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Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun


Improving Fido’s Health With Kale, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes and Fish Oils!

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“For the first year of a dog’s life, balanced nutrition is vital,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. “Without balanced nutrition, the nerve cells of a dog’s brain will not mature properly; and the brain will be smaller in volume and weight and not function as well. Poorly nourished dogs act less intelligently throughout the rest of their lives. A dog’s brain and behavior is shaped to some degree by events in the womb. When the puppy is ten days of age, we can easily count the number of neural connections (synapses) that a single cell has with other cells in the brain since there will be only a few hundred. By the time a puppy reaches 35 days of age, the number of connections for each neuron in the brain will have multiplied to around 12,000.”

Most dog lovers have no control over the nutrition of their dog’s parents. Nonetheless, the diet during the first year of a dog’s life is most important, so owners can still influence their pet’s development.

Puppy Keeva (who grew to be She Walks in Beauty RL1, RL2) eats a healthy meal on her first night in her new home. Photo courtesy of owner Kimberly Wilson.

Negative Effects of Inadequate Diets

Packaged dog foods may not include everything your dog needs for healthy brain growth. “Commercial pet foods don’t contain some things we wish they did: adequate quantities and qualities of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as the more intangible qualities unique to live, like fresh foods,” says veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn. “Secondly, they contain other things we wish they didn’t: slaughterhouse wastes, toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs, non-nutritive fillers, heavy metal contaminants, sugar, pesticides, drug residues, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and bacteria and fungi contaminants. All processed pet foods are missing something that seems to be the most important ‘nutrient’ of all. This key ingredient is practically ignored by nutritional scientists, but we can sense when it’s there. It is a quality found only in fresh grown, uncooked whole foods: life energy!”

Natural ingredients are also recommended by Andi Brown, the director of Halo and author of The Whole Pet Diet. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence. Artificial ingredients are often highly antagonistic and can actually contribute to an animal’s mental and emotional imbalance,” says Brown. “Some additives can be so detrimental that they can actually have the same effect on an animal as hallucinogenic drugs have on people. According to Best Friends Animal Society, the most common reason animals are put down by veterinarians or turned into shelters is because of unruly behavior.” Brown suggests that adding minerals and vitamins, especially the complete complex of B vitamins, to your pooches diet, will aid in behavior problems.

Healthy Ingredients

There are a few major nutrients that good and healthy canine diets will include such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. All well-fed dogs need to eat a healthy diet each day to get the necessary balance of vitamins and minerals.

*Choose premium brands and possibly organic brands of dog food that are made with nutritious high quality ingredients that can be digested easily. for organic and healthier treats and supplemented dog foods that contain pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans, kale, carrots and other healthy vegetables and fruits. Healthy ingredients will give your pooch all the extra nutrients that he needs.

*Feed fish like salmon that contain healthy fish oils during puppyhood. This helps your pup to focus on training, and aids with increasing his attention span during training. Fish oils are also beneficial for cognitive development.

*Provide your dog with safe human foods such as lean meats, lightly steamed vegetables and plenty of fresh fruits like blueberries. Keep in mind that dogs should never be fed grapes. Healthy fruits and vegetables should never be the main bulk of your dogs ingredient list. Some table scraps are okay, as long as they are healthy and free of fats. Table scraps that are healthy and nutritious additions to a dogs diet can be great. They add plenty of variety and introduce him to different foods.

*Root vegetables also provide many important healing properties for dogs. They help by providing stabilizing energy that aids in helping your dog to focus.

*”Seafood is loaded with protein, minerals and enzymes when fresh and also has lots of collagen,” says Brown, Halo “Spirulina and chlorella are a more concentrated source of chlorophylls than any other food. Both of these algae help reduce inflammation and are also rich in essential fatty acids.”

