Monday, June 27, 2011

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I received the following article from Ashley Porter at It has some useful information, so I thought I would share it.

Finding the right food for your pet can be tough. Recalls and dangerous ingredients are revealed often, making it essential to take the time to read the label to find out what exactly is in your pet’s food. These websites and forums make it easy to decipher the ingredients found in pet food, so read on for tips and ideas to have your pet eating healthy.

Pet Food Forums

There’s nothing like reviews from those who feed their pets themselves. To get the dirt on the best pet foods and which brands or types to avoid depending your pet’s needs, check out these pet food forums.

Dog Food Chat: Reviews straight from dog experts and real pet owners is what you’ll find at this site. From raw food to pet food ingredients and even pet food you can whip up yourself at home.

Pet Food Industry: This site talks about nutrition, safety regulations and everything you need to know about pet food. We love this site because you can sign up for the monthly newsletter that gives you recall notices, so you can be sure your pet food selections are on the up-and-up.

Petfood Connection: Peruse this site for tips on choosing the right pet food for your animal and to learn of any adjustments that can me made to their diets. It also has an interesting section over pet food trends.

The Pet Food List: For all of your recall news, this is the pet food message board to bookmark. Check it weekly because there’s news that’s posted on a regular basis. There’s also a forum over pet foods that the site deems “safe” for your pets, but be sure to do your own research too to ensure your pet’s welfare.

Pets: This Canada-based message board is for pet lovers to chat about your pet’s dietary needs. There’s a sizable thread dedicated to raw foods and home-cooking for pets, plus recipes for homemade dog treats.

PETCO Scoop Blog: This pet blog goes over pet foods of all varieties, including bird, cat and dog food. There are also posts over feeding fish and reptiles, which have specific dietary needs depending on the type.

Truth About Pet Food: This blog gets down and dirty when it comes to exposing the truth about pet food ingredients. Not all companies out there are honest about what’s in their food and buzzwords like “all-natural” are as abused in the pet food industry as they are in other industries, so it’s important to do your homework when choosing pet food.

DogSmithBlog: Learn how to choose food for your pup and how much to feed him or her depending on the type of dog and their size. All of these things are important for a dog’s health, as most with overeat if you let them.

Pet Food Forum: At this message board, members go over the appropriate portions and food for many different species, from birds to dogs. They also discuss getting you know your pet’s likes and dislikes when it comes to their meals.

LinkPet Food Sites

If you need more insight on pet food and how to choose the right one for your pet, opt for these pet food sites to give you the breakdown in terms you can understand.

Humane Society: The Human Society takes a serious stand on the regulations of pet food safety and talks about FDA regulations and standards on their site. There are also directions on what to do if you’ve been feeding your pet a brand that gets recalled .

Pet Food Products Safety Alliance: This site is one to bookmark to keep up with any regulation changes and recalls in the pet food industry. It reminds us of essential things to keep in mind when choosing and educating ourselves on pet food, like the fact that the FDA has nothing to do with recalls.

The Pet Food List: This site discusses the proper diet needs of many animals, including birds, cats and even some exotic pets. There is also a lively forum in case you have questions on how much or how often to feed your animal.

Petsit: USA Keep up with this site for all of your recall news, including how to get your money back once a retailer or manufacturer pulls a product from the shelves.

Pet Food Warehouse Blog: This online pet food retailer is smart enough to offer a blog that explains the difference in ingredients and food. It also talks about dog chews and what foods should be avoided for domestic animals (essential knowledge for the newbie pet owner).

Eating Well: This blog is primarily aimed at the health of people, but there’s a hefty section over watching out what your pet eats. It also discusses pet food politics, which involved a melamine scare a few years ago.

Whole Dog News: This blog focuses on raising your dog the natural way. This means raw foods and natural ingredients that will aide their digestion, an integral element for aging pups. It also shows you how to read a nutrition label and judge whether it’s comprised of things you want to put in your dog’s system.

Connected By Pets: Pet lovers unite at this pet message board that posts articles on caring for your pets with the best quality foods and how to care for sick animals. Think of it as a social networking site for those who can’t get enough of their animal companions.

Dog Food Analysis: This site has been active since 2005 and there are loads of dog food reviews to cruise and peruse. They regularly post any ingredient or formula alterations made to some of the more popular dog foods on the market.

Dog Food Chat: At this dog food site, you’ll find reviews and ratings for everything from at-home dog food recipes to mass produced products. There’s also a guide to what leftovers from your own fridge are OK for Fido to consume.

Dog Food Project: This site has loads of information over the latest dog and cat foods being pulled from shelves. We love it because it’s updated often and goes into depth on pet food ingredients and what to stay away from to keep your pet in tip-top shape.

Pet food may seem like a trivial matter, but if your best friend is a pup or cat, you know choosing the right one is essential to their health and well being. Pet food forums and websites will help you choose pet food that does your pet’s body good and gives you peace of mind when making a purchase.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bailey went to the Rainbow Bridge today

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Bailey, the matriarch of our canine clan, passed away today. She was a neat dog. A bit quirky, but a good girl. We will miss her. Rest in peace, boo girl.

