Monday, November 19, 2012

Winter Care Tips for Your Canine

 General Concerns
As winter approaches please keep the following precautions in mind:
  • Monitor your dogs when they are outside, don’t leave them out in the cold for long periods of time. Wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Be aware of your dog’s body temperature, and limit its time outdoors.
  • Provide adequate shelter for your dogs. Keeping your dog warm, dry, and away from drafts. Be aware that tiled and uncarpeted areas in your home may become very cold, so if your dog frequents these areas of your home be sure to place blankets or pads on the floors in these areas. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings when walking or playing outside around frozen rivers, lakes or ponds.  Your dog could slip or jump in and be seriously injured. Or worse.
  • Regular grooming is equally essential during cold winter months.  A well-groomed coat provides better insulation to your dog.  Dogs with short or coarse hair may be more susceptible to the cold, so please consider providing a coat or sweater for them. Dogs with long hair should have the tufts of hair around their toes and pads trimmed to help eliminate snow from accumulating.If you are trimming your own dog, take extra care not to cut the pads or toes. 
  • You may need to increase your dogs calorie intake if it spends a lot of time outdoors.  More energy is required to keep your dogs body temperature regulated so more calories may be necessary to keep them in good body condition.
  • It is important to dry your dog if it gets wet from rain or snow.  Remember to clean and dry its paws too!  Applying a little petroleum jelly or Bag Balm is beneficial to pad health and can help prevent cracking.
  • Leaving a dog alone an a car during cold winter months can be dangerous as well,  
Health Tips
Be aware of the following hazards during winter months:. 
  • Anti-freeze/Engine Coolant can be lethal to your dog.  Dogs often like the smell and taste of Antifreeze/coolant which often collects on driveways and roads.
  • Rock salt, used to melt ice on sidewalks, may irritate foot pads  Be sure to rinse and dry your dog’s feet after a walk.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water. Your dog is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer. Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water.
  • Frostbite is your dog’s winter hazard. To prevent frostbite on its ears, tail and feet, don’t leave your dog outdoors for too long.
  • Be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces and portable heaters can severely burn your dog. Make sure all fireplaces have screens, and keep portable heaters out of reach.
  • Like people, dogs seem to be more susceptible to illness in the winter. Take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms.
  • Don’t use over-the-counter medications on your dog without consulting a veterinarian.
Holiday Safeguards
The winter season brings lots of fun holiday festivities, but pet-owners should keep in mind the following special precautions:
  • The holidays are not ideal for introducing a pet into your family. New puppies and dogs require extra attention and a stable environment, which the holiday season doesn’t permit. Also, a puppy is not a toy or gift that can be returned. Instead, the AKC suggests giving a gift representative of the dog to come, such as a toy, a leash, or a bed.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are pet poisons! Make sure they are kept in places your dog cannot reach.
  • Review holiday gifts for dogs to make sure they are safe. Items such as plastic toys and small rawhide sticks may be dangerous.
  • Remove holiday lights from lower branches of your tree. They may get very hot and burn dogs.
  • Watch out for electrical cords. Pets often try to chew them and may get badly shocked or electrocuted. Place wires out of reach.
  • Avoid using glass ornaments. They break easily and may cut a dog’s feet and mouth.
  • Refrain from using edible ornaments. Your dog may knock the tree over in an attempt to eat them. Also, commercial ornaments may contain paint or toxins in the preservatives.
  • Whether your tree is live or artificial, both kinds of needles are sharp and indigestible. Don’t leave your dog unattended in the room with the tree.
  • Tinsel is dangerous for dogs. It may obstruct circulation and, if swallowed, block the intestines.
  • Alcohol and chocolate are toxic for dogs, even in small amounts. Keep unhealthy, sweet treats and seasonal goodies out of reach.
  • The holiday season is a stressful time for dogs. Try to keep a normal schedule during all the excitement.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Home Made Chicken Jerky and Sweet Potato Dog Treats

After reading post after post and all the ongoing articles on the dangers of these treats that are manufactured in China, I decided to write a brief post on making these delicious for our pets.

It is exceedingly easy to make these treats at home and it is cheaper.  There are two methods that you can employ; first, a dehydrator (which can be purchased relatively inexpensively); second, conventional oven.  I will explain both methods.

Food Dehydrator:
What you will need:

  • Raw sweet potato/yams
  • Thinly sliced chicken
Wash and dry the meat and sweet potato.  You won't need to worry about spices or flavoring since this is for dog treats.  To save yourself some time and to keep the slices uniform use a mandolin slicer to slice the sweet potatoes 1/4" thick.  Then slice the chicken and cut into manageable pieces. Once the trays for the dehydrator are filled just plug it in and wait.  About 12 hours for many machines but times vary depending on your machine.  

Conventional Oven:
What you will need:

  • Sweet Potato/Yams
  • Ripe bananas
  • Thinly sliced chicken or turkey
  • Cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper 
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Slice yams and bananas 1/4" thick.  Place the slices in rows on the cookie sheets and bake at 250 degrees for 3-4 hours for "chewy" treats and 5-6 hours for crunchy.  Turn the pieces about halfway through cooking time. 
For the chicken or turkey cut them into thin 1/4 in slices, ( baste in olive oil to prevent sticking to cookie sheets) place the slices evenly on the cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for 3-4 hours.

The treats will keep for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator so keep this in mind when preparing. They also freeze well for long term storage.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Journey of Love and More

When you bring a pet into your life, you begin a journey - a journey that will bring you more love and devotion than you have ever known, yet also test your strength and courage.  If you allow, the journey will teach you many things, about life, about yourself, and most of all, about love.  You will come away changed forever, for one soul cannot touch another without leaving its mark.  Along the way, you will learn much about savoring life's simple pleasures - jumping leaves, snoozing in the sun, the joys of puddles, and even a satisfying  scratch behind the ears.  Your house will become muddier and hairier.  You will wear less dark clothing and buy more lint rollers.  You may find dog biscuits in your pocket or purse, and feel the need to explain that an old plastic shopping bag adorns your living room rug because your cat loves the crinkly sound.  You will learn the true measure of love - the steadfast, undying kind that says,  "It doesn't matter where we are or what we do, or how life treats us as long as we are together."   Respect this always.  It is the most precious gift any living soul can give another.  You will not find it often among the human race. And you will learn humility.  The look in my dog's eyes often made me feel ashamed.  Such joy and love at my presence.  She saw not some flawed human who could be cross and stubborn, moody or rude, but only her wonderful companion.  Or, maybe she saw those things and dismissed them as mere human foibles, not worth considering, and so chose to love me anyway.  If you pay attention and learn well, after the journey, you will be not just a better person, but the person your pet always knew you were - the one they were proud to call beloved friend.  I must caution you that this journey is not without pain.  Like all paths of true love, the pain is part of loving.  For as surely as the sun sets, one day your dear animal companion will follow a trail you cannot yet go down.  And you will have to find the strength and love to let them go.  A pet's time on earth is far too short - especially for those that love them.  We borrow them, really, just for a while, and during these brief years they are generous enough to give us all their love, every inch of their spirit and heart, until one day there is nothing left.  The cat that only yesterday was a kitten is all too soon old and frail and sleeping in the sun.  The young pup of boundless energy wakes up stiff and lame, the muzzle now gray.  Deep down we somehow always knew that this journey would end.  We knew that if we gave our hearts they would be broken.  But give them we must for it is all they ask in return.  When the time comes, and the road curves ahead to a place we cannot see, we give one last gift and let them run on ahead - young and whole once more.  "Godspeed, good friend,"  we say, until our journey comes full circle and our paths cross again.