Cognitive Function in Mature Canines

Dr. Milgram, together with Dr. Carl Cotman, a neurochemist from the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, Irvine and colleagues studied old dogs as examples of human aging. Both these researchers agreed that “Oxidative damage is a key feature in the aged brains of animals and people, and that the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrate greater damage.” Dr. Cotman also suggests that by employing antioxidant supplements like vitamins E and C, one may “improve cognitive decline” in people as well, since mature dogs develop similar pathological changes in their brains.

Carotenoids like beta carotene that are mixed together with certain minerals like selenium, fatty acids DHA and EPA, carnitine and alpha lipoic acid were also found to hinder formations of amyloids in older dogs. Dr. Milgram’s research team used a diet that was rich in nutrients for “cognitive enrichment,” and deduced that it slowed down and sometimes partially “reversed” cognitive decline in our dogs.

Good nutrition is important for the canine brain at any age. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence,” says Dr. Coren. For more on this article visit: USDAA and Animal Wellness.


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Woofs & Wags!



Animal Wellness, Volume 15, Issue 1.

This information is not a substitute for veterinary care. Discuss any potential dietary changes with your veterinarian.


Copyright © 2014 Claudia Bensimoun

Wolves Can Tread Water While Killing Prey


Vancouver Island Wolf



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Arctic Wolf Germany



Image Credit: Wiki Commons


Gray Wolf. U.S



Image Credit: Wiki Commons



European Wolf



Image Credit: Wiki Commons


Eurasian Wolf


Image Credit: WikiPedia

The Wolf

Facts From ” If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind.” Vilmos Csanyi

Dr. Csanyi is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Ethology at the University of  Budapest,Eotvos Lorand. He is one of my favorite ethologists.His book “If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind”, connects with all dog lovers.

  1. The wolf is the largest of all canids weighing up to and sometimes more than 144 pounds.
  2. Wolves hunt in cooperative packs for prey larger than itself.
  3. Habitat includes the tundra, taiga, steppe, savanna, and forests.
  4. When running short distances the wolf can reach speeds up to 37 to 43 miles per hour.
  5. If a wolf is being chased, it is capable of jumping as high as 13-16 feet in the air.
  6. When out hunting it can maintain a run for 15 to 20 minutes. After that wolves need to rest.
  7. Wolves can tread water while killing their prey.
  8. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, gray wolves once ranged from coast-to-coast and from Alaska to Mexico, and they were one of the most wide-ranging animals on the continent.
  9.  There are a number of wolf subspecies in the U.S of which the “plains” wolf belongs. This wolf is also found in the Great Lakes. Idaho wolves that lived more than 100 years ago possibly had gray wolf DNA. Some researchers believe that evidence demonstrates that Idaho’s wolves from hundred’s of years ago were similar to Canadian wolves. Todays Idaho’s gray wolf population originated from Alberta and British Columbia in 1995 -1996.
  10. Wolves can hear and see extremely well.
  11. Pack wolves can detect the smell of an elk as far away as 1.25 to 1.55 miles.
  12. Tame wolves respond to imitated wolf calls from as far as 3.75 miles.
  13. Volume of a wolf’s brain ranges from 9.2 to 10.4 cubic inches. Wolves are the most intelligent predators who gained their mental abilities through social interaction.
  14. The usual size of a wolf pack is 7 or 8, yet sometimes it will only have 2 or 3 wolves.
  15. Larger wolf packs will divide into smaller groups and according to Cysani will reunite later on.
  16. Many times one comes across loner wolves that are typically outcasts and are normally older wolves.
  17. Wolves that form the breeding pair will be the main wolves of the pack. This will consist of wolf pups and a few male and female wolf adults.
  18. When a wolf pup turns 2 he/she is considered an adult wolf.
  19. Many wolf pups will die before reaching 2 years of age.
  20. Wolves that do not belong to the pack are chased away when they visit, yet when wolf pups are born, these outside wolves are often welcome to join the pack. Older adult wolves around this time may also leave the pack. This is the time that the wolf pack gets divided into several parts. They will all inhabit exclusive territory.
  21. “Black wolves rarely occur in Europe and Asia, where interactions with domestic dogs has been reduced over the past thousand years due to the depletion of wild wolf populations. They have occasionally appeared, as wolf-dog hybrids and are known in Russia as “black wolves”.  20–25% of Italy’s wolf population is composed of black wolves. They are more common in North America; about half of the wolves in the reintroduced wolf population in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park are black. Like Pyrenees Wolves, Black wolves do not live in France. In southern Canada and Minnesota the black phase is more common than the white, though grey coloured wolves predominate.” via Wiki


