Research assesses dogs’ carbon pawprints

What impact do pets have on the environment?Some environmentalists will chastise their friends who drive gas-guzzling SUVs, leave the faucet running or fail to reuse their recyclables. In a new book, two New Zealand authors are asking dog owners to assess the environmental impact of their pet’s carbon paw print.

Robert and Brenda Vale, authors of Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, analyze how pet care for cats and dogs can impact the environment, Fox News reports. Specifically examining the carbon emissions pets create, the researchers found that dog food ingredients, and the land required to produce the food give a medium sized dog a carbon foot print of about .84 hectares per year.

In comparison, a Toyota Land Cruiser driven about 6,200 miles a year creates an eco-footprint of about 0.41 hectares.

However, animal lover and dog trainer Linda Findlay says the researchers do not factor in the emotional value of owning pets. "What the dogs give back to me is probably equal to what the environment gives me – but on a more emotional level," she told the Timaru Herald.

Findlay did however say that by mainly feeding her dogs biscuits, she did her part to minimize their impact on the environment.

According to the Center for Sustainable Economy, the sustainable footprint level for each person is about 15.71 hectares each year.

Pet food brand takes ‘holistic’ approach to pet health

A new brand of pet food is thinking about healthSome Americans wouldn’t think twice before grabbing a selection of organic, vitamin rich foods to enjoy with their family members each night. People who believe in the power of nutrition to promote healthier and longer lives may want to investigate a new brand of pet food that claims to take a holistic and natural approach to preserving pet health.

Representatives from the pet food company, Holistic Select, say that their recipes include "unique, functional ingredients found in nature," which positively impact the long term health of cats and dogs.

The foods feature a combination of enzymes, probiotics, live micro-organisms, botanicals and phytonutrients to promote the company’s health goals.

One customer, called Toby F. attested, "My puppy Kenya is doing so well on Holistic Select that I would never consider feeding her anything else…Her muscle tone is so dense and defined; she is the picture of health, and I attribute that to what I a feeding her."

Taking into consideration the pet’s tastes, some recipes include ingredients like duck meal and cranberries that company officials say prevent allergies and promote health skin and proper digestive function.

According to the National Institutes of Health loss of appetite, increased thirst, weight changes and sluggish behavior in pets are all reasons to contact a veterinarian.

Honda: First man, then machine, then dog

Dogs may soon be riding in styleTaking dogs for a walk can help promote exercise and camaraderie in both the pet owner and pet; but the new Dog Friendly 2010 Element may prompt drivers and canines, alike, to stash away the leash and take a spin through the neighborhood in the innovative Honda model.

Noting Honda’s mission to accommodate the active lifestyles of their customers, Honda’s vice president of product planning, Vicki Poponi, told the Los Angeles Times, "The New Dog Friendly Element takes that concept to a whole new level with specially designed features for dogs and thier owners."

The new vehicle includes a set of pet care amenities that will keep dogs comfortable and safe as they and their owners hit the open road. The accommodation package includes equipment like an extendable ramp for entry, a personal fan for the dog days of summer, and a spill-resistant water bowl, according to the source.

Aside from treating dogs in the car like kings on their thrones, the 2010 Honda Element improves the pet’s safety. By securing the dog in a soft nylon webbing in the vehicle’s cargo area, the Times says the pets are less likely to interfere with the driver or be injured in a frontal collision.

The Dog Friendly Element will be available to dog owners on November 16.

Who’s the Top Dog Here? Dealing With Dominant Behavior.

Does your dog think he’s the leader of the pack at your house? Ignoring commands? Pushing through doorways ahead of you? Trying to move you from your favorite resting spot? When it comes to behavior problems, he may be sending you hints that he thinks he’s the top dog, and you’re the underdog.

A dominant dog may not want to hurt anyone, but just wants to be in charge. And though this article refers to the dog as “he,” it could easily be “she.” It could be a big Labrador or a little Chihuahua. Gender and size have little to do with dominance in dogs.

Remember that dogs don’t necessarily think like you and I do. They operate on a system of social behavior inherited from their wild ancestors. This centuries-old system is what keeps order among the family, or the dog pack. Dogs crave the security of knowing where they stand in the pack’s ranking. Once they understand who is in charge, they may feel much more at ease.

Look for the following signs of dominant behavior:

  • Preventing people from petting him on the top of his head.
  • Growling or barking at you during play.
  • Trying to mount or hump people. (Even female dogs may do this)
  • Refusing to release a toy or bone when commanded.
  • “Marking” (peeing on) your personal items.
  • “Mouthing” (not necessarily biting, but placing his teeth on) you.

Trying to correct dominant behavior? An obedience course is the place to start. The obedience training should involve everyone in your family, at least to some degree; consistency is key when it comes to your dog’s discipline, so everyone needs to be on the same page.

In addition to obedience training, here are some ways you can use the language of the dog pack to reinforce the message of who is in charge:

  • Does your dog have a favorite spot? A pet bed or a favorite chair? Stand or sit in that spot for a couple minutes, several times a week.
  • Don’t pet the dog unless he does something praiseworthy.
  • Before the dog’s feeding time, make sure he sees you eating first.
  • Never let the dog get up on furniture without permission.
  • Don’t let the dog sleep on your bed. If you want to let him sleep in your room, he should stay on the floor or in his own dog bed.

Most importantly, be consistent. Over time, your dog will get the message and will learn to enjoy your leadership, and you’ll enjoy your dog more, too.

New store offers pet-owner stimulus plan

A new store offers pet goods at lower pricesFor many families, an economic downturn can result in cancelled vacations or delayed back-to-school shopping sprees. One pet store in Pennsylvania, however, is attempting to stop residents from uneasily asking, "How much is that doggie in the window?"

This Saturday, October 24th, a heavily discounted pet store called Pet Cents will launch its grand opening in the Village Mall Shopping Center in Horsham. The store models itself after the typical pet care retailers, but offers all products at reduced prices. In addition to selling actual pets, Pet Cents markets pet toys, accessories, and both natural and organic foods.

As part of the grand opening, the store will participate in several events throughout the day which will benefit animal shelters and pet owners themselves. Proceeds from a flea market and bake sale held in the morning will be given to local shelters and the Against All Odds Adoption Center. In the afternoon, a car show and pet Halloween costume contest with gift card prizes will aim to keep Pet Cents customers entertained.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that the costs of caring for cats and dogs can range from $670 to $1,580 each year.

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