Shopping For Pet Food – Checklist

1.  When selecting a commercial food for your animal companion, make sure the label has an “AAFCO guarantee,” preferably one that references “feeding tests” or “feeding protocols” rather than Nutrient Profiles.

2.  Never buy a food containing “by-product meal” or “meat and bone meal.” These rendered products are the most inexpensive sources of animal protein. The contents and quality of these meals can vary tremendously from batch to batch, and are not a reliable source of nutrition for your animal.

3.  In general, avoid foods that rely on by-products as the sole source of animal protein. By-products consist of organs and parts either not desired, or condemned, for human consumption. An occasional can of by-product-based food may be okay, since, in the wild, carnivores do consume the whole prey including the organs, but these foods are not acceptable as a steady diet.

4.  Look for a named meat or meal (“lamb” or “chicken meal,” for example, instead of the generic term “meat”) as the first ingredient.

5.  Avoid generic or store brands. These may be repackaged rejects from the big manufacturers, and generally contain cheaper – and consequently poorer quality – ingredients.

6.  Unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian, avoid “light,” “senior,” “special formula,” or “hairball formula” foods. These foods may contain acidifying agents, excessive fiber, or inadequate fats that can result in skin, coat and other problems.

7.  In general, select brands promoted to be “natural.”.  Several brands are now preserved with Vitamins C and E instead of chemical preservatives (such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and propyl gallate). While synthetic preservatives may still be present, the amounts will be less.

8.  Check the expiration date to ensure freshness.

9.  When you open a bag of dry food, give it a sniff – if there is any rancid odor at all, return it immediately for an exchange or refund.

10.  Store dry pet food in a sealed non-porous container (a large popcorn tin is ideal) in a cool, dry place. Canned food is best removed from the can and refrigerated in a glass or ceramic container.

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Healthy Green Veggies for your Dog

Greens are very important for a dog’s long term health, but this critical component of canine nutrition is neglected by many mainstream veterinarians and commercial food manufacturers.

1.  KALE – Contains a highly absorbable form of calcium essential for healthy bones and teeth.  The dark green leaf is also loaded with beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, which can prevent cataracts later in life.

2. CHARD – Swiss chard is loaded with carotenoid antioxidants.  Chard also contains an ideal balance of potassium and sodium for regulating and animal’s electrolyte balance.

3. COLLARD GREENS – Contain unique nutrients that support immunity and protect against cancer

4. TURNIP GREENS – Among leafy vegetables, turnip greens are on of the best sources of vitamin K, which enables recover from wounds and scratches

5. ROMAINE LETTUCE – An excellent source of vitamin C and beta carotene.  Like many other dark greens, it contains potent anticancer compounds

6. SEAWEEDS – Ocean vegetables like nori, kelp and spirulina make nutritious treats for animals.  Minerals in seaweed can support thyroid function and electrolyte balance.

7. GRASSES - These live nutritious plants can satisfy the cat who constantly nibbles houseplants, or the dog who habitually grazes on pesticide-ridden lawns.

8. SPINACH – One of the few excellent plant based sources of iron.  It also contains calcium, B vitamins, lutein, magnesium, and other important vitamins and minerals.

9. ARUGULA - This delicious salad green is rich in magnesium and potassium, and has a bold, peppery taste that many animals love.

* Please always remember to properly clean all of your vegetables to remove any pesticides or dirt.

Spinach

Kale

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Creating a Toxin Free Home For Your Dog

One of the keys to a healthy dog or cat is minimizing his exposure to chemicals and other toxins. That’s hard to do in today’s world, where our soil, water and air are mostly all polluted to some degree. Aside from keeping your companion in a plastic bubble, what can you do to protect him? Quite a lot, as it turns out.  Consider the environment both inside and outside your home and all the possible toxins that your companion can be exposed to.    We can help you to create a much safe environment.

Indoor toxins range from houseplants and some human foods to cleaning products and pharmaceuticals. Be sure to keep all toxic items out of your animal’s reach. Poisonous houseplants should either be discarded or given away, or placed in an inaccessible area. Medications should be kept in locked cabinets and household cleaners replaced with safer alternatives.

Poisonous plants and flowers

(Amaryllis, Crocus, Buttercup, Calla Lily, Christmas Rose, Chrysanthemum, Daffodil Bulbs, Easter Lily, Foxglove, Hyacinth Bulbs, Iris Roots, Jessamine, Morning Glory, Peony, Periwinkle, Primrose, Tulip Bulbs)

Protect your companion by replacing poisonous plants with these non-toxic varieties:

( African violet, Wandering Jew, Peperonias, Jade Plant, and Christmas Cactus)

Medications

Any medication can be poisonous. Make sure all pills are kept in a secure cabinet or on a high shelf a cat can’t reach. Even medications prescribed by your veteri-narian can be harmful if you don’t following dosing instructions.

These include:

• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

• Heartworm preventatives

• De-wormers

• Antibiotics

Never give the following human medications to your dog or cat:

• Tylenol

• Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc)

• All prescription drugs

Non-toxic human medications include aspirin, Pepto Bismol, kaopectate, Imodium AD and Pepcid AC – however, even these are not meant to be given to a dog or cat on a regular basis and should be administered according to a veterinarian’s dosing instructions.

Household cleaning

Animals not only get ill by ingesting poisons, but by absorbing them through their noses or skin. Some of these toxins include chemical cleaning products, insecticides, fertilizers and many commercial flea controls.

