Author Archives: Ruth Wilgress

Teaching Children about Arthritis in Dogs

Heads up Dad if you have a senior dog in your family’s home, you may wish to read up on these helpful tips to managing arthritis in dogs to make everyone’s lives a little easier. Raising awareness in children for a dog’s deteriorating physical state will help parents explain and hopefully prevent troubling behaviour. It doesn’t take much thought or action to make a big difference in the quality of a senior dog’s day-to-day existence.

Kids Dog Walk 2013

Generally speaking for most young couples the dog is the first family member.
Hip dysplasia with arthritisIt is important to remember that dogs get arthritis same as humans, and its more frequent in big dogs than it is in humans, and its more painful too. In a great many cases the dog’s pain is unmitigated by any medication or treatment. But there are things you can do, including raise awareness in your children for a senior dog’s condition, and affect diet and lifestyle adjustments around the house to improve the quality of life for this animal companion.

Learning Remedies for Dogs with Arthritis
Arthritis is a common health issue with older dogs and esp larger dogs. Although they work on different species, doctors and veterinarians both call arthritis by its technical name: osteoarthritis or its hospital name, degenerative joint disease. This condition is caused by the slippery stuff coming away from the bones in the joints and the wear and tear of bone on bone causes inflammation (as the blood fights to get to the ailment) which causes pain.

Six Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs

1. Reduced Activity, withdrawn from family life
2. Limping after exercise, stiffness after morning walks
3. Difficulty getting up from a lying down position
4. Difficulty climbing up stairs, or jumping into cars
5. Chewing or licking at joints
6. Showing personality changes and being ‘grumpy’

Is your dog wetting its bed?
Fritz in HD, dog wet bed, dog with arthritisOlder pets, often find it hard to get up to follow you outside to relieve themselves. In some cases they just do it right there in bed – that’s why its important to set a routine and make sure that your dog goes outside before bedtime at night whether they want to or not. Often female dogs benefit when given phenylpropanolamine PPA in relation to a medical condition that is related to flabbiness of the sphincter muscles of their lower urinary tract. In other female dogs, chronic urinary tract infections are the cause. Still others are over-drinking due to kidney deterioration. Some are diabetic, and others are simply losing their minds.

How to manage young kids around senior dogs?
Young children will sometime hit dogs thinking they are petting it, and loving hugs can become eternal death squeezes. Senior dogs may snap. Trainers will tell you that young kids and dogs should never be left alone together. Also give the dog a place where they can escape small children. Sometimes dogs need a room of their own and just some cardboard moving boxes behind a living room couch or chair can offer shelter to persecuted animals.

Watch what the kids feed the dog!
Children should be told to never feed the dog strange foods. Never ever feed chocolate or sweets or ice cream, which dogs will eat, and these substances will pass through their bodies, but at some cost to their livers and kidneys.

Feed a Senior Dog Food Brand
Boy and DogAll major pet food manufacturers offer “Senior” brands of food. They tend to be lower in calories, higher in fiber, with added glucosamine. What your pet eats and how much it eats throughout its life will affect arthritis in later years. Is your dog overweight? Reducing your dog’s weight to a healthy level is one of the most important things you can do to reduce its discomfort – same as humans.

Keep Dog Toenails Trim, Walk the Dog on Leash
Keep your senior dog’s toenails clipped properly so it walks and runs normal. Having overgrown toenails is a lot like being forced to wear uncomfortable shoes; extra long toenails place abnormal stress on the joints and ligaments of the feet. But when cutting these toenails be sure never remove too much nail at once; the animal’s toenails should just touch the floor when your pet is standing. When walking the dog be extra careful around traveled surfaces as recent dashcam videos show dogs being hit by hybrid (quieter) cars.

Build ramps around the house to help pets manage inclined surfaces
If you have a set of stairs that the dog must walk everyday consider putting in a ramp, and cover the ramp with carpet. Add more carpets and rugs to the house. Arthritic dogs find it difficult to walk on slippery floors such as tiled or hardwood floors. By placing carpet or rugs on these floors will help secure your dog’s footing and make their lives a little easier.

