Nutritious Foods: A Dogs’s Delight

The ability to purchase nutritious foods for your dog seems to be getting slimmer with each dog food recall and company buyout that is taking place so frequently these days. To top it off, manufacturers are changing ingredients as often as people change their shoes.  What’s really sad is if a manufacturer changes ingredients, they have six months to list the new ingredients on the bag. By then, you went to the vet how many times? And spent how much money trying to find out the reason your dog now has diarrhea? That law is outrageous and needs to be changed. We as consumers, deserve to know what is in our dog’s food today, not six months from now.

The quality of the dog food is also a concern for many consumers. Finding a good dog food, seems to be getting harder and harder. All of the food that you find in grocery stores is pretty low quality food. Dogs are meat eaters and the meat content is just not there. You can normally tell what type of food a dog is eating by looking at their coats. Most of them will have dull coats and dry, flaky skin. If you take a dog with a coat like that and change to a nutritious food, you should see a 100% change in their coats in a fairly short time. Also, most of those manufacturers use fish meal preserved with ethoxyquin which conveniently does not have to be listed on the bag.  

The larger chain pet shops have a couple foods that would be considered acceptable. If you are lucky enough to have a good feed store or a smaller pet shop in your area, they are probably the safer bet to find a better quality food. But I would highly advise that you research the food before you buy it. If you have questions, the manufacturer should be able to answer them. Whether they answer them honestly or not, is another story. 

I recommend going to  http://www.dogfoodanalysis.com/.  It is very easy site to navigate and has great in depth reviews of hundreds of dry dog foods. When my oldest dog developed allergies, I spent hours on this site reading ingredients and reviews.

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Flea Allergy: Treat Your House And Dog

Fleas moved into my house this year and since one of my dogs has a flea allergy, my dogs were not happy campers. Actually, I wasn’t too crazy about the idea either. Once fleas get into your house, you now have double trouble. Fleas only spend about 20% of their time on your dog, the rest of time they are in your carpet. You not only have to treat your dog but you have to treat the house as well. Or figure out some other option that will kill the fleas on your dog and stop any newly hatched fleas from reproducing. If you don’t, you will have one continuous flea infestation in your house. 

Fleas are a huge allergen for dogs. When a flea bites a dog, it injects saliva into the dog. If the dog happens to be allergic to that saliva, the inevitable will happen. The dog will scratch and bite to the point of destruction. This is called flea allergy dermatitis. So it is imperative that you get control of the infestation quickly. They multiply quickly and the infestation will progress rapidly. It is a good idea to vacuum daily to remove as many fleas as possible. Remember to empty the vacuum bag outside in another bag and tie it shut so the fleas are contained and out of your house.

There are numerous options available for your house such as a professional pest control company, flea bombs, boric acid, borax or diatomaceous earth (food grade only). I’m not a big fan of the latter three because I don’t feel that you can vacuum it completely out of your carpet. And I worry about my dogs inhaling the powder every time someone walks across the carpet and kicks up dust.

With a professional, you have the option to call him back for 30-90 days so be sure to ask the company about their policy. With bombs, you will still have eggs hatching.  The downside of both of those options is you will have to remove all your animals from your house for a minimum of 4 hours every time. 

There are numerous topical and oral flea products available to use on your dog. I am going to through my two cents in here….. If you are going to use an oral flea product, please research the side effects well, before you administer it to your dog.

My protocol to eradicate the fleas I had was to dump the new flea and tick topical I was using, return to my old flea only topical that I knew worked. Since the fleas were already in my house, I added an oral growth inhibitor that can be given in conjunction with a topical. And I gave each dog a capstar every other day or so for the first 2 weeks, to be sure all the adult fleas were dead and off my dogs. Worked like a charm!

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Clipping Black Toenails, One Paw At A Time

Clipping black toenails on a dog can be a challenge due to the quick being completely hidden  inside the nail.  Trimming dog nails is easier if you are lucky enough to have a dog with light toenails. The quick is readily visible running right through the nail. With black toenails on the other hand, things get a little trickier. You look at their nail and all you see is a long, black nail. That fact alone, makes some people unsure of just how to go about trimming them. Believe me, I’m not crazy about cutting black nails either!

