Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Kennel Cough


It seems that an outbreak of Kennel Cough has hit the Bozeman, MT area and has dog owners (and daycares) in quite the panic. Kennel cough is often called "Bordetalla" after the bacteria Bordetalla bronciseptica, which dogs can get vaccinated. BUT Kennel Cough, aka infectious tracheobronchitis, is actually a term for an infection in the trachea and bronchial tubes that can be caused by bacteria or virus. This infection is highly contagious and has an incubation period of about 5-10 days after exposure. It usually diminishes after the first 5 days, but can linger for up to 10-20 days. Infected dogs can remain contagious for up to 14 weeks even after symptoms disappear. The classic symptom of Kennel Cough is a forceful, persistent cough. Infected dogs may also exhibit sneezing, runny nose and eye discharge.

Luckily, here at Bark City, we have not had any cases of Kennel Cough in our daycare. We would like to keep it that way! In order to try our very best, we have taken the following measures:

1) Our facility is set up with 3 different air circulation systems (one for the standard side, one for the enrichment program, and one for the training room). We will not be letting dogs from the two different programs mix (standard will just stay with standard, enrichment will stay on that side and the training room we will be using as a quarantine room for possible coughing. Since this is an air born virus hopefully this will help eliminate the possibility of it spreading.
2) If your dog coughs even just once, your dog will be pulled out and put in the training room. You will be called and asked to please pick up your dog. Boarders, if no one is available to pick up your dog, they will stay in that room (and of course given potty breaks) for at least 24hrs. If they cough more than once they will need to see a vet and will need to stay in quarantine for the remainder of their stay.
3) We do spray down and disinfect all of our yards twice a day and disinfect all indoor space daily.
4) We will be offering complementary coconut oil or goats milk to all boarders if the owners wish. These two things  help support the immune system. We also sell these products and are adding a Bone Broth mix onto our shelves if you would like to purchase and take home with you. 😊

5) We are diffusing a mixture of Canine safe essential oils that are known to help support the respiratory tract.
6) Employees will be disinfecting hands and feet if dealing with a coughing dog before handling another dog.


What you can do:
1) If your dog coughs (even just once) please keep it away from all dogs for at least 24hrs to make sure it doesn't turn into something more.
2) If your dogs develops a cough call your vet asap and follow their instructions.
3) Stay away from all dog parks and dog populated areas that you are not sure if there has been a coughing dog there or not.
4) Call and report any coughing to us or the facility your dog stayed at so they can watch the other dogs in their care.
5) Let us know if your dog stayed at another facility so we know if it has been exposed to the virus or not.
 

Please remember, boarding and daycare facilities are not the only place that your dog can get a virus (neighbor dogs, friends dogs, dog walking on the street, dog parks, pet sitters, hiking trails ect). If your dog gets sick, keep them away from all dogs for at least 10 days after the last symptom showed and contact your vet to get the official "OK" before socializing your dog with other canines. For more information, you can follow the below links:


Monday, July 3, 2017

How Much Sleep Does a Puppy Need?


So you got a new puppy and for most of the day this little fur ball is the cutest thing in the world. But during particular times of day, your little wiggly butt turns into a beast of incessant barking and biting. Let's face it, those puppy teeth HURT. So what's up with that? Chances are, your puppy is tired and overstimulated. Puppies need A LOT of sleep, and I mean A LOT. Dog's sleep more than humans (lucky them), but a puppy needs more sleep than most people think. The younger the puppy, the more sleep they will need. A newborn puppy will sleep about 22 hours a day and use the rest of it's time for things like nursing. At 3-months, your puppy will need about 15-20 hours of sleep a day. This sleep is crucial for body development. Things like: building muscle, brain development and improving the immune system. If your puppy does not get enough sleep, you get a cranky, destructive teeth chomper that is at risk for infections and illness. NOT GOOD.

The problem is that, like human toddlers, puppy toddlers don't necessarily know when they should sleep. They want to play, play, play! It's your job, as the canine parent, to teach your puppy the appropriate sleep patterns.

