Dogs, Cats and Dental Health

Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show evidence of dental disease by age 3? That’s a scary statistic and something about which all pet parents should be worried. As people, we usually brush our teeth twice a day (at least), so what should we be doing to make sure our dogs and cats have healthy teeth and gums for their whole lives?

February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Dental health is a very important part of a pet’s overall health. This February is a great time for us to check in on our pet’s teeth and gums, and commit to taking care of them all year long.

Periodontal Disease, Defined

Periodontal disease is the most common dental issue our pets deal with, and it is preventable!

Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection of the gums, which causes tooth decay and potential tooth loss. It begins when bacteria start to form plaque, which sticks to teeth. Then the plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which binds to our pets’ teeth like cement.

This is the point at which something MUST be done to stop or reverse periodontal disease, or else it will spread under the gum line and the bacteria will start to destroy the tissue supporting and surrounding the tooth.

These changes in the mouth also start to change our pets’ immune systems. This puts other organs in the body directly at risk. The heart, as well as our pets’ kidneys, are at risk for severe problems if a periodontal infection is not treated.

What to Watch for in our Pets

As pet parents, our dogs and cats rely on us to make sure they have healthy teeth and gums. A lot of this responsibility comes in the form of prevention of periodontal disease, but what should we be looking for to see if our pet’s teeth and gums have already begun to deteriorate?

Here are the signs for which we should be watching:
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Discolored teeth and gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Ulcers/pus on gums or tongue
  • Trouble eating and chewing or loss of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Tenderness or pain in the mouth
  • Change in behavior, especially around food or at mealtimes

Prevention is Key

The best way to avoid all of these issues is to prevent them in the first place. Here are a few ways to make sure our pets’ teeth and gums are healthy for a lifetime:

  • The MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to prevent periodontal disease is to feed our dogs and cats a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates. This will make a HUGE difference. We should all make sure we are buying a good, quality food. Ask your favorite Hollywood Feed associate what they recommend and if your pet’s current food is the right choice.
  • Dental toys and treats like Greenies will gently scrape teeth clean and remove excess calcium in the saliva that can be deposited in teeth. Greenies are a good way to prevent tartar build-up.
  • **Bones, rawhides, and antlers are good at keeping teeth clean as well, as our dogs will chew and scrape their teeth against them. Check out this Butcher’s Block Jum-Bone.
  • Water additives, sprays, and gels that are plaque retardant are another option. Check out this Bluestem Water Additive and Bluestem Oral Spray
  • Brushing should be part of your weekly routine, according to vets. Brushing your dog’s and cat’s teeth can help prevent build-up.
  • Regular dental check-ups with our veterinarians are important as well, especially if you suspect any issues or see any warning signs.
  • Act quickly if you suspect there is a dental issue, and get your pet right in to see the vet!

*Human toothpaste should not be used on pets because they contain harmful chemicals that should not be swallowed.

Final Thoughts

Prevention and early treatment of periodontal disease is ideal. Making sure our pets are eating a low sugar, low carbohydrate food and providing them with a $5 or $10 bone regularly will help prevent a big issue with a big vet bill in the future.

An average Stage 4 dental cleaning with extractions and pain management will cost well over $500. And depending on the severity and ability to provide treatment, our pets may need to have this procedure performed multiple times.

Untreated dental infections can also lead to infections of major organs, which can threaten our pets’ lives. As humans, we do all that we can to make sure we take care of our own teeth. We need to do the same with our fur babies!

**Remember, always supervise your pet with any toys or chews**

Bad Breath Busters

We all know the smell of puppy breath! It may not be the most pleasant of smells, but there’s also something endearing about a tiny puppy with stinky breath. However, puppies will eventually grow out of their stinky breath. If bad breath does persist into adulthood, it can be hard to find it quite as cute. In fact, we need to do something about it!

Bad breath can be prevented with a little time and energy, but if our adult dogs suddenly develop a terrible case of halitosis, then what should we do? The cause of bad breath could be as simple as a change in food or treats, or there may be reason for concern about a health issue.

Causes of Bad Breath:

 Change in Diet

Take a minute to think. Did your dog’s bad breath begin when you switched to a new food or treat? Have you begun using a fish oil supplement recently? Have you caught Fido eating poop? (My Skeeter has been known to eat poop from time to time, and it is highly disgusting. This is a great reason for us all to keep our yards scooped! Read How Can I Keep My Backyard Clean and Smelling Fresh and 5 Reasons to Scoop Your Dog’s Poop to learn more.)

