Hanging with dogs and engaging in altruism share something amazing in common: Both release significant amounts of oxytocin, the “love hormone,” into the human bloodstream, strengthening our bonds to other humans — and to our canine counterparts. This holiday season, why not bathe your senses with a double dose of this feel-good hormone by donating to canine-centric, nonprofit dog charities dedicated solely to advancing the health and well-being of our furry friends? Countless canine health charities work to fund groundbreaking research. Here are just seven dog charities that work overtime to make an impact.

1. AKC Canine Health Foundation

Photography courtesy AKC Canine Health Foundation.

The AKC Canine Health Foundation has awarded grants totaling almost $40 million. Photography courtesy AKC Canine Health Foundation.

The largest nonprofit funder of health research focused solely on dogs embraces the big picture, building its mission in large part on the One Health initiative, a movement that links human, animal and environmental health and fosters global collaboration among all health care professionals, including veterinarians and academicians.

Last year was a record-breaker for the foundation, as it funded nearly $2 million in 35 new grants around the globe for studies focused on lymphoma, epilepsy and tick-borne diseases. Since 1995, the organization has awarded almost 900 research grants totaling nearly $40 million.

Visit akcchf.org.

2. American Veterinary Medical Foundation

Photography courtesy AVMF.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a dog charity that saves countless canine lives. Photography courtesy AVMF.

In 1963, the American Veterinary Medical Association founded its nonprofit charitable arm. It has funded more than $10 million in grants, all in pursuit to fulfill its mission of “advancing the science and practice of  veterinary medicine to improve animal and human health.” As one can imagine, as part of the organization representing everything folded into the U.S. veterinary profession, the foundation provides grants for studies that require a veterinary dictionary for the average owner to even begin to understand, but all you need to know is that this foundation delivers results and helps save countless lives.

Visit avmf.org/programs/research-support/.

3. Arthur L. & Elaine V. Johnson Foundation

One man, Arthur L. “Bud” Johnson, harbored such a lifelong passion for German Shepherd Dogs and “loved seeing them put to use to help people,” that in 1990 he started a foundation in honor of his beloved wife, Elaine, and began making grants to assist other organizations in providing shepherd guide dogs (the foundation today includes other dog breeds and assistance animals).

Visit aljfoundation.org.

4. National Canine Cancer Foundation

“Together we are the cure” touts the nonprofit that spent almost $400,000 in 2015 and more than $300,000 in 2016 to fund research for cures, better treatments and cost-effective diagnostic methods for canine hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma and sarcoma, as well as for canine bladder and lung cancer.

The foundation’s website suggests a great idea in the vein of giving: honoring a beloved dog, a veterinarian or a special occasion by making a donation in memory and helping other dogs to get a leg up in their journey toward greater health.

Visit wearethecure.org.

5. The Grey Muzzle Organization

The Grey Muzzle concept was inspired in part by Sassy, a senior dog rescued by founder Julie Dudley and her husband.

The Grey Muzzle concept was inspired in part by Sassy, a senior dog rescued by founder Julie Dudley and her husband. Photography courtesy courtesy Grey Muzzle Organization.

Senior dogs are the sweetest angels among the canine family. Grey Muzzle knows how special older dogs truly are, which is why it funds a range of senior pup programs, including those focused on prevention of or early intervention in diseases that would otherwise be extremely costly to treat.

The organization funds shelters, rescue groups, sanctuaries and other nonprofits across the U.S. expressly for programs designed to improve the lives of at-risk senior dogs. In fact, this year, 50 animal welfare organizations received more than $300,000 to help at-risk senior dogs in 25 states. Since 2008, Grey Muzzle has funded more than $1 million in grants.

Visit greymuzzle.org.

6. Morris Animal Foundation

A dog hiking outside.

This year, Morris Animal is helping studyosteosarcoma, behavior, canine influenza, mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma, genetics, nutrition and more. Photography courtesy Morris Animal Foundation.

Having invested almost $44 million in 951 canine studies since 1950, Morris Animal has made all the difference in thousands upon thousands of pets’ lives. This year, the foundation is helping canine researchers study osteosarcoma, behavior, canine influenza, mast cell tumors, hemangiosarcoma, genetics, nutrition and a whole lot more.

The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study aims to target risk factors for cancer and other major health problems found in the breed. “Morris Animal Foundation keeps a focus on animals through lifting up critical scientific research that is helping to save lives,” says Tiffany Grunert, APR, the foundation’s vice president of marketing and brand strategy. “We want to shine a very bright spotlight on … the urgent health needs of animals living in our homes and in the wild.”

