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Dr. Becker Shares Her Updated List of Best and Worst Pet Foods
Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, discusses all about neutering or spaying in pets.
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Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits.
Toys are essential for your dog’s well-being and choosing the right and safe toys can sometimes be challenging, especially with so many toys on the market.
Safety standards for dog playthings should approach those for a two-year-old-child, which will influence your decisions along with other factors like your dog’s age and the toy’s size, material, and type.
Young dogs are not only aggressive chewers, but they also are usually indiscriminate feeders. They explore everything with their mouths and swallow much of anything that ends up there.
All dogs can be prone to eat a foreign body (anything inedible), but puppies under six to eight months of age and particular breeds are especially vulnerable.
If you have a dog who will eat anything and everything, be especially careful about squeaky toys as your dog will try to remove the squeaker and perhaps swallow it. You should also be careful about small parts like glass eyes and metal buttons because your dog may accidentally swallow or choke on them.
Young dogs are rough on toys but may require soft playthings when they are teething and have sore gums. Consider teething rings and similar toys for puppies at four weeks old and again between the ages of four and seven months.
According to Pupbox.com, dogs often go through their most aggressive chewing phase well past teething, from 8 to 24 months. Chewing is an important part of a pup’s social development but may be prolonged in large breeds like Siberian Huskies and Labrador Retrievers.
Giant breeds over seven years old and other dogs over the age of ten years may have other problems like broken or worn teeth and they can benefit from softer toys.
Any toy you choose should be appropriate for your dog’s size. Small dogs can handle toys that may pose a choking hazard for giant breeds. In contrast, you will see playing ball toys that are too heavy or too large for puppies or toy breeds to carry or grasp.
Your dog’s size may also be a factor in the longevity of a particular toy. Although activity level can play a significant role in how long a toy will last, large dogs will typically destroy stuffed animals and other soft playthings quickly because of their strength.
Moreover, large dogs mature at a slower rate than small breeds. Combining additional size and weight with a long puppyhood is rough on toys, meaning more vigilant supervision on your part. Broken toys and torn stuffing can mean hazardous parts for your dog to eat.
The two most important considerations for dog toy materials are durability and safety. Another crucial concern is washability.
Aggressive chewers require toys constructed with tough, hard materials. A few of the longest-lasting materials are rubber, rope, and nylon. Manufacturers of rope toys usually knit strands together, providing a significant increase in strength even though dogs still have the benefits of softness.
Plastic toys should be free of known toxic compounds like BPA and Phthalates. Also, check all sources of toys. Lead is still permissible in paint in a few countries.
If you have a powerful chewer, you need to keep a close eye on his interaction with toys. If your dog breaks a rubber toy and ingests one of the pieces, he could end up with an obstruction in his small intestine. As rope frays, the strings can also turn into a blockage if your dog eats enough of them.
Keeping reasonably sanitary conditions involves regularly cleaning your pet’s toys. Plastic and nonporous rubber materials are easy to wipe off, sanitize with sprays, or even put through the dishwasher. Nylon and fleece usually do well in the washing machine. Check toys for removable covers that are washable. From time to time, you may have to dispose of toys because you cannot remove stains or soiling.
Never underestimate your dog’s preference for certain toy types. Also, become knowledgeable about what the different toys can provide for your dog. Try to find a balance between how your dog enjoys playing and what you feel he needs.
For example, toys often can enhance training, and you should take every opportunity to make your pet’s education fun and interesting for him. In other cases, you may find your dog obtains comfort from a toy.
Training toys are ideal for dogs who are not very food-motivated. Shutzhund emphasizes the toy incentive in their guidelines regarding drive training. After a series of small treat rewards, a dog in drive training would get a play session with his favorite toy for a big job well done.
While Shutzhund builds a dog’s drive, you can also use some of its features to teach your dog how to play with toys and build interest in apathetic canines.
Training toys must be able to capture your dog’s attention and motivate him to learn and try to please you. In addition to helping with obedience training, toys can assist with getting dogs comfortable with entering a crate or an uncomfortable situation, relieving anxiety, and distracting from undesirable behaviors like biting.