These are all reasons that our dog’s breath could suddenly start to stink. One step we can each take is to make sure our yard stays poop-free.

If we have recently begun feeding a food high in fish oils, or giving our dog a fish oil supplement, then we should wait a few weeks until our dog’s body becomes used to digesting this new ingredient before we decide to stop using it. After a few weeks, the bad breath will probably go away if fish oil is the culprit.

If waiting it out for 4-6 weeks doesn’t work, then we may want to try changing our dog back to his old diet, or try another new food to see if his breath starts to smell more sweetly again. If our dogs’ breath smells better after switching foods, then we have found the culprit!

 Possible Medical Concern

 

Bad breath can also be caused by bacteria building up in our dogs’ mouth or elsewhere in the digestive tract. If our dogs develop bad breath suddenly, this may be a sign of gum disease or some other bacterial or fungal infection in the body.

Bad breath can also be a sign of a larger problem in dogs (and humans). Diseases such as cancer or diabetes may be to blame, or there may be something going wrong with our dogs’ organs.

If we try the simple fixes for bad breath I talk about below and nothing changes with our dogs’ breath, or if there are other symptoms present that lead us to think there may be a bigger issue, then it is probably time to go see our veterinarian to find out if there is a medical cause for the smell.

Bad Breath Fixes:

There are several things we can do at home to try to fix Fido’s bad breath:

1. Dental Care

We should focus on regular dental care for our dog. Brushing our dogs’ teeth at home will help to prevent bad breath from starting in the first place, but it can also remove any plaque buildup that has occurred. It can also help to relieve bad breath as well. Our dogs’ gums should not be red or bleeding when we give them a brushing. This is a sign of dental disease and we should take our dog in to see the vet. Read more about good dental care for our pets: Dogs, Cats and Dental Health.

2. Alternatives to Brushing

**Besides brushing with a toothbrush, we can give our pets rawhides, bones, and other chews like Greenies to help with bad breath. These treats are easy to give to our pets! I know my three dogs love to chew a raw bone or Greenie. Besides being easy for us and fun for our dogs, these bones and chews will rub against our dogs’ teeth as they chew them, scraping off plaque very similarly to a toothbrush.

3. Dental Care Products

If we’re looking for a breath spray or water additive to help with bad breath, we carry several options to suit you and your dog best! 

Zymox Breath Freshener will freshen breath by preventing bad bacteria from building up in our dogs’ mouth as well as attacking the plaque which is
already there. Just a spritz in our dog’s mouth is all there is to it!

Zymox Water Additive is a concentrated formula that we add to our dogs’ water bowl when we fill it. It is flavorless, so our dogs won’t even know it’s there. It will help clean teeth and prevent bad plaque build-up without brushing.

Bluestem Water Additive is made with coactiv+ and is scientifically prepared to freshen your pet’s breath while combatting the buildup of plaque and tartar. This simple-to-use formula is easy to administer; simply drop two capfuls into your pet’s water bowl daily for the best results.

Bluestem Oral Spray Vanilla & Mint is an easy-to-use and highly effective method of freshening your pet’s breath and strengthening his or her long-term oral health. This oral spray is a great part of a comprehensive oral health care routine that can decrease the chances of periodontal disease. Use daily for the best results.

4. Clean Bowl = Happy Mouth

We should all make sure that our dogs have clean food and water bowls! Gross things build up on water and food bowls after days and weeks of not being washed. We should aim to wash our pets’ food and water bowls with soap and hot water at least once a week. Stainless steel bowls make this very easy and are my preference.

5. Natural Remedies

**If we’re looking for a natural remedy for bad breath, there are a few things we can try. We can squeeze a little lemon in our pets’ water bowl or sprinkle some parsley over their food at dinner. Also, abrasive fruits and veggies like carrots and apples can help scrape teeth clean similarly to rawhides and Greenies (and my dogs love them).

6. Veterinary Visit

Finally, if we have tried everything to remedy our dogs’ bad breath and there is no change, then it is time to schedule a veterinary appointment. Your dog may need a professional dental cleaning or may have a health issue that needs to be diagnosed and fixed.

Remember, puppy breath is cute, but halitosis is not! Try these simple fixes to remedy bad breath, and if all else fails or if other symptoms are present, let’s make a trip to our vet.

Have you found any other bad breath remedies that work well for your dog? Let us know in the comment section below!

