What better way is there to love your dog than by giving him treats? The trick is choosing HEALTHY treats…sounds simple, but it’s not. Walk down the treat aisle in any pet supply story (or even your local grocery store), and you can’t miss them: row upon row of attractively packaged types, styles, sizes, and brands to choose from, and since treats are not required to be nutritionally complete and balanced, very few are healthy for your dog. An ideal dog treat is one made from good quality ingredients, low in calories and fat, high in protein, and offers additional health benefits. BEFORE you buy any commercial packaged treats, check the ingredient list on the package. (You will probably be horrified to find out what is really in those cute little tidbits!)
Good treats should not contain:
- Animal by-products…this term can mean almost anything. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines chicken by-product meal as consisting of “the ground, rendered parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable.” Doesn’t sound very savory, does it?
- Artificial preservatives such as BHT, BHA, or Ethoxyquin. There are safer and healthier preservatives such as Vitamin C and E. (Vitamin E is sometimes listed as “mixed-tocopherols”)
- Artificial colors. Your dog doesn’t care what color his food is. Artificial colors are absolutely unnecessary chemicals. Green, red and yellow treats do not contain healthy vegetables; they contain dyes!
- Artificial or low quality palatability enhancers. Treats are sort of like candy; they should taste better than the dog’s regular food, but they shouldn’t contain anything bad for the dog. I suggest avoiding treats that contain high amounts of sweeteners such as sucrose or corn syrup.
- Propylene glycol. Yes, it’s the stuff that’s in antifreeze and it is toxic to dogs. It is used in some pet treats to keep them moist and chewy.
If you are serious about giving your dog healthy treats, the best solution is to make homemade ones (or a raw baby carrot). There are many simple, easy-to-make recipes to satisfy the most finicky dog.
Treats are a form of affection and an invaluable training tool, When high quality treats are given discriminately, they promote your dog’s enjoyment and confidence!
- 2 cups of flower (preferably wheat flour)
- 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese
- ½ cups of canola oil
- 4 or 5 tablespoons of water
Combine ingredients and mix well to form a stiff dough. Pinch off small hunks of the dough and place on lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with your thumb, and bake for about 18 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
Simply Scrumptious Simple Biscuits
- ½ cup of cornmeal
- 6 tablespoons of oil
- 2/3 cups meat broth
- 2 cups of wheat flour
Combine ingredients and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 ½ cup flour
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- ¼ cup oatmeal
Mix thoroughly. Drop walnut sized pieces on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Feedback is good, right? Well, there was a lot of feedback from last week’s Paw Prints… Most of it centered around a three-word-question: “Are you crazy?” Now, admittedly, there are days, if you were to ask my family about my mental health, you might get an affirmative response, but before we get too personal, let me complete the question: “Are you crazy? You REALLY don’t expect us to brush our dog’s teeth.” Yes, I really do! An effective dental health program for dogs involves three components:
1. Diet. It is important that you feed your dog a high-quality dog food. To find out how different foods rate, please check www.dogfoodadvisor.com
2. Routine professional cleaning. Just as with humans, dogs need their teeth checked by a veterinarian on a regular basis.
3. Home care. The best method of home care is brushing. Most dogs can be acclimated to brushing the teeth if you take it slowly. Hopefully many of you have been handling your dog’s mouth on a daily basis for the past week, and he feels more comfortable with your lifting his lip and rubbing your finger gently along the gum line. You have talked gently to him while you stroked around his mouth, and rewarded him with praise and a carrot. .
Once the dog is comfortable with having his mouth touched, it is time to move on to his teeth. But rather than beginning with a brush, it’s easier to go in with a strip of gauze, or a warm washcloth wrapped around your finger. Lift the dog’s lip on one side, and with the washcloth wrapped around your finger, rub the outer surfaces of both upper and lower teeth. Then switch to the other side. If he resists, quit the session. Doing this once a day for a week or so will result in your pet’s getting used to having your fingers inside his mouth, and make it easier to move on to the next step: a toothbrush. Dr. Holmstrom, author of Veterinary Dental Techniques recommends using a soft, child-size toothbrush or one designed specifically for dogs. You can also buy brushes that fit over your index finger. Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and with a gentle, circular motion, brush the entire outer surfaces of the teeth, especially the area where the base of the tooth meets the gum. Do NOT use toothpastes made for humans, as these usually contain detergents and since dogs are more likely to swallow than spit and rinse, human toothpaste can cause stomach upset. Pet toothpaste comes in so many lip-smacking flavors that most dogs accept it eagerly.
