Top 10 Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

When you decide to adopt a new dog, it’s very exciting! There are so many fun things you can do with your new dog and they are so very cute at any age. It is easy to imagine all of the adventures you will have with your new companion, and it can be just as easy to forget all of the responsibilities that come along with dog ownership.

September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month, so make the time to take a look at yourself this month and make sure you are doing the very best for your fur babies!

1. Life-Long Commitment

The first and most important thing you must realize to be a responsible dog owner is that you must commit to loving and caring for your dog for his entire life. It does not matter what health problems may come up, it does not matter what new people may come into your life, and it does not matter if you move out of your house and into an apartment. Dogs are living, breathing, feeling animals who form emotional attachments and can feel depression and abandonment thoroughly. If you cannot handle the cost and care of a dog for his entire life, then do not get a dog. It’s that simple.

2. Good Nutrition

Feeding your dog good food is the most important step to lifelong health and happiness in your dog! Talk to your local Hollywood Feed store associate about which food is right for your dog. They are trained by experts like veterinarians and nutritionists so they can meet your dog’s specific needs.

3. Lots of Water

Hydration is very important! Make sure that your dog always has a clean full bowl of water, whether he is indoors or out. Here are some fun ways to keep your dog hydrated!

4. Identification

Always keep a well-fitting collar with ID tags on your pet at all times and check regularly to make sure the fit of the collar is good, it has not become frayed, and that you can read your phone number on the ID tag. Microchipping is also very important and I highly recommend it. If anything ever happens to separate your dog from you, these are the best ways to ensure a safe return. Check out more information here.

5. Spay and Neuter

The most important thing we can do as pet-parents to help prevent homeless and unwanted animals is to spay and neuter our pets. Please take this important step, which also has added health benefits for our dogs like reducing the risk of uterine infections, certain types of cancer!

6. Exercise and Preventing Obesity

Exercising with your pet is a real bonding experience. Whether you are more relaxed and like to go for walks around the neighborhood together or if you like to camp, hike and be more adventurous with your dog, he will love it and it will help to keep him healthy. Exercise has cardiovascular benefits and will keep your dog’s waistline trim. Obesity causes so many preventable health problems in our pets just like it does in humans. Learn more about combating obesity here.

7. Training

A well-trained dog is a happy dog! Besides knowing what you expect of him and being able to fulfill it, training your dog is also important for safety and mental stimulation. Check out some of our great training blogs here: So, What Is a Clicker and Why Do I Need One? and 10 Training Secrets Every Pet Parent Should Know.

8. Regular Check-Ups

Your dog should go to his veterinarian at least once a year for a full physical exam. A head-to-tail check-up may find a health concern that you didn’t know about before it starts to cause visible symptoms in your dog. This is especially important the older your dog gets! Making sure your dog’s teeth are in good shape is also very important to his overall health!

9. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Make sure that you have a first aid kit, emergency evacuation or quarantine plans, and know some basic CPR and first aid techniques. We have the blogs to help you with this!

10. Affection

Every dog needs affection and approval from his owner. This is very important! Learn your dog’s love language! Does he like to be petted calmly? Does he like to play fetch with you? Does he love having his back scratched? Does your dog’s ultimate happiness lie in that special canned food for dinner instead of his regular kibble? Reward your dog for good behavior and love your dog every day.

How Can I Help My Aging Pet?

I have noticed that over the past year, my eldest dog Skeeter has been slowing down. He’s only 11, and I thought that I would have a few more years before I really started to see signs of aging! However, he has been tiring quickly, limping after playing sometimes, and has become arthritic. Just last week he got a crick in his neck which caused him to hold his head to the right and walk in circles for almost two days. He got a diagnosis and medication from the wonderful Dr. Clay at Utopia Animal Hospital and was feeling better quickly. This was just the most recent of several vet visits I’ve had with him! I am always expecting a worse problem than he turns out to have, thankfully.

 

As our pets get older, it can mean more worries for us and for them. We start to notice little things like weight gain, aches and pains, and more health problems and trips to the vet. We all want to make sure our pets can live to a ripe old age, and do so without pain and with a continued love for life-so what can we do to help?

The Link Between Weight Gain, Decreased Activity and Decreased Mobility

With age, our dogs and cats tend to slow down, play less, sleep more and gain weight. With less activity, our pets lose muscle mass and their metabolism slows down. This leads to weight gain. Weight gain, loss of muscle mass and less exercise make it harder for our fur babies to get around and the weight gain can add extra stress on aging joints. Here are a few things we can do to help:

Exercise

We can help our pets out by making sure we don’t let them sleep all day! Get them out of the house to play and go for walks. They will be more likely to want to be active if you are active with them. Play with your cat, too! Your pet needs to stay active to continue to have a high quality of life in his old age. Just be careful that your pet does not overestimate his abilities and injure himself. My ten-year-old dog, Annie, will still run and jump like she’s a puppy when I get a ball out, so I have to limit our play time.

Change In Diet

Our pets may need something easier to digest with old age. Talk to your local Hollywood Feed sales associate if your aging pet needs a new food. If your dog or cat starts to gain weight from decreased activity, then you may want to choose a food with higher protein and less fat (and fewer calories), as well as simply reduce the amount you are feeding your pet. Maybe your dog’s 2 cups of food a day will need to go down to 1 ½ cups a day. It can be that simple to keep extra weight off of your pet-and don’t forget that any people food or treats you feed him throughout the day all contain extra calories!!!