Visit morrisanimalfoundation.org.

7. The Pet Fund

Just one of many recipients, Dexter received a grant from The Pet Fund for cancer treatment.

Just one of many recipients, Dexter received a grant from The Pet Fund for cancer treatment. Photography courtesy The Pet Fund.

Many of the organizations listed here couldn’t make such amazing advances without generous support, but what about owners who are unable to take advantage of even basic veterinary treatment when their pet is sick because they have no support and limited means?

Founded in 2003, The Pet Fund national nonprofit funds veterinary care for those who can’t afford it. (The organization says it receives more than 200 phone calls daily from pet owners seeking assistance.) Its primary focus is helping provide nonbasic, nonemergency care for cancer, heart disease, endocrine disorders, kidney disease, cataract surgery and chronic conditions.

The Pet Fund also urges owners to enroll their pets in clinical studies or trials, which may include free medication, surgery or other treatment at no cost, and keeps a running list of trials offered by veterinary colleges and teaching hospitals.

Visit thepetfund.com.

Thumbnail: Photography by Holly Hildreth Photography

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The following post is brought to you by Isle of Dogs. We’re very paw-ticular about our partners and only feature those we think are top dog.

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, which couldn’t be more true than when it comes to your dog’s overall health. From treats to dental chews to their main meal, what your dog consumes has a big impact on their general wellness. The folks at Isle of Dogs believe that providing a joyful life for your dog starts with the nutrition you choose, which is why they launched nourish.

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

nourish™ is a multi-functional nutrition line that combines fresh, pure, non-GMO ingredients that support both inner wellness and outer beauty with each recipe. By offering the healthiest of choices in food, treats, and supplements, Isle of Dogs aims to help your pet thrive. Their grain-free recipes are made from 90% air-dried raw meat, and include coconut oil, vitamins and minerals, Omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. What you won’t find in any nourish recipe–whether it’s their food, dental chews, jerky bites, or supplements–is stuff your dog doesn’t need: grains, wheat, corn, animal meals, potatoes, or rice.

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

Made in the USA, Daily Fix offers three unique functional formulas–calming, hip & joint, and skin & coat–aimed at addressing common canine health issues and also contains probiotics for ongoing gastrointestinal health. With flavorful fish oil included in each recipe, these are delicious, good-for-you vitamins and minerals dogs will love as part of their daily health and beauty regimen.

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

Sourced in New Zealand and made with free-range, humanely-raised, hormone-free meats, nourish Jerky Bites are gently air-dried at low temperatures, in small batches, to naturally preserve the meat without using artificial preservatives. High in protein and truly grain-free, they are made with all-natural ingredients including green lipped mussels (a great source of vitamins, minerals, Omega-3 fats, and antioxidants)!

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

nourish Dental Chews stand out from the crowd with their unique design: they are comprised of two layers that combine beneficial dental ingredients with important functional ingredients. The grooved exterior is made with triple-action Pecodent™; a proprietary blend of finely ground pecan shell, kelp, and turmeric extract that provides natural fiber, and helps clean teeth, aid in the removal of plaque and tartar, and freshen breath. Inside, each chew has a functional layer dedicated to supporting hip and joint health, fresh breath, or skin and coat health.

Nourish: Complete Grain-Free Nutrition from Isle of Dogs

Like the jerky treats, nourish Dog Food is made from the same sustainably-sourced, hormone-free meats. Each protein source comes from traceable farms in New Zealand adhering to environmental practices (ensuring that there is zero run-off into waterways–hooray!). No matter which savory recipe you choose, each one includes coconut oil, chicory root (a prebiotic that promotes gut health), green lipped mussels, as well as other beneficial ingredients. Oh, and of course, it’s completely grain-free!

Learn more about nourish and Isle of Dogs’ mission at iodogs.com.


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What exactly are cataracts in dogs and will your dog go blind or need surgery? We take your through the basics on canine cataracts and what to do if your dog has them.

What are cataracts in dogs?

A dog with cataracts.

A dog with cataracts. Photography ©marekuliasz | Thinkstock.

Cataracts in dogs are cloudiness in the lens of your dog’s eyes that prevents him from seeing clearly. “There are many causes of cataracts in dogs, including inherited (genetic) cataracts, diabetes mellitus, uveitis (inflammation inside the eye) and trauma to the lens, among others,” says Beth Kimmitt, DVM, resident of ophthalmology at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in West Lafayette, Indiana. Cats can get cataracts too, but they are much more common in dogs.