Okay, some of you are still not ready to use a toothbrush on your dog’s teeth. I confess: some dogs don’t do really well with a brush …. so use a finger brush, or even a warm washcloth.. Any method is better than none, so use whatever approach you and your dog feel most comfortable with, but establish it as part of your regular routine.
Since animal care companies recognize that many caregivers will not brush, they have been hard at work formulating no -brush products, so there are many new products on the market now that claim to make dental care more convenient., including specially formulated non-toxic solutions and sprays that require no effort beyond adding them to your companion’s water or spraying them in his mouth. Some of these products are more effective than others, but before you rush out to buy one, consult your vet…Do not buy an over-the-counter solution. Brushing at home is the best strategy to prevent dental issues. With patience and persistence, you can curtail the amount of periodontal disease, reduce the frequency of professional cleanings, and provide your dog with a healthier, sweeter smile!
We all know that we need to take care of our teeth so that plaque and tarter buildup doesn’t cause bacteria that can migrate into our bloodstreams, resulting in serious health problems. The same is true with our pets. Along with good food, exercise, and lots of love, regular brushing of their teeth is one of the most important things we can do for them. Poor dental health isn’t just about your dog’s teeth and gums. Over 80 percent of them are affected by dental problems including serious periodontal disease by the time they are three years old, which affects their overall well- being.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month with the “Pets Need Dental Care Too” campaign. Remember what your teeth looked and felt like this morning when you got up? That rough, thick feel to the surface of the teeth after going only overnight without brushing. Can you imagine not brushing your teeth for a couple days…or weeks…or years?
Dogs depend on healthy teeth and gums for survival. Like their caregivers, they are susceptible to bacterial plaque, tarter, cavities, and tooth aches. Periodontal disease, caused by bacteria and their toxins, if left untreated, will damage the teeth, gums, and supporting tissues. They can also spread through the bloodstream to other organs, including the kidneys, liver, lungs and heart. Since dogs cannot brush their own teeth, it is the responsibility to the caregivers to keep their teeth and gums in tiptop shape. According to recent surveys of dog caregivers, almost all confirm that they would proactively do anything to help their dogs live longer, healthier lives, but fewer than l0 percent recognize dental care as one of the top health concerns for dogs. Very few recognize the importance of brushing their dog’s teeth.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include brownish or discolored teeth, tarter buildup at the gum line, swollen, bleeding, or receding gums, irritability, decreased appetite or reluctance to chew, eat, and drink, pawing at the mouth, rubbing the face on the ground, and persistent bad breath.
To help your dog keep a healthy, lifetime grin, humans need to practice preventative care.
- Don’t dismiss doggie breath. A dog’s bad breath is often an early warning sign of dental problems.
- Pay attention to your dog’s eating habits. If she is reluctant to eat hard kibble, it could be due to a tooth ache.
- Provide fresh water daily. Bacteria can escalate inside bowls containing water that is more than a couple days old.
- Treat your dog to a raw baby carrot or two every day. Raw carrots help scrub plaque away as well as provide vitamins and fiber.
- BRUSH her teeth…no, we are not kidding! The idea of brushing your pet’s teeth daily can be a bit daunting at first, but it’s the best way to keep gum disease from getting started. If you have never done this, start off easy. Begin by handling his mouth for a couple minutes every day for a few days. Stroke around his face, and then reward him with praise and maybe a carrot! For the next week, work toward getting your dog comfortable with having his mouth handled. Don’t even try to brush….
Next week’s Paw Prints will cover basic tips for actual brushing.
Please don’t be one of the majority of caregivers who will become discouraged …as Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” With patience (and carrots), you’ll eventually have a dog who happily lets you mess with his mouth!!