How To Help Puppy Sleep:
  • Create a sleep friendly environment: A dog can hear 4x's the distance of a human and has 125-300 million scent glands compared to a human's measly 5 million. Nap time for a puppy should be quiet and dark with minimal noise. This may mean having puppy in a separate room from all the other household activity. Adjusting the light and noise is critical to making sure your puppy is getting good sleep.
  • Give your puppy new experiences, but allow them to process those experiences afterward: Taking your puppy to the park or downtown is great for proper socialization skills. But again, remember that a dog's senses are much different from our own. What you may consider a mundane walk through the neighborhood is an overwhelming amount of smells and noises to your puppy. Give your puppy new experiences, but give them time to sleep and process afterward.
  • Exercise: It's always good to provide your dog with daily exercise. An under exercised dog will become frustrated and find not-so-good ways to express this frustration. But, on the flip side, an over exercised puppy will become cranky. It's the body's way of saying "Hey! I need sleep!"
  • How to Handle a Cranky Puppy: If you find yourself in a situation where your puppy is barking, biting and overall just being a little terror. Don't just toss them in the crate and call it good.  Remember, a puppy might not realize he/she is tired! You must first find a way to calm your puppy and then put them in "the sleep zone". A crate should be a positive experience and should not be used for "punishment". If you are frustrated with your over-tired little fur ball, they will sense that frustration. Tossing them in the crate while frustrated will cause them to associate their crate to a negative feeling.  
 There are times when you should worry that your puppy is getting too much sleep and something might be wrong. Puppies, like human children, will sleep more during growth spurts, but if your puppy has low energy while awake, you may want to take them to the vet. Your puppy may be anemic or have an internal parasite. Anemia can be caused by things like a flea infestation and a flea infestation can lead to internal parasites like tape worms.

For more about sleep and dogs, please visit these other posts by Bark City:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dealing With Food Aggression


Food aggression is a form of resource guarding in which a dog becomes defensive and uses threats, like growling, to force other animals or humans away from a food source. If not dealt with, it can lead to a bigger problem of being possessive of everything-- toys, beds, treats, food, ect... But, before I begin on the steps that dog owners can take to deal with a food aggressive dog, I should lay down a common ground rule for all dogs--> Humans (including, and especially, children) should never mess with a dog while its eating. This includes the common myth of making a dog eat out of it's bowl with your hand in it.

There are three levels of food aggression:
1. Mild-- a dog will show it's teeth and growl.
2. Moderate-- a dog will snap and lunge.
3. Extreme-- a dog will attempt to, and/or maybe succeed, at biting another animal or human.

If you are a dog owner that has a dog with extreme food aggression, your best measure is to get an expert to help you with the problem. Do not try to deal with it on your own.

Food aggression can stem from a dog trying to show it's dominance in a pack (aka the alpha male) OR it can be from a stressed out, high anxiety dog. As a dog owner, the first thing you need to recognize is why your dog is being aggressive. Is your dog trying to maintain rank in the pack? If so, then you, as the dog owner, must establish yourself as the leader in a calm, assertive way. If your dog is food aggressive from stress and anxiety, then you must teach your dog that food is safe and build up your dog's confidence level. Once the reason is established, you can move forward with desensitizing and counter conditioning your dog to associate humans (or other animals) being around the food as a positive experience. 

Signs of Food Aggression :
  • Hovering over the meal-- the body will be stiff with the head down. 
  • Whites of the eyes are visible
  • Ears are back 
  • Tail is lowered
  • Hackles rise
  • Growling
  • Lunging
  • Biting
*A food aggressive dog can show any or all of these behaviors. 

Steps To Take:
  • Be Consistent With Meals: A dog should not be "free fed" with a large bowl that they eat out of at all times of the day. There should be a designated meal time(s) at the same time(s) every day and once the meal is done, the bowls should be put away. If you have more than one animal, each pet should have it's own bowl. 
  • A Dog Should Work For It's Food: While you are preparing the meal, the dog should sit and stay outside of the room and remain at "stay" while the bowl is being set down on the floor. Your dog should only be able to eat once you have given permission with a command.
  • Pack Leaders Eat First: You, the dog owner, are the pack leader. Not the dog. Therefore, your dog needs to wait until you have eaten before he/she can eat. You dog should never be eating at the same time you are eating or before you have eaten.
  • Stay With the Bowl: Instead of the dog learning they win the food when you walk away, stay near them while they eat. This teaches your dog they win the food when you stay.
Three Addition Steps To Consider: 
  1. If needed, hand feed your dog it's meal one kibble at a time like you are giving a treat. You can also use your hands to put the food into the bowl so that your scent is on the food, but never actually stick your hand in the bowl while your dog is eating. 
  2. While the dog is eating, occasionally toss a really good treat into the bowl. The treat should be something your dog absolutely loves, but only gets during meal time. He/she will start to associate you being around the bowl as being a positive experience (the really good treat).
  3. Trade up during mealtime. The goal of "trading up" is to get your dog to stop eating and take food from you (again, using the really good treat). This teaches your dog that no one will steal his food if he looks up from his bowl.  
Food aggression is something that needs to be dealt with before it gets out of hand. It is a common problem many dog owners encounter. But, can easily be dealt with and remedied with patience and positive reward.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Canine Distemper and Rabies

