Health & Wellness

Stuff the Turkey Not the Dog

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Health & Wellness, Nutrition, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

It is so tempting to “give a dog a bone”…or a piece of juicy turkey, or, gravy covered mashed potatoes or….you get the point.  They look at you with those sad, sad eyes and there is absolutely food everywhere!  I know!   Although the average American gains a pound or two over the holidays, that shouldn’t hold true for our canines and felines. The fresh aroma of turkey basting in the oven, along with creamy gravy simmering on the stove and pies on the table will have your dog drooling.  During this month and the next, it is important to watch the health and safety of our pets.  Here are a few tips to help avoid an unwanted trip to the emergency vet or a sick pet at the party. Keep your pet on their standard diet.  Avoid giving them turkey or other meats, since this can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea, all of which can ruin the celebration. Keep aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic bags and wax paper away from pets.  Disposing of these items properly can prevent accidental intestinal blockage while trying to lick the last morsel of gravy from the cover. While a wishbone may bring you a great wish, it can bring your dog an unwanted problem.  Any brittle or splintering bone, wish or otherwise, can become lodged in their esophagus as well as puncture a hole in their intestines. Discourage friends and family from feeding your dog extra snacks and scraps.  Snacks that are high in salt (chips and peanuts) and other fatty foods can cause Pancreatitis, which is a life-threatening condition. While chocolates may taste great, they contain theobromine which can be hazardous to your pet’s health.  Baker’s chocolate is the highest in theobromine and can cause the most problems. As with any holiday, see that your pet has a safe haven to move to…away from the festivities.  This will give your pet a much needed “Time-Out” from the hustle of the holiday. Make sure that your pet has their identification tags on during all parties or get togethers.  With people coming in and out of the house it is very easy for your pet to wander through and open door.  It is also helpful to get your pet micro-chipped.  Most animal shelters have devices to scan for these chips and to identify the owner...

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Bite Me Once Shame on You, Bite Me Twice Shame on Me

Posted by on Jul 25, 2010 in Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought, Safety | 0 comments

Each May, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sponsors National Dog Bite Prevention Week.  This year, May 16-22, marks the date.  According to the Center for Disease control, over 4.5 million people a year fall victim to dog bites.  Approximately 800,000 of them are severe enough to require medical attention but the rest go unreported.  Who is typically bitten?   Considering the numbers above, nearly 2% of the US population. You won’t be surprised to learn that the vast majority are children.  Other front runners are the elderly and service providers such as postal employees. On a weekly basis, I hear stories of dogs biting adults, children and other dogs.  The biting typically occurs in the home or yard by a dog that the person/child/dog knows…i.e.  a family or neighborhood pet.  People are upset, angry and questioning what to do with the aggressor.   If the bite was imposed on a child and not severe, the dog is typically re-homed.  In more serious cases, like the stories we hear about on the news, the dog is euthanized. The reality?  In most cases, the bite was 100% preventable.  How can you protect your family…including your dog?  Let’s start with the first step, Reduce the Risk of Your Dog Biting.   I know that for many of you, I am preaching to the choir.  But for those who are unaware of how to prevent your dog from biting…this is worth the read.  Be a responsible pet owner– as the saying goes:  love, license and LEASH your dog.  I know many people who don’t believe in the last part of that phrase.  They let their dog roam off leash as much as possible and enjoy giving him that freedom.  Even if your dog is the most non aggressive dog on the planet, he could try to interact with a dog aggressive dog being walked on leash… an altercation ensues and someone gets bit.  OR, your unleashed dog, roaming around your front yard, becomes protective of his territory, and decides to chase and/or bite two and four legged passersby.  These situations are completely avoidable simply by leashing your dog while walking and letting your dog have free range of their fenced and gated backyard. Spay or neuter your dog– Having your dog altered will reduce their desire to roam and act aggressively.   Altered dogs are three times less likely to bite than non altered dogs.  Spaying/neutering also promotes a healthier lifestyle for your pet. Socialize your dog– Introduce your puppy to many types of people, animals and situations so they are at ease when a new or strange situation occurs.  If you have an older dog that needs to beef up his social skills try a training class or work one on one with a training professional. Train your dog– Enrolling your dog into a training class at an early age is the best choice, but older dogs can do well to take a refresher course. Pet selection and timing– Dogs should never be obtained on impulse.  Research the type of dog that will blend well with your family and lifestyle.  Since so many bites happen to children, make sure it is the right time for you and your kids.  It is recommended to wait until children are over four years of age. Most importantly, ALWAYS monitor your dog while with children.  Never let children and dogs have alone time.  As we all know, children love to play, tug at and chase dogs oftentimes.  They also don’t know better than to interrupt a dog while he is eating, snacking on a treat or sleeping.  These are...