Interesting Facts About Black Wolves


Image Credit: WikiMedia


“In 2008, Dr. Gregory S. Barsh, a professor of genetics and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine used molecular genetic techniques to analyze DNA sequences from 150 wolves, half of them black, in Yellowstone National Park, which covers parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It was discovered that a gene mutation responsible for the protein beta-defensin 3, known as the K locus, is responsible for the black coat color in dogs. After finding that the same mutation was responsible for black wolves in North America and the Italian Apennines, he set out to discover the origin of the mutation. Dr. Barsh and his colleagues concluded that the mutation arose in dogs 12,779 to 121,182 years ago, with a preferred date of 46,886 years ago after comparing large sections of wolf, dog and coyote genomes. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Robert K. Wayne, a canine evolutionary biologist, stated that he believed that dogs were the first to have the mutation. He further stated that even if it originally arose in Eurasian wolves, it was passed on to dogs who, soon after their arrival, brought it to the New World and then passed it to wolves and coyotes.Black wolves with recent dog ancestry tend to retain black pigment longer as they age.” via Wiki



“If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind.” Vilmos CsanyiCsanyi,V, “If Dogs Could Talk Exploring The Canine Mind.” North Point Press, 2000, pp,10-15.

Yellowstone Park Wolves

Wolf DNA Study

Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril

Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun



What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Dogs? Why Dr. Miho Nagasawa’s research paper about ABANDONED DOGS AT FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN and PTSD-LIKE EFFECTS IN DOGS is so important.

Why Dr. Miho Nagasawa’s research paper about ABANDONED DOGS AT FUKUSHIMA, JAPAN and PTSD-LIKE EFFECTS IN DOGS IS SO IMPORTANT.Impaired learning and an inability to bond with humans were two of the post- traumatic disorder symptoms displayed by both humans and dogs.Cortisol levels in the Fukushima dogs remained at higher levels than the Kanagawa dogs, even after ten weeks of care.

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Image Credit: Claudia Bensimoun

In order to recognize the signs of stress in performance or working dogs, one must try to visualize the external stressors in a dog’s environment. Although it is impossible to measure levels of stress, it is certainly possible to measure certain stressors in a dog’s environment.

Understanding some of these signs of stress in working dogs that may include:

Panting, yawning, avoiding eye contact, shivering, licking, tucked tail, general restlessness, muscle tension, zooming around the ring and avoidance of the handler or pet parents is key to improving overall performance in dogs.

While many handlers and dog parents are familiar with some of these stressful behaviors, it may be interesting to note that many of these behaviors were found in the Fukushima dogs in Japan.They can also be found in rescue dogs that have had traumatic experiences in the past.

In agility dogs where speed, accuracy and timing are important, many performance/working dogs may display signs of stress when in a new environment.

According to Dr. Miho Nagasawa’s research paper, the dogs that were abandoned at Fukushima, Japan displayed severe symptoms of canine stress, similar to humans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Although this varies from the stress experienced in performance dogs, stress and its effects on learning and behavior in all canines should not be ignored.

A dog’s well-being depends on the absence of stress. Although some research papers say that a little bit of stress may be beneficial to a dog’s performance.

According to Dr. Miho Nagasawa the Fukushima dogs had stress hormones that were far higher than normal and that lasted over a period of ten weeks.