Last week, I posted a link on Facebook about two Colorado dogs being tested positive for Rabies. This raises the questions: What is distemper? What is rabies? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?

Here I have broken it down for you in Layman's terms:


Please note: I did not put ALL the symptoms for rabies on my list. There are two different phases of rabies: Furious and Paralytic. The names pretty much describe the symptoms, both result in death.
PRE-EXPOSURE VACCINATION is the only thing that will protect your dog from rabies and distemper. If you think you (or your dog) have been bitten by a rabid animal, wash the wound with soap and water for about 15 minutes immediately. The Rabies virus is very fragile and will most likely be killed by the soap and water before it travels through your body to the brain. BUT, you still need to call your local doctor/ veterinarian for post-bite treatment and protocol.  You don't want to mess around and take chances. There is a Post-bite vaccination for humans, but not for domestic animals. If your dog is not vaccinated, he/she will have to be placed in quarantine for approx. 6 months and normal vaccination protocol will be administered. If your dog shows signs for rabies, euthanization will take place. A diagnostic test for rabies involves taking tissue samples of the brain from at least two locations and requires the animal to be euthanized. Distemper cannot be transmitted to humans. There are two types of distemper: Feline and Canine. Canine distemper cannot be passed to felines and vice versa. Rabies on the other hand, can be passed to any animal including humans.   

Reference:

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs099/en/

Pet Education.com, Rabies in Dogs: Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and vaccination: http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=347

Pet Poison Helpline, Distemper and Rabies: http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/uncategorized/distemper-and-rabies/

Monkeysee.com, YouTube video series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBn385Mun6A

Remedy's Health Communities, Rabies: Signs and Symptoms: http://www.healthcommunities.com/rabies/symptoms.shtml 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Caring for Client Animals with Potential Exposure: http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/specific_groups/veterinarians/potential_exposure.html

Monday, May 15, 2017

How To Stop Your Dog From Barking in Four (patient) Steps


Whether it's the mailman, the neighbor walking his dog by your fence or a deer in your back yard, excessive dog barking can bring anyone down to their knees in frustration. Here are four steps you can take to bring a little peace and quiet into your home:

  1. Make sure your dog is exercised. A lot of doggy mischief can be avoided by simply making sure your dog is properly exercised, mentally and physically. When your dog has extra energy, he needs to find an avenue to release it. He's bored! This results in behaviors we owners may not find endearing. By making sure your dog is getting physical and mental exercise everyday, you are releasing that pent up energy and helping your furry friend live a balanced life. 
  2.  Stay Calm. You are not helping the situation by yelling "STOOOOPPPP!!!!" or "KNOCK IT OFF!". Remember, dogs do not speak human. If you are yelling at them, all they hear is you barking along with them. They think everyone is joining in on the fun! Instead, you can...
  3. Teach them the "Quiet Command". The first steps of this training seem quite counter intuitive, but trust me, with some patience you will see where I am going with it: Step 1- When your dog barks, praise him and use the verbal cue "bark" as you give him a treat. This will allow him to start to associate the word "bark" with the action of barking. Step 2- When your dog stops barking, give him a different treat with the vocal cue "quiet". This will get him to associate the word "quiet" with the action of not barking. Step 3- Train, train, train with a lot of patience. Repetition is key. Training does not happen over night and takes a lot of diligence and patience. Only train your dog for about 15 minutes a day in 5 minute sessions. Otherwise, you risk over saturating your dog and stressing them out. Once the behavior is learned, practice it weekly in order to maintain the behavior. 
  4.  Desensitize your dog to whatever it is that is making him bark. For example, if it is the mailman, sit with your dog everyday the mailman comes and practice the quiet command while redirecting your dog to an incompatible behavior like laying on his bed or going to his kennel. 
You will notice that I didn't put in here to "remove the stimulus". Some people recommend doing things like closing the shades when people are walking by (if your dog barks at that) or bringing your dog inside if your dog barks at people walking by. I don't think that really helps all that much, because you are basically avoiding the situation instead of teaching your dog a positive behavior to associate with the situation. Plus, seriously, who wants to live their whole life with the shades down because you are afraid someone is going to walk by and your dog will start barking. That is giving your dog way too much control of the situation and leaving you kind of helpless. Instead, work with the situation. If your dog is barking at the walkers going by, sit there with your dog practicing the "quiet" command with an incompatible behavior. Or rally up your friends to purposely walk by so you can practice. It takes a lot of patience and diligence to have a furry friend in your family, but it also brings a lot of joy. Raising a canine companion will bring out a lot of positive traits in yourself that you had no idea you could foster. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunscreen for Canines


