Archive for the 'Canine Health' Category


We’re Moving!

Written by Matthew Grant, digital magician

So, we’ve made the decision to move from our to a self-hosted blog ( We would love for you to follow us to the new blog!

While email subscriptions have been moved to the new site, if you subscribe via RSS (or some other method) you’ll need to head over there and update your RSS feeds, bookmarks, etc. And, of course, we always post our blog updates to Facebook!

Our first post in the new location will be tomorrow… for Wag More Wednesday, of course!

We hope to see all of you there!


Ruby’s Knee Surgery

Written by Cassy Dow, Eastern Sales Manager

Cassy is our Eastern Sales Manager and a pet specialty connoisseur.  Besides her duties at Cloud Star, she is a devoted dog mom to Ruby, her playful pup. Unfortunately, Ruby recently suffered a knee injury and had to have surgery.  Here’s Cassy on her experience and getting Ruby back in shape for the dog park.

Who likes to see their puppy hurt?  NOT ME!  Ruby is my American Bulldog/Boxer mix.  She will be three this July.  Ruby loves to run and play with dogs at the park, and chase balls—however the last six months of our lives have consisted of inactivity and recovery.

While home for the holidays we had gone to the park with friends to let our dogs play.  I knew something was wrong when she wasn’t putting pressure on her back leg, so we quickly went to the vet.  I never expected the vet to tell me that she had a rupture to the Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL).  This injury leads to instability in her knee causing a lot of pain when she walks.  The vet gave us enough medicine to keep her comfortable until we could get back to NYC to see our regular vet.

When returning to NYC my fear was confirmed, our vet informed us that it was not going to get better with just medicine.  With Ruby’s level of activity, she would more than likely keep damaging it every time she played.  I researched different procedures and methods to repair the ligament, and we decided on a type of surgery called TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement).  This is a procedure where they cut a portion of the tibia and angle it forward, then secure it in place with a metal plate and screws.  This procedure changes the angle of the knee creating the stability that the ligament had before it was torn.

I was a wreck the day of the surgery, not knowing how she was going to be when I picked her up.  I was thinking that she was going to have to be carried everywhere and unable to help herself – which I knew she would hate!  I was shocked that she was able to walk after the anesthesia wore off and she knew her limits.  After a day or two she was applying pressure.  It was a relief to see her get back to the swing of things quickly.  Like a paranoid parent, I followed the written instructions from the specialist, making sure that she stayed calm, and I applied ice and helped her stretch daily.

Twelve weeks later we went back to the vet for X-Rays to get cleared to go back to normal activity.  Her knee looked great!  She was even Park Slope Veterinary Center’s “Dog of the Day” because of how great she had recovered!  She was the poster pup for this procedure (well besides the 4 lbs she gained!)

Feeling bad that she hadn’t been able to play off leash in over 12 weeks, we went out to play.  She was having a blast!  And then she was hurt again.  I felt horrible, my baby was in pain again.  I took her to the vet thinking she had re-injured her knee.  NOPE!  It was her other knee.  I was devastated!  I had read the statistics but thought that my dog was a super hero, and had ignored them!

My Ruby was going to have another surgery, but I was more mentally prepared for this surgery knowing how well she handled it the first time.

Her second surgery was over two weeks ago and she is doing so well.  It amazes me how dogs handle pain.  It may be a while before we are at the dog park again but we are looking forward to the day we can make our return!


Dog Park Safety and Etiquette

Written by Athena Gingras, Cloud Star team

“Dog Park!” These two words can send my two Boston Terriers, Meatloaf and Ladybug, into a state of excitement that defies quantum mechanics. Their whole bodies go into this half shake, half dance spasm as they run down the stairs to their leashes. It’s play time. Not just any play time, but full throttle play time.

A dog park is a terrific place for our furry friends to socialize, experience something new and get that extra energy out. Since Emily Post never came out with a dog park etiquette guide, my husband and I have learned our lessons through our own experiences and the articles we could find on the subject. Below are some basics to consider before taking your dog to the dog park.