“ The Fukushima dogs had significantly less aggression toward unfamiliar people, were harder to train, and exhibited less attachment to caregivers than the dogs from the other region of Japan.” Miho Nagasawa, Veterinary scientist and author via Los Angeles Times, Science Now.

“In Fukushima, Japan, a prolonged refugee situation caused by a major nuclear incident after the earthquake of March 11, 2011 has led to the unintentional abandonment of many pets. We received stray or abandoned dogs from rescue centers in Fukushima Prefecture. During re-socialization training and health care, we accessed the behavioral characteristics and the urine cortisol level of each dog and compared them with those of other abandoned dogs not involved in this earthquake. The dogs from Fukushima showed significantly lower aggression toward unfamiliar people, trainability, and attachment to their caretakers; also, urine cortisol levels in the dogs from Fukushima were 5–10-fold higher than those in abandoned dogs from another area of Japan. These results suggested that the dogs from Fukushima suffered through an extremely stressful crisis.”   Miho Nagasawa via Nature’s Scientific Report.

“In human studies, chronic stress has been shown to induce psychological disorders. We expected that the Fukushima dogs might be under chronic stress and show behavioral and neuroendocrine stress responses that may possibly be attributable to the above-mentioned unusual living environments. Therefore, in order to elucidate the impacts of stress from one of the highest magnitude earthquakes recorded in history, we compared behavior and urinary cortisol levels between disaster-affected dogs and non-disaster-affected abandoned dogs. The levels were significantly higher in dogs from Fukushima than in those from Kanagawa. Fukushima dogs’ urinary cortisol levels were highest on the day of arrival and declined significantly after the 8th day, while the Kanagawa dogs showed no significant changes in urine cortisol levels over time.Humans affected by the disaster are already recovering and gradually returning to normal life. However, our results suggest the possibility that stress can induce excessive, deep psychosomatic impacts with implicit behavioral manifestations, such as deficits in attachment and learning ability also in dogs. Long-term care and concern regarding the psychological impact of disasters appears necessary in humans and companion animals.” Miho Nagasawa and colleagues via Nature’s Scientific Report.

Dogs that experience stressful or traumatic events can carry psychological trauma. Walk through any dog shelter in Japan and one will experience the most common behavioral problems associated with post- traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD). Shaking, cowering, shying away from people and excessive barking are among the few behavioral changes that these dogs may experience. Dogs like people can feel stressed confused and unloved.

Dogs that were left stranded in the Fukushima exclusion zone after the nuclear crisis have had to survive many of the devastating affects: High radiation levels, lack of food, freezing temperatures and sudden changes in their environment and family.

Canines and humans display similar symptoms after life changing events. Veterinarians will go as far as prescribing anti-anxiety medications or anti-depressants. This combined with the work of an understanding trainer is found to help dogs desensitize from situations that they find stressful.

The numerous meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, not only caused a humanitarian crisis, but created a crisis for all pets as well. More than 100,000 people had to be evacuated from within the 20-kilometer radius.

Dogs were left feeling traumatized. Today researchers have evidence that the Fukushima event was so devastating for the 5800 dogs that were registered in the area, that when tested, these abandoned dogs had extremely high levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in their urine. Researchers compared behavior patterns and levels of cortisol in dogs that had been rescued and found evidence that dogs do indeed suffer from post- traumatic stress disorder. (PTSD)

Yuki was discovered wondering alone in the Fukushima exclusion zone. The ghost -like town that surrounds the quake-crippled nuclear reactor is the home to many abandoned dogs that were either left chained or wandering alone. Haggard and stressed, Yuki seemed to be suffering from a canine form of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a paper published in Scientific Reports 2012, Miho Nagasawa, a veterinary scientist and author, stated that abandoned and stray dogs that were recovered in the Fukushima area, also suffered from the lingering effects of the earthquake.