Consider Supplements and Mobility Aids.

We can also look into a supplement like Prudence Ultimate Hip & Joint to help out dogs who are having trouble with arthritis and sore joints. Prudence is very easy to use-just a scoop on top of Skeeter’s food once a day is what I do at my house. And he really loves the taste, so that makes it even easier!

Another thing to consider as our pets age is getting them a set of steps or a ramp to get in and out of the car or on and off the couch. If your dog is having trouble gaining traction on your slippery floor, there are options such as grippy socks and putting down rugs in your home.

Stay Alert and Watch Closely for Changes in Health and Behavior

Besides watching our aging pet’s weight and mobility, we need to keep an eye out for other health and behavioral changes. We may need to keep a closer eye on our pets over the age of ten than we used to do. A limp on a young dog will usually go away quickly, but a limp on a senior dog may turn into a real problem. Seemingly small symptoms can be the sign of a bigger problem.

Vision and Hearing Loss.

Our older pets will most likely start to lose vision and hearing. You may notice this when you get frustrated that your dog is not following your commands and coming to you when you call. Don’t become angry, instead try to find out if your dog can hear you or see where you are! Loss of vision and hearing do not have to be a huge burden for our pets-their sense of smell is what they really use. We just may need to help them around a little. Deaf dogs can feel vibrations in the floor, so sometimes stomping near them will get their attention. And you would be surprised at how quickly a blind dog can learn to get around your house and yard-as long as you don’t move your furniture!

Teeth are Important

Our dog and cat’s teeth are very important to their overall health! With age comes increased problems with dental health, especially if you have been feeding a food high in carbohydrates for a while. If you notice your pet losing his appetite or seeming to have trouble chewing his food, make sure to have your veterinarian check his teeth. Dental disease can lead to major issues with your pet’s organs, it can lead to weight loss, and it can be very painful for your pet-who may not show it.

The Big C

The risk of cancer increases in our pets with age, especially in our dogs. If your dog develops lumps on his body, you should get them checked by your vet. Sometimes they may simply be a benign fatty tumor, but sometimes they are cause for concern. My Annie has a lump on her neck that is a fluid-filled cyst, and Skeeter has a lump in his mouth. I have had them both checked and they have been determined not to be cancerous, and I feel much better having that knowledge. Annie’s neck lump is not pretty, but it doesn’t bother her at all. If your pet does have cancer, there are treatment options available-but catching it early is key, so if you find a lump, get to your vet’s office! Learn more about canine cancer here with Puppy Up! Foundation.

Disorientation and Confusion

Our older dogs may have some changes in mood and behavior. This can simply be due to aches and pains making them grumpy-and to this I would say more exercise and less weight gain! However, some changes can be due to something very similar to human Alzheimer’s Disease. It can be very difficult for us to watch our dog’s behavior change and see confusion on his face. One way we can help our dogs is by keeping our routines as consistent as possible. Another thing we can do is avoid rearranging our furniture or making major changes in our home. The familiarity will make things easier on our confused dog.

Also, we can try to prevent this age-related disorientation from happening or happening too early by keeping our pet’s mind engaged and active on a daily basis. Get puzzle toys for your pet to solve, and get him a slow-feeder bowl so that he must think and work to get his food. Interact with and talk to your dog frequently throughout the day. Never stop teaching him new commands. Exercise your dog regularly and keep him fit!

Aging can be hard for humans and it can be hard for pets, but there are things we can do to prevent age-related health issues, and solve them. Make sure to keep a watchful eye on your aging pet, and most importantly-keep him active!

How Prudence Supplements Can Help Your Senior Dog

If you are looking for a supplement to help your senior dog with sore joints, or your very active dog who runs and jumps constantly and may be prone to injury, then look no further! Prudence Ultimate Hip and Joint is that of which you’ve been dreaming. Prudence Absolute Immune Health is also a fabulous solution for a soft stool or for diarrhea due to immune stress. Read more to find out why I love Prudence so much and how it can help your dog!

Prudence Ultimate Hip and Joint

One of my senior dogs, Skeeter, is 11 and has had trouble with his hips for the past few years. He has never been a highly active dog, really more of a couch potato, but when it’s time to go to the dog park or play fetch in the backyard then he really commits and has fun! For the past few years, after an exciting adventure, I have noticed that he is prone to limping or has trouble getting up from a sitting or lying position. Also, if one of my other dogs cuddles with him by lying on his back legs or hips, that can also affect his ability to get around. While this limping or soreness will often wear off in a day or two, I hate to see him suffer at all! Since I’ve started using Prudence Ultimate Hip and Joint once a day, every day, these issues seem to have pretty much disappeared.

I have another senior dog, Annie, age 10. She is absolutely unstoppable and her adrenaline gets her through any injury she has ever had, and she usually doesn’t injure easily. Despite this, as she has gotten older, I have realized that she is not invincible even if she hasn’t come to the same realization. I have recently started to put a scoop of Prudence Ultimate Hip and Joint on her food as well, as a preventative measure. She’s not quite as agile as she used to be, even though she will still run head first into a brick wall if it means catching a tennis ball.