**Remember, always supervise your pet with any toys or chews**

6 Ways Puppies and Babies are Just Alike!

Puppies and babies are just the cutest, right? There’s nothing better for bringing a smile to my face than an adorable puppy or baby headed my way. I’ve had years of experience playing with puppies, but my husband and I have just recently found out that I am pregnant with two babies of our own! So, of course, now I have had babies on the brain. I have been wondering how prepared I am for motherhood, so I have started finding ways to compare babies to puppies, so I can talk myself into feeling more confident!

1. Babies and puppies are both really cute.

This one is obvious, right? Nothing more needs to be said. I don’t think I’ll have a problem thinking my babies are adorable!

2. Pee and poop are always hanging out around babies and puppies.

It’s not the most pleasant part of having a baby or puppy, but it is reality. They both pee and poop a lot, and not always when and where we would prefer. It takes determined and routine housebreaking/potty training to get them each to pee and poop in their designated areas! I have experience with housebreaking. In fact, I may have it down to an art. Give me two weeks and I’ll give you a housebroken puppy. But I hear children are a little more willful than eager to please puppies! Read my Foolproof Guide to Housebreaking New Puppies and also read about how I keep my backyard clean and odor free here.

3. Babies and puppies both suck all of our time and attention.

I know that having a new puppy around the house takes up a lot of time. Whether I am playing with the puppy, cleaning up an accident, cleaning up some trash that he shredded, cuddling the puppy, feeding him, walking him, training him….it all adds up. I am only imagining how much more time and energy a newborn baby will take (let alone two of them)!

4. We spend all of our money on babies and puppies.

Food, milk, diapers, training pads, toys, shampoo, bowls, strollers, kennels…the list of supplies we get for babies and puppies is endless! But we love to buy our babies, whether human or furry, the very best because they mean the world to us! I’m busy researching all the things I will need to buy for my babies…but I already did the research on puppies! If you are adopting a new puppy, here is the ultimate supply list you can use to do some shopping at your local Hollywood Feed.

5. Puppies and babies both love to drink milk and cuddle.

This is pretty much the favorite pastime for both babies and puppies, right? Sold, I’m in! Go into your local Hollywood Feed location and pick up some goat’s milk for your puppy. You will be so glad in the future if you make this part of your new puppy’s diet early. Read about how raw goat’s milk helped my senior dog, Skeeter, here. I am hoping to be able to breastfeed two babies, but I am looking into backup plans for this as well!

6. We always feel better after holding babies and puppies.

It isn’t just me, right? After holding a baby or puppy, and looking into those sweettrusting eyes, any stress or anger we may have been holding on to will just melt away. Then my baby voice kicks in and I start mumbling nonsense. My baby voice always gets the response I want out of my dogs (though my cats just stare at me). I hope my well-practiced baby voice will get the response I want from my babies as well!

I just love being dog mom, and I am looking forward to being a mom to two little humans very soon!

Why Should You Buy Your Coffee at a Holistic Pet Store?

I bet you’re wondering why I am telling you to buy the coffee you brew at home every morning at Hollywood Feed. (No, the coffee is not meant for our cats or dogs, to get that out of the way.) Most of us have never even seen coffee in a pet store, but now it has officially arrived and for a good reason. Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. donates 20% of all proceeds to no-kill rescue organizations. I thought that was a great reason to give Grounds & Hounds coffee a try, and so did Hollywood Feed.

20% Goes to Rescues

What do you do when you love coffee and you love dogs? You create a coffee company where “Every Pound Saves a Hound” by giving 20% of all proceeds to no-kill rescue organizations that help thousands of animals each year. Here are the rescues that benefit from donations:

  • Best Friends Animal Society
  • One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue
  • Pet Refuge
  • Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
  • Wisconsin Humane Society
  • Secondhand Hounds
  • Midwest Animal ResQ
  • Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center
  • Born Again Pit Bull Rescue
  • Wags and Walks
  • Brother Wolf Animal Rescue
  • Athletes For Animals
  • Charleston Animal Society
  • Humane Society Silicon Valley
  • Humane Society of Indianapolis
  • Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue
  • Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue
  • Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society

Organic and Delicious

Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. loves to help dogs, but its attention is definitelyfocused on making a delicious, high quality, and responsible product that people can really enjoy. Grounds & Hounds artisan roasted coffees are 100% Fair Trade and USDA Organic certified.

