What’s the Main Difference Between Papillon and Phalene?


Almost everybody is familiar with the papillon dog breed, a small dog breed known for its flashy looking fringed ears that somewhat resemble butterflies, but not many people are familiar with the phalene variety, a variation of this breed that is gradually undergoing a resurgence in popularity. Interestingly, the American Kennel Club accepts both varieties which are categorized as the same breed. In the USA, papillon are allowed to breed with phalene and their matings can produce litters encompassing both varieties. This is in contrast with what is allowed in nations governed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale where the papillon and phalene are considered two distinctly separated dog breeds.  So today we will be discovering what’s the main difference between the papillon and the phalene. Will you guess the right answer?

What’s the main difference between papillon and phalene?

A  Their distinguishing feature is their tails.

B Their distinguishing feature is their size.

C Their distinguishing feature is their coat color.

D Their distinguishing feature is their ears.

The Correct Answer is: drum roll please…



The correct answer is D, the main difference between papillon and phalene is their ears.

Introducing the Phalene

The phalene is a variation of the papillon, and, as mentioned, the main distinguishing feature that differentiates the phalene from the papillon is the ears. The phalene has dropped ears. The American Kennel Club describes the ears as being similar to the erect type, but being completely down.

Phalene are known to be one of the oldest specimens of the toy spaniels, also known as Continental Toy Spaniels, from which they descend. Phalene are basically the earliest form of the papillon.

There is belief that it is towards the end of the 19th century that fanciers started breeding a version with the erect ears. This version was called papillon, meaning butterfly, while the version with dropped ears was called phalene, meaning night moth.

While some years ago, the popularity of phalene diminished to near extinction, fortunately nowadays there has been growing interest in breeding this variety.

“In judging the phalène it should be remembered that apart from the ears the variety is identical in all other respects to the papillon and should be judged accordingly.”~Papillon Club of America

Introducing the Papillon

The papillon dog breed derives its name from the large butterfly-like ears, fringed with hairs. Indeed, the word “papillon” is the French term for butterfly. The papillon dog breed is categorized by the American Kennel Club under the toy group, a breed group encompassing the smallest kinds of dogs.

The ears in the papillon are described as being erect and carried obliquely, moving like the spread wings of a butterfly. These small dogs were much cherished by royal families around Europe, with many of them being portrayed in works of art.

It was towards the end of the 19th century that the ears of the papillon become fashionable and the breed became quite popular, much more than the phalene and was therefore given the name of papillon due to the distinguishing feature.

“Suddenly, toward the end of the 19th Century, the erect ear carriage with its butterfly appearance became highly fashionable. In fact, it so caught the public fancy that the new term of “Papillon” quickly became the name for the entire breed.”~Rachel D. Kemmerer 


  • American Kennel Club, Papillon Breed Standard, retrieved from the web on December 27th, 2016
  • Papillon Club of America, retrieved from the web on December 27th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • Spaniel_miniaturowy_kontynentalny_phalene na Światowej Wystawie Psów Rasowych w Poznaniu Pleple2000Own work CCBY3.0
  • Flickr Creative Commons, mika I love dog! CCBY2.0

Why is There Ash in My Dog’s Food?


If you ever read a dog’s food label, you may have noticed that among the list of ingredients there is ash. What is ash doing in your dog’s food? Is it really ash as the ash you would find after having a barbecue? And most of all, is it healthy for dogs to have ash in their food? With the many unscrupulous things pet food manufacturers have been known for doing in the past decades to make easy money, it’s tempting to point the finger and blame ash content as one of those things that shouldn’t be there. So today’s trivia question is:

Why is there ash in dog food?

A It’s added as a filler to make kibble less expensive to make

B It’s residue from cooking bones that should be removed but it’s not

C It’s a pet food label’s way of describing mineral content

D It accidentally gets there and cannot be removed

The correct answer is: drum roll please….




The Correct Answer is, C, ash in dog food is on the label to describe the mineral content of a dog’s food.

ash-in-dog-foodAbout Ash in Dog Food 

When it comes to ash in dog food, it’s not really what it sounds. So, no, it’s not the type of ash we are used to seeing as when burning charcoal for a barbecue or burning wood in a fireplace. Ash in this case, refers to the amount of minerals that are found in the food. Ash is therefore not an ingredient that’s purposely added to a dog’s food, it’s just there because it’s part of the food.

Basically, ash is the mineral content that would be left behind if the dog food was incinerated at high temperatures (like at 550 degrees) causing proteins, fats and carbs to be burned, leaving behind all the minerals.

Yes, technically speaking it’s the “cremains” left behind if you were to “cremate” a canned dog food or a pile of kibble. Of course, the food you feed your dog is not incinerated, unless for laboratory testing purposes, otherwise what a waste that would be! Ash content is therefore just a statistical measurement of the combustible part of the food.

