My favorite season is here!!! Woot Woot!
There's nothing better than walking in the door after a long day, greeted by the smell of diced apples and cinnamon cooking in the crock-pot! Homemade applesauce is the best, and there's always the added adventure of a day spent outdoors climbing trees to snag the best ones.
While prepping those delicious apples for the crock-pot, you know a few pieces are going to end up in your tummy. Heck, you'll probably even slip a few to your dog if you have one, and that's awesome!
Some people are hesitant to feed apples to their dog because of Amygdalin, a form of Cyanide, found in the seeds, but remove the core which is a choking hazard anyway, along with the seeds, and apples make a healthy and nutrition-packed snack for your dog. Plus they're CHEAP and your dog will love them!
Tossing a few apples your dog's way will help to remove residue and plaque build up on their teeth all while keeping their breath fresh and kissable! They are a great alternative to commercially produced dog treats as they are much lower in saturated fat which contributes to heart disease, especially in older dogs. Apples are a high-fiber, low- protein, low calorie, and low sodium SUPER FOOD that you shouldn't hesitate to give to your dog. They're even a great source of Vitamins A and C!
There is a select group of dogs that should avoid sweet snacks, even if naturally sweet, like apples and those are dogs who are diabetic or suffering from kidney disease. The natural sugars in apples are too much for a diabetic dog, and the Omega 6 isn't good for dogs suffering from Kidney disease.
So, if you happen to have apple picking on your Fall bucket list, toss a few extra into your bag or barrel for your pup to enjoy, too!
There's an age old question every dog parent has wondered; "Why does my dog eat grass?"
The truth is there are a number of reasons why your pup could be heading outdoors to snack on your freshly mowed lawn, but rarely are the reason serious.
First, lets talk about the misconception that dogs who eat grass always throw up shortly afterwards. Vomiting after grazing is rare and only happens in less than 25% of dogs. If your dog does throw up after munching on some green roughage it's likely because they gulped rather than chewed. If the grass is gulped it can tickle the throat and or stomach during digestion and can therefore result in vomiting.
When dogs have an upset or gassy stomach they often look for the easiest and most readily available treatment, even for just temporary relief, and grass often times is the key to a less gassy or acidic tum tum. Just think of grass as your dogs version of saltine crackers...or tums!
In the wild, the stomach and stomach contents are often the first part of a kill to be digested by wolves and or foxes. When consuming the stomach of an animal, wolves, foxes and therefore dogs (because they are direct descendants of wolves and foxes) are digesting the berries, plants and other roughage consumed by their prey, and it's for this reason that many feel the need for dogs to digest grass has developed over years of evolution.
Having said that, many commercially produced dog foods can lack certain ingredients and therefore your dog is supplementing by grazing. There's really no need to be concerned unless your dog is consuming copious amounts, and throwing up more than once a week. If this is the case, it's time to seek a professionals opinion, and get your dogs overall health assessed. You want to be sure there isn't an underlining medical issue like constant nausea or anxiety related issues that are causing your dog to ravenously eat grass.
It's also imperative to be conscious of what grass your dog is eating. Has it been sprayed with pesticides? If so, it generally takes a large amount to cause lasting problems, but you may want to step in and prevent consumption of this grass.
Long story short, the reason why dogs eat grass is widely misunderstood and the exact reason is unknown, but the behavior is widely practiced and rarely serious!
Last year around this time there was an article floating around social media eluding to the idea that giving ice cubes to your dog was dangerous and could cause bloat.
Lets start with the basics...
There are essentially two parts of bloat; the first is gastric dilatation and the second is the more serious and life threatening condition known as Volvulus or torsion of the stomach.
When the stomach fills with air, it puts pressure on the organs and diaphragm making it difficult for the dog to breath. Once the stomach has filled with air it's much easier for it to flip on itself resulting in Volvulus. Once torsion or Volvulus occurs it cuts off blood supply to the stomach and causes the tissue and muscle of the stomach to die.
So who's most at risk for GDV or Gastric Dilation Volvulus? While any dog, of any age, and stature can suffer from GDV, it is more common in deep chested dogs such as:
But there is plenty you can do to help prevent GDV from happening:
If your dog presents with a distended abdomen, non-productive heaving or retching, shallow breathing, abdominal pain and is foaming at the mouth, it's time to get them to a veterinary office ASAP. Once GDV presents, it's fast moving and there isn't a lot of time to work with before the dog is in serious danger of dying.