In the roast I tried, Alpha Blend, you may notice interesting and tasty hints of vanilla bean, ginger, nutmeg and dark chocolate if your palate is refined enough. The whole bean roast was easy for me to grind at home. Plus, freshly ground coffee just tastes a little better. I was much more impressed with the flavor and aroma of this coffee than I thought I would be (and I am a pretty picky coffee drinker, not just any old cup of coffee will really get me going for the day). Grounds & Hounds definitely gets my approval in the flavor department and won my husband over as well.

Roast Options and Price

Three Grounds & Hounds roasts are available here and in Hollywood Feed stores. They are Alpha Blend (dark roast), Morning Walk Blend (light roast), and Paper & Slippers Blend (light and dark roasts).

Morning Walk Blend – 12 oz – Ground …………………$14.99
Alpha Blend – 12 oz – Whole Bean ……………………….$14.99
Paper & Slippers Blend – 12 oz – Whole Bean ……….$14.99

The Bottom Line

Grounds & Hounds coffee tastes great and when I think about 20% of all proceeds being donated directly to Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.’s rescue partners, it makes me feel good about where that extra bit of money for my morning coffee is going. It is a conscious decision I can make every single morning, to drink delicious organic coffee and donate to the animals I love at the same time.

I think everyone should pick up a bag of Grounds & Hounds coffee here or the next time you are shopping at your local Hollywood Feed store and give it a try. Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

What are Whiskers, Anyway?

You may think your pet’s whiskers are adorable or you may not really notice them. Either way, have you ever wondered why your cat or dog has whiskers on his face? They’re not just a fashion statement! Did you know that our pet’s whiskers can tell us about their health and mood? And robots even have whiskers these days? Read on to learn more interesting facts about whiskers.

What are Whiskers?

  • Technically hair, whiskers are also different than regular fur on a dog or cat.
  • Whiskers can grow from our pets’ eyebrows, their chin, and even on our cats’ legs.
  • Whiskers are deeply rooted in our pets’ skin in a hair follicle full of nerves and blood vessels.
  • When they brush against something, whiskers get to work, sending a vibration down their length to stimulate the nerve at their root.
  • Scientifically, whiskers are known as vibrissae, which comes from the Latin vibrio “to vibrate”.
  • Whiskers are tactile sensors for mammals. The tactile sense of the whiskers compliments the tactile sense of the skin.
  • Very sensitive, whiskers are able to detect the slightest change in a breeze.

Why are Whiskers Important?

  • Similar to antennae, whiskers help our dogs and cats navigate space in the dark.
  • Whiskers help to protect the face by warning our pets if something is too close to their eyes.
  • Whiskers help dogs and cats decide if they can fit through a small, tight space or if they will get their head stuck instead.
  • Dogs and cats use their whiskers similarly to the way we use our fingertips, touching and feeling our environment and objects all day long.
  • Whiskers are very helpful for hunting purposes, especially when it’s dark.

What Can Whiskers Tell Us?

  • Unhealthy-looking whiskers, such as drooping, brittle, or split whiskers, can indicate poor health or a change in our pet’s health.
  • Cats and dogs can control and move their whiskers, depending on mood.
  • Cats may pin their whiskers back when they are angry and dogs may point their whiskers forward when they feel threatened or excited.

More Facts about Whiskers

  • Researchers have begun creating artificial whiskers, for which one use is to improve the tactile sense of robots.
  • Whiskers can fall out and grow back at any time.
  • Whiskers can change color over time (usually, they will fall out one color and grow back in another color).
  • Cats usually have 12 whiskers on each cheek, but dog whiskers aren’t so consistent.
  • Dogs usually have fewer whiskers than cats, and don’t rely on them quite as much.
  • Whiskers should never be trimmed or plucked.
  • Damaged whiskers can affect a pet’s confidence and motor skills.

Whiskers are an interesting part of our pets’ functioning and health. So, don’t let a groomer trim your pet’s whiskers, but don’t be upset if they lose a whisker on occasion, either!

Do you have any stories to share about your pet’s whiskers? Let us know in the comment section below.

Is Your Dog Getting Enough Water?

Water is the most important life-supporting resource on our planet. It allows our human bodies as well as the bodies of our pets to function properly. All plants and animals require water to survive. All of our most important bodily functions require water, and if we do not get enough water, we will die.

One of the reasons that water is so important to the survival of all human and animal life is that our bodies are made up of quite a bit of water. Dogs’ bodies are made up of 80% water, a larger percentage than human bodies, which are up to 60% water.