According to the report the Fukushima strays also showed difficulty with learning and developing an attachment to humans. Nagasawa studies animal cognition and endocrine response and admits that although the study involved only a small number of dogs: 17 , the devastating effects of extreme stress in these dogs were very similar to the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in people.

Researchers concluded that all the abandoned Fukushima dogs that had received specialized veterinary care and re-socialization training, did not overcome the severe effects of extreme stress.

“The dogs from Fukushima showed significantly lower aggression toward unfamiliar people, trainability and attachment to their caretakers; also, urine cortisol levels in the dogs from Fukushima were 5-10 fold higher than those in abandoned dogs from another area of Japan.” Miho Nagasawa explains via Los Angeles Times, Science Now.

Although the study involved only a small number of dogs-17 dogs from the Fukushima exclusion zone, these dogs along with another group of dogs from Kanagawa, Japan, were taken to a special dog rescue program at Abazu University. Both groups of dogs were then given veterinary care and trained; so that they could be re-home later on. Nonetheless, Miho Nagasawa and colleagues stated that the cortisol levels in the Fukushima dogs remained at higher levels than the Kanagawa dogs, even after ten weeks of care.

Impaired learning and an inability to bond with humans were two of the post- traumatic disorder symptoms displayed by both humans and dogs.

Miho Nagasawa and his colleagues, says it is unclear whether the greater stress in the Fukushima dogs resulted from experiencing the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011, the unusual and sudden disappearance of humans or the length of time it took to rescue all the abandoned dogs in Fukushima.

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Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun






  2. ptsd-like-symptoms-302900.html
  3.             dogs-were-.html Scientific Reports 2, Article number: 74
  4.        life/fukushima_dogs_had_symptoms_comparable










Silent Sunday! Why all Dogs Need a Best Friend!

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Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun


Let’s Do Doglates! Strengthening Fido’s Core Muscles & Emotional Well-Being!

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“Many of these exercises involve common commands that you might ordinarily teach your dog, such as sit, stand, down-then stand, high five, turn around, or bow,” says Sherri CappaBianca of Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health and Fitness Center. “By using these commands when the dog is on surfaces at different heights, or on unstable surfaces like wobble boards or Pilates balls, you are, in my opinion, considered to be doing ‘dog Pilates’.

“The reason for this is because when a dog is on unstable surfaces, or those of differing heights, he has to work all his core muscles to balance himself. Five to ten minutes of Pilates exercise can really tire a dog out, and it burns a lot of calories! It’s a great way to keep virtually any dog in shape, but especially athletic or performance dogs. It can help prevent injuries that regularly occur while performing.”





Mindy works with Dalmation at Lucky Dog Sports Club

Image Credit: Lucky Dog Sports Club

Kristie Swan offers a Pilates-style class for dogs at Whiskers University. “I added this class to the curriculum because of the wonderful results I saw with my Chesapeake Bay retriever, who had mild dysplasia in her left hip,” she explains. “I began proactive physical therapy with her, which included a lot of core and rear muscle strengthening. Three years later, the orthopedic vet said she had only very slight laxity on the left side.”

Kristie agrees with Sherri that any physically active canine can benefit from Doglates. “Any dog that runs or jumps should have a strong core, as well as a strong and limber body,” she says. “I see runners out with their dogs and I want to stop them and ask if they stretch or do any other form of protective physical therapy for their dogs. A blown ACL or other injury can be painful, expensive and timeconsuming, but teaching a dog Pilates-like stretches and ball work can protect against injury. Also, havng gone through old age with more than one dog, I know how valuable a strong body and rear legs are for elimination.”

Doglates is also great for dogs with obesity issue, as well as those with some arthritic problems, since it helps improve flexibility and strength. These dogs may begin to feel much better after a few classes.

Even some veterinarians are suggesting that dogs doing Pilates-type exercises can enjoy improved balance and coordination, increased suppleness and flexibility, vastly enhanced range of motion, alleviation of stress and physical tension, and deeper breathing.