Treatment for GDV is gastric decompression where a tube is inserted into the dogs stomach to release air or by puncturing the stomach with a large needle. Depending on the condition of the dog and severity of the case, the dog may need to be treated for shock and undergo surgery to correct the stomach twist. In some dogs they may choose to tack the stomach in place to prevent GDV from happening again in the future.
Now that you know what bloat is and how it happens, I hope it's clear that giving your dog ice cubes does not or will not cause bloat. In fact, most dogs enjoy a cool drink on a hot summer day. There are even treats and toys that are recommend for freezing for entertainment and refreshment purposes!
Some may call me cheap, others frugal and some may think of me as thrifty. I am always looking for ways to save a dime or pinch a penny. The spender in this dynamic duo is most certainly my husband. I’ll stress and second guess a $20 purchase where he’ll leave home to run an errand in a Grand Cherokee and come home in a sky blue Mustang (true story).
Having (4) dogs and (3) cats could be a constant drain on income. Vet care, food (especially when you have fur kids with food sensitivities and special needs), toys, etc. can all lead to thousands of dollars a year spent keeping your fur kids happy and healthy. Thankfully, through my experience with rescue and my constant need to research and find ways to save I have stumbled upon a few really neat and handy ways to reuse and re-purpose household supplies into dog toys, clothes and edible treats!
Read on for cute and fun ways to keep your bank accounts full and your fur kids happy!
Water Bottle Sock Toy
Water bottle dog toys are all the rage now. Dogs love the noise and can spend hours driving you crazy with constant crinkling and popping. Not only is it stimulating for their knoggins but the fabric can help to clean their pearly whites! Problem is, they can be upwards of $15 in the store! Craziness!
What you will need:
*An empty water bottle - be sure to remove the lid
*An old sock (the thicker the better)
*Some ribbon or thread.
You can find cheap socks, the thread and scissors at your local Dollar Store or Dollar General!
What you'll need to do to:
Place the empty water bottle into the sock. Center it half way between the end of the sock and the opening. Use the thread and scissors to tie off the ends, it should look like a wrapped gift. If you want, you can even cut the edges to make them more frilly. Now you won't feel so bad if Fido spend 15 minutes ripping it apart. It took mere seconds to make and didn't break the bank!
Easy Peasy Doggy Sweater!
For those furkids who aren't so gung-ho with the cooler temps or snow this is a great post for an easy sweater using an old hooman sweater!
click HERE for the link courtesy of resweater.blogspot.com!
T-Shirt Tug/Toss Toy
Two of your pups favorite toys rolled into one. Find the quick and easy directions HERE courtesy of www.sheknows.com!
Old Sweater into a Dog Bed!
You will need:
*Needle and thread
*Bed pillow or couch pillow depending on the size of your sweater and dog/cat
*Polyfill or other stuffing like old fabric scraps (cut an old t-shirt into strips)
How to make the bed
1. Stuff sleeves and shoulder/collar area of sweatshirt (you might need to put in a few stitches(doesn't have to be pretty) to create a "pocket" in the body of the shirt.
2. Insert pillow through bottom of shirt.
3. Stitch sleeve ends together.
4. use an old sock neck to stitch the two sleeve ends together
Homemade, Non-Toxic Chicken Jerky
There have been a lot of recalls on not only dog food but dog treats as well. Making your own treats is one way to ensure your dogs are getting healthy and non-toxic treats!
Here's is the link to these delicious and easy Chicken Jerky strips.
Braided Rope Toys
These are super easy to make and believe it or not they are really durable!
What you will need:
*Old t-shirt or jeans (jeans hold up a bit longer & are a little more durable) You can also use old fleece from a ripped blanket or left over fabric.
*The ability to braid and tie knots!
How to make the rope toy:
Cut the t-shirt or jeans into long strips. Place (3) strips together and tie a basic knot close to the top.
You can either hold the group between your knees and braid towards you or I have been known to use my kitchen drawers to hold the group while I braid. Once you've reached the end tie another basic knot. For thicker braids use more than just (1) strip of fabric per braiding strand. You can tie two braided toys together to make a 4 way tug or leave them as single strips.