Summer is right around the corner and soon it will be time to slather ourselves in sunscreen and hope for the best. Did you know that dogs are just as much at risk for sunburn as humans? Dogs at the highest risk for sunburn are light skinned dogs, dogs with short hair, with little to no hair and dogs that spend a lot of time in the water (or soaking up the sun rays). In addition, a dog's nose, ears and underside are the most at risk for getting sunburned. Like humans, genetics and diet play a role in the susceptibility to sunburn. Some dogs are just more sensitive to the damaging effects of the sun. A lot of caring dog owners will use sunscreen on their dogs, but they should never use commercial sunscreen made for humans. Human sunscreen has a whole list of ingredients that are toxic to canines, including zinc oxide. Dogs lick themselves all the time and end up ingesting the toxic components of the sunscreen. For a list of toxic elements, please visit this website--> click here.  

There are ways a dog owner can protect their furry friend through diet and natural oils, though! A diet with foods rich in Lycopene is our first measure of sun safety. Lycopene is a phytonutrient and antioxidant that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and can offer a small bit of natural sunscreen when ingested. We cannot soley rely on just Lycopene rich vegetables for sun protection because when ingested, only a small part of the lycopene is absorbed into the skin. A dog owner can increase the absorption by also pairing the fruit/vegetable with a good source of fat, such as: Coconut oil, fish oil, olive oil, hemp seed oil and Flax oil.


When adding fruits and vegetable to a dog's diet, the owner should always remember the proper proportions for a canine: 56% to 60% protein, 25% to 30% fat and 11% to 14% appropriate carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) to ensure optimal health. In addition, the pits in fruits and vegetables (example: apricot and mangoes) should always be removed before feeding to your furry friend. Pits can cause intestinal obstructions that often end up either really costly or deadly. 

The second measure to sun safety is to select an oil that has a natural SPF in it and use it instead of commercial sunscreen. These oils are (and I've included the SPF number alongside):

  • Carrot Seed (30-38 SPF) which is packed with vitamins and antioxidants. It also has healing properties for skin issues. The only downside is that it has a slight orange tinge. Dog's with light hair may take on a carrot like hue from the oil dying the fur. 😋
  • Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF) has an excellent level of Vitamin E for dogs with dry, irritated and inflamed skin. 
Notice the range in SPF per oil? This is because mother nature is never exact and levels of SPF will vary depending upon the plant, where it is grown and when it is harvested. 
 
You can also add essential oils to the above oils to add healing benefits. But, you should never add citrus essential oils! These are phototoxic and will cause burns! Lavender Essential oil has healing properties as well as a natural SPF of 6%.  Always remember to dilute essential oils to a safe dog dilution (not human) and do not use on puppies less than 8 weeks old. In addition, make sure your oils are therapeutic grade! For more information on essential oil safety for canines, visit this link--> click here

Finally, I am providing you a recipe to make your own dog friendly sunscreen! All the oils listed will also have their approximate naturally occurring SPF next to the name.

