are not aware of the dangers of using a crate. And too many households rely solely on the information they get from their trainer without getting additional information on crating. No matter what pet shop owners, trainers or shelters say, a dog crate is just a box with a few holes in. “It is just a way to ignore and warehouse them until you get around to taking care of them properly,” says Peta.

I first met Judy when she was walking Wriggly. Wriggly was terrified of everything around her. She shied away from my hand as I tried to pat her and quivered in fear whenever she came into contact with another dog or person. Judy explained to me that she had recently been hired from Pet Sitters to walk Wriggly and that both owners were doctors and were away at work all day. Wriggly had been crated for hours at a time and only been allowed out for thirty minutes when they let her run outside in their garden. She was then crated again until the morning where she would be let out for thirty minutes and then crated once again for the rest of the day, until both doctors arrived back from work. When Wriggly had started showing signs of aggression and fear, the Smiths’ had taken her to the veterinarian. Fortunately the veterinarian had questioned them about Wriggly’s daily activities and had suggested a Pet Sitter twice a day to walk Wriggly or take her to the Dog Park or beach. Wriggly had to learn how to socialize and had to be housebroken.

Crating began as a way for people who showed their dogs at dog shows to keep their dogs clean and safe from other dogs. However, dogs are highly sociable pack animals and do not thrive in isolation .All dogs need socialization, companionship, physical exercise and psychological stimuli. They also need praise and the freedom to walk around and to be able to relieve themselves outside, as well as the opportunity to stretch out, relax and play freely.

Studies have shown that many dogs that have been crated for long periods of time have physical and psychological problems. They become fearful, aggressive and develop destructive behaviors that are very difficult to change. They can also develop eating disorders and anti-social behavioral patterns. Keeping your dogs in a crate after surgery or when a veterinarian recommends rest is fine but experts agree on short term crating with plenty of opportunity for the dog to be able to walk around and have companionship.

I bumped into Wriggly a few weeks later and it was amazing how much of a changed dog she was. She flew past me, tail in the air pulling Judy at a non -stop pace. She looked happy and excited to see the world around her, the fresh air, flowers and of course, other dogs and people. She let me stroke her and as I was speaking to Judy she put her paw to my leg and nuzzled me with affection. Her message was picture- clear as she gazed into my eyes: Don’t stop stroking me. I love this. This became my routine, whenever I passed both Judy and Wriggly; I stopped and welcomed her to my side. Crouching low right next to her face, she always covered me with welcome licks and pawed me for more pats if I stopped stroking her. What had previously been a depressed, introverted dog with shy aggression had turned into one of the most wonderful, loving dogs I had come across. Thinking about her experience with crating made me cringe, wondering how many other dogs were being crated in households within the US, by families that were not aware of the dangers of crating. They too would think that something was wrong with their dog or that the new- found aggression was part of the dog’s heritage.

There are many alternatives to crating for busy, working families. Many families have work schedules that simply don’t give them much time to train or walk their dogs. Trendy, new dog businesses such as Doggie Daycare with transport offer exciting alternatives to crating your family dog. These doggie daycares pick up your dog and bring him back home after a day of fun and interactive stimulation. Some offer doggie waterparks in the summer or snow fun in the Fall. Dogs are able to play and interact freely with other dogs. Older dogs and dogs with health problems are accommodated accordingly and can rest ,as well as move around freely. Interactive dog training is another alternative, which allows for dog owners and families-children too, to learn effective methods on ways to train and communicate with your new furry -best friend. Simple obedience training with a sympathetic trainer will make for an obedient dog that is well-behaved and that has no need for crating. Pet Sitters have become a big trend here in the US and qualified sitters can visit your home up to a few times daily to walk your dogs and give them companionship while families are away. Neighbors or a good friend of the family are also great dog walkers since your dog is already familiar with them. Doggie doors that provide access to a safe, secure yard also gives the family dog an opportunity to go outside by himself and relieve himself. Leaving a few stimulating, interactive toys in the yard for your dog to play with, enables him to entertain himself and provides lots of stimulation that is crucial to his development, especially if he is a young dog.