Don’t be shy about massaging the dog’s muscles in hot water dog baths
In certain special circumstances, if a senior dog had a particularly active day keeping up with younger dogs, then it might be advisable to pour a hot bath and massage its hips and leg muscles. Added heat from heating pads and soaks in heated water relax muscles, increase circulation in the affected areas. We put our dogs’ beds in the sun room which is warmer than the rest of the house during the day, even in the wintertime. but on cold winter nights we do bring them into the living room by the fireplace.
Yogurt dog, what dogs eat affects arthritis

Convenient Dish And Water Bowl Placement
Senior pets are often more comfortable eating and drinking from slightly elevated containers. Older, larger breeds are more susceptible to gastric bloat and the exercise of eating and swallowing upwards doesn’t help the digestive system. So feeding your elderly pet multiple small meals, rather than one or two large ones, is also a wise idea.

Top ‘Companion’ Breeds for Young Families:
American Water Spaniel
Appenzeller Sennenhunde
Basset Hound
Berger Picard
Bernese Mountain Dog
Boston Terrier
Boykin Spaniel
Brussels Griffon
Bull Terrier
English Setter
Entlebucher Mountain Dog
Flat-Coated Retriever
Golden Retriever
Irish Wolfhound
Labrador Retriever
Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen
Pharaoh Hound
Pyrenean Shepherd
Sussex Spaniel


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Health Benefits of Hula Hooping


Hulahoop on back porch

As child obesity rates rise in North America, some people are dreaming up really creative ways to get their kids to exercise and stay active. Let’s face it, not everyone their age is into sports and sometimes we don’t have the time or the money to join sports teams or leagues. Some kids don’t like competitive sports for all the right reasons. Soccer Moms know how much time and energy is involved in keeping their kids active, but really, all it takes is a little imagination to find fun activities that will increase heart rates.

Hula hooping has a long history and is now making a giant comeback. The hoop first gained international popularity in the late 1950s when a plastic version was successfully marketed by California’s Wham-O toy company, Now ‘hooping’ has found its way into mainstream gyms and studios as a fun and effective form of exercise. Classes can be found all across the US and Canada as more and more people rediscover that this exercise can be entertaining as well.

In the summer months you can check out various parks around the city and see the hoop jams that have been organized. Often you will find circus type people, impressing us with their poi skills or do trying to improve their juggling abilities. If you don’t want to join the circus school that’s ok, all you have to do is check out u-tube to learn some new moves. The internet is full of discussion forums, groups and a resource of resources for those interested in trying the join the active hula hooping craze. Don’t worry Dad’s it’s not just for the girls, hula hoops are great for hand eye coordination and there are so many types of tricks to do rather than use the feminine hips moves. Hula hooping is something you can try with your kids. There are so many benefits for the whole family.

Toronto Hula Hoop Classes

It’s true the hula hoop is making a come back, at least in the Toronto area. Hoop Toronto has a lot more classes available across the city. This trendy toy hoop is not only twirled around the waist but also the other limbs or neck in very interesting ways that involve the science of physics. The hoop active play works more than 30 core muscles to sculpt abdominal, builds muscle as well as strengthens them, improves balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. Hooping has been known to promote happiness, self-esteem, confidence, and laughter. All the things to consider when searching out fun active exercises for your children or yourself.

hula hoop kids in usa better than most adults

In addition to the physical and mental healing qualities of hooping, learning a new skill helps keep the mind active, strengthening neurological pathways, thus reducing risk for dementia in your older years. That’s right, don’t forget granny or gramps, get them moving too. Try not to laugh at them too much. It always seems a little difficult at first. The rhythm of hooping has been likened to being rocked as a baby, a form of meditation, and concentration for those with special needs.