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Pet Food Facts

Posted by on Mar 1, 2010 in Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

Feeding a nutritionally sound diet to your pet will promote overall health.  Benefits can include: Longevity Weight Management Healthy Skin & Coat Disease Prevention Proper Bone and Joint Development Dogs and Cats are carnivores and therefore should have high quality meat and meat meal as the majority of their food. What is a Carnivore?  A carnivore, meaning ‘meat eater’ (Latin carne meaning ‘flesh’ and vorare meaning ‘to devour’), is an animal that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of vertebrate and/or invertebrate animal tissue, whether through predation or scavenging. … Read your pet food ingredient labels!  This will give you a clear picture of what your pet is eating.  The first FIVE ingredients are the most important and the first TEN ingredients will tell you everything you need to know.  Ingredients are weighed prior to being cooked and the heaviest ingredients are listed first. Good Ingredients include: Chicken, Beef, Salmon, Herring, Duck, Turkey, or any other whole protein source Chicken Meal, Beef Meal, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, Duck Meal, Turkey Meal or other high quality meal source Brown Rice, Barley, Oats, Oatmeal, Quinoa or other whole grain Fruits, Vegetables, Vitamins and Supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin Bad Ingredients include: Corn Wheat Soy Gluten Meat (unspecified) By-products By-product Meal Animal Fat (unspecified) Salt Sugar Artificial Colors and Flavors *Corn, Wheat and Soy are common causes of pet allergies.  The first two to three ingredients in a pet food should be whole meats or high quality meat meals.  Whole meat followed by a meat meal is the best situation.  Since a whole fresh meat will lose most of its water weight after being cooked, a meat meal will ensure that a good portion of the final weight is derived from meat. Corn and Corn Gluten Meal have high protein counts.  Many commercial pet foods use corn products to bump up the protein count in pet food to inexpensively meet AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) Standards.  As carnivores, dogs and cats do not need corn for protein but high quality MEAT! So, what do all of these terms mean?  Click here for AAFCO definitions of pet food ingredients: Interested in knowing how your pet’s food stacks up?  Visit and find out!    ...

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Houndsight is 20-20

Posted by on Jan 15, 2010 in Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

My eyesight is horrible…I mean bad… really, really bad.  At my last eye exam the doctor displayed the largest E on the brightly lit screen and I couldn’t decipher what it was. Sadly, I couldn’t read anything on the screen at all. Thank God for corrective lenses! Have you ever thought about what your dog sees and doesn’t see? Is Fido’s vision 20/20? In one simple word, no. His vision is more like 20/75! What a person can see from 75 ft away a dog can only see at 20 ft. You probably have heard that dogs are color blind. That their world view is in black and white. The latest research has shown that this is not the case. Because the retina in a dog’s eye contains about 1/10 the amount of cones (cones provide color perception and detailed sight) as a human’s eye their vision is more like someone who is color blind. Distinguishing red, green, orange and yellow is impossible for dogs. Studies have shown that they can pick out blue/violet and yellow, however. They can also differentiate between shades of gray. Don’t feel too bad for them though. Dog’s can see much better in dim light than their two legged parents. They are also excellent at seeing things in M O T I O N. For all of you who have dogs that can run down a Frisbee and pluck it out of mid air or whose dog can catch a ball at any angle and height…or have witnessed your pooch chase down a lizard across the yard at dusk…you know what I mean.  Why is this possible? A dog’s retina may be lacking in the cone department but it is rod dominant. Rods provide the ability to detect motion and to see things in dim light.  AHA! This explanation makes perfect sense when you think of dog’s evolution. Our pet’s wild ancestors were hunters and predators chasing prey at dusk or at night. Night vision and detection of movement was crucial for survival of the species.  Let’s apply this knowledge to our modern dog’s life. Think about training your dog. If you have taken a training class in the past you most likely were taught hand signals as well as voice commands. Your movement reinforces your voice and satisfies your dog’s sense of sight.  Even more innate is a dog’s ability to distinguish even the slightest movement in other dogs. This is how they understand the hierarchy of the pack, the messages being relayed and how they should respond. In fact, this is how they learn about us…their humans. They are very tuned in to our body language and take their cues from our actions. Don’t expect your dog to know who you are from a distance but as soon as you make one of your characteristic moves they will realize who you are.  A dog’s sight or lack of vision in bright light…is supplemented by their other, stronger senses of smell and sound. Going back to our ball example, a dog can follow the ball as it fl ies through the air, but as soon as it hits the ground and stops rolling, their sense of smell kicks in and they “sniff out” their round prize. Or, our other example of knowing you from a distance…as soon as you use your voice they will identify you and of course they intimately know your scent.  So, even though Fido’s sight may not be 20/20 it is perfectly made to suit his needs and has worked for his species for millions of...

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A Mosquito’s Filet Mignon!