Wriggly and I often bump into each other. She is now so calm and friendly that the Smiths’ take her to Starbucks on the weekends, where she sits outside and welcomes everybody. Now, less than a year later she has become the dog that she was meant to become. It took a good year of socialization, training and fun trips to her favorite dog park ,for her to become her natural self around  family and strangers. Judy and I laugh when we see each other now. She feels strangely relieved that this has worked out for Wriggley and the Smiths’ and is familiar with this situation, saying how often crating problems occur in families that are just trying to do their best.

Where we look for information regarding the best care for our dogs’  is just as important, as being fully aware of the psychological, social and physical requirements that our dogs need. For those who are lucky enough to spend their days at home with their furry-best friends, crating should never be an option.

Claudia Bensimoun is a freelance writer in West Palm Beach.



Every dog reacts differently to snow and colder temperatures. Avalanche rescue dogs work in snow-covered terrain and thrive in it. Paws have no fur to keep warm in freezing weather.

Think of snow and you probably think of all that snow and ice bothering your dog’s paws, however new research actually explains how dogs keep themselves warm on frozen ground. All that snow and ice does not seem to bother our furry canine’s paws and here’s why.

Most dogs love to play in the snow. The smell of snow fills the air as our furry companions dig it up, sniff it and roll around in it. You might wonder how dogs are able to bear colder temperatures and snow on their paws. Original research done in 1930 found that wolves and sled dogs did not suffer from frostbite and that their metabolism adjusted to colder conditions. Frostbite only occurred if the dog had an injury.

Research from the Yamazaki Gakuen University in Tokyo, Japan, found that our furry friends have a specialised circulation system in their paws that prevented their paws from freezing up in the snow and kept their paws warm on icy ground. This system allowed them to regulate their body temperature on cold snowy terrain. Researchers compared domestic dogs’ circulation systems to that of penguins and polar foxes and found that their circulation systems have many things in common. This latest research also revealed the following interesting facts.

Using electron microscopes to map out the internal structure of dogs’ paws, Dr Hiroyshi Ninomiya found that heat was transferred from the artery to the network of veins and that cooled blood could not return back to the body. This same system occurs in penguins’ beaks as well as dolphins’ fins.  Studies have shown that dogs can keep the tissue in their feet from freezing because they have a large amount of freeze-resistant connective tissue and fat in the pads of their paws. The close proximity of the arteries to the veins in the footpad means that heat is conducted from one blood vessel to another. Arteries carry warm blood directly from the heart and then feed the thinner veins to the dogs’ extremities. The warm blood that actually passes by the cool blood warms up the cooled blood in the paw that was in contact with the icy ground. This prevented the dog’s body from cooling down and kept the dogs paws at a constant temperature. This in turn helps to speed up warming in your dogs’ paws.

Researchers compared the circulation system in our furry best friends to that of the polar fox, which hunts on ice and exposes it’s paws to snow and ice frequently. The reason behind the polar fox not freezing their paws at below freezing temperatures is that they are able to regulate their body temperatures in freezing harsh climates.

Dr Hiroyshi Ninomiya and his team concluded that dogs were like penguins in the Antarctic, since penguins have a counter current heat exchange system in their wings and legs, so that heat would not dissipate and they could keep their bodies warm at all times. He compared dogs to penguins using the counter-current heat exchange system in the dogs’ paws and comparing it to the penguins’ beaks. Inside of a dogs paw, the veins and arteries are unusually close together, and heat is shared. The findings are published in the journal Veterinary Dermatology.

Researchers are excited at the latest findings since they believed that it was not a necessary adaptation for a domestic species such as a dog to have such a specialisation. Many believe that these new findings have evolutionary causes, meaning that ancestors of the domestic dog lived in much colder, snowy climates in order for such an adaptation to have come about in the first place. So next time you’re out playing in the snow, why not let Fido hang out with the penguins and polar foxes?

Claudia Bensimoun.

Copyright © 2012

Freelance writer