1/4 cup coconut oil (2-8 SPF)
1/4 cup Shea butter (2-8 SPF)
1/8 cup Wheat Germ Oil (or hazelnut oil) (15 SPF)
2 TBS of beeswax
1 Tsp of Red Raspberry Seed Oil (30-50 SPF)
1 Tsp of Carrot seed oil (30-38 SPF)
6 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Optional) (6%)

Directions: Melt all the oils, except the Lavender Essential Oil, together on low in a sauce pan. Be sure not to over heat and bring to a boil. Once everything is melted, pour into a mason jar and add the essential oil and gently stir with a non-metal spoon. Allow to cool to a hardened state. That's it! 

Additional links to get you started on your own research:

Monday, April 3, 2017

Training: "Leave it" in 5 Steps

"Leave it" is a training skill that could potentially save your dog's life. Before you start to train your dog on how to leave something on the ground, it's best that they have already mastered "sit" and leash walking. Below, I have outlined how to teach your dog how to "Leave It", but first I would like to explain how to go about teaching your dog this skill:

1. Only teach your dog a new skill for about 15 minutes a day in 5 minute sessions. "Leave it" is a good skill to practice during commercial breaks. 😏 If you go all hard core on the training and do more than 15 minutes a day in 5 minutes sessions, you risk over saturating your dog and stressing them out.... or they will just become plain ol' bored with the task and not listen to you.

2. In my steps, you will see "P/R". This means "Praise and Reward". Praise= a "good job" or "good boy/girl!" with lots of happy enthusiasm. Reward= a treat. Usually pea sized treats are sufficient for training sessions. If your dog does not respond to food treats, you may need to get creative on what reward to use.

3. Do not move onto the next step until your dog has mastered the previous step. Mastering a step may take a few days. These steps are not meant to be blasted through in one day!

And now.... the steps!






Once your dog has mastered step five, you can move on to practicing with real life objects: table scraps, cat boxes, dirty diapers... pretty much all the gross stuff dogs like to get into that they really shouldn't. Once the skill is learned by your dog, make sure to practice it weekly in order to maintain the training! Otherwise, you may have to start all over again. 😞

Monday, March 13, 2017

Top 10 Rules for Children Around Dogs


Cute picture of the child hugging the dog, huh? But, it is images like these that compel me to write a blog about teaching children rules for being around dogs. There are certain elements of respect that we would give humans that also should be given to dogs. If we follow these rules, accidental dog bites and injuries should be kept at bay:

  1. Do not hug a dog. Yes, humans like hugs, but dogs don't and dog's are not humans! Hugs make dogs nervous. Dogs can be trained to tolerate hugs, but it's not really their cup of tea and they would rather you stay out of their personal bubble. 
  2. No Running. Children must be trained not to run up to a dog. This could startle or scare the dog. In addition, children should not run in front of a dog even while playing with the dog. This could trigger the prey instinct in a dog and will often result in a child getting nipped in the butt or getting knocked down and bitten. 
  3. Don't touch body parts. Dogs should be pet from head to the base of the tail in a stroking motion with the palm of the hand. Children should not pull ears or tails. Or be messing around with the legs, paws, ect...
  4. Leave your dog alone while he/she is eating. Let's put it this way-- Would you like it if someone came up and placed their hand in your dinner plate? Probably not. Please, when a dog is eating, give him/her space to eat in peace.
  5. Do not steal a dog's toys. Instead, teach your dog "drop it" if you really need the toy. But, don't just grab it out from under them. It's rude!
  6. Leave your dog alone while he/she is sleeping. Same as with eating--Would your really want someone messing with you while you are taking your much beloved nap? Probably not.
  7. Loud noises hurt dog's ears. A dog's hearing is WAY more sensitive than a humans. For Parents: You know how frazzled you get when your kids are running and screaming through the house? Now imagine that you can hear 4 times the distance and higher frequencies. That is a dog's hearing. A frantic, loud household= an over stimulated dog.
  8. Do not tease your dog. They don't understand teasing and it's not funny to them. All it will do is build a level of distrust in your relationship.
  9. Crates are safe places. Please train your children that if Fido goes to his/her crate, it's alone time. This is an area that should be comforting and quiet for them. 
  10. Playtime has ended. Children should learn how to read their dog's language to know when playtime has ended. If Fido is walking away, they are done. On the flip side, Dog's should be trained to know when playtime has ended! 
I hope this helps! Please be consistent with these rules with your children. It will make your furry family member feel secure and safe knowing that "the pack" is being respectful of boundaries. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Seasonal Allergies in Dogs