 “Ash is the inorganic residue remaining after the water and organic matter have been removed by heating in the presence of oxidizing agents, which provides a measure of the total amount of minerals within a food.”~University of Massachusetts Amherst

Is Ash in Dog Food Bad?food

Since ash consists of minerals, it’s a good thing to have in dog food. Indeed, ash is also often found in many human foods if you have time to read labels. Ash contains calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and other trace minerals that dogs need in their diets. For instance, zinc is much needed for the skin, calcium and phosphorous are needed for healthy bones, while potassium is essential for the heart and kidneys. Generally though dogs do not need a whole lot of minerals though. So yes, ash in dog food is actually a good thing and also quite inevitable, but as with everything, moderation is key. If you are looking for precise numbers of recommendations, consult with a veterinary nutritionist.

idea tipDid you know? Many dog food manufacturers do not disclose their ash statistics. Indeed, according to Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) ash guarantee is not required on pet food labeling.

puppy food

Expressed in Percentages

There are a myriad of dog food types on the market nowadays and each brand of dog food varies when it comes to moisture and ash content. The amount of ash in dog food is expressed in percentages. The percentage basically reflects the amount of ash remaining at the end of the incinerating process compared to how much food there was to start with at the beginning of the process. Usually, these percentages range between 5 and 8 percent in kibble and between 1 and 2 percent in canned food. The total ash content found in a bag of food however isn’t really helpful when it comes to indicate the specific minerals in it. More information though may be obtained from contacting the dog food manufacturer.

“I was taught ash of 7% or lower is the goal in constructing a quality food… Ash denotes the amount of bone that’s ground into the meal. A low ash content signifies a higher grade meal due to more protein included and less bone…Cost of using higher quality proteins, thus lower ash, then comes into play and you can tell that by what a food costs.”~Dr. Tim Hunt, DVM

Today, computers can easily measure ash content.

An Insight into The Procedure

As one may imagine, the process of measuring  moisture and ash content is quite elaborate for pet food manufacturing companies. It entails carefully monitoring the food’s mineral contents and moisture routinely so to maintain a high level of consistency. The traditional method requires ovens or furnaces which can be time consuming, but now there are new computers on the market which are meant to measure moisture, solids and ash contents with accuracy at 1/10 of the time for moisture testing and 1/7 of the time for ash testing. These computers can effectively provide an in-depth analysis from a single sample.



  • Dogs: The Ultimate Care Guide: Good Health, Loving Care, Maximum Longevity, by Matthew Hoffman, Rodale Books (May 15, 1998)
  • Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, p 55


Why Does My Dog Like to Run Away?


Let’s face it: a dog who likes to run away can make you feel as if you or your home aren’t attractive enough and you may somewhat feel betrayed by your dog’s running away behavior. You might also feel a bit offended especially when you think of dogs being depicted as loyal companions who just want to stick by their owner’s side, take “Shadow”, for instance, your next door neighbor’s dog who follows her around all day. Don’t take it too personal though, not all dogs carry the word “Shadow” as their nickname. As social animals, from a dog’s perspective venturing in the great outdoors is quite an attraction, and the exhilarating sensation associated with it may even beat those doggy cookies you are trying to offer to convince your dog to come back home.

dog fencePossible Reasons Why Your Dog Likes to Escape

There are several reasons why dogs like to escape, but you may have to put on your investigative hat to discover what may be triggering your dog’s behavior. Does your dog get stressed when you are getting ready for work? Where does your dog go when he escapes? What does he do? By investigating what keeps your dog’s escaping behavior alive, you may be able to come up with some resources that can potentially make the behavior less desirable to engage in in the future. Following are several reasons why your dog may like to escape.

Looking for Entertainment

If your dog is in the yard all day, there are chances he may be bored and under-stimulated. Each and every day, he is secluded to that space where nothing special really happens. After sniffing around and urine marking some spots, life gets boring quickly. Dogs can’t play Sudoku or play that new video game that just came out. Oh, and playing tug with some tree roots, chewing up the garden hose and barking at the mailman gets old after some time. Yet, life beyond that fence seems quite the opposite and attractive. There are kids playing with a ball, people are walking their dogs and the breeze keeps wafting the scent of a roaming cat. Soon temptation sets in. It’s sort of like a child looking over a fence that unveils Disneyland on the other side. Soon, the dog sees an opportunity to escape. The gate was accidentally left ajar or your dog may have come to realize that the fence has a weak spot through which he can crawl under or squeeze through.

Once out, a stimulating world unveils beyond a bored dog’s eyes. He gets to play a game of ball with the kids, he follows at a distance other people walking their dogs, he gets to chase the neighbor’s cat, and as bonus, while he’s out there, he may even get some tasty goodies such as a taste of a leftover piece of sandwich left over the curb.  In just one outing he gets exercised, receives attention and even gets something to eat, quenching those hunger pangs he has been feeling for some time! Rover sure has a fun day out there until his owner returns home, snaps a leash on his collar and returns him to, yes, you got it, that super boring yard. What party poopers dog owners are!

“Fenced dogs may not get much exercise and may get less than dogs that are leash walked, played with Frisbees and balls, taken to agility training or obedience training or involved in competitive jumping.” ~ Karen Overall

Searching For a Matedog love

If your dog is intact, meaning that he wasn’t fixed, he may be escaping to find a soul mate. No, dogs don’t look at newspaper ads to meet attractive singles nor do they join clubs like “Doggy Matchmakers” or “Canine Mingle.” If you think your dog is not escaping to meet a new love because you’re not aware of any intact “ladies” in your area, think again. Dogs can smell a female dog in heat from quite some distance, and those sure are powerful hormones! Female dogs in heat will urine mark quite a lot so to advertise their availability and it sure seems to work better than ads or dating sites. All it takes is a whiff of that stuff and soon intact males will be showing up by her doorstep in hopes of meeting Princess Fluffy, the new French poodle in town. And just to get the facts straight, intact male dogs aren’t the only ones to roam for love. Even intact female dogs may run away in search of a mate, given the opportunity.