What dog breeds develop cataracts?  

Inherited cataracts are the most common type of canine cataracts. This means the dog was born predisposed to developing the problem. Certain breeds are more likely to develop cataracts, including Australian Shepherds, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

How old does a dog have to be to develop cataracts?

Cataracts are seen in older dogs but they can also occur in young dogs and even in puppies. When young dogs develop cataracts (between 6 months and 6 years old), it’s called juvenile cataracts. Cataracts can affect one or both eyes — frequently, one eye is more affected than the other.

What are the symptoms of cataracts in dogs?

Cataracts in dogs might develop quickly (over a period of weeks) or slowly (over a period of years). You might first notice that your dog’s eyes look cloudy or hazy. “Owners may start to notice a white color within the eye behind the iris (colored part of the eye),” Dr. Kimmitt says. “This may start out faint, and then become more obvious as the cataract progresses. Owners may also notice vision deficits as the cataract worsens. Often, obvious vision changes do not occur unless both eyes are affected because they compensate well with just one visual eye.”

Does my dog have cataracts — or is it something else?

Cloudy eyes don’t always mean your dog has cataracts. A condition in older dogs called nuclear lenticular sclerosis also causes a bluish-gray haze to the eyes, but it doesn’t significantly affect the vision because it’s transparent. Your vet can easily tell the difference. NLS always affects both eyes, whereas cataracts usually affect one eye more than the other.

If you’re wondering if your dog might have cataracts, bring him into your vet for an exam. This is important because cataracts might not be the only issue affecting the eye. “Cataracts can occur secondary to uveitis, and they can also cause uveitis,” Dr. Kimmitt explains. Uveitis is a painful inflammation of the eye. If your pet has this, he might need medications to reduce the inflammation and to keep him comfortable.

My dog has cataracts — will he go blind? What is cataract surgery for dogs?

Having cataracts doesn’t automatically mean your dog will be blind. Some cataracts are small and affect the vision less. However, if your dog is blind, surgery can remove the cataracts. A veterinary eye specialist will remove the cloudy lens and replace it with a new artificial lens. The procedure is costly (in the thousands), but the results are good and generally permanent. For many pet owners, knowing that their beloved dog can see again is priceless.

Thumbnail: Photography ©kacoates | Thinkstock. 

Are you experiencing cataracts? Read up on cataract symptoms in humans >>

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Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

UK illustrator and fellow dog-obsessed human Helen Penny makes some of the best custom pet pillows around! Each pillow portrait is hand-drawn using a graphics tablet, then digitally printed onto an ultra soft velvet fabric before it’s sewn and stuffed, creating a perfectly huggable, squishy likeness of your pup! You can order one for yourself or a friend (or your favorite dog blogger *ahem*) through Helen’s shop: helenpenny.co.uk.

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

See more examples and a little video of how these adorable pillows are made below!

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

Custom Pet Portrait Pillows by Helen Penny

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Few breeds have become as popular as quickly as the charming Havanese. He makes a wonderful city dog, always ready for the next adventure, whether by foot or carried in a fashionable shoulder bag. Here are nine fun facts about this high-energy breed.

1. The rich history behind the Havanese

A Havanese puppy.

A Havanese puppy. Photography ©Dorottya_Mathe | Thinkstock.

The Havanese is the Cuban member of the international Bichon family, a group of mostly white, small, coated breeds that includes the Maltese, the Bolognese and the Bichon Frise. Although relatively new to the United States, the Havanese has a long and colorful history.

Spain exerted much influence over Cuba since the days of Christopher Columbus, and as colonization of the island began, the Havanese found its way into the homes and laps of Spanish aristocrats. The city of Havana, with its glorious weather, operas and theaters, became a favorite vacation spot for the European nobility, and when they returned home, they brought back the “little dog of Havannah” with them.

By the mid-18th century, the dogs became all the rage in the courts of Spain, France and England. Queen Victoria owned two Havanese, and author Charles Dickens’ Havanese, Tim, kept his seven children entertained.

Meanwhile, back on the island, the Cuban revolution of the 1950s, spearheaded by Fidel Castro, forced many to flee, some Cubans escaping with their families and dogs to the U.S. By the end of the 1970s, a Havanese gene pool was being rebuilt.

