Puppy Mill: Force Them Out Of Business

The only sure fire way to force puppy mill breeders out of business is if the public refuses to buy their puppies and forces them to close. With the watered down laws that many states have enacted, I really see no other way. For every bill that our law makers refuse to pass and every law that goes unenforced, dogs are still suffering nationwide at the hands of puppy mill breeders.

These dogs are living in unsanitary conditions to say the least. Medical treatment is being withheld or if the dogs are lucky, given at the bare minimum. The owners of puppy mills have one thing in mind and that is to make money at any expense. They care nothing about the dogs they have in their possession. Their dogs spend their entire lives packed in small wire cages in filth. Most with skin diseases and some so bad, their skin is rotted off to the bone. Disease runs rampant and the breeders don’t care. They have one use for the dogs and that is to give birth to as many puppies as possible before they die. The dogs that have been rescued from puppy mills are in horrendous condition. A condition I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

You as a buyer can take it upon yourself to combat this cruelty that our lawmakers have so miserably failed to end. The next time you look at a cute puppy in a pet shop; think about the conditions that the pup’s mother and father are living in. Most pet shops buy their puppies from dealers who get the pups from puppy mill breeders. Each time someone buys a mill puppy, they are funding the breeders that force these dogs to endure these miserable conditions for their entire lives. The puppies that come from mills have a much greater chance of having health problems due to the parent’s poor health conditions and breeding practices endured.

The next time you are looking to buy a puppy, check out the AKC for a reputable breeder in your area. You can also look into some of your local kennels clubs. If buying a pup found on the internet, please be sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder. One sure fire way to do this is to go to the breeder’s house and check them out yourself.   Take the time to go see the puppies and their parents. See what kind of conditions these dogs are living in. Ask the breeder about health clearances and health guarantees for your pup.

There is no better way to end a business practice then to refuse to fund it. Puppy mill breeders will be either be forced to improve living conditions for their dogs or be forced to close. Opponents of shutting down puppy mills say that the dogs will flood the animal shelters and plenty will be put to death. I say, what would you rather do? Live a life of hell or be put out of your misery?

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Canine Vaccinations: Why So Many?

Canine vaccinations are another heated topic these days as our dogs are injected with more vaccines then ever, some with dire consequences.  What vaccinations does my dog need?  Do I listen to my vet?  Do I do my research and make an informed decision?  What do I do?  There are many dog owners who ask these questions.  Some, or should I say probably most will rely on their veterinarian’s opinion and others will question each and every vaccine.  Although I am not totally against canine vaccinations, there are many people in the dog world including experts who believe that we are overdoing it when it comes to vaccinating our beloved 4 legged friends. 

Many folks are not aware that the same vaccine dosage given to a Great Dane, is also the same dose that is given to a Min Pin or a Chihuahua!  No wonder  many of our toy and small breeds suffer and even die, from reactions to the same vaccine that is supposed to keep them healthy.  For instance, The University of Pennsylvania has pulled the Lyme Disease vaccination from their protocol years ago.  Even though many vets still offer this as an option in their vaccine protocol, many dogs are still contracting Lyme disease.  Dogs are also developing bone and joint issues which many believe are attributed to this very vaccine.  I would like to delve further into each of the major vaccines separately so as to not overwhelm the reader.  Since we are the voice for our animals, I urge each and every pet owner to do as much research into this ever so important issue and make their own decision as to what vaccines their dog may or may not need in accordance with the lifestyle that their dog lives.

Thank you Carol Morrow for this great article!

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Food Allergies

If you are reading this article, you are probably pulling your hair out right about now trying to figure out what to do about your dog’s food allergies. One of my labs has food allergies, so I know what you are going through. It was a nightmare for my lab and I, but I learned along the way and I’d like to share what I learned.