“When your dog is in heat she gives off pheromones which a male dog can smell from miles away. Male dogs will become interested in her and may fight over her.”~ Banfield Pet Hospital

Desperately Seeking Owneranxiety

At the opposite side of the spectrum, there are dogs who escape for the simple fact that they want to be re-united with their owners. Perhaps one of the best examples of these loyal pooches is the story of Hachiko, the famous Akita who would escape so he could meet and greet his owner at the end of each day at the nearby Shibuya Station.

In particular, dogs suffering from separation distress may try to escape their homes and yards in hopes of reaching their owners. In the home, these dogs may focus on scratching at doors and windows, while in the yard they may dig their way under the fence.

Just following their owner’s fresh scent and getting to greet their owner even if at the end of the day is self-fulfilling as these dogs may feel as if they have gotten a bit closer to their goal.

Responding to Fear

In some cases, dogs may be escaping as a response to frightening situations. Out of desperation, a dog may dig his way out of the yard if he feels frightened by scary noises such as thunder storms or firecrackers. If crated, these dogs may even injure themselves as sheer panic takes over and they try to chew or dig their way out. In some cases, dogs may be escaping when they move to a new home and they want to find their way to their former home where they felt more secure and had a strong sense of belonging.

10 Tips for Dogs That Escapedog escape

Dogs who escape and roam the neighborhood are at risk from being hit by cars, being exposed to toxic material and being injured by other animals. Dogs may also be a liability to other people and animals they encounter. Worth mentioning is also fecal contamination. Controlling roaming behaviors in dogs is a public health and community matter that’s often restricted. It’s therefore in the dog’s best interest to minimize his chances for escaping. Following are some important tips:

  • Always keep proper identification on your dog. If your dog doesn’t wear ID tags or has a microchip, he may never be returned home and he can even be potentially euthanized by the shelter.
  • Ensure proper containment. Install secure fencing, make sure that all gates are securely latched, and if your dog has a habit of bolting out of the door, make sure he’s secured in a room when you must head out.
  • For bored dogs, try implementing changes to make their lives more stimulating. Add environmental enrichment , games and fun reward-based training so that staying home becomes more attractive.
  • Ensure your dog has ample of opportunities for releasing pent-up energy during the day. Walk your dog,and if you don’t have the time, hire a dog walker.
  • Train a strong recall and use it to call your dog for meal times, play or when you have a new toy.
  • Remove any reinforcement your dog gains should he/she manage to ever escape again. Ask your neighbors to ignore your dog and refrain from giving him/her any goodies, ask kids to not play with your dog when he/she escapes.
  • Dogs suffering from anxiety need to be treated accordingly.
  • In dogs escaping to search for a mate, neutering and spaying may reduce the behavior. According to a study, castrating male dogs resulted in a 60 to 90 percent reduction in roaming behaviors. Of course, this would address only hormone- induced roaming (to search for a mate).
  • Never punish your dog for escaping, no matter how frustrated you feel. Your dog will think he’s being punished for coming to you rather than escaping and next time this may result in your dog running away when called or your dog running away when you try to approach him. Instead, when you get your dog, praise him lavishly and reward with a fun game of tug or stroll around the block before returning home. This way your dog doesn’t associate coming to you with something negative such as returning to the ho-hum… so boring yard.
  • Keep in mind that electronic fencing won’t help dogs who tend to escape. These fences not only may not work as dogs may still escape from them, but they can also potentially cause serious behavior consequences such as fear, anxiety and re-directed aggression overtime. Invest in a solid fence instead.



  • Effects of castration on behavior of male dogs with reference to the role of age and experience. Neilson JC, Eckstein RA, Hart BL. JAVMA 211:180-182, 1997.
    Banfield Pet Hospital, Is my dog in heat, retrieved from the web on July 28th 2016
  • Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, 1e 1 Pap/DVD Edition by Karen Overall, Mosby; 1 Pap/DVD edition (July 9, 2013)


Dog Ear Shapes and Types


There’s no shadow of doubt that by tinkering with genetics, humans have made the dog the most varied species on earth, a practice leading to different body sizes, coat colors and even different types of ear shapes. Interestingly, in the world of dogs, there’s much more than erect ears and pendulous ears which are what most of us are accustomed to. So today, let’s discover a variety of ears dogs are equipped with and the quite colorful terms used by fanciers and some kennel clubs to depict them. And these are just a few, as there are many more!

Erect Earserect dog ears

As the name implies, these ears are upright, and therefore, pointing upwards. This is the traditional ear position seen in many “wolfish looking” dogs such as German shepherds, Belgian malinois and several Nordic breeds such as Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes and Samoyed. Erect ears are also found in smaller dog breeds such as Norwich terriers, west highland white terriers and Yorkshire terriers.

Many people are attracted by erect ears because it gives dogs an over all wolfish, alert and intelligent look. Not all erect ears though are natural. In some cases, they are the result of a cosmetic surgical procedure known as “ear cropping.”

When you see Dobermans, great Danes and boxers with erect ears, what you are likely seeing are dogs who were born with floppy or semi-erect ears who went through a surgical procedure to make them appear erect.

dog drop ears Drop Ears

As the name implies, drop ears are ears that are pendulous and therefore are hanging down. Interestingly, this type of ear is often associated with domestication. Even back in 1923, German shepherd breeder Max V. Stephanitz, speculated that floppy ears are the hall mark sign of domestication. In his book “The German Shepherd Dog In Word And Picture” he claimed: “The domestic animal living in security has no need to keep its ears continuously strained in all directions for self-protection; the muscles of the ear therefore gradually lose their tension allowing the ear to sag and then to drop altogether.” This process was proven in the famous “farm fox experiment.” As wild foxes were selectively bred based on docile temperaments, the erect ears started becoming floppy and new coat colors replaced the previous coat color meant for camouflaging in their natural environment. However, these changes only partially affect dogs as they still depend on their hearing and many breeds were selectively bred to be alert watchdogs.