  • Know your dog park. Especially know the rules before going. Many parks require that your dog be licensed with the city. Is it fenced? Some dogs cannot be trusted off leash unless in a fenced area. Is there a separate park for small dogs? Check out your local park sans dog to get a feel for what he can expect.
  • Know your dog. Before taking your four-legged friend to the dog park, make sure he is up to date on his vaccinations. Use your best judgment when deciding if your dog can handle being around others in this environment. Is your dog too aggressive, too shy or just uncomfortable around others?
  • There are two things that most dog park visitors will advise against which are not usually mentioned: treats and children.
    • Treats are okay if you and your dog are willing to share and if the other owners don’t mind, but otherwise leave the treats for before and after your visit.
    • Small children can very easily be injured at the dog park. Dogs running off leash, sniffing and playing to their heart’s desire do not take the small humans into consideration.
  • Keep your dog on leash until you are in an off-leash area.
  • You must always clean up after your dog. Most dog parks provide waste bags, but bring your own if none are supplied.
  • Is there a source of water? If water is not available, bring some from home. Don’t forget the bowl!
  • Be courteous to the other patrons. Make sure to close any gates after you pass through them. We don’t want any dogs to get out!
  • Supervise your dog at all times. If she starts to become uneasy, it’s time to go home.
  • This is the dog’s place, but be sure to participate as well. Every few minutes, interrupt his play with praise, petting or play. This will give your dog a chance to cool down and he will be reminded that you are there, too.
  • Not all dogs are made for the dog park. If you have any doubts about your dog’s ability to handle this environment don’t hesitate to consult a professional.

Feel free to share your own experiences and any other helpful tips from your own dog park adventures!


New Year’s Eve Safety Tips for Pets

It’s almost time to ring in the New Year, a celebration the whole world can get in on. Whether it means parties, festive fireworks, low key evenings with friends and family, good food and cheer, here are a few helpful tips to keep our furry friends happy and safe.

  • It is best to keep festive beverages, foods, and party decorations away from pets.  These items can be dangerous and even the most well-trained dogs may become curious, especially with all of the excitement.
  • We may love streamers, poppers and fireworks, but be mindful of pets as they can become agitated and even scared.
  • If you must leave your dog at home, this would be a good day to expel extra energy, whether an extended play time or a longer walk. Keep your pets indoors in a quiet and familiar area with plenty of fresh water.  If your dog is crate trained, they might feel the safest in their kennel.
  • If you are going out and do not want to leave your pet at home, see about arranging a sitter if you are lucky enough to know a person who is staying home for a low-key evening.
  • If you take your dog with you, be sure he or she is in a safe area where they cannot run away. Keep a close eye on your pet. If they become scared or overwhelmed, be prepared to leave early.
  • Always make sure that your pet is wearing a collar with current tags and information. If your pet is microchipped, make sure the microchip company has your current contact information.
  • Remember to keep a watchful eye on your pet and put the name and number of your veterinarian and local animal emergency clinic in a designated area, just in case.

Here is to a happy, healthy and safe New Year’s Eve!


Moving with Your Dog: Ten Tips to Ease the Stress

Written by Matthew Grant, graphic design

One thing that I learned, way back when I wrote my blog about dog thought, is that dogs love, love, love routine. And when I say that, I mean they LOVE it. Humans can be that way too, but for various reasons– either from necessity, or we just want to shake things up, or our neighbors may have started midnight drum lessons– we like to pack up all our stuff and move it all to another location. This can be pretty stressful for us humans. So naturally, one has to assume that this has the potential to be all kinds of stressful for our dogs, too, every step of the way.

Of course, the reason why I bring this up is that I have recently moved, and so I became concerned with making the move as easy and stress free for our dog Lexi. I only wish someone could have done the same for me! Anyhow, here are some of the things I learned, in a nifty “tip list” format:

#1 – Keep up the daily routines as much as possible Like I said before, dogs love routine, and moving will inevitably disrupt her routines in one way or another. But, trying to keep the routines similar will help lessen the stress of the other things changing around her. Some routines might have to go by the wayside for a bit, because there’s simply no time… see number seven for more on that.