It's that time of year again where everyone is walking around with tissues in their hands and pockets, eyes red and puffy, and in a Benadryl coma. ALLERGY SEASON. Humans are not the only ones to suffer. Dogs can too. Dog's exhibit seasonal allergies a little bit different than humans. Their symptoms are generally skin issues: allergic dermatitis.
  • Your dog will be ITCHY. Fido will be scratching excessively, biting and chewing on spots of the body and rubbing against surfaces. 
  • You may also notice that your dog's ears are chronically infected with rashes, yeast and bacteria. This will cause your dog to be constantly scratching the ears, head shaking and there will be hair loss around or on the ear. 
  • Hot spots: These are localized areas of the skin that become red, scabby and infected. 
  • Generalized redness: Puffy eyes, red oral tissue, red chin, red paws...
  • Allergies are an immune system response. Canine's with an already weak immune system may develop respiratory issues like sinusitis, bronchitis, ect...
 There are two types of allergies: food and environment. Food allergies tend to be a constant chronic condition until the diet is altered and the allergenic food is eliminated. Seasonal allergies are...well... seasonal. UNLESS you live in a climate that doesn't experience a hard freeze. Then, they can become a year-long issue. Dog's can also become extremely sensitized to the environmental culprit. What may have been a once a year issue, can gradually get worse each year until it is a year long problem. If you think your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies, it's best to visit your veterinarian and take measures to alleviate the symptoms:


Benadryl can be given to a dog to temporarily relieve allergies. I would consult your veterinarian about giving your dog benadryl and your dog's correct dosage. Like humans, it will make your dog drowsy and it's probably not best to give your dog on a consistent basis.

Itchy Skin Remedies:
  • Brush your dog everyday! When skin is itchy, inflammatory blood cells and chemical compounds such as histamine and prostaglandins accumulate in the affected area. Brushing your dog not only will feel good on those itchy areas, but also help clear out all the build up...kind of like raking the leaves out of your yard. 
  • Spray a 50/50 solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and Water onto the affected areas of your dogs skin. 
  • Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint Essential Oils mixed together in a shampoo or as a balm. These three oils mixed together have been praised for providing strong anti-histamine benefits. Peppermint is anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory, Lavender has antiseptic properties that can help keep rashes and hot spots from getting infected and Lemon also has antiseptic properties as well as being anti-inflammatory.  
  • Chamomile Tea can be chilled and sprayed onto itchy areas in order to skill yeast and bacteria as well as soothe the skin.
  • A spoonful of plain yogurt in your dog's diet will help balance the intestines and keep yeast infections at bay.
  • Break a Vitamin E capsule and rub the oil into irritating hot spots.
  • Feed your dog Coconut Oil or apply to skin. Coconut oil has so many benefits! I cannot list them all today, but you can read about them in this other post I wrote---> Right here 
  • Magnesium cream to alleviate hot spots or to dehydrate boils and abscesses. But, it should not be applied to an open wound. Instead, you would want to rub the cream around the wound. Giving your dog a "paw bath" of warm water and Epson Salt, which contains magnesium, after a long day of exercise to alleviate itchy paws and help stimulate blood flow to the skin. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Stinging Nettle for Canines


I am really excited for this upcoming spring because I will be growing a weed in my garden! Not just any weed, but Stinging Nettles to be exact. I have been doing some extensive research on this plant and I think it will be beneficial not only to my dog, but also to my family and myself. Stinging nettle is famous in the herbal world as a natural anti-histamine as well as an anti-inflammatory. This means, it can not only help the seasonal allergies that run rampant in my family (two-legged and four-legged members), but it will also help my arthritis. But, that is not all.... Stinging Nettle is also considered to be one of those "super foods". It contains:

That is a lot of stuff.

For harvesting Stinging Nettle, it is recommended that you wear gloves, long pants and cut them with scissors, because of the stinging part (which is on the underside of the leaves). BUT, some people purposely sting themselves to help with joint pain. There are two phases of harvesting that should be noted:

Eating Fresh Nettle: You must harvest when the plants are still young. If you wait until they have matured and flowered, it's too late for fresh eating --> Mature plants contain cystoliths that can irritate the kidneys. To get rid of the "sting" in order to eat them fresh, you must steam, saute, freeze, can (like spinach) or boil them. You can use the left-over water from boiling and steaming as a tea to drink or as a rinse for your dog's fur. This rinse is very beneficial for alleviating itchy skin caused by rashes, flea bites, ect...

