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April 17, 2010

Desensitizing your Dog to Having His Nails Clipped

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 12:48 am

How to Desensitize Your Dog to Having his Nails Clipped

Does your dog run away when he sees you pull out the nail clippers? Does he fidget, get nervous, or try to bite when you clip his nails? Don’t give up! It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to get your dog to accept and even like having his nails done, using a desensitization program. The purpose of this is to teach the dog very gradually to accept having his feet touched, manipulated and finally having his nails clipped, using treats to reward when he is accepting you touch his feet. Depending on how nervous your dog gets about having his nails done, this process might take some time, so be patient, it will be worth it in the long run!

1. Get a supply of tasty treats cut into tiny bites. Use something the dog loves and doesn’t get often, such as cheese, cooked chicken, or salami. Train in 5 minute sessions and always end on a good note!
2. Start without the clippers. Get your dog lying quietly and just gently touch his back foot, when he is calm, not pulling away or reacting say “YES” and immediately reward. Do this with all four feet and then end your session. Depending on the severity of your dog’s phobia you may have to do this for several 5 minute sessions.

3. Next step is to pick up the foot in your hand and put light pressure on the toe above the nail, when the dog accepts it say “YES” and reward. Do this for all 4 feet, but remember to keep the session short and fun.
4. Repeat the above step but take out the nail clippers and leave them sitting on the floor next to you during your session.
5. After this, hold the paw and pick up the clippers, but do not bring the clippers close to the nail. Again when the dog is calm say “YES” and reward.

6. When the dog accepts you picking up all four feet and pulling pressure on his toes, while holding the clippers, you can graduate to just clipping the very tip of the nail. Always mark the behaviour you like with an upbeat “YES” and reward right away.
7. When he calmly accepts getting the tip of his nail taken off you can finally start to clip his nails shorter!


May 7, 2009

Vaccination: Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 3:11 pm

This post is part of a three part series on vaccinations. I strive to always be an informed pet owner, so I have been doing research on vaccinations on top of what I have been learning in school.  The first part will address what immunity is and what a vaccination does to stimulate immunity.

The basic function of the immune system is to recognize foreign  cells that invade the body and destroy them, thus protecting the body from illness. There are two types of specific immunity.

Humoral immunity- The body acquires the ability to recognize invading cells, called antigens, and stimulates the production of antibodies, which bind to the antigens and destroy them.

Cell mediated immunity- Certain cells within the body to recognize and destroy foreign cells without the production of antibodies.

Ideally we want a combination of the two types of immunity to be fully protected. Immunity can be aquired in many different ways. It can be acquired passively, either from mothers milk, during gestation or from injection of preformed antibodies made in another animal. It can also be acquired actively, either from contracting the disease and fighting it off, or from receiving a vaccine towards a particular disease.

A vaccine is essentially a preparation of an antigen( the agent that causes a disease), that will bring about production of antibodies towards a disease without causing the animal to become ill. In order to not cause illness the bacteria or virus must be altered or weakened in some way. Typically vaccines are either killed or weakened before being injected into an animal.

When the vaccine is injected the body recognizes the foreign cells and creates antibodies towards them. The body also creates memory cells which function to remember the invading organism and launch a secondary response to it if the animal is exposed to it again. In this way the animal is protected against disease.

Vaccines are an amazing discovery that have saved many lives. In the next part I will discuss common pet vaccines and the dieases they prevent.

March 24, 2009

Roxy’s Transformation

Filed under: Personal, Rescue — myminizoo @ 1:11 am

I knew it was over the minute I saw her picture. “Blue eyed sheltie mix for only $50“, the ad boasted. But what a sad, sad excuse of a dog. She was chained to a dog house in the middle of winter. She was incredibly dirty and unkempt looking….but yet I could see the potential in her eyes. Her owners were getting rid of her as she was “too big to keep in the house”. They had gotten a toy dog for the house and then decided that they didn’t want two dogs.