A treat-dispensing toy should pass a few criteria before you deem it suitable for your dog. Your dog should have to work to get a treat out of a toy. If the holes are so big that the tidbits just drop out or your pet can simply crack the dispenser open, the toy is useless.
Treat-dispensing toys are great for a couple of options. They can provide a couple of hours or more of mental stimulation for your dog. Treat dispensers are also an excellent means to feed dogs who wolf down their food too fast.
You can find treat-dispensing toys in a variety of forms.
Many toys can serve as interactive devices. With interactive toys, either you engage with your dog via the apparatus or your pet interacts directly with the object.
Generally, balls and ropes are examples of toys that are interactive between you and your dog. However, there are also electronic dog toys like self-fetching machines and robotic balls.
Some interactive toys are so sophisticated they can learn movements and sounds that stimulate your dog’s interest and encourage him to interact with it. Many of these toys allow you to monitor them remotely.
Toys do not always have to be interactive to provide self-amusement for your dog. Have you ever seen a dog toss a rag doll in the air repeatedly and then pounce on it? What about dogs who play ball alone if no one is available? Many dog toys can fit into the self-amusement categories depending on what your dog likes.
In addition to the interactive and machinated wobble bars and vibrating spheres, you can also choose from tug balls, foraging mats, and puzzle games that do not require your participation.
Tug-of-war toys affix a ball by a rope to a stationary pole, similar to tetherball, and your dog pulls on it. Foraging or snuffle mats enable your dog to indulge in his favorite sense, smell. He can pretend to be at the dog park all day.
When you think of comfort toys for dogs, you may immediately imagine a stuffed teddy bear or colorful parrot. However, a comfort toy can be anything that consistently gives your pet a sense of calm.
If your dog plays vigorously with a tennis ball all day but then takes it with him to his dog bed or kennel to sleep, it is both an interactive and a comfort toy. Dogs like terriers and working dogs often treat comfort toys like pals, beating them up during the day and snuggling with them when resting. Hairless and toy breeds commonly use plush animals for comfort and warmth.
Puppies may use a comfort toy as a pacifier, even if it is not a teething ring. Comfort toys potentially wear out quickly, so always keep an eye out for a replacement. Size is important for comfort toys. If your dog likes to simply cuddle, an oversized stuffed animal is appropriate. If your pup likes to carry his toy around, you need to ensure it is of a manageable size.
Toys never take the place of your presence with your dog. Always supervise your pet with a new toy to make sure the interaction is safe. Once you are comfortable, do not leave your dog unsupervised, especially for longer periods of time.
Choosing the perfect toy is easier with the above criteria, but you may still need to experiment to find which toy best suits your pet..
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7 Fall Hazards All Pet Parents Should Be Aware Of
Proud Dog Mom
Along with the beauty of fall comes some potential fall hazards that all pet parents should be aware of. Find out the top 7 things to watch for.
Fall—it’s here and beautiful as ever. The foliage is changing, the air is getting crisper, days are shorter, and the festive feelings of Halloween and Thanksgiving are in the air. But, along with the beauty of the season come some potential fall hazards that all pet parents should be aware of.
As the days are getting shorter and cooler, mother nature’s little outdoor critters will begin looking for some temporary fall and winter housing to call home. Mice and rats are notorious for trying to get inside garages, basements, attics, and sheds as they search for a cozy place to call home. To avoid unwanted little tenants, many households put out rodent poisons. If you use these poisons anywhere in your home, make sure to keep them hidden and far out of the reach of your canine kids. These chemical formulas are toxic and potentially deadly for your pooch.
Mushrooms have a habit of popping up around this time of the year. While not all mushrooms are poisonous, it can be hard to tell which ones are safe. For this reason, it’s best to consider all mushrooms growing in your yard or out in nature poisonous for Fido. If you see mushrooms growing in your yard, pick them from the root and throw them out. Scan your yard for them frequently as mushrooms seem to pop up overnight.
If your pooch does munch on a mushroom, call your vet immediately. Mild toxicity can cause gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting and diarrhea. Severe toxicity can cause neurological, kidney, and liver damage, or even death depending on what type of mushroom was eaten.