I know many of you probably have your own ideas and tricks for inexpensive toys and treats for your fur kids, I'd love to hear/see them!
One of the toughest decisions dog owners face is determining what kind of food your furry family member should eat. It's a big decision and one that shouldn't be taken lightly.
Many pet parents fall into the trap of convenience over quality. Though grocery stores dedicate an entire aisle specifically to our furry family members, the sad true is that ninety-five percent of those foods are NOT the most beneficial or nutritious for your pooch.
Lets break it down...
Think about it like this; if you eat $10 worth of canned corn your body hasn't gain any nutritional benefit from your meal. If you eat $12 worth of steamed vegetables your body has gained essential vitamins and nutrients for just $2 more. You'll feel better and you won't be running to the potty in a few hours. The point is you could spend $100 on canned corn and you're never going to get the nutritional benefit comparable to $12 on steamed veggies. This same analogy applies to your dogs food. Spend a little bit more with a BIG impact...both on your dogs health and the number of moon pies in your backyard.
First, it’s important to understand how ingredients are listed on the nutrition label. Ingredients with the highest weight are listed first. Lets look at Beneful’s nutrition label…
The amount of corn used in this food outweighs any other ingredient, including meat. As we all know, other than tasting good on a summer day with butter and a bit of salt, corn is nutritionally useless for us AND just as useless to our fur kids, it's nothing more than a filler. Your dog will be full after eating, but they haven't gained any nutritional benefits and they'll be hungry again in a few hours.
Lets look at the second ingredient...
The second ingredient is chicken by-product. By-Products are parts of an animal (not including muscle) such as liver, heart, spleen, kidneys, etc., these things aren't so bad and actually could have a nutritional purpose BUT, its things like hair, horns, beaks, hooves, teeth, etc. that offer no nutritional benefit and are also included in this category. In fact, the latter of ingredients listed above, over time, could be detrimental or harmful and are much more likely to be found in your dogs food as usable meet (liver, heart, etc.) would be used for human consumption. The discarded scraps that neither you nor I would even dream of consuming are what will end up in your dog’s kibble. Ick!
Sadly, manufactures are not required to list what kind(s) of by-products are included in their food, so most professionals would recommend you steer clear of any commercially produced food that list “by-products” as an ingredient.
And the third ingredient is Corn gluten meal, again, doesn't offer much nutritional benefit to your pup.
At this point, if there were referees for bad dog food, they would be throwing all kinds of flags and sending this manufacture to the penalty box.
Edit- April 2016
I have said it time and time again, Beneful is an awful brand and the fact that it's still available to purchase is appalling. It's right next to Gravy Train and Kinbbles-N-Bits. Check out this article all about the toxins found in Beneful and how they're being linked to the deaths of thousands of dogs.
Heath Team Advisor- Beneful Brand Poisons & Kills Thousands of Dogs
There are a few tricks that manufactures use to make the nutrients of their products look better:
1. Pet food companies will split grains into two components; rice and rice bran. This allows them to put the ingredients lower on the label making it appear as though there is more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Sneaky, sneaky!
2. This is the worst in my opinion; Pet food companies cleverly mark their packaging as “preservative free” when, in fact, the company buys their meat with the preservative already added. So, your dog still ingests a chemical preservative it’s just added before the pet food manufacture buys the ingredient. They didn't add it so it doesn't have to appear on the label.
I know one of the biggest concerns pet parents face is expense and I want to assure you there are high quality foods that don't cost an arm and a leg. It’s a common misconception that the more expensive the food the higher the quality. Just because a bag of well known, brand name food cost upwards of $70 does not mean it is of higher quality when compared to a lesser known brand. In fact, sometimes, big brand dogs foods are actually of lesser quality.