“Every dog needs core muscle strength to perform in any athletic endeavor,” says veterinarian Dr. David Cox. “It is also very important in older dogs to prevent injury and weakness in the lower back and hind end.”
Another advantage to Doglates is that you can do some of the exercises at home as well as at a facility. “The skills that are learned in class can be used in the comfort of your home, so rain or shine, your dog can be exercising, getting stronger and more fl exible, and burning calories,” says Mindy Cox (Dr. David Cox’s wife) of Lucky Dog Sports Club.

“The exercises we do using fitness equipment can help with balance, flexibility, body awareness, increased strength and better overall health,” she adds. “It’s perfect for both the canine athlete as well as the couch potato.”
Dogs that do Doglates also enjoy an increase in confidence. “When dogs experience something new in a safe environment, and succeed at it, it builds confidence,”

Mindy says. “People see that new confidence, and it encourages them to do more with their dogs. It’s great for almost any dog who is healthy, or has clearance from his or her veterinarian.”


Help a dog’s balance and core body strength
Calm stressed or aggressive canines
Boost confidence in shy dogs
Help degenerative conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia
Improve a dog’s range of motion
Assist with injury prevention and rehabilitation
Increase positive energy
Increase tone and length of muscles
Strengthen abdominal muscle
Provide mental stimulation and fun




Rocky’s Retreat co-owner Tobi Glass helps Yankee master a move

Image Credit: Rocky’s Retreat
Doglates is also very effective in combating canine depression and stress, and helps with aggression as well. “We’ve worked with a couple of aggressive dogs, and have seen results in about six weeks, working with them two to three times a week,” says Sherri. “Pilates-type exercises are very mentally stimulating because dogs have to focus so intently on what they’re doing, just to stay on the ball or wobble board. These exercises definitely boost confidence, so they will also help fearful dogs.

“Since Doglates is physically and mentally demanding, dogs get tired and settle down very quickly,” Sherri continues. “Any time you give your dog high quality exercise like this, I believe you can relieve stress. Humans get a high after a good workout, and dogs experience the same thing. I believe this is part of what relieves stress and ultimately changes behavior. And because you’re directing and helping your dog through an exercise program, you’re strengthening the bond between you.”
Most dogs enjoy Doglates, according to Mindy. “My own dogs love to do the exercises and use the equipment,” she says. “I have high drive and high energy dogs, and after a fitness session, they are all tired and content, so it’s a great energy burner!”




Balance and core muscle strengthening are fundamental to Doglates

Image Credit: Animal Wellness
A growing number of canine sports facilities and wellness centers are offering forms of Doglates. Kristie recommends looking for an instructor who knows how to evaluate the canine body. “For example, my instructor at Whiskers University is a certifi ed canine rehabilitation specialist and masseuse.”

“Before starting, check with your veterinarian,” she advises. “If your dog has an issue such as a luxating patella, special considerations and exercises may be necessary.”

Dogs who have never done this form of exercise before should not be pushed. “Start slow and build up,” Kristie recommends. “The balls don’t come into play until each dog is evaluated and floor exercises have been taught – usually partway through the second class for us. During the first class, people are taught about their dogs’ individual physicality (as well as canine structure in general) and how to do stretches – what to watch out for and how to adjust.”

As an exercise/conditioning program, Pilates is as good for dogs as it is for us. It focuses on strengthening the core muscle groups to help with balance and conditioning. Through the use of various types of equipment, your dog will improve his balance, body awareness, flexibility and muscle strength. He’ll learn new skills and burn off calories, all while having fun. Doglates provides mental stimulation as well as physical activity and that’s a combination that can’t be beat! For more on this article, visit Animal Wellness.

Pilates-style classes for dogs are available at these and other facilities:
Lucky Dog Sports Club,
Rocky’s Retreat Canine Health and Fitness Center,
Whiskers University,

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Woofs & Wags!