A Brief History of the Hula Hoop Fitness Movement

vintage hula hooping pictures from 1920sAlthough the exact origins of hula hoops are unknown, children and adults around the world have played with hoops, twirling, rolling and throwing them throughout history. Hula hoops for children generally measure approximately 71 centimeters (28 in) in diameter, and those for adults around 1.02 metres (40 in). Traditional materials for hoops include willow, rattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are usually made of plastic tubing and include sparkly decorative tape, and some even fold up like a ninja. The LED hula hoops have lights to give those dark evenings twirls of beautiful flashes of colour. The fitness movement began through gymnastics programs apparently Marclaren in England recognized the importance of regular progressive exercise and the need for fitness and training programs for youth to help alleviate worry and stress. In 1176 – 1860, European Gymnasts brought fitness to the U.S. Franklin and Jefferson recommended regular exercise to maintain health, however the education system did not include physical exercise until the mid 19th century when industry and mechanical technologies replaced heavy labor jobs. And nowadays adult hoops for beginners are larger, heavier, and much easier to use than the small plastic hoops from the 50s.

Front-to-Back Waist Hooping

With one hand on each side, hold the hoop horizontally so that it touches the small of your back. Wind up by holding the hoop and turning your body in one direction to give the hoop an energetic spin around your waist in the opposite direction (most people prefer spinning the hoop in one direction over another). Push your belly/hip forward pushing firmly each time the hoop crosses your stomach, shifting your weight back and forth, forward and back. Keep both feet on the ground as you push your belly/hip forward with each revolution of the hoop, slightly bending and straightening the forward leg, shifting your weight, rocking front to back on each push of your hips. The push of your hip back is as important as the forward push.

Side-to-Side Hooping

Stand inside the hoop and place your feet hip distance apart and bend your knees a little. With one hand on each side, hold the hoop horizontally so it firmly touches the small of your back. Wind up and turn your body in one direction and give the hoop an energetic spin around your waist in the opposite direction. Move your hips side to side, pushing the hoop as it passes over each hip. Remember to keep your hands and elbows above the hoop.

Hoop Direction

Most people favor spinning the hoop in one direction over another. There is no right or wrong direction. Typically right-handers flow the hoop counter-clockwise to the left, and left-handers flow the hoop clockwise to the right. Your favored direction is referred to as your “first direction” or your “in-flow.”

Hula Hooping Tips:

  • Avoid moving your hips in a circular motion. This will slow down the hoop.
  • As in all exercise, it is best to exercise both directions to equally balance and tone your muscles as you hoop.
  • Bend your knees to get beneath the hoop while pushing your hips really fast to coax the hoop back up to your waist.
  • Turn your body in the direction of the flow of the hoop while pushing hips really fast.
  • The key to recovering a falling hoop is to push, thrust and shimmy your body much faster than normal hooping, whether or not you bend your knees or turn your body in the flow of the hoop
  • To level the flow of the hoop, correct your posture by standing up straight. If that does not work, adjust the position of your feet. If one foot is in the front, switch the back foot to the front.

There are many ways to learn to hoop: take classes, watch online tutorials, read books about hooping, attend hoop gatherings, jams etc. There are so many reasons to have a favourite hoop available for play. There are so many physical, social and emotional benefits of the various types of hula hooping. Try an internet search and see how easy you can begin. Simply make the hula hoops at home with tubing from your local hardware store and decorate them with your children. Involve them in the fun easy creation and decoration process and come up with different sizes and patterns to explore with. Who knows, this may make an excellent science project in the future.