Drinking enough water is especially important during these hot summer weeks when it is really important to keep our pets cool and indoors with us. Dogs and cats should drink one ounce of water per pound of their body weight daily. Is your dog drinking enough? Check out this cool infographic from PetSafe.

While we may all know how important water is to our survival (for many reasons other than drinking, such as washing and cooking), we may not always adjust our behavior to make sure we are drinking enough water daily, and the same is true for our pets.

How to Help Pets Drink More Water

Fresh Water.
Always keep fresh, clean water out for pets to drink, both inside and outside. Clean water is especially important to cats, who may want their water bowl changed out more frequently than a dog.

Moving Water.
Many animals may prefer to drink moving water, especially cats. There are several Drinkwell fountain options available to choose from here or at your local Hollywood Feed location.

Frozen Water.
Plain old ice cubes are a fun summertime treat for many dogs. Mine happen to love them, which is a healthy, inexpensive treat option! You can also freeze small treats in water in an ice cube tray so that there is something inside for the dogs to work toward. Check out these delicious Plato treats.

Dripping Water.
My cat Fender really enjoys drinking from a dripping faucet. When he’s thirsty, he’ll end up under your arms while you wash your hands or do the dishes. I know that leaving a faucet dripping to indulge your cat’s whims can be wasteful, so maybe consider leaving one faucet dripping for an hour every night at 6pm so your cat knows when to expect access to this type of water.

Swimming Water.
Another fun idea is to put a small plastic (not inflatable) kiddie pool in your backyard and fill it with fresh water daily. Your dog can drink out of it and wade in it during the day. Make sure to dump the pool at night and refill it each morning to keep it clean and prevent stagnant water and mosquitos.

Water Hose.
My dogs really enjoy drinking out of the water hose or sprinkler. Playing with the water hose is a fun way to spend time with your dogs, to cool off on a hot day, and to get your dog to drink some extra water.

Wet Food.
My cats and dogs favorite way to get extra water during the summer is to be fed canned food! Wet food has a lot of added moisture, which will help boost your cat or dog’s hydration without them even knowing it. Another great option for moisture-rich food is to feed your pet a raw frozen diet.

 

There are lots of other ways to keep your pet hydrated this summer. What are some fun and creative ways that you get your dog or cat to drink more water?

Toxic Lawn Chemicals: Is My Dog Safe?

Many of us look forward to gardening and maintaining a beautiful lawn when summertime gets here, but did you know that many chemicals that we spray or spread on our lawns to keep them weed-free and plush can be dangerous for our pets and for our families?

Contrary to what lawn ‘care’ companies would like people to believe, herbicides (weed killers) and other pesticides are not ‘magic bullets’. They are broad spectrum biocides, and by their very nature can harm organisms other than targeted species. This includes homeowners and their families, neighbors, pets, and all other forms of life. The pesticide industry downplays this by claiming their chemicals are heavily diluted, but doesn’t mention the toxins are still extremely dangerous in small amounts.

The Truth About Cats, Dogs & Lawn Chemicals

This is some scary stuff! To find out just how dangerous these chemicals can be, researchers at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina measured the concentration of lawn chemicals in dog urine in a few different scenarios:

  • In households that treat their lawns with chemicals, these chemicals were found in the urine of dogs in 14 out of 25 households before their lawn treatment, and in 19 out of 25 households after their lawn treatment.
  • The lawn chemicals were also found in the urine of dogs in 4 out of 8 households that did not treat their lawns with chemicals.
  • In 2004, these same researchers from Purdue University found that when Scottish terriers were exposed to lawn chemicals, they were found to develop bladder cancer at a rate 4 to 7 times higher that Scottish terriers not exposed to lawn chemicals.
  • Additionally, “The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a study of 9,282 people nationwide, found pesticides in 100% of the people who had both blood and urine tested. The average person carried 13 of 23 pesticides tested.” -Pesticide Watch

When and Why Did Americans Start Using Lawn Chemicals?

After World War II, and again after the Vietnam War, companies that made biological weapons for the American military decided to start marketing these same chemicals as pesticides and herbicides to spray on lawns, so that profits could continue to be made off of these chemicals. The marketing skill of these chemical companies is essentially the beginning of our American obsession with a beautiful, green lawn!

Additionally, pesticide use in agriculture, industry, commercial and government sectors has been decreasing over the past 20 years, but pesticide use in residential settings is rising. “Home use of pesticides has risen 42% between 1998 and 2001 and now represents the only growth sector of the U.S. pesticide market.” -Pesticide Watch, 2008

How Does Exposure Occur?