How It Works:

Our dogs’ cartilage and synovial membrane cushion their joints, which is where two bones come together. A small injury at some point in any dog’s life can eventually cause inflammation of the joint, and degradation of cartilage and then bone. Prudence manages healthy joints by preventing further injury and helping existing injuries. Their special formula contains Egg Proteoglycan Matrix (containing NEM or Natural Egg Membrane), Green Lipped Mussels, Boswellia, and MSM as well as a few other ingredients. Egg Proteoglycan Matrix provides calcium and helps prevent bones from breaking down. Natural Egg Membrane is the layer between an egg’s shell and the white of the egg. You’ll see this when peeling hard boiled eggs in particular. This ingredient, exclusive to Prudence, has been proven to be 5 times more effective than Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate in managing arthritic symptoms. Learn more in this video from Dr. Jill Cline.

Prudence Absolute Immune Health

Prudence also makes a product for immune health, which I have also used, although not as frequently as their Ultimate Hip and Joint. Even though I use it rarely, I can definitely vouch for the effectiveness of Prudence Absolute Immune Health! At my house, as soon as I notice that someone has had diarrhea during my daily backyard poop-scooping session, I try to determine which dog it was and put a scoop of Immune Health on his or her food for a few days until the stools become firm. I can usually tell which stool belongs to which of my dogs (I spend way too much time with my dogs, apparently), but if I can’t figure it out and I don’t see the guilty dog using the bathroom, then I give a scoop to everyone until I do figure it out!

Loose stools are stinky, messy, and WAY more likely to get tracked into the house by dog paws after clumsily stepping in them when running around. We also all hate for our dogs to feel sick!

How It Works:

65-70% of a dog’s immune system resides in the gut. Prudence Absolute Immune Health provides probiotics, prebiotics and Hyper Egg to make sure that the gut is healthy. Hyper Egg is a specialized egg which contains natural immune boosters to help prevent diarrhea and cellular stress. Probiotics, or good bacteria, will overwhelm the bad bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, making our dogs feel better, faster. Prebiotics is food for the probiotics so that they can do their very important job. Dr. Jill Cline explains more in this video.

Pros and Cons

For me, the best parts about Prudence supplements are the ease of use and the fact that my dogs love it! I buy the tub that comes with a little scoop instead of the single serving packets, and all I have to do is unscrew the lid, scoop some Prudence out, and sprinkle it over my dogs’ food. It is super easy, and not messy at all! Apparently the flavor is also great, as my dogs gobble it down with their food with no problem.

The biggest disadvantage of this product for me is the price. It costs a little bit of money when I’m at the register. The way I like to look at it, though, is that Prudence saves money in the long run. If Skeeter and Annie don’t end up with any injuries or limps that cause me to go to the vet and buy medicine; or if my youngest dog, Fitz, only has diarrhea for one day instead of for three days, causing me to worry and go to the veterinarian, then I save money in the long run. It’s all in our perspective!

I definitely suggest Prudence products as helpful and effective, as well as easy to use. If you are interested in purchasing these products, you can find them here or you can come into any Hollywood Feed location.

4 Reasons We Should Talk to Our Dogs!

I talk to my dogs and cats all of the time, and it seems quite normal to me. Most of the pet parents I know do the same thing, but we have all heard people say, “Your dog can’t understand what you are saying!” and, “Why do you use full sentences like that?” I speak in full sentences to my pets, because I basically treat them as humans. I slip up and call them people sometimes when I tell stories about them. I focus on their health and nutrition sometimes more than I focus on my own. They are completely dependent on me, our relationship, and my love and attention. And I am completely dependent on them. Here are a few reasons that talking to your dog is beneficial!

#1-Basic Communication

 

Even if you don’t speak in full sentences to your fur baby, basic training and commands should be used with your dog and verbal praise is absolutely necessary! We should all spend time with our dogs training them, and teaching them basic verbal commands. Then we should use these commands to communicate daily tasks and activities to them! This simply makes our lives easier because our dogs do what we want when we want them to – or stop doing whatever we don’t want them to do. And for our dogs, their life is easier because they only want to please – and when they know what you want of them, then they can comply!

#2-Unintentional Understanding

Pet parents who talk to their dogs frequently understand that our pets pick up on words and phrases when they are often repeated, even if we have not intentionally trained them to do so! At my house, I only have to ask my husband if he’s ready for bed and my eldest dog, Skeeter, will stand up and walk to the bedroom like he’s been waiting to hear those words for hours! (He gets to sleep in the bedroom with us at night.) I’ve asked my dogs, “Want to go for a car ride?” enough times that they immediately head to the garage door. Plus, the inflection we use when we say certain phrases doesn’t hurt. I know that you pet parents who talk to your dogs frequently have similar stories!

#3-Strengthened Bond

 

Our pets like to hear us talk! Even when they don’t understand what we are saying, they are excited that we are saying something to them and making eye contact. Our pets look up to us and love us unconditionally, so they enjoy hearing about anything we have on our mind. I think this is true for both dogs and cats, even though cats don’t really show us the same attention and affection. When I talk, my dogs all stare at me, and I think they are hoping for a command they understand but are happy to hear my voice either way. My dogs know that they are never ignored or left out of a conversation, and my Annie talks right back to me!

#4-It Just Feels Good

 

Besides just strengthening our bond with our pets and communicating with them, it just feels good to us to talk to our fur babies. It makes us feel closer to them. Talking to dogs is also great for families because children can learn that they can talk to their pet without any risk of judgment or talking back. Talking to our pets is also good for people who live alone – or who spend all day alone, like me – because it helps us keep our conversational skills and cognitive abilities going even with no one around. And when our dogs look up at us expectantly and excitedly when we talk to them, it just makes us happy to have such a captive audience!