I have spent countless hours researching several different brands of foods and in that process I found this awesome site; Dogfoodadvisor.com. Just enter the name of the food you are thinking of purchasing and an unbias, honest review will appear. I do want to caution that not all brands are listed on this site, specifically local brands like 'Wegmans' will not be listed. You also want to keep in mind that flavors within a brand may receive different star ratings. For example, in the Finken house we feed our furkids Taste of the Wild SouthWest Canyon at a cost of $39.99 which receives 5/5 stars BUT there are other flavors within that brand that do not rank as high (not that 4 stars is bad) . See below:
For comparison here are the ratings for Blue Buffalo Life Protection Dry Dog Food which retails for $60.99:
As you can see some of the Blue Buffalo flavors rank as low as a 2 stars! Expensive and well known is not always the best option!
So when you are preparing your dogs 3 course meal this evening, think about what you are putting in their mouth and ultimately their bodies. A little research into what you are filling your pups dinner dish with will only benefit their longevity and health; not only in the short term but in their golden years as well.
Wegmans Brand Dog food is reviewed on www.dogfoodadvisor.com. It received 4/5 stars! One of the few brands sold at the super market that is actually a quality food for your pup!
A good chewing session is the equivalent to you spending 10 minutes brushing and flossing your pups teeth. For anyone who has tried brushing their dogs teeth you know this is not an easy task to accomplish and generally means you end up covered in drool and doggy toothpaste. Chewing eliminates that chore and will help to prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque, keeping your piggy bank full and your dog happy.
Can bones be dangerous? Yes, if you don’t educate yourself and watch what you give your pooch to gnaw on but they are also a necessity to the health of your dog’s mouth, jaw and overall health especially if they are consuming a raw diet.
NEVER EVER, EVER give your dog cooked bones.
Cooked bones are brittle and will splinter causing all sorts of medical headaches like broken teeth and cuts to the inside of the mouth or tongue. Cooked bones can lodge themselves in the esophagus or intestines, cause rectum bleeding and even Peritonitis (a bacterial infection caused when bone splinters poke holes in the stomach or intestines) among may other medical catastrophes.
There are two category of bones; edible and recreational.
Edible (Uncooked) bones are the non-weight bearing bones of birds such as chicken wings and chicken/turkey necks. They are soft, flexible and easily crushed in a meat grinder and sprinkled or mixed into your dog’s food. These bones are essential if you are considering or are currently feeding your dog a raw diet. They provide an excellent source of calcium, phosphorous and trace minerals that can sometimes be a difficult to otherwise properly find and incorporate into your dog’s diet.
Recreational(Uncooked) bones, which are more common and are likely what many of you will or should be giving to your dogs, are bigger bones such as the femur or hip bones of bison. A good recreational bone will have an ample amount of cartilage, soft tissue and will be filled with marrow.
* Provide bones AFTER meal time to avoid hungry pains influencing your dog to try and break chunks off to swallow.
* ALWAYS supervise your dog when they have any chew toy, including bones.
* In a multi-dog household always separate dogs to avoid fights over bones
*Give your dog bones on surfaces that are easy to clean and or wash as they will likely make a mess!
*Don't give your dog raw bones with marrow if they have had restorative dental work
*Don't give raw marrow filled bones to dogs who have been diagnosed with Pancreatitis
*Don't give bones to dogs who will try to swallow or break big chucks off for consumption.
Another controversial topic among dog enthusiast and owners are Rawhides. Are they safe?
Rawhides are made from the inner layer of horse and cow hides. They are cleaned, cut, ground up and eventually pressed into the various shapes you see available in stores. To make this treat more appealing often times manufactures add chicken, beef or sometimes even liver flavorings.
The same benefits of gnawing on bones applies to Rawhides. It's can be a great way to reduce anxiety, clean teeth and strengthen jaw muscles but, just like any other processed food, there is a greater likelihood that your dog could have an allergic reaction to either the hide itself or any of the ingredients used in it's production.
The risks associated with giving your dog a rawhide are relatively low provided it is not a frequent activity but can still be very serious. You should monitor their chew time and keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms:
-Diarrhea (With or without blood)
-Refusal to eat or weight loss
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Rawhides are easily found in pet and grocery stores but can be easily broken apart and swallowed but your dog, supervision is a MUST. The hide itself is not as easily broken down within the digestive system so blockages and tares are much more likely. If your dog is an aggressive chewer, I would advise staying away from Rawhides.
With over 10 years of experience through ownership and rescue work, I hope to share my knowledge and insight to happier, healthier fur kids. Have a question, feel free to ask!