Many dog owners are attracted to dogs with drop ear shapes because they tend to give a neotenous, puppy-like look. Labrador retrievers, golden retriever and Chesapeake Bay retrievers are a few breeds with drop ears. These breeds were bred for swimming and therefore there are chances those drop ears were selectively bred for to prevent water from entering the ears, explains Christine Zink in the book “Peak Performance EBook: Coaching the Canine Athlete.” Many other dog breeds are known to have drop ears.

bat earsBat Ears

Bats are known for having very big ears, so as the name implies, a dog with bat ears has erect ears that are disproportionate compared to the head. According to the American Kennel Club, the French bulldog has bat ears with ears that are broad at the base, elongated, set high on the head and with a rounded top. Bat ears are so distinctive of this breed that anything other than bat ears is means for disqualification.

Rose Earsrose ear dog

Technically, this ear is erect but it’s characterized by the fact that the skin folds backwards causing the end part of the pinna of the ear to fall to the side. The name of this ear likely derives from this ear’s shape due to the folds resembling somewhat the petals of a rose.

According to the American Kennel Club, whippets must have rose ears that are small, fine in texture and, when the dog is relaxed, should be, thrown back and folded along the neck, while when attentive the fold should be maintained. Erect ears are severely penalized in this breed. Other dog breed with rose ears are greyhounds and Italian greyhounds which also boast ears that are small, fine in texture, and thrown back and folded except when excited or alerted.

Semi-Pricked Earssemi pricked ears

Also known as semi-erect ears, cocked ears or tipped ears, some dogs may have ears that are somewhere in between erect ears and drop ears. In dogs with semi-pricked ears, the ears are basically erect, but they tend to fold over at the tip. Dog breeds with semi-pricked ears include the collie, Shetland sheepdog and fox terrier. According to the American Kennel Club, the border collie may have ears that are erect or semi-erect. When semi-erect the ear tips must fold forward or outward to the side.

button earButton Ears

Cute as a button! This ear may at a a first glance appear semi-pricked, but instead of the ear bending over at the tip, the skin fold is longer and therefore covers a larger amount of the ear. The name “button ears “derived from the appearance of this ear which somewhat resembles the buttoned fold seen on pockets on a shirt. This ear type is seen in several breeds. In the pug’s breed standard, the American Kennel Club,  describes the ears in this breed as being small and soft, like black velvet. Two kinds are accepted – the “rose” and the “button” but preference is given to the latter. Other breeds with button ears include the Jack Parson terrier and the fox terrier.  There are chances that this ear shape was selectively bred for in small terriers so to protect them from  considering these breeds were bred to hunt in tunnels.

butterfly dog earsButterfly Ears
This ear type is characteristic of the papillon breed. The butterfly ear is an erect ear that is carried obliquely and, as the name implies, tends to move like the spread wings of a butterfly. Not all papillon dog comes with this ear type though.

Within a litter, some specimens may exhibit the typical butterfly ear while some others may carry a dropped ear. The drop-eared variety is known as phalene which means moth-eared in French.


candle flame earsCandle-Flame Ears

This type of ear is exclusively seen in the English toy terrier. As the namme implies, this ear resembles somewhat the flame of a candle. Basically, these are long and narrow erect ears.

According to the Kennel Club of the United Kingdom, this breed has candle-flame ears that are erect, set high on the back of the head with slightly pointed tips.

filbert ear



Filbert Ear

The Filbert ear is a unique type of ear that is only seen in the Bedlington terrier. This ear is triangular in shape with rounded tips and is velvety in texture. Its most characteristic trait is the small silky tassel found at the tip.

The name of this ear derives from the word “filbert” which depicts a nut of the hazel family.


folded earsFolded Ears

This an extreme form of the drop ear characterized by very long ears that hang down a lot and have distinct folds. It’s the ear that touches the ground as often seen in the blood hound and basset hound. This type of ear is characteristic of dogs selectively bred for tracking.

Those long ears basically drag to the ground and help stir up scent molecules, observes Anne Legge, a breeder of bloodhound champion bloodlines in the book “Dogspeak: How to Understand Your Dog and Help Him Understand You. ” 



  • Dogspeak: How to Understand Your Dog and Help Him Understand You (Dog Care Companions) Rodale Books; 1 edition (September 18, 1999)
  • The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture by Max von Stephanitz, Hoflin Pub Ltd (January 1994)
  • Psychology Today, Stanley Coren  What Shape is Your Dog’s Ear?”, retrieved from the web on July 22,2016
  • Peak Performance – Coaching the Canine Athlete Kindle Edition by M. Christine Zink DVM PhD,  Howell Book House (October 1992)

Photo Credits:

Boutchie, un Bedlington Terrier en janvier 2003. David Owsiany – GFDL

English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan) at the City of Birmingham Championship Dog Show 2003 – “Ch Shanedale All Eyez On Me”Sannse at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Read This if Your Dog Eats Bugs


We already know that dogs tend to eat the most odd things they encounter so it’s not surprising if they’re also interested in catching and eating bugs. With summer in full swing, the yard may be populated by a variety of bugs, it’s therefore not unusual for dogs to be attracted by their movements which triggers a dog’s predatory drive. One moment the dog may be chasing the bug, the next it has become his meal.. and a crunchy one too! A dog eating a bug may look like an innocent, yet gross pastime, but there are actually some dangers to be aware of that come along with this practice. But first a little head’s up: if you’re squeamish about seeing bugs, you may not want to scroll down or you may want to enlist the help of somebody who doesn’t share your entomophobia (yes, that’s the term for people who are scared of bugs!)

dog bug

cockroachMy Dog Ate a Cockroach

Besides from being creepy critters, roaches can transmit parasites to your cat or dog. Cockroaches are carriers of Physaloptera spp, also known more commonly as the stomach worm, explains veterinarian Robert R. Hase, in an article for DVM360.