The best way to tell if your dog has food allergies is to use a ”process of elimination diet”. What this means is, you basically will be feeding your dog a very strict diet consisting of very specific ingredients. One bite of a food that your dog is allergic to, will trigger a reaction. Unfortunately, this means treats too. Too many times, people change the diet and continue to give their dogs treats. Treats are filled with all kinds of nasty stuff for an allergy dog.  It would be a good idea to tell the mailman, trash men and any neighbors to please not feed your dog treats because he has food allergies. I have a few ideas about treats that I will explain later in the article.

The very first thing you should do is read all the ingredients that are in the dog food you are feeding.  Often times, a chicken dog food has chicken fat in it and amazingly most lamb dog foods have chicken fat in them too. Even some fish dog foods have chicken fat. So if your dog is allergic to chicken and you switch to a lamb or fish food with chicken fat in it, he is still going to have the same reaction.

After reading the ingredients, the next step is to look for a food that has completely different ingredients then what you are feeding your dog. You might try going with a grain free dog food just to knock out all the grains at once. If you go grain free, remember to do a slow transition so your dog’s stools stay good. Not all dogs have a problem with grains, but they can be the source of allergies in dogs.

The next step is to change the meat and remember not to forget what kind of fat your old food had in it.  If your dog is now eating a food with rice in it, then buy a food with potatoes in it instead. When you introduce a new food to your dog, he may not like it. I personally, would take it back to the store for a refund and try something else that your dog does like. My one lab is picky and if I bring a new food in home and he doesn’t like it, I take it back for a refund.

Also, during the food transition, it would be a good idea to watch your dogs stools. If they get loose, back up a little on the new food for a day or two til they firm up. A little side note…if your dog’s stool does not firm up, take the food back for a refund. Most pet shops have no problem giving a refund if your dog does not tolerate the food.

I know most dogs love treats and I find it hard to not give my allergy dog treats. So, if I am feeding a lamb food, I buy treats that are 100% real lamb with no other ingredients in them. The cost might be higher but in the long run, a vet trip is worse. You could always buy meat from the store and bake it or dehydrate it for your dog. I’m sure your dog would love it! The key here is to feed the exact same meat for a treat that you are feeding in your dog’s food. With an allergy dog, the least amount of different ingredients, the better.

If you find a food that works and your dog’s allergies subside, you can start introducing new food. The best way to do this is to introduce one ingredient at a time to your dog. You should feed  that same ingredient for two weeks. If your dog does not start chewing, licking, etc. in that time, you can rule out that food as an allergen.

Just a note, chicken, beef, potatoes, grains and beans are potential allergens for dogs. I really don’t like to pinpoint any specific food because it really depends on your dogs system. Fish seems to be a pretty safe bet as long as you pay attention to the rest of the ingredients in the food.  If you do go with a fish food, please make sure the manufacturer doesn’t buy fish meal preserved with ethoxyquin. There are much safer fish meal preservatives that can be used.

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Owning A Dog With Allergies

If you own a dog with allergies, it can be quite frustrating for you and very uncomfortable for your dog. As they scratch, bite, lick and destroy their coats and skin completely. Hot spots begin to appear, their coats begin to fall out and they chew their bodies to the point of scabs, sores and a down right total mess! It is usually not a pretty site but in most cases can be managed without medication and long term steroid shots that can have a negative impact on your dog.

I have the pleasure of owning a Labrador Retriever with terrible allergies. Thank goodness my other lab is allergy free! There seems to be more dogs today then ever, that develop allergies. The first step I would recommend for any owner that has a dog in this condition is a quick trip to the vet for a steroid shot and antibiotics to temporarily stop the itching and heal any raw spots that have developed. This will buy you some time temporarily, to regroup and begin to look for a solution. All the while, making your dog a lot more comfortable while you are doing so. Please know, I am definitely not an advocate of steroid shots for dogs, by any means. But in this case, my main concern would be getting your dog to immediately stop chewing himself/herself raw and stopping any infection from progressing.