#2 – Make sure her ID tags are up to date with the new infoSeems like a no-brainer, but given the stress of moving, let’s not take having a functioning brain for granted here. This is an easy thing to forget or put off until later. But, considering you’ve just increased the chances of your furry friend wanting to run off into new and uncharted territory, its a good idea to get this done ASAP.

#3 – Keep your dog safe while moving out Whether you’re moving yourself, or are hiring movers, there’s going to be a lot of people coming in and out of the old house, radically changing your dog’s environment. Plus, doors will probably be wide open and un-monitored. So, it’s a good idea to make sure the dog is safe and secure, and ideally in a comfortable place while this is going on. If someone can be there to entertain/distract your dog, even better. In fact, volunteer for this job, beats the heck out of moving boxes!

#4 – Bring water, food, and snacks for longer moves This wasn’t so much of a concern for us as we were moving a whopping 5 miles, but for longer moves make sure you have a good supply of treats, food, and water for your pal. Stopping at regular intervals to let your dog get a little exercise/stimulation and do their business, is important as well. If it’s going to be more than just a day trip, seek out some pet friendly places to stay ahead of time, too.

#5 – Keep your dog safe and secure while moving in Similar to moving out, moving in has all of the same doggie-stress inducing factors, with the added layer of being in a totally new and unfamiliar location! Don’t forget my tip about volunteering for dog duty from number three! Speaking of: don’t get “dog duty” mixed up with “dog doodie” – I wouldn’t volunteer for that one.

#6 – Keep your dog’s favorite things aroundFor Lexi this is her bed, blanket, and a weird red fish toy. If your dog is crate or kennel trained, then you’ll want to include those too. In the new house, once (somewhat) settled, its a good idea to put these things in a similar area to where they were in your previous dwelling. For instance, if your dog’s crate was in the living room within earshot of the television, then putting it in the living room within earshot of the television in the new place, will probably make her most comfortable.

#7 – Get back into those skipped routines as quickly as possibleYou’ve got LOTS to do when you’re moving, I know it. So some of those routines that your dog loves so much, will start to slide. I’d recommend getting back into those routines, or similar routines, with your dog as soon as you can. Breaking up the routines adds to her anxiety, and can result in a passionate demonstration of what we humans call “bad behavior” (otherwise known to dogs as, “You like your shoes, and I like my walks at 3PM sharp, buddy!”)

#8 – Keep her leashed when you go outsideThis is a good idea for walks outside the home, as well as the first few outings into the yard (at the very least until you’ve discovered and addressed any possible “escape hatches”). Even if you think that your dog is not an escape artist, it has been documented that dogs sometimes have a tendency to want to try and go back home to the old house, whether they know where is or not.

#9 – Dogs pick up on your mood Even though moving is exciting, it is also hard and stressful. Your dog will pick up these moods and emotions. If you’re anxious and stressed out, your dog will likely become anxious and stressed out. Now I’m not saying to bottle up your emotions, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the fact that your dog is going through the same thing.

#10 – Have a great time with your furry friend in your new home!


Why Trainers?

Written by Robin Litwin, sales

It was that time again – the annual APDT Conference (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) held this year in San Diego, CA. As a serious dog enthusiast and Cloud Star envoy, I made my way down south for several days of information gathering, treat educating, and general canine mania.

Why do trainers exist and why should this matter to you? Because we need to teach our canines appropriate day-to-day behavior – so that they can function in this society that we have created. It is our responsibility to take care of our pets since we have chosen to domesticate them. In addition to basic necessities, they need to be provided with structure and boundaries to become better members of our society. Trainers are a key component in achieving this goal.

In addition to basic manners associated with jumping, barking, control on the leash, chewing, aggression, housetraining, destructive behavior, separation anxiety, etc., these skilled professionals help us learn how to keep our dogs balanced and what pushes them “out of balance.” One seminar I attended concentrated on ways to help dogs better adapt to their environment. Many are not easily able to do so, and allow various disturbances to affect their normal function. There is a scale of universal standards called the GAF (Global Assessment of Function) that trainers use to evaluate a dog’s functions of eating, drinking and sleeping activity; social interactions with people and other dogs; and performance in work, training, and play situations. By utilizing such markers, trainers are able to utilize their skills to help bring our pets back to center and basically make them happier, healthier members of our family.