Valentine’s Day is the day when we shower our loved ones with candy, flowers, and red hearts. According to CBS News more than 18 BILLION dollars will be spent on cards and gifts, with l0 billion spent for someone close, 3 billion spent on friends and acquaintances, and more than 5 billion spent on pets. It’s great to make this special day as much fun for pets as it is for humans, but there are some items that need to be kept out of paws’ reach. Poison control experts see a rise in animal emergencies every year, many involving chocolate and lilies which are extremely toxic to animals, so please heed their advice and don’t leave goodies lying around.
- A small amount of alcohol can do a lot of harm, and fatal respiratory failure can occur if a large enough amount is ingested.
- Gum, candy and other treats that contain xylitol can result in a sudden drop of blood sugar and can cause your animal to suffer loss of coordination and seizures.
- Flowers are beautiful, but don’t let pets chew on lilies or any plants or flowers, especially those with thorns…Biting, stepping on, or swallowing thorns can cause serious infection if a puncture occurs.
- Although candles are romantic, nosey pooches can burn themselves or cause a fire by knocking over unattended candles.
As you make every effort to show that special someone just how much he/she is appreciated, take a moment to reflect on why we do special things for our dogs. Keegan Baur offers this list:
Is excited to see me every time I come home (even if I have only been gone an hour).
Is always in the mood to cuddle or play
Enjoys long walks to anywhere
Never complains about his food
Helps me clean up spills in the kitchen
Doesn’t care what TV program we watch
Shares my belief that any time is a good time for a nap
Loves me unconditionally…absolutely…positively…no matter what
ALWAYS appreciates a treat…
Speaking of treats!
There are very few healthy commercial treats (check the ingredient list!), so here’s a guaranteed-to-please recipe for homemade:
Gourmet Salmon Crunches
- 1 – 14 ounce can of salmon. DO NOT DRAIN
- 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup shredded cheese
- ¼ cup water
- Mix thoroughly and drop by SMALL spoonfuls on greased baking sheet. (Dough will be sticky). For training size treats, you can get 30 on the average baking sheet.
- Bake for about 12 minutes. (For extra crunchy, leave in for a minute or two longer)
- Cool completely before you let your dog indulge! (These freeze well!)
Sweet Potato Chews:
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
- Scrub the sweet potato or yam…no need to peel.
- Cut into thin slices (the thinner the slice, the shorter the cooking time) and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer.
- Bake for about 3 hours for slightly chewy treats or bake longer to get them crunchy. (If you have a dehydrator, pop them in there instead of the oven.)
Happy Valentine’s Day furbabies and humans alike!
The first month of 2014 is history. Hopefully many of you accepted Paw Print’s New Year’s challenge to begin an Opportunity Journal in which you record acts of kindness shown to companion animals. If the pages in your journal are still blank, don’t despair…. The year offers you eleven more months to make life better for needy dogs. According to the Global Language Monitor, President Obama’s favorite catchphrase is, “Make No Mistake.” Don’t know how well it is working for him, but, “Make no mistake”—you have the ability to help brighten the future of area dogs, and in the process, you will also brighten your own life, as illustrated in this piece by Helen McKinley.
MY DOG WILLIE
When I lost my first forever dog, I was devastated. I decided that the best way to say thank you to him for 15 years of devoted companionship was to adopt an older dog from the local shelter. Willie was already 11 years old, and as he huddled in the back of his cage, I looked into his eyes, and it was heartbreaking. Willie had been a stray. He had been in several homes, and his last owner just took him to the shelter in the middle of the night, and left him outside tied up at the shelter entrance. The fact is that senior dogs are the first to be discarded—they are the ones nobody wants anymore, usually for selfish reasons, or they have outlived their usefulness, with impulsive owners who considered the dog a possession, rather than a friend or member of the family, or simply didn’t take the time, effort and expense needed to be a dog caretaker.
People ask me, Are you crazy? Why on earth would you want to adopt a rescue dog? Aren’t they like used cars? Misfits, troublemakers. Who wants someone else’s problems? Why not get a cute little puppy?