In order to get this parasite, your dog will have to ingest an infected roach which acts as an intermediate host.

Once the infective larvae are ingested (they come with the roach), they will develop into worms that attach to the dog’s stomach and intestinal lining causing physalopterosis, an infection of the gastrointestinal tract.

The most common symptoms associated with this disorder are vomiting, sometimes accompanied by loss of appetite and dark feces even though some cases remain asymptomatic. Don’t expect symptoms of this infection though to occur right away; symptoms from these worms tend to develop later on once the larvae mature into adults.

Dogs who vomit shortly after eating a cockroach are likely reacting to these bugs’ hard legs and wing casings which may irritate the stomach  On top of being carriers of the stomach worm, cockroaches can have a nice coating of roundworm eggs on their surface, which can be ingested when your puppy or dog plays with the roach and eats it, further adds Dr. Hase.

My Dog Ate a Cricketcricket

Among all bugs, crickets are very tempting for dogs to chase around because they hop in an unpredictable manner. Some dogs must find them tasty too as they happily chew on these crunchy bugs with a satisfied look on their faces!

Fortunately, crickets are not toxic to dogs and they’re also a good source of protein, minerals and fat,  so much so that they’re eaten by people across the globe.

However, other than being a good source of nutrients, crickets as cockroaches, may also be carriers of the “stomach worm”Physaloptera spp.” However, don’t expect for your dog to get sick with these worms immediately after ingestion, it may take time for the worms to develop and start causing problems. If your dog vomits shortly after eating a cricket, it’s most likely caused by the cricket’s rough texture which according to veterinarian Dr. Gabby may irritate the dog’s stomach.

stink bugMy Dog Ate a Stink Bug

OK, most dogs won’t eat stink bugs for the simple fact that these bugs stink! The stink bug’s secretions, which are made of chemicals known as aldehydes, act as a deterrent and will cause drooling due to their bitter taste.

Other than tasting foul, those defensive secretions can also act as an irritant. If the stink bug secretions end up in the dog’s eyes, they may cause temporary stinging and pain.

While stink bugs aren’t really toxic to dogs, dogs who manage to ingest them may develop gastrointestinal upset and vomiting that generally is self-limited and resolves on its own in over 8 to 12 hours, explains veterinarian Dr. Gary.

My Dog Ate a Cicadacicada

Cicadas along with crickets, are commonly seen in the summer and they tend to make us aware of them courtesy of their singing. If your dog eats a cicada, you will likely hear a lot of crunching as they are quite big bugs.

According to veterinarian Dr. Peter, cicadas are not toxic, but their exoskeletons can irritate the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Affected dogs may develop mild to severe vomiting and diarrhea in some cases. The good news is that other than causing some upset stomach in dogs, these bugs don’t sting or bite.

spiderMy Dog Ate a Spider

This can be concerning, especially when the ingested spider is a venomous one and the spider has managed to bite the dog. In a case of a dog bitten by a spider upon eating it, there would be drooling and oral pain, explains Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian.

However, according to Dr. Bruce the good news is that if the dog wasn’t bitten, the venom in the spider will get diluted and the dog’s stomach acid would digest the spider, causing no problems to the dog. So, yes, it’s quite important to determine whether the dog got bitten by a toxic spider or not and watch for signs of allergic reactions or toxicity. Keeping a watchful eye and consulting with a vet when in doubt is the best course of action.

My Dog ate  a Caterpillarcaterpillar

A dog eating a caterpillar can be concerning, considering that several species are toxic; therefore it all depends on the type ingested. Even if the caterpillar ingested would turn out not being toxic, the tiny hairs can cause irritation in the dog’s mouth and digestive tract.

According to veterinarian Mark Nunez, toxic caterpillars include the monarch butterfly caterpillar (which feeds on milkweed which contain chemicals that can be toxic to the heart,) the puss or asp caterpillar, the slug caterpillar, also known as saddleback, the hag moth or monkey slug, the gypsy moth which is popular in New England and the Lonomia species popular in Brazil.

When in doubt, best to consult with a vet if you suspect your dog ingested a caterpillar. Here are some pictures of stinging caterpillars from the University of Kentucky Entomology Department: Stinging Caterpillars.

fireflyMy Dog Ate a Firefly

Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, can look like innocent critters, but fireflies of the Photinus genus are known to stir trouble for small animals. According to Doctors Foster and Smith, the light emitted by male fireflies helps them find a soul mate, but as with other colorful insects, it also functions as a “keep away” warning for potential predators. Fireflies are known to contain toxins known as “lucibufagins” which are toxic to lizards, amphibians, birds and possibly other animals.

While just one firefly is enough to kill a lizard or bird, it’s generally not a problem for a dog though, explains veterinarian Dr. Whitehead. However, it’s best monitor for any signs of trouble and promptly consult with the vet or the pet poison helpline if the dog develops any problems.