2. The breed has a heat-tolerant coat

The correct Havanese coat should be the texture of raw silk, full but soft and light. In its homeland, it insulated the dogs perfectly from the city’s strong, tropical rays.

The unique coat gave rise to alternate breed names like the Havana Silk Dog and the Spanish Silk Poodle. Because of the coat’s heat-resistant properties, it was never clipped, nor was the hair on the head tied up in a topknot, as the Cubans believed it protected the dogs’ eyes from the sun. Today, most owners favor a shorter pet trim for their Havanese and use a professional groomer to keep their beloved companions clean and free of mats.

3. Corded Havanese

Sometimes you’ll see an adult Havanese completely covered in long, tassel-like cords that resemble dreadlocks. Corded coats will separate on their own into wavy sections in young dogs and, in time, will develop into cords. Owners of corded Havanese love this dramatic look, and the breed standard allows for both corded and brushed coats.

4. Havanese dogs come in a variety of colors

A black Havanese dog.

A black Havanese dog. Photography ©GlobalP | Thinkstock.

While the Bichon Frise and the Maltese come in basic white, their Cuban relation enjoys a carousel of color. You’ll find a range of shades from black, dark blue, gray and chocolate to rich gold, pale cream and white. Parti-color or two-tone Havanese — black and white, gold and white — are especially popular.

5. The breed has a unique backline

While most dogs have a level back, the back of the Havanese rises slightly from the top of his shoulders to the tail.  You may not be able to see the rise on a full-coated dog, but if you get your hands under the coat, you will feel it.

6. Expect a springy gait

Also unique to the breed is its springy style of movement, which is the result of a short upper arm and the push or drive from the back end of the body. You will see the black pads of the feet when a Havanese moves away from you. The Havanese spring gives the dogs a particularly proud and jaunty air.

7. The Havana Silk Dog

As the Havanese became established in this country, some breeders felt the dog was straying too far from its Cuban roots. They wanted to recreate older depictions of the breed based on paintings, sculptures and written descriptions.

They refer to their dogs as Havana Silk Dogs and breed for longer, straighter forelegs; a flatter, silkier coat; a longer muzzle; and smaller ears. Although they have created a national breed club, the Havana Silk Dog Association of America, they are not at this time actively seeking recognition from the American Kennel Club as a separate breed.

8. The Havanese temperament

The Havanese Club of America describes temperament in the breed standard this way: “The Havanese is friendly, playful, alert and intelligent with a sweet, non-quarrelsome disposition.” They are a wonderful apartment dog and a joy to live with. However, it is a breed that thrives on human companionship and wants to be nearby.

9. Celebrity Havanese owners

Venus Williams with her Havanese dog.

Venus Williams with her Havanese dog. Photography © WENN | Alamy.

The Havanese is an elegant, portable, jet-setting little dog that has won the hearts of many celebrity A-listers. Tennis player Venus Williams owns a Havanese named Harold Reginald Williams. Media mogul Barbara Walters dotes on her Havanese. Others who have fallen for the charms of the Havanese include
Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Naomi Judd.

Thumbnail: Photography ©Dorottya_Mathe | Thinkstock. 

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Allan Reznik is a journalist, editor and broadcaster who specializes in dog-related subjects. He is the former editor-in-chief of Dogs in Review and former editor of Dog Fancy magazine. A city dweller all his life, on both coasts, he now enjoys the rural South with his Afghan Hounds, Tibetan Spaniels and assorted rescues.

The post 9 Reasons to Meet the Happy-Go-Lucky Havanese appeared first on Dogster.

Most dogs have brown eyes but there are some dogs with blue eyes out there. Let’s hear from six dog breeds that occasionally get the blue-eyed gene:

Siberian Husky

Blue-eyed husky dog.

A blue-eyed Siberian Husky. Photography courtesy Eileen M. Gacke, shca.org.

We’re one of few breeds carrying a gene that can give rise to exquisite blue eyes. Attractive eyes aside, let’s first talk about arctic adventures. I was developed thousands of years ago in northeastern Siberia by the Chukchi people. Bred for endurance, my forefathers provided transportation over expansive areas. We were also bred for adaptability, enthusiasm and gentleness. We socialized easily, sleeping with families on especially cold “three-dog nights.” Our breed standard calls for almond-shaped eyes of brown or blue. We can have two brown eyes of any shade, two blue eyes, one eye of each color or two colors in one eye! Our coat, by the way, varies in color too, ranging from black to pure white. Our beauty is only surpassed by our sense of adventure: bring it on!