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10 Ways to Help Your Dog Get Used to a New Home

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I received the following article from my friends at Movers and Packers, and I thought I would share it with my readers. A lot of good, helpful tips here.

10 Ways to help your dog get used to a new home

Moving from your home to a new residence can be a tense and stressful time, for your dog as well as for you. Here are a few useful tips to help both you and your dog have a low-stress move, and to help your dog accept and adapt to the new home.

Prepare your pet for the move.

  1. In preparing for a move to a new home, leash-train your dog well ahead of time, so that you can keep control of the dog during the move, and while familiarizing the pup with your new home.
  2. Another important step is to be sure that your dog is crate-trained. A crate gives your dog a home-within-a-home, a safe and comfortable place to be when the dog is confused or fearful, both during the move and once in the new home.
  3. Just before loading your pet for the move, be sure that all of the dog’s immediate needs are met; that he or she has been played with, fed and watered, and allowed to urinate and/or defecate.
Prepare your new home for your pet.
  1. Examine the home, from both human and dog’s eye level, to eliminate or secure any hazards to the dog, such as chemicals, poisonous plants, or tempting electrical cords. Also, see that there are no irreplaceable valuables within reach, that your dog may damage or destroy, or worse, that may be a choking hazard.
  2. Immediately on moving, you should set up the dog’s crate, some favorite toys or possessions, and the dog’s own food and water dishes, in order to give your dog a sense of the familiar, as soon as she or he arrives.
  3. Be sure that all doors and windows, and outdoor fences and gates, are secured against your dog’s possible escape, before allowing the dog to roam and explore.
  4. Before the move, it’s a good idea to choose a veterinarian that you feel comfortable with in your new locale. Trying to find and choose a vet in an emergency that happens during or immediately after a move can waste precious time that your dog’s health and well-being may not be able to afford.

During the move, and once you’ve moved.

  1. It is usually best to make the actual move with your dog in its crate, or otherwise secured safely and not allowed to roam free in the moving vehicle, just as you would with a child. Be sure that your dog is on a leash before exiting the vehicle, and immediately begin familiarizing the dog with the area outside your new home. Walk the perimeter of the yard, allowing your pup to sniff and explore while secured at your side. If there is a particular place that you want to designate for urination and defecation, take the dog first to that area and offer praise and perhaps a small treat as soon as either has been done.
  2. If the new yard is secure, this would be a good time to play with your dog, and associate the new location with fun and connection with you. This would also be a good time to introduce a new toy and offer another tasty treat or two.
  3. After potty and play time, re-leash and bring your pup into the new house and to the area where the crate, food, water dish, and familiar toys have been located, before you continue to explore the rest of the new house with your dog. After you allow the dog to explore and become familiar with the new house, a meal and some time to relax together is appropriate.

These steps will help make the move easier for your dog to settle in and understand that this is now home. Remember though, that your dog will take cues from you and your family. If you are relaxed and cheerful about it all, your dog will be relaxed and accepting of it all, as well.

This site has lots of other great articles on moving and packing. Check out their blog.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

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It's that time of year again! Time for cookouts, going to the beach, swimming, playing outside, and all sorts of outdoor activities. If you are like a lot of us, your pets are included in your outdoor fun. Hot weather makes for some unique summer pet care challenges.

Unlike wild animals that are well adapted to the weather, our pets are just as susceptible to the heat as we are. In the case of my own herd of pups, they are couch potatoes who are used to lounging in the air conditioning and not at all accustomed to the heat. My guys act like I am trying to kill them when I put them "Are you crazy, Mom? It's HOT out there!!!"

Can't say that I blame them!

How do we keep our babies safe during the "dog days of summer"? Here are some summertime hazards and tips to keep our pets safe during the heat of summer.

What are some common summertime hazards?

Heat Stroke:

Heat stroke (a severe form of hyperthermia) is a dangerous condition that can be fatal if not caught and treated quickly. Dogs normally regulate their temperature by panting and through the pads of their feet, but very hot and humid days make them unable to cool their bodies down. Normal body temperature for a dog is around 101 degrees. Heat stroke happens when the body loses its ability to regulate and dissipate heat, causing the body temperature to rise to dangerous levels (above 105 degrees). A body temperature above 106 degrees will cause the internal organs to start to shut down, so you can see this is a VERY serious condition.