What are some reasons that you talk to your pet? And what phrases or words have your dogs learned without actual training?

5 Reasons You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog!

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! While some of us may shy away from adopting a shelter dog because it seems a little intimidating, we want a certain breed of dog, or we want to adopt a puppy (which usually go quickly at shelters)-this shouldn’t be the case! Shelter dogs are wonderful, and I know this from experience. All three of my dogs have been adopted from the Collierville Animal Shelter, and our fur babies couldn’t be better friends to my husband and me. I want to take some time to fill everyone in on a few reasons why shelter dogs are actually the best!

1. You Will Save a Life

Dogs in shelters need a person or family to love! Some shelters will euthanize dogs if they are not adopted after a certain length of time, no matter how sweet the dog is. No-kill shelters will stretch their resources and will be unable to take in new dogs who need them when their shelter is full. No matter from which shelter you adopt, you will be saving the life of your new best friend. And your new fur baby will be eternally grateful to you.

2. Less Expensive

The fees for adopting a shelter dog are minimal! They can range from about $50 to $100 in most cases, and they cover the basic housing, food, spay or neuter, and vaccinations that were given while the dog was at the shelter. Some dogs may have a higher fee if they came in with injuries that needed special medical attention. Compare this to the hundreds or thousands of dollars you will pay for a purebred or puppy mill dog, and there’s just no comparison. Shelter dogs are capable of giving you just as much love, if not more, than those who come from breeders.

3. More Socialization

When you adopt a dog from a shelter, that dog has probably already learned how to run and play with other dogs, and has met and interacted with many different people, and maybe even cats! The shelter staff and volunteers will be able to tell you about the dog’s temperament and if he will get along with your other pets or if he would be happier as a single dog. You will be able to find just the right dog for your home when you adopt from a shelter.

4. Training Has Already Begun

Dogs in shelters learn some skills while they are there! Volunteers take them on walks and work on leash training, they are housebroken, and depending on how thin the shelter is stretched, other training such as ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ may already be underway. If you have ever housebroken a dog, you know that it can be frustrating and lead to messes and lost sleep-think about adopting a shelter dog who already knows how to hold it until it’s time to go outside!

5. Older Can Be Better

I know many families like to get a dog as a puppy, and puppies are wonderful-but they are a lot of work. If you spend long hours at work or already have young children that take up a lot of your time, then you may want to consider adopting an older, calmer, and more well-trained dog from a shelter. There are plenty of older dogs in shelters who need a loving home and may get overlooked simply due to their age. Consider taking a two or five or eight-year-old dog home! They will love you like a puppy, but make fewer messes for you to clean up!

Even if your house is at its furry capacity, you can still help support your local shelter with donations, with your time, and by participating in The Fast and The Furriest 5k, coming up this Saturday, October 17th! This 5k benefits the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County, so come out and support a great cause, no matter if you’re looking to adopt or not!

Teaching Children How to Interact with Dogs is a Must-Have Life Lesson

Whether or not you have a family dog in your home, it is VERY important to teach your children how to interact with dogs. There is no way to predict at what point your child will encounter a strange dog, and you may not be around to supervise so you must teach them proper interactions from a very young age!

According to Wikipedia,

“The dog population experienced relative stability from 1987 to 1996, before seeing a yearly increase of 3-4% since that time.[48] In 2000, there were 68 million dogs in the country, and by 2010 that estimate had grown to 75 million, with about 40% of American households owning a dog.[49][50] In 2012, there were 83.3 million dogs and about 47% of households had a dog.[51] 70% of the owners had a dog, 20% of the owners had two dogs, and 10% of the owners had three or more dogs.[51]

 

The number of households with dogs is steadily increasing, and multiple dog ownership is increasing as well. Dogs are everywhere and all children need to be prepared for these interactions.

To children, most dogs seem sweet, fluffy and cute, and since children may have never been exposed to a strange dog before, they may think that any behavior on their part is appropriate. But adults and parents know that while most dogs are friendly, there are aggressive and fearful dogs out there. There are pet owners who do not train their dogs on child-appropriate behavior, and there are some dogs who think that children are just plain strange and do not want anything to do with them!

Children and dogs can have great friendships, so don’t be scared to introduce them. They will encounter dogs eventually anyway so prepare them! With the proper tools and teaching, kids can learn what to do and what not to do to greatly reduce their chances of being bitten and have a positive doggy interaction every time.

Supervision and Parental Modeling

 

If you have a family dog then you can teach your child from a very young age how to interact with him, and you should! Teaching correct interactions should start at home with the family dogs. Children should learn to treat all dogs with respect, even if they know the dog and they are comfortable around him.

If there is no family dog, then one of the first things to do as a parent is to make sure that you set up supervised encounters with dogs you already know to be friendly. While you are on these encounters you and your child can practice proper ways to interact with dogs. Make sure that you always model the proper way to interact with dogs and behave around them as well. Children do as you do, not as you say, and they are always watching! Do not get a new family dog without first teaching your child what that will mean and how they must treat him!