  • It is estimated that 70 to 80 million pounds of pesticides are sprayed on home lawns annually across the country. (Pesticide Watch)
  • Our pets are exposed to these lawn chemicals by either eating grass that has been treated, drinking from an outdoor water bowl that has been compromised, breathing in chemical-filled pellets when sniffing around the yard, or by having chemicals rub onto their bellies, legs, and paws when walking through a treated lawn, and then licking these same spots later.
  • Lawn chemicals can remain on our lawns for at least 48 hours after application. Specifically, the chemicals: 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 4-chloro-2-methylphenoxypropionic acid (MCPP), and dicamba are more likely to remain for longer.
  • Lawn chemicals can easily spread to untreated yards and pets from the yards of neighbors through run-off from water, being blown by the wind, or by walking our dogs near or on lawns with chemicals.
  • Our pets can then pass along chemical contamination to other pets, children or people in the home when we play with or pet them, or by simply lying on our floor or furniture.

Risks from Exposure

  • Elderly and sick pets are at a higher risk to be harmed by lawn chemicals.
  • Lawn chemicals have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer and other cancers, such as thyroid cancer and lymphomas.
  • Other dangerous symptoms and consequences of lawn chemical exposure include: vomiting, nausea, excessive salivation, stomach pain, diarrhea, low heart rate, dehydration, cramping, respiratory failure, convulsions, dizziness, twitching, loss of feeling, weakness, fatigue, dermatitis, hyperexcitability, depression, ataxia, anorexia, enlarged thyroid and liver, labored breathing, loss of consciousness, and in some cases, death.

Prevention

  • Store any lawn chemicals safely away from pets (and children!)
  • Avoid treating your lawn with chemicals, and be wary of neighbors or parks that treat with chemicals.
  • If you must treat your yard, keep pets and all water bowls and toys inside during application, and make sure any chemicals have fully dried or absorbed before letting pets back outside
  • Wash dogs’ feet and bellies after any exposure to lawn chemicals
  • Specifically avoid products containing these chemicals: disulfotons, metaldehydes, organophosphates, carbamates, phenoxy and benzoic acid herbicides, and pyrethroids (possible carcinogens according to EPA).
  • “53% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are possible carcinogens, as defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. 41% of TruGreen ChemLawn’s pesticide products include ingredients that are banned or restricted in other countries.” (Pesticide Watch)

Forget Chemicals, Try This Instead

  • Adjust the acidity or alkalinity (pH) of your soil so that it is at the peak pH for grass to grow (which is around 6.5 or 7 on a scale from 0 to 14, or neutral). If your soil is too acidic, you will need to add lime. If your soil tests too high in alkalinity, you will need to add sulfur to get the right balance. Learn more here.
  • Don’t treat your backyard (where pets frequently roam) even if you treat the front yard.
  • Use organic, slow-release fertilizer to stimulate grass growth.
  • Overseed patchy areas of your lawn to encourage more grass to grow. This works best in the spring and fall.
  • Set your mower on high (3 inches) instead of cutting your lawn really low in order to crowd out any weeds.

 

Do you have any tips for maintaining a beautiful lawn without the use of chemicals? Has your dog or cat been affected by lawn chemicals? Share your tips and stories with us in the comment section below.

Sources:

http://www.pesticidewatch.org/sites/default/files/pets_guide_draft_final.pdf
http://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/how-lawn-chemicals-and-herbicides-affect-dogs
http://dogtime.com/dog-health/dog-alternative-health/2041-garden-lawn-chemicals-pet-safety
http://lawnfertilizers.com/info/lime-sulphur.html

Don’t Leave Your Dog In The Car, Not Even For A Minute. Here’s Why.

You know you shouldn’t leave your dog in the car in summer, but do you know exactly what happens inside your dog’s body in the heat? Do you know why it’s so deadly?

First, let’s look at exactly how hot a car can get in the summer.

Check out the chart below to see how quickly the heat increases over time. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside your car can reach 109 degrees in just twenty minutes.

Now let’s look at what happens inside your dog’s body.

Dogs are different than humans in the way they dissipate heat. Dogs lack sweat glands. Instead of sweating, they lose heat through panting and through dilation of blood vessels in the hairless areas on their bodies (inside of ear, bellies, and paw pads).