OK, I have a bunch of mature, flowery Nettles. Now what do I do? You can dry them! The process of drying the plant destroys the cystoliths. Now it will not wreak havoc on your kidneys. Gather up your nettles and dry them by tying a string around the bottom of a bunch and hang them upside down to dry. Once dry, you can use the dried leaves as tea by seeping 1 TBSP/ cup of boiled water. Again, this can be drank or used as a skin rinse. You can also add 1/2 tsp per lb of dog weight to your furry friend's food.

A word of caution: Stinging Nettles is haemostatic. This means it stops bleeding. If your dog (or human) has blood thinning or thickening problems, it's best to talk to your veterinarian (or doctor) before eating Stinging Nettles. In addition, do not feed your dog (or human) stinging nettles if suffering from a bacterial infection, being treated for diabetes, high-blood pressure or on NSAIDS.

For more information on Stinging Nettles, please visit these websites:



Monday, January 23, 2017

Essential Oil Safety For Pets

The other day, my neighbor came over with a catalog and a basket of essential oils. The aroma in my house soon turned into a wondrous rainbow of smells and it honestly helped the cold congestion everyone in my house had been feeling for the last week.

While the aromas lingered in my household, it got me thinking about essential oils for pets. EO's have been around for a long time and lately their popularity is becoming mainstream. We all want something a little more natural.... a simpler way of doing things in our life. And let's face it, we all wonder sometimes if we really need all those tests our vet is pinning onto our bill (I still don't have the answer to that.) We love our pets. They are part of our family and we want the very best for them... Which is a happy, HEALTHY life. But are EO's safe for pets?

I immediately started researching the topic and was surprised by results. For dogs and horses, there is a wide array of articles on how to use essential oils for treatment of ailment after ailment. But for cats, the research was very limited and caught me by surprise. Cats have a very unique physiology and essential oils may not be a good idea. Cats lack a proper detoxification process called hepatic glucuronidation. In layman's terms, it means they cannot fully metabolize the essential oil. The EO's slowly build up in their system causing toxicity problems. Liver damage is a slow process, it often takes a while for something to be noticed. If you would like the full scientific explanation, feel free to read this article by The Lavender Cat. The article also gives you some helpful hints if you use essential oils on yourself and have kitty family members. (example: A cat's liver takes approx. 48 hours to detox. If you diffuse essential oils in your house, try to only do it once every 48 hours and have an "escape" route for your cat... aka another room.) There are some essential oils that are deemed "low risk" for cats and some are "high risk". My advice would be to research any essential oil that you are going to diffuse into your house and weigh the cost/risk.

Ok... now for dogs. Dogs have had a lot more success with essential oils. But before you rub your dog down in lavender oil, there are some things you should know first:

  • Always use therapeutic grade essential oils. These will be more pricey, but are purer. There will be no "additives" that may make your pup sick. Price usually indicates quality!
  • Your essential oil should not be oily or leave a greasy residue. 
  • Packing should include the common name and Latin binomial, country of origin, method of distillation, lot #, amount of oil in the bottle, company info and how the plant was grown. 
  • RESEARCH and make sure you check credentials! Basically, does this person know what he/she is talking about? Some essential oils should never be used on dogs, some are controversial and some are commonly used. Do your research!
  • When you first try an essential oil on your dog, let them smell it first with the cap still on the bottle (unopened). If your dog gets all excited and happy, try a little bit and watch for any adverse reactions. If your dog is acting like the smell is the most putrid thing in the world, it may not be a good idea to diffuse it around them.
  • Always dilute the oils before using topically or before inhalation. (see below for a handy dilution image) Remember, a dog's nose is WAY more sensitive than a human's!
  • Do not use EO's on large breed dogs under 8 weeks or small breeds under 10 weeks.
  • Gradually introduce oils. One at a time! If you give your dog five oils at once and they develop an allergic reaction, you won't know which one it was.
  • Most issues that dogs have can be addressed with inhalation of a diluted essential oil. Putting it on them topically should be used sparingly. 
  • Only use essential oil as needed. Essential oils should not be used as a "preventative". 
  • Do NOT add essential oils to food or water. 
The handy dilution image:

It should be noted that a "Carrier Oil" is a basic oil like Olive oil, Coconut oil, Almond oil, ect...