I finally convinced Mike to go take a look at her ( I knew once I got him there he wouldnt be able to say no 🙂 ) We drove for nearly two hours and when we arrived there she was, chained to the front porch. I must admit I wasnt very impressed when I first saw her. She was skinny, scruffy and scrawny. Next to Tulip, all perfectly groomed, she looked like a street urchin. But, I took her off her chain, looped my leash around her kneck as all she had was a small length of rope in place of a collar, and took her out to run around. She was so excited and happy to be off the chain and started running with Tulip right away. It was her happy go lucky personality, and her complete lack of gile for the human race, despite the way she was treated that finally won me over!

And the rest, as they say, is history!


 This was Roxy only 7 months ago!


Above : Roxy just after we got her…isn’t she a sight for sore eyes?


Roxy Today


What a difference some love and good food makes!


Running happy and free at last!

March 17, 2009

Kitty Climbing Wall

Filed under: Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 1:18 pm

I am very good at thinking of projects that would be fun but not neccessarily so  great at executing them. Thats why I’m thankful that my very patient ( and handy) boyfriend Mike decided my latest hairbrained idea was a possibility!

The concept was a cat climing and perching wall for our two cats, Alaska and Sencha. They are forever sitting on our TV, on Mike’s desk, or pretty much anywhere else they’re not supposed to be. We thought it would be nice to give them a place they could climb without fear of harrasment!

I took my inspiration from this picture from


And from this picture from Modern Cat Magazine

After several days of measuring, a visit to Ikea and some cutting we ended up with this….



The Finished Product!


First Discovery



Looks like its a hit!

March 16, 2009

Biscuits for Fido

Filed under: Dog Treats — myminizoo @ 5:18 pm

Begging For Biscuits!

Italian Beef Bones


11/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 TB Oregano

1 TB Brewers Yeast

2 Large Garlic Cloves

1 Egg

2 TB Fresh Parsley

1/4 cup Beef Broth

1/4 cup Fresh Mashed Tomato

2 TB Parmesan Cheese


1) Seperate white from yolk of egg, set egg white aside

2) In a bowl combone  brewers yeast and flour and set aside

3) In a second bowl combine egg yolk, garlic,parsley, oregano, beef broth and tomato

4) When thoroughly blended add dry ingredients and mix well. Knead several times.

5) Roll to 1/4 in thickness and cut out into desired shapes.

6) Place on pan and brush with egg white

Bake at 350 for 1/2 hr

Remove from oven and sprinkle with parmesan. Return to oven for another 15 min

Enjoy! Your Dog will Love you for it!!

March 14, 2009

Training- How to teach loose leash walking

Filed under: Training — myminizoo @ 1:01 pm

How to walk on a loose leash is a skill every dog should know. It makes walks much more pleasant and helps ensure that your dog is a good canine citizen.

First of all if you have a puppy bite the bullet and start to train it from the get go to walk at your side. Once he learns that he can pull it will be much harder to teach him to walk on a loose leash.

If your dog is already a puller this process might take some time as the behaviour was learned over a long period of time. Pulling on leash is very rewarding as it often results in getting what the dog wants, such as access to other dogs, opportunity to play. We need to turn this around and make it more rewarding to stay with you.

5 Easy Steps to Loose Leash Walking

Tools needed: a regular nylon flat leash and lots of tiny soft tasty treats ( bits of cheese, hotdog, freeze died liver work well)

1) Start indoors where there is less distraction. With your dog on leash at your side put the treat infront of the dogs nose and take a step. If he walks with your say “YES” and reward. From here you can start to take a couple of steps before saying “YES” and rewarding. **VIP** Always say “YES” when the dog is parallel to your leg and then reward. This way the dog will start to realize that this is the behaviour you want.

2) Take the game outdoors. Do exactly the same, start at only taking one step, as outside has so many more distractions. Then progress to a couple of steps before rewarding. Eventually you will be able to walk for longer distances without rewarding, but lots of rewards are essential in the beginning to keep the dogs attention on you.

3) Once your dog is starting to follow you start to become unpredictable. While showing him the treat take sharp turns, go fast, go slow, run in zig-zags. The point is to keep the dog guessing where you are going next. This will teach him to follow you.

4) If the dog ignors the treat and charges out ahead of you simply become a tree. Stop dead in your tracks and wait until there is slack on the leash. If your dog doesnt get the picture at first you can back up slowly until he backs up enough that there is slack on the leash. **VIP** Only walk when there is slack in the leash! If you give into the dog and walk the direction he wants to pull you in the training process will be much slower.