First Interactions

When you are preparing your child to meet his first dog, here are a few things to teach him:

  • NEVER approach and/or touch a dog you do not know.
  • ALWAYS ask the owner’s permission before petting their dog.
  • Once they receive permission, children should quietly wait for the dog to approach them to say hello.
  • Children can then stay still and allow the dog to sniff them, or slowly offer their balled up fist out toward the dog so he can sniff their hand.
  • Once the dog has sniffed the child, then the child can very gently pet the dog with soft strokes.
  • When spending time with any dog, make sure your child has calm, gentle, quiet interactions instead of frantic yelling and playing.
  • If a friendly dog does jump on your child playfully, they should not scream, cry or run, but instead ignore and turn their back on the dog, causing him to drop back to the ground. A dog will think screaming, crying or running mean the child wants to keep playing with them!
  • If you have a family dog, you should teach your child to participate in his care and routine from a young age.

The No-No’s

Here are some things you should teach your child to NEVER do around dogs:

  • No hitting, no poking, no pushing (especially on the hips), no hair, ear, limb or tail-pulling, no hugging or kissing, no sitting on or riding dogs.
  • Never walk directly toward a dog or make direct eye contact, instead approach him from the side.
  • NEVER try to pet or approach a dog who is eating or who has a treat or chew. Dogs who are otherwise very docile can be aggressive around their food or treats.
  • Never yell in a dog’s ear or face and never yell or stomp near a sleeping dog.
  • Do NOT stare directly back at a dog that is looking very intensely at you. Avert your gaze.
  • Do not follow or chase a dog who is walking or running away.
  • If a strange dog does seem like he may become aggressive by growling or baring his teeth, or runs toward your child in a scary way, teach them NOT to run away or scream, but instead to remain as calm and as quiet as possible and stand still with all limbs held in at their sides.

What if My Child Doesn’t Follow the Rules?

 

If your child does not follow the rules you have laid out, then calmly separate your child from the dog immediately and give clear, unemotional consequences for any misbehavior on the child’s part (or the dog’s) so they know that these are serious rules. Praise your child when he is following the rules! Children must be taught that dogs are living, breathing creatures that can feel pain and can become angry or sad. Teach them to be empathetic to a dog’s need for a break or a nap, and teach them to leave dogs alone during these times.

Learn to Read Body Language

Teach your children to constantly observe the body language of dogs around them and talk to them about what certain postures and behaviors mean regularly. This way they can begin to become versed in reading the body language of dogs themselves and their knowledge can grow over time.

Positive Body Language

  • Relaxed face while looking at you
  • Averting his gaze from you
  • Closed mouth or slightly open mouth (known as smiling)
  • Relaxed, normal ears
  • Natural tail position or wagging accompanied by other positive body language
  • Overall relaxed body language

Negative Body Language

  • Wide eyes
  • Intense staring directly at you
  • Lips pulled back to expose teeth
  • Excessive, exaggerated yawning
  • Growling, aggressive barking
  • Ears pinned back on head
  • Tucked tail
  • Stiff tail with rigid wagging accompanied by other negative body language
  • Pacing
  • Raised hair down the back/shoulder blades
  • Hunched body/making himself look small (may bite out of fear)
  • Stiff, tense body

Here is a link to an article by the ASPCA on how to read a dog’s body language and facial expressions, so you can brush up.

I’ll Say Supervision Again!

 

Remember that supervision, especially around younger children who have not learned to read a dog’s body language yet, is key! Never leave your young child alone with a dog, even if the dog’s owner says that they will be fine and his dog is not aggressive. People tend to play down any negative behaviors in their own pet (or child!). Remember that young puppies will jump, scratch and nip as they are learning appropriate behaviors, so you even need to provide supervision around them.

Go over these things regularly with your child. If you have a family dog at home, these same rules apply while your child is young even though you know your dog and think nothing could go wrong, why take chances? Children and dogs both misbehave and forget how they are supposed to act sometimes.

This is not an all-encompassing list, but a good start to begin to teach your child how to interact with family dogs and unknown dogs. Let me know if you have any stories about kid and dog interactions below in the comment section!

If You Adopt a Pet, Hollywood Feed has Your Back!

Adopting a pet is one of the best things a person can do (in my humble opinion). First things first-adoption gives a loving home to an animal who does not have great prospects. You are saving a life by adopting a pet. In fact, you may be saving more than one. The bond between a person and their dog or cat is very strong and the joy and love can last a lifetime for both.

All of my animals have been either rescued from the street or adopted from a shelter. They are all wonderful. My dogs can understand everything I say (it’s not just me, right?) and they can anticipate my next move. I think they know me and my habits better than my husband does! And my cats have such personalities. My 4-year-old cat, Ecco, rescued from a bush on a rainy spring night, has finally decided that she does like to be petted-but only on her own terms. These terms can be very strict (3:30 am and 3:30 pm are her favorite times to be petted). It’s so interesting to watch my animals develop and change with age and they bring me constant joy!

Expenses and Fees

But I understand that it can also be a little financially daunting when you initially adopt. There are adoption fees, veterinary fees for shots and spay/neuter (depending on whether you adopt ‘from the street’ or adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group), supplies you have to purchase like beds, food and water bowls, leashes, collars, tags, crates, treats and toys…to name just a few must-have items. And most important of all, there is the cost of feeding your pet for the rest of his life!

Community Support

When you are weighing the pros and cons of adoption, don’t forget that Hollywood Feed supports you! All of the individual stores participate in adoption events and many host adoptions at their store locations. They support many community adoption events as well. They give to local shelters and rescue groups and they participate in so many fundraisers!