Who else loves seeing the various colored mums in fall? While they may be pretty, pet parents beware! These flowers are toxic to your dog. If your pooch ingests any part of the chrysanthemum plant it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, unsteady uncoordinated movements, and skin rashes.
Any part of this plant is extremely toxic to your dog. It can cause multi-system organ damage to the lungs, stomach, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, weakness, seizures and even death.
Whether your kiddos will be coming home with a big bag of goodies this Halloween or you just have a big bowl of candy waiting by the door for the little ghosts and goblins to arrive – that candy can be a ticking time bomb for Fido. According to Pet Poison Helpline, “During the week of Halloween, calls to the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent, making it the call center’s busiest time of year.”
Remember: Chocolate is highly toxic and can be deadly to your pooch. Pet Poison Helpline writes, “The four most common food-related Halloween hazards for pets are chocolate, candy overindulgence, raisins, and candy wrappers.”
I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t love over-indulging in a Thanksgiving feast! And while tossing your pooch a few table scraps is tempting, it’s important to remember that the Thanksgiving table is filled with not-so-good-for-your-pooch foods.
In order to help keep your pup safe, it’s a good idea to ask your guests not to feed him anything from the table. Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are loaded with fats, onions, seasonings, and spices that can be harmful to a dog. If it makes you feel good to give your pooch a treat from the table then I recommend preparing something extra special for Fido to feast on. I’ve included a link to 4 easy pumpkin-based recipes that are bound to make your pup’s tail wag!
While your pooch probably loves to frolic in a big pile of fall leaves, did you know that there are lots of hidden hazards that might be lurking inside? Here are a few examples:
If your canine kid has had contact or ingested any of the items on this list call your veterinarian for help immediately. If your pooch has been exposed to something you’re not sure of and it’s not on this list, here is a link to the Pet Poison Helpline
Halloween is filled with spirited tricks and treats, can be either fun or frightening for your pets, but it’s important to keep safety in mind for every member of the family—including your pets. A little forethought and preparation can ensure that your pet family is safe during the Halloween festivities in your home and community.
Costumes, Parties and Parades
First and foremost, even if your pets are going to be wearing costumes, keep a well-fitting collar with ID tags on them at all times. Their costume shouldn’t interfere with their collar or harness and leash. Next, make sure their microchip information is up to date. Have you moved, changed your phone number or dropped your landline recently? If so, update your information with your microchip company to ensure that you will be reunited with your pets if they go missing.
Not all pets enjoy wearing a Halloween costume, so do a trial run first. Make sure nothing is obstructing their vision, hearing or breathing. Ensuring they won’t get overheated is essential. They should also be able to walk and potty normally without interference from the costume. Never leave a pet unattended in a costume (even for a minute!). Make sure there is nothing they can chew or ingest that could harm them. If they seem fearful or stressed it might be better to forego the costume or modify it so that they are more comfortable. Maybe opt for a Halloween-themed bandana instead!
Have a happy and safe Halloween!
Many vet offices are closed on the weekend. So, if your dog has any sort of a reaction or issue that needs immediate attention then your only real option is to run down to your local emergency vet office.
While you’re there, expect to pay a whole lot more than you normally would! I’ve had to go the emergency vet a few times – when living in Pennsylvania, Texas, and now South Carolina. It’s always an expensive trip. This last time, we paid once when we first arrived (their emergency room fee) and then again as we were leaving (for the vet’s time and the shots).
Another thing about the emergency vet: You don’t have any relationship with them. While the vet certainly treated Gigi with patience and care, I’m a creature of habit and would have preferred to see MY vet. My vet knows Gigi’s history and I just feel more comfortable there. Perhaps you’re the same way with your vet!
I get it – when you’re working at an office, sometimes evening appointments are the most convenient. It’s easier to sneak away. But, if you book vaccines or procedures late in the day and Fido winds up having a reaction when you get home, you probably won’t be able to reach your vet – because the office will more than likely be closed.
Chances are, if a holiday falls on a Wednesday then your vet’s office will be closed that Wednesday. So, treat that day as a Friday! It’s the same with 3-day holiday weekends.