5) The last step is to add a word to the behaviour so the dog does it predictably. This also allows you to release the dog from the behaviour if you want to let him go sniff or visit with another dog. Use a word such as “HEEL” or “SIDE” . But, be careful to only add the word when the dog truely understands the behaviour. To add the word simply say the word while the dog is heeling and reward when he does it correctly.


 Happy Heeling!

March 11, 2009

Adoptable Pet of the Month

Filed under: Rescue — myminizoo @ 12:59 am


Holly is waiting for a new home at Animatch

Hollie is a puppy who is now in need of a home. Hollie and her two sisters were from a litter of 10; their family could not find homes for the last three girls. Hollie and her sisters are lucky—they will be sterilized before adoption and they will not be producing any unwanted litters! Hollie is ready and eager to go to her new home. Since Hollie is a pup, only homes where she is not alone all day will be considered. Hollie needs training, supervision, and exercise sprinkled throughout the day. Puppy and Basic Obedience classes should definitely be in her future. Dogs can only be good companions if they know what is expected of them. Hollie’s parents were a Lab X and a Collie X so she will probably weigh between 45-60 lbs. when full grown. At the moment, she just loves to play with her siblings and is meeting lots of other dogs and, of course, humans. If you are ready to make the commitment to Hollie, please fill in the on-line Adoption Form at

Details about Hollie

Sex: Female

Breed: Labrador X Collie

Size: Large

Age: DOB Dec. 11, 2008

Status: Available for Adoption

Animatch- The Option is Adoption 

Animatch has humble beginnings. It was founded in 1999 by Helen Lacroix, a busy wife and mother.

Her grassroots movement started around her kitchen table. Helen credits her parents with instilling in her their love and concern for animals. Today, Animatch boasts a centre with accommodation for a dozen dogs and a dedicated team of volunteers. Find out more about the adoption center and Hollie at

March 6, 2009

Health: Dental Health

Filed under: Health Care — myminizoo @ 9:38 pm

When was the last time you took a good look inside your dog or cats mouth? If you are like the majority of the population it’s probably been a while. Regular dental care is probably the most overlooked area of pet health. According to the American Veterinary Dental Association 70-80 % of dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease by only age 3!  Periodontal disease can not only be a cosmetic problem causing yellow teeth and bad breath but it can be the cause of deeper problems such as heart murmurs or kidney disease. This article will attempt to demystify pet dental care.

Does your pets mouth look like this?

Or like this?

What is Periodontal Disease?

Peridontal disease starts with the accumulation of plaque that forms on the teeth after eating. If not cleaned the plaque accumulates and hardens into tartar on the teeth. The buildup of plaque also cause bad breath or halotosis . In time the gums react to the build up of tartar causing redness and inflammation; a condition called gingivitis. If not treated the gums will continue to become more inflamed due to the increase of plaque and will eventually be damaged and recede. This loss of gum tissue will cause the teeth to become unstable. Tooth loss,  abscess formation, and even bone infection can then occur.

Why is Periodontal Disease bad for my pet?

 Has your dog  or cat ever come over to you to give you a kiss and the moment he opened his mouth you were struck with a wall of stench? Many people think that bad breath or “doggy or kitty breath”  in pets is normal. It’s not. Bad breath is usually the first sign that a dog or cat is in the early stages of periodontal disease. But periodontal disease does not only cause cosmetically undesirable things such as bad breath, bleeding gums and tooth loss it can also affect your pets internal organs.

The buildup of plaque in dogs or cats mouth is full of bacteria. Once the gums become inflamed the bacteria is then able to freely access the blood stream. The bacteria can then spread to other areas of the body and can cause heart, liver or kidney disease as these are the organs that blood flows through. These disease are often fatal.

So, How can I tell if my dog or cat has periodontal disease?

Look for these signs: The first three signs are early signs of the disease while the remaining are more severe.

1) Smelly Breath

2) Red inflamed gums

3) Yellow hard calculus build up on teeth

4) Reluctance to eat

5) Drooling or pawing at the mouth

6) Facial sensitivity

7) Bleeding gums or tooth loss

If your pet has any of these common symptoms its important to start dental care. The early stages of periodontal disease can sometimes be reversed, but if the condition progresses your pet will have to have a professional cleaning and may have to have teeth removed.