Hollywood Feed Adoption Discount

Bring in your adoption paperwork within 30 days of adoption, and Hollywood Feed will give you a small size bag of Nutrisource or Country Naturals cat/kitten or dog/puppy food for FREE plus $20 off a minimum purchase of $50! Make your list and stock up on that first visit to Hollywood Feed to take advantage of free food and $20 off!

Compare and Save Money

Hollywood Feed also has very competitive pricing on their pet supplies and food. And as far as food that is good for your new puppy or kitty and will keep them healthy, active, and in good nutrition-Hollywood Feed really is your only choice. I bet you didn’t know that you can feed your dog a wonderfully nutritious and healthy food for less than a dollar a day for a 50 lb dog, did you? Just ask your local Hollywood Feed sales associate what options are right for your pet, with your budget, and they will help you find the perfect food.

Pet adoption has really been a very satisfying and fulfilling addition to my life. I cannot imagine a day where I am not petting dogs, stepping over them as I go about my day, and cuddling with them at night. They (along with my husband) are my best friends and always accept me as I am!

How has pet adoption affected your life? Let me know in the comments section below!

Prepared for Emergencies? Keep Your Pets Safe Today.

Any number of emergencies can occur at any minute, from a car wreck to a natural disaster, to a house fire. It is always the best policy to be prepared in these situations, and that means considering what your pets need to survive an emergency as well. Since September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, you should take this time to review your family’s emergency plan and make sure that your pets are included as well!

In the event of an emergency, you must consider that you could be gone from your home for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks. You could also potentially face a permanent evacuation, which happened to many families and their pets during Hurricane Katrina. Other types of emergencies or disasters may trap you at home for an unknown length of time. In any of these cases, find out how to be prepared:

1. Identify Pets

We all know how important it is to make sure our pets have a well-fitting collar, ID tag, and are microchipped, but I’m going to repeat it. You should make sure that these things are always on your dog or cat and always up to date. The chances of your pet becoming lost and scared in an emergency are higher than in normal circumstances, so take these steps to make sure that your pet can be returned to you if he is found! Check out this blog about preventing lost pets and this one about what to do if you find one!

You should also put a sticker on your front door so emergency workers know that there are pets in the house. This sticker should have the number and types of pets you have inside your home and their emergency contact numbers. If you must evacuate your home, take your pets with you and write “EVACUATED” on your front door sticker.

You should also keep recent photos of your pets, which should be pretty easy these days will smart phones.

2. Emergency Contact List

In the case of an emergency, having a contact list already prepared will make your plan much more effective and less stressful. Your list should include: your regular vet; an emergency or 24/7 vet in your area and in your predetermined evacuation destination; kennels, shelters and dog sitters in your area and evacuation destination that will help house pets in an emergency; hotels that are pet-friendly; and friends and family who can help with your pets if needed.

Give your house key to a trusted someone who lives nearby in case they need to evacuate your pets if you can’t get to them.

Remember, if it isn’t safe at home and you must evacuate, then that means your pets should go with you because it’s not safe for them either!

3. Grab and Go Bag

If the disaster you are facing causes you to evacuate your house, such as for flooding or wildfires-then you need to be prepared with a bag packed for your family and for your pets. This bag should stay in your garage or near your door so you can grab it and go quickly. You also need to make sure that your grab and go bag is always up to date with current medical information, phone numbers, and addresses. All food and medicine you have in the grab and go bag should be rotated regularly to prevent spoiling.

Your pet’s bag should include: a first aid kit, a week or more of food and bottled water for every pet, water and food bowls, leashes, a traveling crate, a litter pan and litter, medications, a flashlight, a blanket and pillowcase (to transport angry cats with claws), a can opener, trash bags, and paper towels. You can also include some toys and chews. Check out this blog on pet first-aid, and this one on pet CPR so you can be prepared!

You should also have a predetermined destination in case of evacuation. Get this bag packed and your evacuation destination figured out this month. You will feel a sense of relief and preparedness when it’s done, I promise!

4. Quarantine Preparation

There may be circumstances or emergencies when you are stuck inside your house for an unknown length of time as well. I have recently seen cities on lock-down in the news when dangerous criminals were on a rampage. You could also end up snowed in or quarantined due to some very contagious disease.

 

There are some special considerations for being stuck at home. If you should not be going outside for some reason (a contaminant, for instance), then your pets shouldn’t either! You may want to keep some potty training pads at your house for this scenario. In this case, your grab and go bag will still come in very handy! You should have food, water, and first aid materials inside and it should be in your house, packed and ready to go.

There may also be circumstances when you are stuck at home and may lose access to city water. If you think this is at risk of occurring, then fill all of the bathtubs, sinks, and large containers in your home with water immediately so you have a reservoir to fall back on.

In case of a tornado, you should bring your pets into the bathroom or basement with you as well to keep them safe!

What have you done to prepare your pets for an emergency?  Let me know in the comment section below!

The Importance of Multiple Veterinary Opinions

I have recently had multiple health scares with my oldest dog, Skeeter, who is 11 years old. This has all piled on at once, and my husband and I are currently trying to work through all of the information we have received to give him the best treatment possible. We have been to multiple veterinarians to try to figure out what is going on with our sweet old man!