Toxic household cleaners can be replaced with baking soda, Borax (sodium borate), lemon, white vinegar and cornstarch. Corn meal and Epsom salts can be used in place of lawn and plant fertilizers. Make sure to keep any rodent poisons away from your animal, and don’t spray for insects near his favorite hangouts.

To  help rid your pet of any toxins he may have been exposed to on his walk wipe his or her paws off afterwards with a wash cloth.  My puppy is constantly putting her paws in her mouth  so I always make sure to keep them clean.

Beyond your control?

You can’t completely shield your companion from contaminants found in our air and water, but there are steps you can take to enhance his safety.

Air pollution protection

1. Keep your dog or cat inside on bad air days.

2. Use an indoor air filter.

3. Avoid strenuous exercise on really hot days.

4. Don’t use your fireplace on bad air days.

Water contamination protection

1. Invest in a water purifier.

2. Don’t let your animal drink from lakes, streams, creeks or puddles.

3. Always carry bottled water on hikes.

4. Keep water bowls clean.

You may not be able to keep an eye on your companion 24/7, but you can protect his safety and health by keeping all potential toxins stored out of reach inside the house (and your garage!), and reducing his exposure to environmental toxins in the world at large.

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Safe Foods for Your Dog to Eat

Here are some safe food options that you can find readily in your kitchen and share with your dog.

Lean Meats

Most dogs are fine eating lean cuts of meat that have been thoroughly cooked.  Be sure to remove all visible fat – including the skin on poultry.  Also be sure that there are no bones in the meat before you give it to your dog.

Some Fresh Fruits

Slices of apples, oranges, bananas, and watermelon make tasty treats for your dog.  Be sure to remove any seeds first.  Seeds, stems, and leaves can cause serious problems.

Some Vegetables

Your dog can have a healthy snack of carrot sticks, green beans, cucumber slices, or zucchini slices.  Even a plain baked potato is OK.   Be sure, though, not to let your dog eat any raw potatoes or any potato plants it might have access to in your garden.

Cooked White Rice and Pasta

Dogs may enjoy plain white rice or pasta after it’s cooked.  And, a serving of plain white rice with some boiled chicken can sometimes provide welcome relief from gastrointestinal upset.

A healthy and natural diet that consists of  high grade kibble (no wheat, corn or soy), some raw, and some cooked foods is an excellent way to give your dog the best nutrition.  If you are considering going raw then I would consult your vet first and consider your pets current health.

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Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

1.  Avocado

2.  Onions

3.  Coffee, Tea and other Caffeine

4.  Milk and Other Dairy Products

5.  Macadamia Nuts

6.  Candy and Gum

7.  Chocolate

8.  Fat Trimmings and Bones

9.  Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums

10. Raw Eggs

11.  Sugar Foods and Drinks

12.  Yeast Dough

13.  Your Medicine

14.  Kitchen Pantry – NO DOGS ALLOWED – (Remember to keep food items and anything that you don’t want your dog to get into high enough to be out of his reach.)

Dogs explore with their mouths and are always looking to see what’s on the floor.  No matter how cautious you are, it’s possible your dog can find and swallow what it shouldn’t.  Always keep the number of your local vet, closest emergency clinic and ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 888.426.4435 where you know you can find it in an emergency.  I would also leave a note of these items and the above contact numbers with your dog sister or any family friend that may be watching your dog while you are gone.  Never assume that they know.

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Five Fido Facts on Dental Health

The one thing about dogs is that they are your very best friend showing you unconditional love.  Every time you walk through the door and come home your dog is so happy to see you that he wags his tail and virtually smiles at you.  How can you give back to your companion that unconditional love that they give you.  Well one way is by a healthy natural diet and to think about that smile.  Did you know that your dog’s diet can influence their oral health and teeth?

Dental Health for Your Dog

Gently lift up your dog’s lips and take a peek at the teeth and gums. If those pearly whites seem more yellow than white and if the gums are swollen you’re looking at plaque and tartar build up. Bacteria and plaque can build up on teeth causing bad breath and gingivitis. If left undetected it can build up in your pet’s blood stream and cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Check your pet’s breath often too. It shouldn’t smell like a bed of roses, but if it has a noticeably strong odor, there could be a problem.

Many dogs show the signs of gum disease by the time they reach the age of four if they aren’t provided with the correct care.  Dry, crunch food should be eaten daily to keep teeth strong and clean.

The good news is that oral diseases are entirely preventable! Regular dental exams and veterinary visits are a must.  Giving your dog a biscuit or dental treat daily is a great way for your dog to get the tartar off and brush his teeth!

Quick tips for brushing your dog’s teeth!

1. Acclimate your dog to the feeling of having their teeth and gums touched. Massage the lips, teeth and gums in gentle circles with your finger for 20 seconds at a time, just a few times a week before introducing the toothbrush.

2. Purchase a toothbrush made especially for dogs that is smaller and has softer bristles than a human toothbrush. Another money-saving option is to wrap a clean piece of gauze around your finger, which allows for a great gum massage.

A Happy Healthy Dog Smile

3. See your vet for a toothpaste for dogs or make your own paste out of baking soda and water. Never use human toothpaste on a dog.

4. Place either the brush or your gauze wrapped finger at a 45 degree angle and brush in small circles, cleaning one area of the mouth at a time. Shoot for a good teeth cleaning 2-3 times a week.

5. Many veterinarians and groomers offer teeth cleaning services if you feel that you’re not up to the challenge yourself!

Note: Also look into non anesthetic dog teeth cleaning at a local groomer or dog boutique near you.

(Always check with your vet about your dog’s dental health and before brushing your own dog’s teeth!)

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