Border Collie

A blue-eyed Border Collie.

A blue-eyed Border Collie. Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie, manymuddypaws.blogspot.com.

We’re an exceptional herding dog, bred in the British Isles to control stock with an intense gaze. People say I’m the most intelligent dog breed. Who am I to argue? For good reason, I’ve been asked to explain the complicated merle (as it relates to blue eyes) topic. We Border Collies may have merle coats. Merle simply means our coats have an overall dilution of colors with streaks or splotches of darker colors. The more pigment dilution, the more likely we’ll have blue eyes. Now here’s an important health consideration: The merle gene is essentially a dominant gene. A dog carrying a merle gene will be a merle. A problem arises when both parents are merle, for double-merle offspring are at risk for serious medical problems, such as deafness and blindness. But in general, we merle (occasionally blue-eyed) beauties are healthy, eager to work and devoted companions.

Australian Shepherd

A blue-eyed Australian Shepherd. Photography courtesy Moira Cornell, asca.org. Photography by Bethany Howell, Dogs in Motion Photography.

We’re a dog of action, developed in the States to herd and help ranchers all day long. We herd with a loose style, using all of our skills (including throwing an elbow or hip!) to effectively control livestock. Some of us have beautiful merle coats, and the occasional blue eyes may be an extension of the merle pattering.  Some may inherit a blue-eyed gene. Our expressive almond-shaped eyes, by the way, can be brown, blue, amber or any combination. I think we look especially exquisite when we have one blue eye!


A blue-eyed Dachshund.

A blue-eyed Dachshund. Photography courtesy Vicki Antonio, dachshundclubofamerica.org.

Tough and determined, we were bred long ago in Germany to hunt badgers and vermin. To work underground, we needed a unique body shape. Our elongated rib-cage lets us efficiently process air. Our short legs fold readily, making for easy movement in tunnels. Some of us have a dapple (merle) pattern, expressed as lighter-colored areas up against the darker base color. And some dapples will have partial or wholly blue eyes. Regardless of color, our eyes possess an energetic, agreeable appearance.


A blue-eyed Weimaraner.

A blue-eyed Weimaraner. Photography courtesy weimrescuetexas.org.

Some call us the “gray ghost,” referencing our elegant silver-gray coat. Some of us also have distinctive grayish-blue (but not pure blue) eyes. Colors aside, we were developed in Germany to hunt big game, and in time to hunt smaller animals. We’re celebrated for endurance in the field and courage. We’re also lauded for our exceptionally high energy. We can hike, jog, retrieve and excel in field trials. Primarily when you look into my eyes, you won’t be thinking about color. You’ll be noticing that my animated eyes have an expectant, “what shall we do now?” spark!

Cardigan Welsh Corgi

A blue-eyed Cardigan Welsh Corgi.

A blue-eyed Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie, manymuddypaws.blogspot.com.

Alert and dependable, we were bred to handle livestock and for overall farm duty. These days, we continue to exhibit a strong work drive, and can garner accolades in any dog sport. We’re star pupils of obedience and herding in particular. Now, instead of talking (yet again!) about how my short legs helped me avoid cattle kicks, let’s focus on color. Our coat comes in many shades, including red, sable, brindle, black and blue merle. Some of us blue merles have partially blue eyes, or even one dark and one blue eye. What surprises most people is not my eyes, but how agile and quick I am!

Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Amanda Labadie, manymuddypaws.blogspot.com.

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New York City is a vibrant, cutting-edge metropolis that’s home to millions of people — and about 425,000 dogs. To get some insight into the city’s canine residents, Brooklyn-based photographer Heather Weston got on their level (literally) and captured them in the pages of her book, Canines of New York. The end result is a whopping 500 photos of adorable pups across all five boroughs, plus info on each dog’s name, breed and some commentary from their two-legged companions.

Meet a few dogs from the book right here and pick up a copy of Canines of New York on Amazon.comCanines of New York is published by BlueStreak Books.

Gizmo, Bronx

Gizmo, Bronx.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Jaxx, Staten Island.

Jax, Staten Island.

Photography by Heather Weston.

North, Brooklyn Heights.

North, Brooklyn Heights.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Pretzel, Manhattan, Wall Street.

Pretzel, Manhattan, Wall Street.

Photography by Heather Weston.

Sawyer, Queens.

Sawyer, Queens.

Sawyer, Queens. Photography by Heather Weston.

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