Posted by on Jul 1, 2009 in Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought, Skin & Allergies | 0 comments

Is your pet the victim of fly by bitings?  Fleas may not be the problem…but an onslaught of mosquitos might be.    As you may or may not know, mosquitos carry heartworms from pet to pet (yes, cats are susceptible to heartworm disease as well).  Even if your pet is an “inside” pet, they are still susceptible to mosquito bites and should be on a heartworm preventative.  If you have an “outside” dog or cat, PLEASE get your pet protected by using a monthly heartworm preventative.  Heartworm disease is expensive to treat, hard on a pet’s body and can be deadly. There are a few basic things you can do to prevent your pet from being the daily special: Change outside water bowls two or three times a day.  This will prevent mosquitos from harvesting eggs in your pets H2O. Eliminate stagnant water from your yard.  Water buckets, wading pools, bird baths, wheelbarrows, clogged roof gutters, discarded tires, plastic containers or any water-holding container should be cleaned or emptied on a weekly basis.  We recommend twice or more a week. Keep your pets inside during dawn and dusk hours as these are peak mosquito feeding times. Neem to the Rescue If your pet does go outside, we recommend to spray them down with an all natural pest repellent such as one derived from Neem and Citronella.  Neem is a tree native to India whose oils, bark, sap, fruit, leaves and gum are used to naturally heal humans and pets in a variety of ways.  For the purposes of this article you should know that Neem is effective in warding off mosquitoes and is used to sooth and calm skin and coat issues such as insect bites and skin irritations. Ark Naturals has a great Neem spray and shampoo as well as a new product that hit the market called Flea Flicker Tick Kicker that will repel and kill fleas ticks and mosquitos.  Avoid sprays and repellents containing DEET.  Pets are extremely sensitive to DEET and can develop neurological problems if a DEET product is applied.  Lastly and most importantly, healthy pets are less susceptible to insects, disease and general maladies than are unhealthy pets.  Ensure your pet is in optimal health by feeding the correct diet, exercising appropriately and visiting your veterinarian annually.  These steps will go a long way in PREVENTING unwanted problems.  A healthy pet is a happy one and a happy pet means a content...

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Poochie Smoochie

Posted by on Jun 18, 2009 in Eyes, Ears & Teeth, Health & Wellness, Paws for Thought | 0 comments

Does Your Pooch Have Smoochable Breath? I think I hear a resounding “NO” screaming through the page from many of my readers out there. Even if your dog’s breath is minty fresh, pet oral hygiene should be taken seriously and monitored continuously. This will lead to not only pleasant breathe but could extend the life of your pet. How do you know if your pet’s dental health is less than pearly white? The first indicator is bad breath. I am not talking about typical doggie breath…but a can’t stand to be around you….odor that makes your pooches smooches something to be avoided. Also, discolored teeth, mouth pain, excessive drooling, bleeding gums or loss of appetite are all signs. As with humans, pets will build tartar and plaque if their teeth go uncared for. The build up of these two culprits may lead to gingivitis and then periodontal disease (gum disease). Gingivitis is treatable but Periodontal disease is not. It can be stopped and then managed by the proper professional treatment. You definitely do not want your dog or cat to get to this point. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to other problems such as Oro-Nasal Fistulas, Feline Odontoclastis Resorptive Lesions and finally Kidney, Liver or Heart Disease. The latter is life threatening and can lead to the death of the pet. It occurs by the bacteria gaining access to the blood stream through the compromised gums. Bacteria-laden plaque can actually lodge in the heart valves, liver, kidney and lungs. You will be happy to know that there are easy solutions to get you back on the road to pleasant doggie kisses. 1. Brusha Brusha Brusha- Yes, brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week. Use a special pet toothbrush or finger brush and pet toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste or baking soda. Not pet friendly. 2. H2O additives- There are many all natural products out there that you simply add to your pet’s water. So, as they drink throughout the day they are also cleaning their teeth. Many of my customers have tried this and have had wonderful results. A few great products are made by Triple Pet and Ark Naturals., 3. Mouth Sprays and Gels- If a toothbrush won’t work, an easier way may be to spray an all natural cleanser in the pet’s mouth or rub a gel on the teeth and gums with your finger. The PetZLife oral care gel and spray work wonders. These products are made with Grapefruit seed extract, Grape seed extract, Thyme oil, Neem oil, Rosemary oil, and Peppermint oil. This one is easy and highly recommended! 4. Rope toys and Chew Toys- Believe it or not play time can be a great time to get a bit of teeth cleaning in without your pet realizing it! While your dog is doing double duty as he earnestly chews his rope bone. 5. All Natural Dental Treats and Bones- Make sure that the dental treat you choose is highly digestible and made of all naturally products. These treats work but just make sure they will not lodge in your pet’s tummy or intestinal track. Flossie tendons by Merrick are wonderful as they help clean in between teeth. They are 100% beef tendon and digestible. Raw bones are great cleaners as well. Make sure the bones you feed your dog are either raw or slow roasted. Bones in any other form may splinter and cause harm to your pet. 6. Yearly Vet Cleanings- the hope is that by doing a few of the above, you can avoid as many...

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