To put it simply: Try not to schedule vaccines or surgeries when your vet’s office is going to be closed the next day!
For vaccines: Try to schedule your appointment early in the workweek (Mon-Wednesday) and early in the day. Of course, you’ll want to spend a little time with your dog after their shots, so you can keep an eye on them. If you can’t work from home that day, or take a half-day, ask a family member or friend if they can watch your dog for a few hours while you’re gone.
For Surgeries: Most vets already schedule their surgeries in the morning so the staff can monitor them as they wake up from anesthesia. Many vets offices also schedule surgeries on specific days of the week. My advice: Try your best to avoid Fridays and long holiday weekends!
Anyone who has had a mixed breed dog has likely wondered: Just what type of dog do I have?
Now, it may be possible to answer that question. Companies specializing in dog DNA testing are enticing owners who are curious about their mutt’s background. Owners may also decide to test so they can take the information to their veterinarians to discuss potential health issues about their dog’s breeds.
If you own a dog, you've heard this rule: 1 year for Fido equals 7 years for you. Turns out, the math isn't that simple. Dogs mature more quickly than we do early on. So the first year of your fuzzy friend’s life is equal to about 15 human years.
Step One: Find the Right Time
Brush your dog's teeth when she's calm and relaxed. Your goal: Set a routine. Working up to brushing daily is ideal. But if her mouth is healthy, even three days a week can make a difference. Without brushing, plaque can build up, putting your dog at risk for bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. It can also cause painful infection. Severe infection can spread, causing life-threatening conditions
Your pup isn’t a puppy anymore. He’s up for a game of fetch, but he might move a bit slower and tire out sooner. Your job now is to learn how to keep your senior citizen active but respect his aging body.
As they age, our dogs often suffer a decline in functioning. Their memory, their ability to learn, their awareness and their senses of sight and hearing can all deteriorate. This deterioration can cause disturbances in their sleep-wake cycles, making them restless at night but sleepy during the day.
Everything you need to know about dog nutrition, food that your dog can eat, other food that your dog should not eat, nutritious dog food ingredients, common allergens in food, healthy dog food and treat recipes, and what kind of supplements you should (and shouldn’t) include in your dog’s diet.
CRUNCHY HOMEMADE KIBBLE
by Dr. Marty Pets Team
This homemade dog food recipe is perfect if you’ve never cooked for your dog before. A homemade take on the traditional dog kibble, this recipe is also a nice introduction to “new” food for your dog.
In order to make Crunchy Homemade Kibble, you only need a few ingredients, which makes your shopping list easy to manage!
FDA Issues Public Safety Alert For Contaminated Raw Pet Food, Aunt Jeni’s Raw Dog Food Due to Salmon
In a public safety alert, the US Food and Drug Administration is cautioning pet owners not to feed their pets Aunt Jeni’s Home Made frozen raw pet food after samples
Worried about what toys are safe to give your pets this holiday season?
You're not alone.
In the wake of ConsumerAffairs.com's investigation that revealed some Chinese-made pet toys contained what a forensic toxicologist called elevated levels of lead and other toxins, dog and cat owners continue to search for safe alternatives.
The label on your pet food or treat may conceal a little lie – and this lie could cost your pet his health or even his life. There is something inherently wrong with most processed foods that pet owners are unaware of. The heating and processing that these foods undergo create a fundamental change that could have dangerous ramifications – it renders the food essentially dead. What goes into the food is not what comes out once it is heated, sterilized, irradiated and extruded and nearly all dog foods will not meet AAFCO standards once they are heated. As a consequence, the vitamins and minerals must be added back in for the food to pass AAFCO requirements.
Above is a label from what many people consider a high-end kibble. See those vitamins, minerals and long chemical names that are listed at the bottom?
Those very likely came from a premix and that premix was very likely manufactured overseas. If the premix is not added to the food, your dog would become ill and under-nourished from eating the nutritionally dead contents. If the premix is added to the food, you are relying on foreign safety standards and are essentially playing roulette with your dog’s or your cat’s health.