First Indications

About 6 weeks ago, I suddenly noticed Skeeter’s front legs severely shaking when he stood up after lying in the backyard for a little while. I saw it, registered it and thought it was strange, but thought that maybe it was a fluke or one-time thing. But it wasn’t. After I saw his legs shake the first time, I began to see his front legs either tremble, buckle or splay out about two to three times each day. Skeeter then proceeds to go on about his normal life like nothing has happened, and like he is feeling just fine. He has always been a stoic dog. The sudden onset of this has worried me and I thought there was probably something going on with him skeletally or neurologically. The front leg weakness seems to happen most often when he has been lying down and is in the process of getting up, but sometimes it happens when he’s just walking around the house. I made an appointment at Memphis Veterinary Specialists (or MVS) and got on Dr. Atwood’s schedule.

Visit with Dr. Atwood at Memphis Veterinary Specialists

During this first scheduled appointment, a veterinary technician took notes on what I had noticed with Skeeter’s legs and then he was taken into a back room away from me and given a physical exam by Dr. Atwood. In hindsight, I wish that I had asked to be present for Skeeter’s exam. Once the exam was finished, Dr. Atwood told me that he could not find any cause for Skeeter’s legs to buckle, splay or shake, but that he did find a lump in his gum and a small mass in his right anal sac. Dr. Atwood also ran bloodwork, which came back within normal limits. This is a good sign as far as possible malignancy for the two lumps found goes, but he recommended surgery to remove the mass in the anal sac immediately anyway. Dr. Atwood said that trying to biopsy the very small mass in a hard to get to place would be very likely to fail and could bring back false negative results. He seemed much less concerned about the mass in Skeeter’s mouth.

I found this news very upsetting, of course, and spoke to my husband about everything that night. We decided that a second opinion was in order for the leg trembling, since we did not have an answer for that yet. Dr. Atwood had reported that he did not get a pain response from Skeeter regarding his legs when he did the physical exam, but I was not present for this! I feel that I would definitely be able to read Skeeter better than someone who had just met him for the first time, even if he is a doctor. We thought that it wouldn’t hurt to ask another doctor about the two lumps found, either, and see if there were any recommendations besides immediate surgery, considering there are no other signs of cancer.

We scheduled an appointment with Dr. Mitchener at Angel Care Cancer Clinic for Animals in Bartlett. Dr. Mitchener, besides being a veterinary oncologist, also performs acupuncture, rehab and physical therapy. She has a focus on Eastern medicine, which many people call “alternative medicine”, but there is definite scientific evidence to back it up. Read about the training Dr. Mitchener gave to Hollywood Feed employees here, and her second office location in East Memphis. Also offered at the Bartlett location, but under the name Shelby Center Hospital for Animals, are chiropractic treatments, which I thought may be helpful for Skeeter’s legs if the shaking is due to a skeletal issue.

Raw Goat’s Milk Fast

 

While waiting for our appointment date, my husband and I started Skeeter on an Answers Raw Goat’s Milk fast. We began feeding him 5 cups of Answer’s Raw Goat’s Milk a day and nothing else, as recommended by Jacqueline with Answers Pet Food. Read more about the benefits of a raw milk fast here. We have also been monitoring his weight to make sure he does not start to lose any while on this fast, and he has been within a pound of his original weight of 56 lbs since the fast began. We decided to try the fast for a month to clean out his system. This means no kibble, no canned food, no treats, no rawhides, and no human food! It has been a little hard on Skeeter, but he seems to have gotten used to it. His fast lasted through the month of September.

The day before our appointment with Dr. Mitchener, she had a family emergency and had to leave town. This was completely understandable, but we had been so concerned about Skeeter at this point, that we didn’t want to wait and we weren’t sure when Dr. Mitchener would be back in town. We wanted Dr. Mitchener’s oncological opinion and couldn’t find another veterinary oncologist in Memphis (besides at MVS where we had already been), so that was too bad. However, at this time, Skeeter’s leg issue was really the more pressing problem for us, and we decided to focus on this. I called Shelby Center to see if Skeeter could get a chiropractic consultation, but they said it would be two weeks! These are the only veterinary chiropractic services available in Memphis.

Visit with Dr. Smith at Natchez Trace Veterinary Services

My husband googled other options and found Dr. Mark Smith with Natchez Trace Veterinary Services in Nashville. They were able to give us an appointment the very next day, so we cleared our schedules and made the trip to Nashville. What a wonderful clinic! We arrived an hour and a half early and they started our appointment right away. Dr. Smith took an x-ray, which was not done at MVS by Dr. Atwood. He suggested that Skeeter is having problems with his spine, although he did not see anything except a possible arthritic spot in his neck on the x-ray, and he also did not get a pain response from Skeeter during the physical exam he did right in front of me. I did see a few small twinges by Skeeter, but this could have just been due to the weirdness of the exam itself, so I was unsure.

Dr. Smith gave Skeeter a chiropractic adjustment and did an acupuncture treatment during our appointment. He also examined the two lumps that Dr. Atwood found and agreed that the one in the anal sac was too difficult to biopsy. He agreed that it should be surgically removed. Dr. Smith spent a lot of time with Skeeter, my husband and myself, and he answered all of our questions thoroughly.

When we left Nashville and started the drive back to Memphis, I had mixed feelings. I admit that I feel a little skeptical about both acupuncture and chiropracty, but I was willing to give them a shot if they may help my sweet Skeeter. To my delight, Skeeter did not display any of the symptoms I had seen with his front legs for several days after his appointment! But then he did slowly start to have the same shaking and splaying out occur, though with less frequency than before.