Panting brings air directly into the lungs to cool the dog. Once ambient temperature begins to rise and reach the dog’s core temperature, they’re no longer pulling in cooler air. Instead, they are panting and pulling in extremely hot air that in turn causes their body temperature to rise even more quickly.

As their core temperature rises, the blood vessels designed to dilate and keep blood in liquid form become exposed and damaged. Once the vessel lining is damaged, it doesn’t function properly to cool the dog and blood begins to clot. Blood pressure begins to drop, fluid loss increases because of increased panting, and core body temperature increases even more rapidly. The whole process can happen as quick as five to ten minutes. That’s why it’s never okay to leave your dog in a vehicle in the summer, not even for a minute.

Normal body temperature for a dog is between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures at and over 103 degrees are considered abnormal, and temperatures around 106+ degrees can cause multiple organ failure.

It’s very important to cool your dog if you suspect heat exhaustion. Organ damage can occur and lead to death. The liver and kidneys sustain damage because of decreased blood flow due to clotting. Toxins created by other damaged tissues are released into the body. The gastrointestinal tract suffers direct cell damage due to the high core body temperature. This causes blood loss through bloody vomit and diarrhea and can lead to the sloughing of the GI tract lining. Since the GI tract is one of the most important barriers for bacteria, the damage can lead to serious infections in the dog’s body.

If you see a dog locked in a car, what do you do? Many states have laws that protect citizens helping dogs in danger of dying from heat stroke. Visit https://www.animallaw.info/topic/table-state-laws-protect-animals-left-parked-vehicles to see what the law says in your state. Regardless, you shouldn’t take it lightly. Do what you can to help save the dog’s life. Every second counts.

For information on how to cool a dog experiencing heat stroke, read our blog on heat exhaustion here: Effects of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Also, please note that cracking the car windows does NOT make it okay to leave your pet in the car. IT’S STILL TOO HOT.

 

Keeping Fido Safe from Fire: Tips for National Pet Fire Safety Day

Pets and flames definitely don’t mix! Did you know that around 1,000 fires are started by pets each year according to the National Fire Protection Association? That’s a scary number, and it doesn’t take into account the number of pets affected by fires annually.

That’s why the American Kennel Club (AKC) and ADT Security Services formed National Pet Fire Safety Day, celebrated on July 15th. This is a great opportunity for those of us who love animals and have them in our lives and homes, to brush up on fire safety tips for pets.

Lisa Peterson with the AKC says, “One of the hallmarks of responsible dog ownership is keeping pets safe and planning for unexpected emergencies, including house fires. Pet proofing the home, developing pet-friendly escape routes and alerting rescuers of your pets presence with ‘window clings’ is the best way to keep your four-legged family member from harm.

With this in mind, I have put together a list of tips that we can use to make our homes are even safer for our pets:

  • Make sure to blow out candles, turn off the stove, put out cigarettes, and extinguish fires in fireplaces before leaving home, going to sleep, showering, or otherwise not supervising
  • Keep candles up high and out of reach of both dogs and cats or look into flameless candles. My cats have caught their whiskers on fire before by getting too curious with my candles
  • Remove stove knobs, get a knob covers or use a pet gate to keep dogs out of the kitchen when you are not around. My dogs have jumped on my gas stove and turned on the gas for one of the burners by accident before, and this is not uncommon in other homes
  • Never leave dogs or cats (or children!) unattended near open flames
  • Young and super-curious pets may need to be kenneled or safely behind a door or pet gate when candles or fireplaces are being used, even if we are supervising
  • If there is a fire at our home while we are away and our pets are inside, keeping pets in a room near the front door will make them easier for firefighters to locate and save
  • A window cling or sign on your front door that states the number and type of pets in your home will also be very helpful to firefighters. Make sure to keep it updated and check it a few times a year for fading
  • Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar with tags in case they dart out the door if firefighters must break it down
  • Keep leashes in an easy to reach place in case a fire starts while you are sleeping and you need to get your pets out of the house quickly
  • Smoke detectors that are monitored are much safer for pets left home alone when a fire begins than battery-powered smoke detectors because someone will be immediately notified, and help will be sent
  • Don’t use glass water bowls outdoors on wooden decks. If it gets flipped over and the sun hits it just right, it can catch the wood on fire by magnifying the sun’s rays, just like you’ve seen on TV with a pair of glasses

Let’s all take today to make sure our homes are as safe as they can be for our furry, four-legged family members. Do you have any other pet fire-safety tips or pet-proofing tips? Let us know in the comment section below.