Some dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than others. Those at higher risk include:

  • Older dogs
  • Overweight dogs
  • Young puppies
  • Dogs recovering from illness or surgery
  • Short-faced breeds, such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs etc.
  • Breeds with very thick coats, or those from colder climates (huskies, malamutes, etc.)
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red tongue and pale gums
  • Collapse
  • Confusion, inability to respond
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Thick saliva
  • Coma
  • Death
If you suspect your pet may have heatstroke, you must act quickly!
  • Remove the pet from the hot area immediately! Get him to a shaded area, preferably one with good air circulation.
  • Give your dog water, Pedialyte, or Gatorade to drink, but not too much all at once.
  • Lower his body temperature with cool, wet towels, immersing him in a tub of cool water, or by running cool water over him. The prime areas to cool are his head and underbelly. Do not use very cold water or leave wet towels on him for extended periods. This can actually be counterproductive. Cooling too quickly or lowering his body temperature too much can cause other life-threatening conditions.
  • If possible, use a rectal thermometer to check his temperature every 5 minutes or so. Once the body temperature reaches 103, you may stop the cooling procedures. Dry him thoroughly and cover him lightly to prevent him from losing too much heat.
  • Even if the dog appears to be recovering well, get him to your vet promptly. Severe heat stroke can cause permanent damage to internal organs. Your vet will also check for dehydration.

Dehydration is an excessive loss of body fluids. It can be cause by many things(vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lack of access to adequate water, and overexposure to heat). In severe cases, it can cause organ failure or death. Though necessary to keep the dog cool, the process of panting results in a rapid loss of bodily fluids, which will result in dehydration if the electrolytes (essential minerals) do not get replaced.

Symptoms of dehydration include:
  • Lack of skin elasticity. A quick, though not completely accurate, way to check for this is to pull up on the skin on the back of your dog's neck. If it does not quickly spring back to its normal position (1 or 2 seconds), your dog may be dehydrated.
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Too much or too little urination
  • Sunken eyes
  • Delay in capillary refill. If your dog is dehydrated, he will likely have problems with his circulatory system. To test for this, push your finger into your dogs gums until the area under your finger turns white. If the color does not quickly return to normal, this is a sign of fluid loss.
If you suspect you dog may be dehydrated, there are several things you can do.
  • Get your pet to a cool place, just as you would for heat stroke.
  • Give your pet cool water to drink. Pedialyte or Gatorade would be better, since they contain necessary electrolytes and are safe for dogs to drink. Be careful, though. If your dog is very dehydrated, too much water all at once will cause vomiting, which in turn will worsen fluid loss. Start with small amounts. A few sips every few minutes should be safe.
  • If the dog is vomiting the water, try giving him ice cubes to lick, at least until he recovers a little and is able to keep water down. I have used ice cubes made from fozen Pedialyte, or even corn syrup and water, for sick dogs that could not drink. The key is to get fluids into him, however you can.
  • Even if your pet seems to have recovered, a trip to the vet is a good idea to make sure there is no permanent damage, or some underlying cause for the dehydration beyond heat exposure.
  • If your dog refuses to drink for any length of time, get him to the vet immediately!

Yes, you read that right. Dogs can get sunburned. Short-haired dogs, dogs with pink skin and white coats...not to mention hairless breeds....are at risk for sunburn. Talk to your vet to find out which sunscreens would be safe for pets. According to the ASPCA, ingesting certain sunscreen ingredients can cause drooling, vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhea, and lethargy in pets.

Burned pads:

Walking barefoot across hot asphalt can be an unpleasant experience for any of us. Your pet is no different. Asphalt on sidewalks and streets can heat to a temperature that can burn a dog's paws. Place your hand, palm side down, on the asphalt. If you cannot hold your hand there for at least 30 seconds without it burning, it is too hot for your dog to walk on.

What can you do to ensure a safe and fun summer for your pet? Here are some safety tips:
  • NEVER leave your dog in direct sunlight without access to shade and water.
  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, even if the temperature outside is only in the upper 70s...even if it's only for a short time....and even if you are parked in the shade. A study from Stanford University shows that even on comparatively cool days, such as 72 degrees, a car's internal temperature will rocket to 116 degrees within 60 minutes. Keeping the windows open a crack hardly slows this rise at all.
  • I will repeat this one....NEVER leave your dog unattended in a closed car, even if you don't think it's that hot. Hundreds of animals die every year from being left in a vehicle that has basically been turned into a oven. Not only is it tragic for your pet, but you may be facing animal cruelty charges if it happens.
  • Always provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your dog to drink.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise with your dog on extremely hot days, and refrain from any outside play time during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use sunscreen as part of your daily routine if your dog is at risk and plays in the sun a lot. Ears and nose are the most susceptible areas.
  • Avoid walking your dog on very hot pavement to prevent burns to his foot pads.
  • If at all possible, bring your pet inside. Animals should not be left outside unsupervised on long, hot days, even in the shade. Shade can move throughout the afternoon, and pets can become ill quickly if they overheat, so keep them inside as much as possible. If you must leave your pet in the back yard, keep a close eye on him and bring him in when you can.
Summer safety for pets isn't difficult, but it does require some thought and attention. Watch over your pet just as you would a small child. Protect them from too much heat, sun, and other dangers, and you can enjoy a safe and fun summer with your pets.

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