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Tips On Safe Toys For Children Under Eight

Canada is a very safe place to live and raise children. And it keeps getting safer and safer. Statistically there are not as many drunk drivers anymore, and hardly anyone I know smokes nowadays.  But that trend toward safety isn’t happening in kid’s toys.

lean manufacturing in toy factory , South AmericaBuying toys comes with a lot of choices. There are so many considerations to make when purchasing play toys, especially those cheaper items that have been made and imported from all over the world. International companies have different assembly systems, lean manufacturing standards, distribution and marketing practices. When a kid’s toy in Chapters or Toys-R-Us carries a major label they are quick to respond to phone messages, emails and even tweets. But its much harder to hold a foreign company accountable, and many East Asian manufacturing centers won’t make any changes to their products until a scandalous incident blows up interest in mainstream media and there’s a ‘recall’ as happened when children became sick from lead poisoning from paint on toys.  African, Asian and South American companies, including Mexican companies are not on twitter yet.

stainless steel ice cube trays and popsicle molds are kid friendly toys for under 8 yrs oldWe need to be especially careful with the toys issued to children under eight years of age. Children in this developmental stage put things in their mouths all the time, and come in close contact with such items. There can be toxic side effects that alter the developmental progress of your child and effect their health. Often fancy toys are not always necessary for children under age eight, because they’d rather play with real life items. Plastics should be checked first before handed over to a young person. I know many people who have let their child have reign over the items in their kitchen due to their safety. Stainless steel kitchens are biologically safer and steel pots and pans make great drums, while popsicle molds and ice cube trays become wonderful xylophones. My family makes frozen treats to help us get through hot summer days and we play music. These items make for great interactive fun and are safe items for smaller children. They may be noisy and require clean up afterwards but they are a lot healthier for your child rather than the dollar store toy items you may think are harmless.

After a little research I found the The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) very helpful. It was founded in 1926 and is a good source for recommendations for purchasing toy items and considering the safety features for toys. It is the world’s largest organizations working on behalf of young children with nearly 80,000 members and a national network of more than 300 state and local Affiliates, and a growing global alliance of like-minded organizations.

Characteristics of Safe Toys

* well-made (with no shared parts or splinters and do not pinch)
* not painted, or painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint
* shatter-proof
* easily cleaned

Be sure to check the label, which should indicate the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child’s throat and cause suffocation. It’s important to remember that typical wear and tear can result in a once-safe toy becoming hazardous. Adults should check toys frequently to make sure they are in good repair. For a list of toys that have been recalled by manufacturers, visit the Toy Hazard Recalls page of the US Gov Consumer Product Safety Commission Website.

Older babies are movers – typically they go from rolling over and sitting to scooting, bouncing, creeping, pulling themselves up, and standing. They understand their own names and other common words, can identify body parts, find hidden objects, and put things in and out of containers. This is a great stage to allow exploration in the kitchen. Hide the sharp objects.

* Board books with simple illustrations or photographs of real objects
* Recordings with songs, rhymes, simple stories, and pictures
* Things to create with – wide non-toxic, washable markers, crayons, and large paper
* Things to pretend with – toy phones, dolls and doll beds, baby carriages and strollers, dress-up accessories (scarves, purses), puppets, stuffed toys, plastic animals, and plastic and wood “realistic” vehicles
* Things to build with – cardboard and wood blocks (can be smaller than those used by infants – 2 to 4 inches)
* Things for using their large and small muscles – puzzles, large pegboards, toys with parts that do things (dials, switches, knobs, lids), and large and small ball
* Things for solving problems – wood puzzles (with 4 to 12 pieces), blocks that snap together, objects to sort (by size, shape, color, smell) and things with hooks, buttons, buckles, and snaps
* Things for pretending and building – blocks, smaller (and sturdy) transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (kitchen sets, chairs, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys
* CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
* Things for using their large and small muscles – large and small balls for kicking and throwing, ride-on equipment (but probably not tricycles until children are 3), tunnels, low climbers with soft material underneath, and pounding and hammering toys
* Things for solving problems – puzzles (with 12 to 20+ pieces), blocks that snap together, collections and other smaller objects to sort by length, width, height, shape, color, smell, quantity, and other features – collections of plastic bottle caps, plastic bowls and lids, keys, shells, counting bears, small colored blocks
* Things for pretending and building – many blocks for building complex structures, transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (“apartment” sets, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and simple puppet theaters, and sand and water play toys