I took Willie because he needed me. I didn’t consider how it would turn out, or how much it would cost, or if our relationship would be happy or tragic in the end. I felt a sense of control that I seldom feel in my every day relationships. If I can save something, then maybe I can do anything. Anything.
Willie came with some baggage, but don’t we all? None of us has made the trip this far without some baggage. I know that Willie’s time with me is limited. The walks are slower, and sometimes he needs a boost getting up the stairs. He will leave when his work is done, but his lessons with be with me for the rest of my life. The lessons of being there in the moment… patience… acceptance… listening not only with your head, but also with your heart…. to love and trust, completely and unconditionally.
Some people say to me, it’s wonderful you rescued Willie—how lucky Willie is! I am the lucky one to have him in our family, for whatever time he gives me. Misfit? Troublemaker? I don’t think so; as see it, Willie rescued me. He has given me much, much more than I have given him.
I realize that many of you do not live in Iowa, but I encourage you to find an animal welfare group within your own state, and become involved… and if you would prefer to not receive our weekly Paw Prints, sign up by: using the “Join our PawPrints Weekly Newsletter” on the right.
There are many wonderful animal welfare groups, and I appreciate them, but I feel that it is vital to support groups that directly impact the treatment of our own dogs, and the sad fact is that an estimated 20, 000 adult dogs are currently suffering in horrific conditions in Iowa puppy mills. Several Iowa breeders have more than 400 dogs, and one keeps more than a thousand, with our state laws providing very little protection for these poor animals. Iowa Voters for Companion Animals is an active group that was formed in 2009 to address issues associated with Iowa’s commercial dog breeding industry which makes Iowa the #2 puppy mill state in the entire country. Iowa VCA has successfully lobbied for passage of important legislation, and has been instrumental in improving USDA’s inspections of inadequate facilities. They need more animal welfare advocates all across the state to join them in their ongoing grassroots efforts to advocate for better state-level animal welfare laws, encourage and support the enforcement of the animal welfare laws that we already have, and support the election of city, county, and state law makers and law enforcers who will work to protect our companion animals. To receive more information, or receive regular e-mail alerts, sign up at www.iowavca.org . If you have specific questions, you may contact group president, Mary LaHay, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515-556-5949. The group is already pursuing new legislation, and it is important that their grassroots support grows. Together it is possible to change laws, and stop the incredibly cruel situations that flourish in our state. PLEASE GET INVOLVED!
The plight of the thousands of Iowa dogs is graphically described in Before I Die, by Jim Willis, in recognition of the millions of animals who never knew the sun and fresh air, those regarded as property, and who profited human bank accounts:
It’s lonely here in prison. I dream of sun, of fields.
I saw them from a window once, but I don’t know how they feel.
I’ve never known a caress, a friend, a bone, a toy.
I yearn for companionship of a human girl or boy,
I long to have someone talk to me and maybe play a game.
I know it will never happen, but I wish it all the same.
Because some humans have decided, with selfishness and greed
That my fate shall be existing in a filthy cage, where I’ll live and breed.
They regularly bring another dog and toss him in with me,
Another litter I must bear; there’s no end that I can see.
I sit and watch day after day, so many puppies being born;
Where do they go, what happens to them, when they are torn from their mom?
The sleet is continuing on this cold winter night,
My bones ache, my body sore as I shiver in this tiny cage.
I whimper, but there is no way to get warm or find shelter from the storm.
What did I do to be in this place? My paws are numb, my pads are bleeding.
Who profits from this folly? My friends and I may cry in vain;
Does no one care or even know of our horrendous pain?
I have lost my will to live, I can no longer cope.
If only I could run and play just once before I die.