The Bottom Line

dog bug Luckily, most dogs eat bugs without any major problems. It’s important though to watch for encounters with toxic bugs and to keep an eye open for signs of allergic reactions (facial swelling, welts over the dog’s body) which can happen with any bug bites and ingestion of  toxic bugs.

While infestations with the stomach worm are a possibility, fortunately, they appear to be relatively infrequent in dogs. According to a survey conducted on euthanized dogs in Indiana, Physaloptera rara was found in the digestive tract of 4 out of 104 dogs. Albeit, unlikely, it’s not a bad idea to keep your dog away from bugs. The habit of dogs eating bugs is another good reason why it’s wise to keep dogs on parasite prevention year-round, suggests veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker.

“In most cases, eating a grasshopper or some termites won’t harm your dog and can even add a little protein to his diet. Think of bugs as the canine equivalent of corn chips.” ~Dr. Marty Becker

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog ate a bug that is toxic or you suspect your dog may have gotten bitten please consult with your vet or the pet poison helpline.


  • Physaloptera stomach worms associated with chronic vomition in a dog in western Canada James A. Clark Can Vet J Volume 31, December 1990
  • Burrows CF. Infection with the stomach worm Physaloptera as a cause of chronic vomiting in the dog. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1983; 19: 947-950.
  • Merck Veterinary Manual, Physaloptera spp in Small Animals, retrieved from the web on July 16th, 2016
  • DVM360, Five strange facts about parasites, retrieved from the web on July 16th, 2016
  • All Things Dogs Blog, Ask the Vet, retrieved from the web on July 16th, 2016

Photo credits:

  • Flickr Creative Commons,  Kristal Dale, DSC_0406, The dog, up to no good again. CCBY2.0

Three Reasons Dogs May Hate The Veterinary Exam Table


By Adrienne Farricelli CPDT-KA

Many dogs dread the vet, we all know that, but we sometimes may not be aware of exactly what may trigger their fear. Sure, being touched, poked and prodded in a small room with nowhere to escape isn’t something that dogs really look forward to, and on top of that, dogs tend to pick up the fear of other dogs there and may react accordingly. The exam table though is often overlooked as a source of dog’s fear at the vet, when in reality, many dogs dread it. So what’s wrong with that innocent-looking table? Let’s take a look at it from a dog’s perspective, shall we? Here are three reasons dogs may hate the examination table.

dog scared of examination table1) Lack of Exposure

First of all, the exam table is often overlooked when it comes to exposure. Many puppy owners are often told to get their puppies accustomed to veterinary offices from an early age by stopping by the office for treats. So puppy owners swing by the office, the veterinary staff fuss all over the puppy and give him treats and then back to normal life they go. Many puppies therefore fail to visit the actual exam room, fail to meet the vet and aren’t placed on the quintessential examination table. Even when puppy owners try to set up “mock vet visits’ by placing the puppy on a household table and having other people pretend to be a vet examining the puppy, they miss exposing their puppies to the “real feel” of a vet’s examination table.

A veterinarian’s examination table is unlike any tables your puppy or dog will ever encounter in a household setting, so unless you have a similar surface to practice on, it may be difficult to replicate its feel for the purpose of getting a puppy accustomed to it. Most vet examination tables are made of stainless steel or some other hard metal surface. The reason for use of these materials is a practical one: they are easy to wipe down. Just a few spritz of disinfectant spray and voila’ the table is ready for the next patient. So yes, practical and important for sanitary reasons, but not with the animal’s best interest in mind.


2) Negative Associationsdog fear of vet

Does your dog get all excited when you grab the leash and acts all eager to go on walks? Does hearing you open the refrigerator cause him to come running in hopes for a goody? Does the sight of the bath towel cause him to hide in fear of a bath? These reactions are normal as dogs tend to associate events, pairing one to another. So if your dog has a negative experience while he’s on the exam table, he will quickly learn that bad things happen there, so next time (not surprisingly) he will be more uncomfortable and reluctant to be examined there. On top of that, the fear may also generalize to other stimuli or events, so a dog may start with a fear of the the exam table and then end up with other fears such as fear of the veterinary office smell or even  fear of the car ride to the vet.

“When cats and dogs are fractious, scared or embrassing and difficult for the clients, veterinary care is delayed or avoided. This means that patients are seen only when they are sicker and the situation is potentially tragic.”~Karen Overall

dog scared exam table3) A Matter of Feel

One may think at this point that dogs don’t really fear the examination table per se’, but the things that happen on it. However, this is not always true. There may be dogs who are fine with the vet but dread the table. Why? Another problem with the examination table is “its feel.” How does it feel to a dog? Veterinary exam tables are cold, and worst of all, slippery. Not only is the puppy or dog in a small room with little chance to escape, but he’s also placed on the examination table, where he’s touched just about everywhere, and possibly, poked and prodded with needles, and even if he tries to escape, his feet slip out from under him, leaving him in quite a helpless or panicky situation.

Ever seen those humid paw prints left on the exam table? Yup, a sure sign of stress! On top of that, exam tables are high, and many puppies and dogs aren’t used to being lifted up onto the table.