How can I prevent dental problems?

There are two schools of thought on dental care. Conventional vets will usually recommend that you brush your pets teeth daily and use dental chews. While more holistically oriented vets will usually recommend giving your dog fresh raw bone to chew on to clean the teeth. I will discuss the pros and cons of both.

Dental disease can be prevented by brushing your dogs teeth every day and providing him with dental chews. There are also dental rinses, and water additives that have antimicrobial properties.


  • Will prevent tartar and plaque formation if used properly


  • Requires getting your pet used to having his mouth manipulated
  • Must be done everyday to be effective
  • Products can be expensive
  • Will only clean the outside surface of the teeth and tartar can still accumulate on the inside

Dental disease can also be prevented by providing your pet with the opportunity to chew on raw bones. Raw bones have been dubbed natures toothbrush as they effectively clean both sides of the teeth and the gums. Large dogs can chew on marrow bones, beef rib bones or turkey necks; while smaller dogs and cats would be more comfortable with small bones such as chicken necks.


  • Clean all the teeth and the gums while exercising the jaw muscles
  • Provide mental stimulation and keep your dog busy
  • Are inexpensive
  • Less time consuming

Below- Picture of a 4 year old raw fed dog- teeth are perfectly white- most dogs and cats have dental problems by 4


  • Have to be careful of what kind of bones you give. Some bones such as beef knuckle are easily broken off into large chunks and can be swallowed.
  • Have to monitor your pet while he is eating as there is a slight risk of choking

 No more smelly doggy kisses! Having a pet with a clean mouth is so pleasant and is better for their health and longevity.

Go hug your pet and start regular dental care today!

March 4, 2009

Exercise- The Missing Link

Filed under: Health Care, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 4:59 am

One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to provide it with enough exercise.  Exercise combats obesity, and keeps your dog is tip top shape. Unfortunately, obesity is one of the most common health problems in both dogs and cats. Obese pets live shorter lives and suffer many of the same problems obese people do, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. This is an important thing to consider as the average dog lives just 12 years and health problems catch up to them quite fast. It’s up to you to make sure your dog stays fit. After all I have yet to see a dog take itself for a walk!

 An added benefit is that exercise drastically reduces behaviour problems.  Almost every “problem” dog behaviour is just a natual dog behavior that has gotten out of control due to pent up energy and frustration. Take chewing for instance, dogs do it. Period. The problem comes in when dogs start to chew excessively. This problem directly stems from boredom, and of course lack of supervision. Many other behaviors such as barking, digging, hyperactivity, and food stealing can all be linked to lack of exercise.


Most people get dogs and don’t fully realize the level of energy the dog will have.  They expect the dog to be content to run around the backyard and go on a 20 minute walk. This just doesn’t cut it! If you think of what your dog was bred to do it starts to make sense. The retrievers were ment to run all day in the field, either pointing, flushing or retrieving game, the terriers were ratters, ment to race around chasing vermin, the hounds were bred to hunt prey by sight or scent, the herding were ment to heard animals all day,and the working group performed a variety of jobs from guarding to carting. You can see that there are no couch potatoes amoung these dogs! They can go all day, and need frequent regular exercise. There are of course some exceptions, some breeds require less exercise such as the Mastiff, Great Dane, Newfondland, and some of the toy breeds, but even these can benefit from a good daily walk.




Now that we have established that exercise is important I need to clarify what kind of exercise I’m talking about. I believe every dog should have mental and physical exercise everyday. Its important to exercise the mind and the body as it this will result in a fully tired out dog. If you only exercise the body you will only end up with a really really fit totally out of control dog!

Miranda’s Daily Doggy Exercise Schedule

1) Walking– Walking is great as it exercises you at the same time! It also give the dog an oportunity to smell out the neighborhood and have a change of scenery. Walking is also important as the act of having your dog walk with you reinforces your leadership. Walk with your dog beside you and have him stop and sit beside you at cross walks. This will teach the dog to be more in sync with you and will improve your relationship. If you prefer biking, running, or roller blading these are all GREAT alternatives to walking!