Bitterly cold temperatures, snow, ice, and chilling winds have hit us hard in Iowa, so this week’s favorites are cold weather gear. Just because dogs have fur coats doesn’t mean that they can endure bitterly cold weather. No dog should be kept outside when the temperatures drop below freezing. Most of you know that I am not a fan of clothing for dogs… however, with the frigid, blustery weather we have been experiencing, your dog might appreciate a sweater or coat… not for appearance, but for warmth. Veterinarian Arnold Plotnick insists that when the temperatures drop below 40 degrees, short coated and toy breeds need a sweater or coat, and should be outdoors only long enough to relieve themselves. Dogs bred for cold climates might enjoy a longer walk, but prolonged exposure to cold weather, especially accompanied by high winds, can lower any dog’s body temperature, resulting in hypothermia, or frostbite. We often hear, “Dogs are animals. They’re meant to be outside. They’ll be fine.” Not true! If you see a companion animal shivering outside in the cold, please don’t ignore him. Perhaps the caregiver doesn’t even realize the dangers, and a neighborly offer to help make the situation better might be gratefully accepted if you don’t sound accusatory or belligerent. If the “good neighbor” approach is unsuccessful, it may be necessary to notify the authorities. A dog’s life might depend on your intervention.
All dog coats and sweaters are NOT EQUAL…actually the majority of them are almost worthless. I have two very favorites: the first is an inexpensive anti-pilling fleece coat that combines warmth, style, and durability at a surprisingly affordable price. Fido Fleece coats have collar- to -tail Velcro closing which makes them easy- on and easy- off. They cover, warm, and protect the dogs vulnerable underside, and come in a wide array of styles and sizes. For details on these coats, go to www.petsafe.net ….just type in Fido Fleece , or call toll free 800-933-5595.
My very favorite dog sweater is the amazing ThunderSweater, a new product from the same company that makes the ThunderShirt, a coat designed to ease a dog’s fear and anxiety, using the same concept as wrapping a human baby snuggly in a blanket, or “swaddling”, a common practice for helping to calm an upset or cranky baby. It works with humans, and it also works with canines to comfort and calm. The ThunderShirt has helped families, veterinarians, and trainers increase an animal’s self-confidence, providing comfort in situations that were once stressful or frightening. I am a fan of the ThunderShirt because it can be adjusted to fit almost any dog, and most dogs are happy and comfortable wearing it. It is great for alleviating stress, and also for warmth on chilly days. The ThunderSweater consists of a regular ThunderShirt made of a sturdy, stretchy fabric, over which a cable-knit sweater layer is fitted using snaps. The attractive sweater layer is thick and well-constructed, and the snaps that attach it to the ThundersShirt underneath both hold strong when snapped, and release relatively easy for removal. Once the garment is on and fitted properly, it looks good and it stays put. It is certainly better made than most dog coats on the market, and the sweater layer in particular is impressive. (Yes, it is a bit spendy, but purchase of the Sweater includes both the under Shirt and the Sweater, and because of the high quality workmanship, it will outlast several of the ill- fitting cheapies that most dogs find uncomfortable) The only problem with this gear is that, even with the visual instructions provided in the packaging, it may be a challenge to put on the dog the first time, and removing the sweater or putting it on the base layer can be confusing, but if you are really serious about a great cold weather garment for your dog, check out the ThunderSweater by calling 866-892-2078 or going to www.ThunderWorks.com and type in ThunderSweater. The ThunderSweater provides added warmth when needed, while continuing to provide all the calming benefits of ThunderShirt. It’s well worth the cost!
Just a brief mention (I am running out of allotted space, as usual J) about dog boots or booties. You will find dozens of them in pet stores and catalogs…many of them are really cute, but ineffective (and most dogs resist wearing them) If you really want dog boots, I recommend Ruffwear Bark’N Boots Grip Tex which are easy to put on, easy to secure, provide continued comfort, and they stay on the paws…they really do. If you google “Ruffwear dog gear”, you will find several companies offering this product, but again, most dogs resist boots…I recommend rubbing Bag Balm (or just plain Vaseline) on the dog’s foot pads, and washing the paws after a trek outdoors.
Remember your dog is part of the family and deserves to have a safe, healthy, comfortable winter.
A new year is here. It is like a book… its pages are blank, and we are given the privilege of filling the pages. The book is called Opportunity, and its first chapter is BEGINNING. Oprah Winfrey explains it this way: “We bid a fond farewell to the old, cherishing the memories that we hold, and anticipating the things that are yet to come. Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right,” Her words ring true in 2014. This year gives us 12 months…52 weeks…365 days…8760 hours…52600 minutes to open our arms and hearts to the possibilities of new beginnings. Many of us involved in the welfare of companion animals feel frustrated at the inadequate attention given to the problems of overpopulation, neglect and abuse, and are resolved to step out of our comfort zones, and commit to doing more!