Copyright © 2015 Claudia Bensimoun


Candle Safety For Your Dog or Cat. It involves more than keeping burning candles out of his reach.

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“Candles should be placed well out of reach of animals,” says Dr. Fallek. Keep them off coffee tables and low windowsills. If you have dogs, a shelf, high table or mantelpiece should do it. Just be sure not to place the candle on or near a runner or dangling decoration that could be pulled down by a playful pooch. With cats, you need to be more creative, since kitties can access just about any surface, no matter how high it is. Be very cautious when approaching ceiling height with candles. One woman found that the top of her china cabinet was the only place in the house her cat couldn’t reach – but because it was so high, it was impossible to burn candles up there without blackening the ceiling and greatly increasing the risk of fire. With a cat, you may simply have to ramp up the supervision, perhaps by assigning a family member to keep an eye on her while you’re busy, or else keep her out of the room when candles are burning.

“Placing the candle and its holder in a bowl of water can help obviate danger if it is inadvertently knocked down,” says Dr. Fallek. Be sure the bowl is wide enough to accommodate the full length of the candle, plus its flame, if it gets toppled over. It’s also a good idea to use thick pillar candles with wide bases – they’re less likely to fall over than tall, thin candles.

What are your candles made of?

When a candle is burning, it draws on the wax and wick to stay alight. But what is it giving off as it burns? Depending on what the candle and its wick are made of, it could be emitting toxins into your home environment, and that’s bad for your dog or cat as well as for you.

“Animals are more sensitive in general to poisons, partly due to their size and also to their metabolism,” Dr. Fallek says. “Conventional candles contain many toxins that may pose a risk to your animal. These dangerous chemicals are likely or known carcinogens, neurotoxins and reproductive toxins. We and our animals inhale these toxins into our lungs, and from there they go directly into the bloodstream.

“Unfortunately,” Dr. Fallek adds, “candle industries are not regulated and don’t have to label their ingredients.” If the candles you want to buy don’t label their ingredients, ask the seller or manufacturer for more information. If they can’t or won’t answer your question, don’t buy the candles.

You can protect your animal and human family by being aware of the following candle ingredients and avoiding them wherever possible.

Paraffin: Most candles are paraffin, a wax made from petroleum waste that releases carcinogens when burned.
Lead: Some wicks have a metal core, which may contain lead. It is entirely possible that the lead released into the air will be above the EPA threshold; even low doses can harm the central nervous system.
Benzene: This known carcinogen is emitted from the soot of some candles.
Acrolein, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde: These dangerous chemicals can also reduce the air quality in your home.
Toluene: Found in candle soot, it’s known to affect the central nervous system.
Artificial colors and scents: These can cause allergies and respiratory problems.
When shopping for candles, look for products made in the US or Canada from beeswax or natural soy or vegetable-based wax, that contain lead-free 100% unbleached cotton wicks. These candles burn cleanly and safely – in fact, beeswax candles can actually help purify the air! They’ll be more expensive than regular paraffin candles, but it’s worth it. Opt for unscented candles, unless pure essential oils have been used (even then, use these fragrances with caution around cats). If you want colored candles, check that non-toxic vegetable-based dyes were used. Again, you may have to ask questions and do some homework, but as a rule, makers of quality, non-toxic candles are happy to share what their candles are made of and how they’ve been produced.

By choosing the right products when shopping for candles, making sure they’re strategically situated when you bring them home, and keeping a watchful eye on them and your furry friends, you can help ensure everyone’s health and safety. For more on this article, visit: Animal Wellness.

Go Flameless

A safe alternative to wax candles is electric or flameless candles. These are more aesthetically attractive than they used to be, and some are even designed to flicker like real flames. They’re a good option for any household with animals or children, plus there’s no spilled wax to clean up afterwards.

If you regularly burn candles, make sure your home is properly outfitted with working smoke detectors.

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Woofs & Wags!


Copyright © 2015 Claudia Bensimoun