“I have a slide I show my veterinary students where I show a dog with its legs kind of splayed out bracing itself on a slick veterinary table. I show it to the vet students and say, ‘Do you see anything about this picture?’ Most of them don’t see that the dog is having difficulty standing on that table. You go on the Internet and you type in ‘dog at the veterinary clinic’ and you get all these cute pictures there, and half the dogs have their front feet splayed out because they’re having trouble staying upright — and people don’t notice it.” ~Temple Grandin

Implementing Changes

(Tony Alter/Flickr)
Tony Alter/Flickr)

As seen, examination tables can be scary to dogs! Fear of the vet though is often made of several fears lumped up together rather than one fear alone, but they can start with just one stimulus and then generalize to others. What can be done to help these dogs? Owners and staff of more and more veterinary offices are becoming aware of the implications of pets having negative experiences within their practices’ walls. The late applied animal behaviorist, trainer, author and lecturer, Sophia Yin started a movement called Low Stress Handling, which focused on making veterinary office less stressful to pets and safer for veterinarians and staff.  As of late, there is a renewed interest in making veterinary clinics less scary. Some veterinary hospitals now even hold puppy socialization classes where pups get to be exposed to stimuli associated with the veterinary environment, “like going on a scale for treats or associating the smell of alcohol with training and play,” explains dog trainer Mikkel Becker.

When it comes to the examination table there are several things that can be done to make a change. For mild fear and food-motivated puppies and dogs, the exam table can be converted into a “feeding station” where they are fed tasty treats while mindful vets examine the pet while giving praise and loving on them. Another option is to make the surface of the exam table less scary. Some veterinary hospitals have started to place towels or other nonslip surfaces over the exam table. Veterinary behaviorist Karen Overall, in the book”Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats” suggests using a mat the pet has been previously positively conditioned to. Puppies and dogs can be easily trained to “go to a mat” and sit for treats. Not a bad idea to choose one with a a nonslip bottom. An innovative product is the Ezee-Visit Pet Vet Mat which is purposely built to provide secure footing on slippery veterinary surfaces.

Want to really kick things up a notch? Choose a vet who is willing to skip the exam table all together. Veterinary surgeon Dr. Jennifer Wardlaw for instance doesn’t force her patients to get on the examination table but has opted instead to get down on the floor with the animal for their exams. Talk about putting the pet’s comfort first!  To further help your canine companion, consider still using a mat your dog is accustomed to during these on-the-floor exams.

“Be sure that you have a nonslip surface on the exam table to reduce the pet’s fear and anxiety.” Dr. Marty Becker



  • Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs and Cats: Techniques for Developing Patients Who Love Their Visits by Dr. Sophia Yin (CattleDog Publishing, 2009; ISBN 978-0964151840)
  • Elsevier, Temple Grandin on new edition of ‘Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals’, retrieved from the web on June 25th, 2016
  • DVM 360, Table the table, and other Fear Free tips from a veterinary orthopedist, retrieved from the web on June 25th, 2016
  • Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, By Karen Overall, Mosby; 1 Pap/DVD edition (July 9, 2013)

Photo Credits:

  • A vet examines a dog in New York, Archivist1174Own work, Photo of New York State Assemblyman Dr. Stephen M. “Steve” Katz at the Bronx Veterinary Center.CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Tony Alter, Clean Bill Of Health, (CC BY 2.0) Flickr, Creative Commons
    Wonderlane Starving puppies, Fuzzy, Orange and Blue Boy, at the Veterinarians office, San Rosalia, Baja California Sur, Mexico, (CC BY 2.0) Flickr, Creative Commons

Is Your Dog Training Stuck in a Pattern Training Hole?


When we train our dogs, we may sometimes fall into some mistakes that could easily be avoided, and one of them is pattern training. Why does my dog listen only inside and then when we’re outside on walks he’s in his own world? Why does he perform the exercise well in training classes, but then on walks he acts as if he can’t hear? One possible reason for this is pattern training. Pattern training takes place when you are always training your dog at the same place and under the same circumstances. If you fall into the pattern training hole, your dog will have a hard time generalizing and applying what he has learned to other places and other circumstances.

pattern training dogIt Has Its Place and Time

In the initial stages of learning something new, pattern training is helpful in instilling confidence in the dog. For a good reason dog trainers suggest to start training in a quiet room that is free of distractions.

With boring surroundings and some tasty treats, you set your dog for success as he likely has nothing better to do than pay attention to you and do what it takes to earn that tasty treat.

While pattern training your dog in the initial stages of training is helpful and recommended, you want to advance at some point though or you’ll risk getting stuck in a “pattern training hole.”

“Although it’s important to be consistent when you train your dog, it’s also important to avoid pattern training.”~ John Ross, Barbara McKinney

Possible Draw Backsdog train

What happens if you’re stuck in a pattern training hole? There are several things that can happen. For example, if you are training your dog to sit, down and then stay (always asked in the same order) in your living room every day at 4 o’ clock, your dog, being the routine oriented animal he is, will come to anticipate what you will be asking him and he may start getting a tad bit bored too.

On top of that, you will miss out getting your dog to generalize the cues, which means that the training may break apart that day you make a change such as asking him to perform the cues in different order or in a different place or at a different time.

dog training mistakesHow to Avoid It

To avoid pattern training your dog, all you need to do is add is start implementing some changes. Once your dog shows signs of understanding the behavior,  gradually move from the quiet living room to other areas where there are slightly more distractions.

Try training in the kitchen, then in the yard and then in front of the home or in a quiet park. If at any time your dog appears distracted, you may need to invest in higher value treats to use as rewards. Make sure you reward your dog every single time he completes the exercise in the initial stages when your dog is first introduced to these news challenging places. Also, get creative! When you ask your dog to sit, don’t limit to ask it while your’re standing in front of him! Get him to sit by your side, while you are facing your back to him, while you’re sitting down or even when you are out of sight.

The more you practice under different circumstances, the more fluent the behavior will become. Plus, it will keep your dog on his toes as he will rarely guess what you’ll be asking him next, a win-win!