We can make a difference, but only if we seriously determine to follow through with our intentions. Yes, I know that most New Year’s resolutions are broken within a few months, but I challenge you to keep this commitment for the entire year. Make your own OPPORTUNITY book…doesn’t have to be fancy…an inexpensive notebook will be great…Put your journal-book in a spot where you will see it often, and make it a fun project for the entire family. Each time a family member does something for the animals, jot it down in your BEGINNING chapter! The truth is that no matter how little time, money or experience you have, it is possible to create a brighter future for needy animals. MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Aren’t sure where to begin? Here are two specific suggestions:
Local shelters rarely have enough volunteers for walking, socializing and providing basic training for shelter dogs. Don’t use the excuse that your life is too hectic to dedicate time regularly, there are many other ways to help dogs. Monetary donations are always needed, but donations of dog beds, towels, cleaning supplies, and toys are welcome…just call your local shelter and find out what is needed, and throw a party, requesting your guests bring those items in lieu of gifts. Or place a container in the entry or closet, and when you buy groceries, include a couple items for the dogs…when the container is full, give it to a needy neighborhood dog, or the local shelter. (Invite your friends to add to the box!)
Familiarize yourself with local and state ordinances or legislation pertaining to companion animal welfare. Our state now has an active organization of Iowans from every walk of life that is concerned about the care of companion animals. Iowa Voters for Companion Animals’ mission is to ensure the humane and responsible treatment of companion animals through education and grassroots advocacy. This group informs the public as to what is going on…and not going on… in the Iowa Legislature, and to the plight of many of Iowa’s companion animals. To get information about this group, go to www.iowaVCA.org. Hopefully you will add your name to their membership!
I looked at all the needy animals, the cast offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.
And I was angry.
“God,” I said, “This is terrible. Why don’t you do something?”
God was silent for a moment, and then He spoke softly.
“I have done something,” He replied.
“I created you.”
What better time than the New Year to think about Favorites. Among my top favorites are the four F’s….faith, family, friends, and furbabies…..actually there is a fifth one…food….hard to not over indulge with all the holiday goodies beckoning ! Anyway, I also have some favorites for the dogs, and am focusing on toys today…
My very favorite commercial toy for dogs is the Kong…the Classic Kong has been around for more than 20 years, and is a “must-have” staple for dog caregivers. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that lures most dogs into an ongoing game of catch chase, and chew! This amazing toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems and just plain fun! Every dog should have several Kongs, especially if he is left alone for extended periods of time. One main reason that dogs develop behavior problems is sheer boredom, resulting from a lack of physical exercise and human interaction, so to make life more enjoyable while you are gone, you can offer “fun-work” to do. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, cottage cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, canned pumpkin …combinations are endless. If you have never given your dog a stuffed Kong, make it easy for her to empty it, so she doesn’t get discouraged…when she learns how to empty easy Kongs quickly, you can stuff them tighter. Freezing them will make them even more of a challenge. Hide them around the house and she will have a good time searching for them.
Kong is King of dog toys, but there is also another toy that all dogs’ love– “Crinkle toys” Crinkle bottles are the latest fad in dog toys, costing as much as $12, and they are so cute that it is hard for dog lovers to resist them. However, dogs don’t care how “cute” they are or how well they are decorated. They just like the crinkle-crunch sound that they make, and you can make your own for just pennies. All you need are an empty bottled water bottle and a heavy old sock. Be sure to remove the bottle cap, and the plastic ring around the cap. Place the bottle into the sock, and knot the end of the sock. The dog will love it, and when the crinkle-crunch sound is destroyed, you can replace it with another bottle….and if you want it decorated, just use a magic marker and make your own designs (REMEMBER TO REMOVE THE CAP AND THE PLASTIC RING) You’ll have fun making it, and your dog will have fun playing with it…and don’t forget to add your dog-related activity to your “Opportunity Journal”!