The last thing you want to do is cut into the quick. It bleeds like crazy and is very painful for your dog. Add that to the fact that nail trimming events will probably be a nightmare from that point on. The method I use, is to wait until my dogs are tired so they are nice and relaxed. I will either cut them all at once or if they start to play around, I’ll cut some and finish the rest the next night. I try to keep the nail trimming events as low key as possible.

You can see the quick on black nails by looking at the nail from the bottom. Take a paw and either bend their leg so you can see the paw pad or catch them when they are laying down on their side (my method). Look from the bottom or paw pad side on black nails. The nail is open underneath. Where the nail first begins at the toe, it is closed. As the nail extends, the closed part ends and the nail opens up. Where the nail first opens, you will see what looks like a sort of filler in the nail right where the nail opens. Do not cut that because that is where the quick ends. Instead, cut off what is hanging past that filler. Make sure you grab your dogs paw firm so he doesn’t jerk or move his paw before you cut. I believe with this method, you have a pretty slim chance of cutting the quick.

It would probably be a good idea to have a tube of styptic powder to stop the bleeding just in case. You should be able to buy a tube any pet shop and if not, check your local men’s barber shop.  In a pinch, I believe you can use corn starch.

I prefer the type of trimmer that has a scissor like cutter on it. This allows me to snip any sharp edges off very easily. But the type of clipper you use is just personal preference. Happy cutting!

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Shelter Dogs Waiting Patiently To Be Loved

There are millions of shelter dogs waiting patiently to be loved in every corner of this country. Many of these dogs (and cats) belonged to owners that treated them poorly or worse. Some were downright abused. These are innocent animals hoping to get a second chance with a loving forever family.

One of the best dogs I’ve ever owned was an abused lab mix. When I got her, she was a year old and did not trust anyone. It was clear she was abused but I could see the love deep inside her eyes. It took close to a year before she fully trusted me, but it was well worth it. To this day, I’ve never had a dog quite like her. She was a gem.

Most shelter dogs know what it is like to be mistreated and abused, yet they are still capable of giving unconditional love. Once you win their trust, they love you like no other. I would highly recommend that you check out your local shelters and rescues. There is just about every breed you can think of in the shelters, including plenty of purebred dogs. Every time a dog is adopted, another dog’s life is saved.

According to the ASPCA, approximately 3-4 million pets are euthanized each year. And of those numbers, 60% are dogs and 70% are cats. The numbers are staggering, to say the least. It is hard to believe that we put down so many pets each year. Most of these animals never had a chance in the first place. They had owners that couldn’t care less less about them.

If you have never been to a shelter, please take the time to stop by the next time you are in the market for a dog or cat. You can also check “petfinder” for shelter and rescue dogs in your surrounding area. I doubt you will regret it! You will have a wonderful companion for years to come.

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Dogs Licking Paws: Symptom Of Allergies

Did you know that dogs licking paws is usually a symptom of allergies? If you own a dog that is licking his paws continuously, chances are your dog has allergies. Owning a dog with allergies 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. If he eats a food that triggers an allergic reaction,  chewing feet becomes his new pass time. 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, while making your dog a lot more comfortable while you are doing so. Please know, I am not a 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 allergy factor in 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 erradicate 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.

First off, there is no test that can accurately test a dog for food allergies. I’m am writing an entire article on food allergies in this site. If you are interested, please look for that article under allergies, food allergies.

The third allergy that affects dogs is an environmental allergy. This allergy 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 that out of your dogs environment. An example would be…. anything new brought into your home before your dog started showing allergy symptoms that could possible have triggered 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. Please check this site under allergies, allergy supplements, for more information on what is available and how they can help you manage your dogs environmental allergies.

I hope this information helps make your life and your dogs life a lot better so you both can back to the important things in life like playing fetch! Thanks for reading!

Helen

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