2) Free Play– Free dog playtime is essential as it allows the dog time to just be a dog and interact with others of his kind. This helps him work on his social skills. VIP: Do not think that because you took your dog to the dog park you do not need to walk him! Walking is just as important in order to achieve a well balanced dog!

3) Obedience or Trick Training– This is the part that will work your dogs brain. Teach him a new trick such as sit up, roll over, play dead… get creative! Or simply work on your obedience training together.

4)Play with toys– Playing fetch or tug of war is an excellent energy burner provided you are always in control of the game. You have to teach your dog a “drop” as well as a “take” command so that the game progresses at your pace not his.

Increasing exercise not only helps keep your dog in shape and prevents behavioural problems but it also really builds a strong bond with your dog. Some days I don’t feel like going out in the cold with the dogs, but when I do it always makes me feel better. There’s something about watching dogs run at top speed with blissful abandon that’s good for the soul.

Thats all for now… What are you waiting for?

Go Walk Your Dog!

February 20, 2009

What’s For Dinner?

Filed under: Raw Food Diet, Uncategorized — myminizoo @ 9:20 pm

A few months ago I did an extensive post on raw food diets for dogs and cats. If you haven’t caught that yet you can do so here :

I feel this is the healthiest diet for pet companion animals, but I realize that it can seem quite daunting to those that have never done it before. I remember when I started… I was always worried if I was using the right ingredients in the right ratios. Should I feed supplements? How much do I feed?  Am I feeding enough meat/organs/ eggs? How do I know if my menu is balanced?? etc. etc.

So to simplify things for you I decided to post a little tutorial. This should give you a bit more of an idea should you decide to take the plunge.

 Note: This is just what works for me, there are many different diet variations. You have to take what I say and use it as a spring board. I encourage anyone who is interested in starting their pets on raw to do their research. It’s a lot of work in the beginning but in the end you will have a very good understanding of your pets nutitional needs.

This post is not for the faint of heart!

Tulip Roxy and Alaska waiting at the kitchen door for supper!

Tulip Roxy and Alaska waiting at the kitchen door for supper!

The Basic Diet for the Dogs is:

60-70% Raw Meaty Bones ( chicken necks, backs, or carcasses, turkey necks or wings, pork riblets, lamb riblets etc.)

20-30% Meat, Eggs, Organs, or Yogurt ( I try to vary the types of meats and organs as much as possible, and I only feed yogurt ocasionally)

5-10% Veges ( These are really optional. Many don’t feed them at all and have very health dogs. I choose to include them usually closer to the 5 % mark. The veges are raw and pulped to better mimic the stomach contents of prey)

Supplements (Optional, some feed them to offset what they feed is lacking in the diet)

Basic Diet for Cats:

50% Raw Meaty Bones

50% Eggs,Organs or Meat


The menu for today is:

Fresh Chicken Carcasses

 Fresh Chicken Carcasses

Fresh Chicken Carcasses

Fresh Chicken Gizzards
Fresh Eggs

Pureed Vegetables


Supplements – I use Salmon Oil ( Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Vitamin C & E ( Antioxidant vitamins) and Kelp( Trace Minerals and Iodine)


I measure out a certain amount of each ingredient according to which diet model I am following.

Amount to feed per day

2-3% of each pets body weight in food per day

Take your pets weight and multiply it by 16 to get his weight # in oz.  Then multiply that number by .02 or .03 to get the # of oz to feed  per day.

Then multiply that # by .70 to get the percentage of Raw Bones to feed, .25 to get the amount of meat to feed and .05 to get the amount of veges to feed.


Roxy weighs 22 lbs X 16 = 352 oz

.o3 of 352 = 10.5 OZ total per day

10.5 X .70 = 7.4 oz Raw Meaty Bones per day

10.5 X .25 = 2.6oz meat or extras per day

10.5 X .05= .5 oz veges per day

Sounds super complicated but its not. I am horrible at math so if I can do it you can too!

I use this as a rough guide, some days they may get a little more or a little less of something. It’s all about balance over time.

This can be closer to 1.5 if the pet is chubby, or up at 3 if the pet is very active.



It requires a bit more effort than opening a bag of the crunchy stuff, but I think the time is worth it. My pets have never been healthier or more excited about meal times!


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