There is no agency overseeing the $40 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and most pet stores and catalogs are filled with dog toys that look fun, but most of them are not good for your canine. . With the market being flooded by cheap imports, you need to check that you are getting a product that’s safe and non-toxic. Other hazards can include anything from needles left inside stuffed toys to chemical laden paints and choking dangers. When it comes to safety, think choking hazards. Although tennis balls are a common dog toy, for example, they can be a problem if the dog chews them in half and tries to swallow the pieces. Dogs LOVE toys with squeakers, but it is common for dogs to choke on them, and can cause a blockage, often requiring surgery. Dogs also love rawhides which can also become soft when they are chewed and can lodge in the throat. I do not recommend giving rawhides to your dog!
I urge you to choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries, where safety standards are minimal. (Sadly the Kong Company is now outsourcing some of their new products, but the Classic Kongs are made in the USA). Inspect any toy for loose parts or pieces that might easily come off…Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they would probably chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals. Avoid balls with single air holes which can create a deadly suction, heavily dyed toys, toys treated with fire retardants or stain guard and soft plastics. Select toys that match your dog’s play style, and never leave him unattended with a new toy.
Remember: no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregiver to keep their eyes on the ball, stuffing, and squeaker!
Christmas is a time to pause, count our blessings, and reach out to family, friends, our beloved companion animals, and those less fortunate. IT IS A TIME OF LOVE, but it is also a time to avoid holiday hazards with pets:
- Foods of the season may be dangerous even in small portions. Keep all bones out of reach…they can easily damage the digestive tract. Keep pets away from chocolate, alcoholic drinks, grapes, raisins, and onions (or dips and dressings that contain onions.) Garlic, fatty skin from the turkey, many spices and bones may do more than just sicken your pet. And never give your pet any yeast dough when you are baking. Coffee, coffee grounds, or coffee beans can also be harmful.
- Many holiday plants, including lilies, holly, Christmas cactus, mistletoe, and poinsettias, are poisonous if eaten, and many florists now use cocoa mulch which is extremely toxic in potted plants
- Secure all extension cords to prevent pets from chewing on them, and keep all candles out of reach of curious paws. Never leave lit candles unattended with pets around.
- Make sure your tree is solidly secured, and keep tree preservatives inaccessible to pets—they are toxic. Keep the area under the tree free of pine needles which can puncture intestines if swallowed.
- Select your decorations carefully. If you have breakable glass bulbs and other decorations, place them out of reach of curious paws. One of the biggest hazards is tinsel which, if ingested, can cause serious problems which may require surgery. Avoid hanging edibles on your tree. Popcorn strings should be avoided because most dogs will eat both the popcorn and the string.
- Provide a quiet, safe place for your pets to retreat if they feel stressed during your holiday festivities.
- As you spend time with your family, friends, and furbaby, don’t be too busy to include something for a less fortunate dog…you can do this any time of year, but please do something to make the holiday more special for a lonely dog.. or two..or three! Companion animals play important roles in the lives of the people who love them, but sometimes the elderly or ill have trouble providing essential pet care. Perhaps you could offer to assist—walk the dog, help with grooming or feeding, pick up supplies, or drive her to the veterinarian. Your local rescue group or shelter always appreciates volunteers. There are dozens of things you can do…contact your local organization to get specific suggestions as to how you can brighten a lonely dog’s life…and donations are always welcome…money, towels, food, blankets, or equipment…all shelters have wish lists.
Tis the day before Christmas and all through the house,
the puppies are squabbling over an old rubber mouse.
The stockings that hung in neat little rows boast obvious holes in all of the toes.
The tree purposely placed way up high leans badly and looks ready to die.
I catch them and hold them, “Be good,” I insist.
They lick me, then run off to see what they’ve missed.
As I watch them, the thought comes to me that they’re the spirit that Christmas should be!
Perhaps children and puppies can show us the way,
and teach us the joy that comes each new day!
Could they convince us of the message sent from above
That Christmas is kindness and compassion…
CHRISTMAS IS LOVE!!!