Fireworks, The Fourth, and Frightened Pets: ID Tags Bring Lost Dogs and Cats Back Home

Summer is officially here, and so is Independence Day. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. This is because it takes place in the summertime, which is my favorite season. Also, I love to watch fireworks!

Yet, as much as you and I may love fireworks, many dogs and cats are terrified of them. This fear may cause them to escape from our yard or house and become lost. Did you know that July 5th is the busiest day for animal shelters around the country?

Let’s Do the Numbers

According to The Eugene Daily News, 30% of all lost pet incidents each year occur on the evening of July Fourth.

PetAmberAlert.com reports that nationally, animal shelters and animal control officers across the country see a 30-60% increase in lost pets each year between July 4th and 6th.

The ASPCA completed a large survey and found:

  • 15% of pet parents had a lost dog or lost cat in the past five years
  • 85% of those lost pets were recovered: 74% of cat parents found their lost cat and 93% of dog parents found their lost dog
  • 49% of the lost dogs were found by searching the neighborhood
  • 15% of the lost dogs were recovered because they were wearing an ID tag or had a microchip
  • 59% of the lost cats returned home on their own
  • 30% of the lost cats were found by searching the neighborhood
  • 6% of dog parents and 2% of cat parents found their lost pets at a shelter

How Can I Prevent a Lost Cat or Dog?

When our dog or cat is lost, the only thing we want is for them to return home. We worry about what may have happened to them, if they may be injured, if they know how to find their way back home, if they have eaten anything, if they have been in a fight, or if someone who does not like animals may have found them.

Hopefully, we are able to find our lost dog or cat quickly ourselves by searching our neighborhood. Second best, we hope that a good, animal-loving person has found them. But if this person finds them and can’t identify them, then we may still never end up reunited with our lost pet.

Here are a few tips to make sure our lost pet is returned to us quickly:

  • The easiest and fastest way to make sure our pets are identifiable is by wearing an ID tag.
  • Frayed and worn collars are more easily torn if they get caught on a fence or branch. We need to regularly check to makes sure our pets’ collars are intact. Check out Hollywood Feed’s Mississippi Made collars and leads here.
  • We should check to make sure that our pets’ ID tags are attached to their collars well and the clip or metal ring holding the tag to the collar is not worn or bent.
  • Let’s also check to make sure our pets’ ID tags are legible and not scratched. If it’s not legible, it’s worthless!
  • Keep dogs and cats inside after dusk and supervise potty breaks in fenced yards or take dogs out on a leash for a few days before and after the Fourth of July.

Before the Fourth of July arrives, let’s all make sure that our pets are easily identifiable so they can be returned home to us in the case of disaster.

Microchips are a Great Back-Up

Besides ID tags, there are other options available to make sure our pets are able to be identified. I like ID tags because they are easily and quickly visible to a do-gooder. This makes it simple for someone to approach our dog or cat (if they’re being friendly), call our phone number, and reunite us.

I believe that pets should also be microchipped. Microchips cannot fall off a collar or become worn, so they are a great back-up if our pet becomes lost. If we microchip, though, we should not forget to also have an ID tag as well as keep our microchip information up to date!

Many people will make an effort to return a lost pet to his home with an easy, breezy phone call from a visible ID tag. It is a rarer type of person who will load a strange dog or cat into their car with no identifiers, take him to a vet’s office to see if there is a microchip, and then deal with the consequences of finding no microchip, or finding a microchip with outdated information. This means a stranger will have to make the choice to leave our pet with a shelter, or keep him at their home while they put up posters and make posts on websites. That’s if anyone stops to help in the first place!

My Dog Is Scared of Fireworks

If we are one of the many pet parents with a dog who is scared of fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud noises, then there are some soothing options.

We definitely need to take the precautions I listed above and make sure our pets have ID tags and that we supervise them in a fenced yard or walk them on a leash around the Fourth of July, but we can also try a few products to help with stress and anxiety.

ThunderShirt is a vest we put on our dog, that swaddles him in a soothing hug and helps to calm him. ThunderShirt works really well for my high-anxiety Annie. Read my product review on ThunderShirt here.

There are also other calming aids to try like Progility Calming Chews. This delicious chew will help support nervous system functioning in dogs and promote a sense of well-being. Shop Progility Calming Chews here.

Have you ever had a lost dog or cat? Was he return home to you? How was he returned home? Let us know in the comment section below.