Visit with Dr. Mitchener at Angel Care

 

When Dr. Mitchener was back in town and able to see Skeeter a few days later, she looked at the x-rays from Dr. Smith with Natchez Trace and then took more of her own. She said that she definitely sees signs of arthritis in Skeeter’s neck and back, which is probably what is contributing to his leg issue. She also suspected that arthritis or inflammation in Skeeter’s back legs may be the cause of his front leg weakness and trembling due to overcompensation by the front legs. She said she did see a slight pain response from Skeeter, which felt right to me. Dr. Mitchener recommended continuing to treat Skeeter with acupuncture once a week. It felt good to have some kind of answer to Skeeter’s leg problem, and I was glad that it was not related to cancer or a neurological issue.

Dr. Mitchener also took a scraping from the lump in Skeeter’s mouth, and said there were no signs for alarm, though we will continue to get this rechecked over time. She examined the mass in his anal sac, which Skeeter was getting pretty tired of at this point. She agreed with the previous two doctors, that it would be too difficult to biopsy and it should be removed surgically.

Ongoing Treatment

According to Skeeter’s bloodwork, there is no reason to believe the mass in his anal sac is malignant at this point-and it could have been there for any number of years without changing in size. We wonder if there are any other options besides putting an 11-year-old dog through surgery for something we are not sure is even dangerous! This is a concern with which we are currently grappling. And two weeks ago when I took Skeeter in for his second acupuncture appointment-the first with Dr. Mitchener-the mass in his anal sac had not yet changed in size.

As far as Skeeter’s legs go, they are still having problems, though still not as frequently as before. We have begun weekly acupuncture appointments at this time. Dr. Mitchener says that Skeeter will probably need ongoing treatment for this arthritis affecting his legs and spine. She described it like taking a medication daily: when the effectiveness of the medication wears off, you have to take another pill. Acupuncture works the same way. I’m willing to continue this treatment as long as it continues to help.

Conclusions

I am very glad that I took Skeeter in to see Dr. Atwood at MVS, who did such a thorough physical exam that he found two masses of which I was previously unaware. Thank goodness! Now we know that we should be monitoring these things, having them checked to see if they have changed in size, and having bloodwork run regularly to see if there is any cause for concern about malignancy.

I am also very glad that I did not stop at seeing Dr. Atwood, and went on the see Dr. Smith and Dr. Mitchener, as well as consult with Jacqueline from Answers Pet Food. I feel like I have gained so much information from so many well-educated and intelligent professionals! More was learned with every veterinary visit Skeeter went to, and each doctor was able to build on the information that the previous doctor had found.

This is why multiple opinions, as well as doing our own research, is so very important for our pets-just like it is important for humans!

The Myth about Pit Bulls, Debunked

We’ve all heard the stories, myths, and fear some people spread about pit bulls simply because of their breed and their use in dog fighting by some abusive and greedy people. I believe that a dog should not be judged based only on his breed, just like a person should not be judged based on the color of his skin! These myths are dangerous, and are passed down through families, generations and friendships.

To help share the truth about pit bulls, Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys, a pit bull rescue and education group based out of Middle Tennessee, started National Pit Bull Awareness Day, which falls on October 24th this year.

National Pit Bull Awareness Day is an opportunity for communities to become educated about pit bulls and change common misconceptions that they may have about this very loving breed of dog. It is a time to talk about responsible dog ownership and it is also meant to help restore the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier. Here are some ways YOU can participate in this important mission:

1. Educate Yourself

If you have some negative feelings about pit bulls based on what you have always heard, then do some research and find out the facts! Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Jack Russell Terriers are actually the most likely breeds to bite and show aggression! They are usually forgiven and not reprimanded because of their size. See more here.

2. Get to Know a Pit Bull

If you have never had experience with a pit bull, then all you know is what you hear about dog fighting in the news, or what is portrayed in the movies. Meet a friend’s pit bull and get to know her. Go to your local shelter to meet a pit bull, or volunteer to help walk the dogs there. I guarantee that you will find pit bulls who are happy to see you, and very loving (if very exuberant and full of energy!) I have pit bulls in my home frequently as a dog-sitter, and they get along with people and other dogs without incident.

3. Speak Up

When you hear someone perpetuating a myth about pit bulls, speak up! If no one ever tells them that their belief is wrong, then how will that person learn what is really true? Confronting and challenging family members, friends or even strangers can be difficult, but take a gentle approach and let that person know about your own experiences with pit bulls.

4. Train Your Dog

I feel compelled to say that I don’t think Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, or Jack Russells are any worse than another breed, either! No dog should be judged solely on breed alone. I think that we as pet owners frequently don’t follow-through on training smaller dogs, and do more training with our larger dogs. I often see small dogs who are not fully housebroken, because the mess they make is so small, that owners just choose to clean it up. This does not fly with large dogs and their large messes! I think that we as owners also forgive snapping and growling in small dogs more frequently instead of training our dogs to stop those behaviors. A large dog who growls and snaps is a lot scarier, so we work on that behavior more often with them. Training is really the secret when it comes to preventing aggression in any breed of dog. Properly trained pit bulls are no more aggressive than Golden Retrievers!

Remember that you cannot make generalized statements about the aggressiveness of a certain breed of dog- personality really all boils down to the dog’s environment and training. So, start spreading the truth about pit bulls to your friends and family, and come out to support Pints for Pits at High Cotton Brewing Co. today from 4-8, sponsored in part by Hollywood Feed!