  • Dog Talk: Training Your Dog Through A Canine Point Of View Hardcover – April 15, 1995 by John Ross (Author), Barbara McKinney,  St. Martin’s Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 1995)

How Much Do Dogs Sleep On Average?


Let’s face it, we might never find our dogs with bags under their eyes, but dogs, just like us, need their daily dose of beauty sleep. How many hours do dogs sleep on average? There’s ultimately no real standard time frame, as each dog is an individual. Puppies, adult dogs, older dogs and different breeds of dogs may have different levels of energy and they may have different needs when it comes to how many hours of sleep they get. However, we can make some average assumptions by adding up those shorter daily naps with those more lengthy night-time snoozes.

dog sleeping hoursBreed Matters For a Good Part…..

When it comes to how much dogs sleep, breed seems to matter. Some dog breeds are known for being couch potatoes that may rather snooze on the couch then go on a hike. Other dynamite dog breeds may perceive every second spent on the couch as wasted time. And then some others have quite flexible schedules, matching their lifestyles with the lifestyles of their owners. These pooches are likely to stay awake when their owners are awake and are ready to automatically snooze the moment their owners are reading a book or watching TV. Want a dog who likes to sleep? Look for some of the larger breeds of dogs.

“Some very large breeds of dogs, like Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, and mastiffs, often spend a great deal of their lives sleeping—perhaps up to sixteen or even eighteen hours a day. ” ~Stanley Coren

puppy sleep
Awww… puppy sleep!

But Age Matters Too!

Puppies are generally very active pooches, but their batteries tend to discharge quickly. One minute they’re up and running, the next they are exhausted as they used up all their energy and need to re-charge. Sum all those little naps up and you’ll find that puppies are likely to sleep even up to 16-20 hours a day depending upon their age. We can’t blame them though, pups have a lot of growing and learning to do and they need to get all the rest they can get. Oh, and if you ever see your pup getting cranky at times, try to get him to nap; like children, dogs and puppies tend to get grumpy when they are tired too!

“Counting little naps and longer snoozes, most puppies sleep from 18 to 20 hours a day. As your puppy ages, he will sleep less” Dr. Debra Primovic

Older dogs are on the calmer side of the spectrum, however, some are prone to develop sleep disruptions as they age either due to weak bladders or the onset of the doggy version of Canine Alzheimer’s disease, which can dogs to pace, whine and feel confused at night. Fortunately, when caught early, this progression of cognitive decline can be slowed down with a script from the vet. Adolescent dogs and middle-aged ones are generally quite active and are more likely to look for something to do rather then snooze.

dog sleepingThe Average Dog

Whether you own a small dog, a large dog, a puppy or an old dog, one thing is for sure, dogs tend to sleep more than us. However, it’s also true that they tend to sleep lightly. Indeed, if you ever bothered to notice, they are likely to frequently awaken for the slightest noises. If your household is quite busy with kids running around and playing most of the day, most likely Rover has a hard time relaxing and catching some zzzs. Make sure he has a quiet spot to retreat to when needed. If your dog is kept outside in the yard nearby a busy street, he also may have a hard time sleeping.

Dogs living in quiet quarters may be more likely to sleep. Generally though, bored, lonely dogs tend to fall in two categories:  dog who fall asleep and patiently wait for their owners to come home, and creative dogs who craft their own entertainment venues by doing some landscaping in the yard, going on guard duty or remodeling the house chewing through carpets, drywall and upholstery. Regardless, it appears that the general consensus is that the average middle-aged dog tends to sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day in a 24-hour cycle. Most likely, 8 hours are spent sleeping at night when everybody is asleep, and then an extra 4 to 8 hours are spent snoozing during those down times at other times of the day. However as mentioned above, this is just a general guideline as they are too many variables!

What if My Dogs Sleeps Less or More?

Generally, if your dog is acting happy and healthy, sleeping a bit more or a bit less than the average sleeping time for a dog of his age and breed, shouldn’t be a concern. However, it’s best to see the vet if something doesn’t seem right and your dog is sleeping much more or much less than he usually does. For example, a dog who is sleeping a lot more than usual may be suffering from a health problem such as an infection, heart problem, diabetes or pain in the joints  as seen in elderly dogs, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

On the other hand, sleeping less can be a sign of problems too. Your dog may be too hot or too cold, anxious, or he may have strong pain in the neck, back or abdomen which may require an emergency visit to the vet for pain relief. Other conditions that may cause restlessness include dogs taking stimulating medications, canine Alzheimer’s’, allergies that cause persistent licking or metabolic conditions such Cushing’s disease, explains Larry Lachman animal behavior consultant and author of “Dogs on the Couch.”

For further reading: Five Dog Sleeping Position Meanings.

Did you know? A study conducted on pointer dogs sleeping over a 24 hour period revealed that dogs spend about 44% of their time in an alert wakeful state, 21 percent in a drowsy state, 23 percent is spent in slow-wave sleep and 12 percent in REM sleep.


  • Baseline sleep-wake patterns in the pointer dog Edgar A. LucasErvin W. PowellO.D. Murphree, Departments of Anatomy and Psychiatry, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72201 USA,Veterans Administration Hospital, North Little Rock, AR USA, Received 17 August 1976, Available online 19 March 2003
  • What do Dogs Know? By Stanley Coren, retrieved from the web on April 16th, 2o16
  • VCA Animal Hospitals, Why-is-my-dog-more-tired-than-usual, retrieved from the web on April 16th, 2o16


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