While attending this conference, I also interacted with various trainers involved in prison training programs as well as rehabilitation programs for military returning from Iraq and Afganistan. One extraordinary organization that particularly tugged at my heartstrings is called Freedom Dogs – Heroes for our Heroes. Since 2004, countless “Freedom Dogs” as they are called, have been specifically trained to work with troops returning from armed combat and who have been diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Perhaps you have seen this on the news or received information in the mail about such groups. These specialized dogs complete a two year program working with wounded warriors at a cost about $50,000 per dog, and the results have been immeasurable. At various times during this conference, several active duty marines from Camp Pendleton spoke about how their dogs were helping them heal by offering a feeling of protection and comfort as they began to move back into society. One marine spoke about how his dog had been trained to steer him clear of crowds by buffering him with his body, about knowing how to dial 911 in emergencies, and about knowing how to turn on the lights when he sensed his owner was having a nightmare. The owner genuinely felt protected when he ventured out because his dog literally formed a perimeter around him. This positive reinforcement was contributing to his successful re-entry into society. Amazing!

In addition to all of this, there were exhilarating agility demonstrations on a daily basis in the middle of the exhibit hall. My own chocolate lab, Sam, who graced our lives for 10 ½ years, would have loved being the center of attention at these demonstrations, being totally ball-obsessed, eager to please, and very high-energy!

Overall, I was once again extremely moved to partake in these fun-filled informative few days, surrounded by such a passionate group of knowledgeable people eager to share what they knew with others. One thing I know for sure – there is always something new to learn about these furry creatures who seem to keep us “wrapped around their paws.”

Thank you, trainers.


Caring for older dogs

Written by Scott Mullikin, sales

As your four legged friend grows with you, their aging process happens quicker than yours. The general concept that they age seven years for every one human year is a bit of misconception. Each dog’s aging process differs depending on their size, breed, and how old they are. Their aging process is much more accelerated when they are young and slows down as the age. Many older dogs develop geriatric problems associated with human aging.

My puppy dog, Hugo, (because he’ll always be a puppy to me), is over 10 years old now. As with humans, advanced years often bring changes in a dog’s abilities. With Hugo, I have seen his mobility decrease as well as his energy level. I also notice changes to his skin and coat – there’s a bit of gray mingling in his formally solid black coat. Hugo is less tolerant of heat than he was when he was younger.

Here are some things to keep in mind as your best friend gets older:

  • As dogs age they become more sensitive to changes in routine, so try to be as consistent as your schedule allows. Feeding and bathroom routines are especially important to those older sensitive stomachs and less than controllable gastrointestinal needs.
  • Some dogs will experience hearing loss and vision problems, such as cataracts. These conditions add to their inability to adapt to change and may come about gradually making it harder to detect. Lack of hearing and vision can also become a safety issue for your dog, so be sure to observe these changes in your pet’s behavior and take the necessary precautions to protect them.
  • Weight gain can also be common due to a decrease in activity, and many dogs need a reduction in calories. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice treat time, but reward with treats lower in fat and calories, like our Chewy and Crunchy Tricky Trainers.
  • Weight gain can affect their aging joints and mobility, as well as their ability to cool themselves. As their metabolism changes with age, it too alters the ability for older dogs to regulate their body temperatures. This makes them much more sensitive to extreme changes in temperature (hot or cold), so add an extra blanket in the winter and remember that extra fan on hotter days.
  • Some breeds are especially susceptible to tooth loss. Soft treats are an easy way to reward your dog, even those who are having dental challenges.
  • Often times they will experience brittle nails, dry skin and a change in their fur. All-natural and gentle grooming products are important, like Buddy Wash and Rinse, as they clean and moisturize without harsh ingredients.
  • You should always consult your veterinarian on the proper check-up and vaccination schedule as your dog ages. These may change depending on your pet’s needs. It is not uncommon for your pet to develop many of the same diseases as humans and your vet is the best source for advice on how to deal with these issues.

Remember that old age is not a disease just another road you travel down with your best friend!


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