Fleas are a huge allergen for dogs. If you haven’t already, go to the nearest pet shop and buy a flea comb. They are cheap, usually around a dollar, and comb through your dog checking for to see if any fleas or flea feces are in the comb. You will know if you find flea feces as it is little dark specks that bleed red when you get it wet on a paper towel. There is more information on how to eradicate fleas in your home and on your dog here.

The second largest allergy factor in my opinion is a food allergy. This allergy can be corrected in most cases without longtime medication or a life of vet visit after vet visit, for you and your dog. My oldest lab Slate, has terrible food allergies and after a long hard journey, I have been able to manage it without the use of any medication. There is no test that can accurately test a dog for food allergies. The only way to know for sure if your dog has food allergies, is by doing an elimination diet. If you would like more information on food allergies, please look here.

The third largest allergy factor is an environmental allergy. This one is the hardest to manage in my opinion, unless you can find exactly what item or items in your dogs environment is causing the reaction and remove it. An example would be…. anything new brought into your home that could possibly have triggered your dog to have an allergic reaction. 

The good news is, there are accurate tests your vet can administer to pinpoint what environmental factors are causing your dog to react. The bad news is if it is pollen, etc. you may be looking at long term allergy shots from the vet if nothing else works. There is also a very good possibility that certain supplements, etc. can greatly improve and manage your dog’s reaction to the point of not needing expensive vet visits. I will be adding a few articles in the future for  information on what supplements are available and how they may help you manage your dogs environmental allergies.

I hope this information helps make your life and your dog’s life a lot better so you both can get back to the important things in life like playing fetch!

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Housebreak Your Puppy In Record Time

Think like a dog and use the following tips to housebreak your puppy in record time. Understanding how your puppy thinks is the best aid for training.

Puppy’s bladders are very small and they are not fully developed. This makes it very hard for a puppy not to pee frequently. Add that to the fact they don’t understand exactly where it is they are supposed to pee, and you could end up with a wet floor (or worse) quite often! The key to housebreak your puppy is to take a very young puppy out every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes during waking hours. Also, right after your puppy eats and as soon as he wakes up, he will have to go outside.  When they are awake, puppies can only ”hold it” for about an hour for every month old they are. Which means you will be standing outside pretty often the first couple months. But in the long run, this is all well worth it!

When you take your puppy outside to pee, resist the urge to play with him right away. Instead, think of a word or two “make pee-pee” or something to the that nature and use it until your puppy pees. As soon as he pees, then it’s party time! A small treat works well along with pretending you are so excited and play with him for a few minutes. Even if it is 3 AM in the morning, play with him outside before you come in. The worse thing you can do is treat your pup and bring him right inside after he pees. He begins to associate peeing with a treat and “the fun is over” and starts holding his pee when he is outside. Instead, it is better for him to associate peeing with a treat and then playing when he “goes”.  I believe this is where a lot of folks make a mistake and they end up standing outside a lot longer then they really have to. Or, the puppy won’t pee when he is outside but pees as soon as he comes inside.

When your pup is inside, it is really important to watch for signs that he has to pee. Sniffing around, turning in circles, smelling the floor or walking over to a quiet spot. If he happens to start to pee when he is inside, pick him up while he’s peeing, take him outside and wait until he finishes. Try not to scare him or yell at him if he pees inside, they really do train very quickly if you are diligent about taking them outside. Peeing should a positive experience for your puppy as it makes training much easier. If he gets scared or yelled out, there is a good possibility that he will start sneaking off to pee so he does not get in trouble and he could also wind up being fearful or timid.

If you have a place on your floor where your pup has had an accident and have not already done so, there are products available to neutralize any remaining smell. You can purchase them at any pet shop and it’s a good idea to use one of them so your pup does not seek out his “spot” in the house.

These first few months will pass very quickly and your puppy will grow very fast, enjoy the puppy stage while you can! It will pay off as you will have a dedicated friend for years to come.

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