 And here is another image that shows you what Essential oils are deemed safe to use. I got this image from one of my favorite essential oil safety sites: http://www.usingeossafely.com I highly recommend this site if you are in to essential oils for your dog or yourself!



 And last but not least, I will provide you with some useful links:








Monday, January 16, 2017

Canine Dental Care


Periodontal disease can lead to a number of health issues. Yes, it will cause tooth/gum infections and tooth loss which is painful for your dog. But, the mouth is the entrance to your body and when it is not healthy, it leads to other health problems such as kidney, heart and liver damage. 80% of dogs by the age of three have some sort of dental disease: gingivitis, halitosis, tumors, cysts and periodontal disease.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:
  • Red and Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excess drooling
  • Tartar build-up
  • Tooth Loss
Prevention Includes:
  • Weekly lip and gum examinations
  • Dental vet check-ups
  • Dental chews
  • ....And...Yes.... Bi-weekly teethbrushing! 
Brushing our Canine's teeth is something most of us disregard as important, but can play a key role in preventing health problems. It can be a simple process once your furry friend gets used to it (It's easiest to start the habit when they are puppies). You should never use human toothpaste, because it contains Fluoride and/or artificial sweeteners that can be toxic to your dog. Lucky for you, I have included some simple dog toothpaste recipes that you can make at home! They are simple to make. You just grab your ingredients, throw them in a food processor and blend away! Once it's made, store it in an airtight container in your fridge.


 To brush your dog's teeth, use a soft bristle toothbrush. Scoop a small amount of paste onto the brush and move gently over your dog's teeth in small circular motions. Pay attention to the back teeth where most tartar and food build-up hides out. After brushing, use water on the toothbrush or a clean washcloth to rinse your dog's mouth. Provide fresh water for your dog to drink afterward.

And that's it! Remember that a small amount of time once every week (or two weeks) can do wonders for your best friend's health.


Monday, January 2, 2017

7 New Year's Resolutions for Dog Owners


Happy New Year! 2017 is sure to be the year of leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle, so why not start with your dog? The little steps you take starting today, will surely help in giving your dog a happy and healthy life. With all celebration, I have created 7 New Year's Resolutions for you:

  1. Stay consistent on all the medical stuff: This means making sure your dog is taking a monthly heartworm medication, getting a flea/tick preventative, up to date on their vaccinations and yearly veterinarian check ups. It is also a good idea to do an overall body scan of your dog monthly to check for any unusual lumps or bumps. 
  2. Brush those teeth: Like human's, a dog's mouth is the gateway to health. Dental problems can lead to a myriad of life-threatening infections. Online, there are recommendations ranging from brushing your dog's teeth everyday, to three times a week, to once a week. If you don't brush your dog's teeth, I think a good place to start is...well... just starting! You can also invest in dog toys specifically designed for cleaning teeth. But, these should not be a substitution for actual teeth brushing. IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE ON DOGS. A LOT OF HUMAN TOOTHPASTES ARE TOXIC TO DOGS. 
  3. Learn 1st Aid for canines and pack a 1st Aid kit: This is especially important if you travel with your dog. But, let's face it, accidents happen at home as well. For more information, please check out this link. -----> click here
  4. Exercise together...daily: I like to think of daily dog exercise as a daily meditation. Sometimes, it seems like a daunting task. But all in all, it is good for you to take time out from the daily grind and bond with your furry companion. It reduces stress in you and your dog. Which in turn, helps build healthy, sustaining daily behaviors. It's also a good idea to shake it up a bit. Yes, having a daily routine is good. But it can also lead to boredom and mental fatigue. Try going for some hikes or enrichment games. Use some creativity!
  5.  Measure your dog's food: Obesity can also lead to a myriad of health problems. Investing in a quality dog food, measuring out the right amount and exercise will help give your dog a long, healthy life. 
  6. Update your info and microchip: If you have changed addresses, remember to update your dog's medical records. It's also a good idea to get your dog microchipped, because.... well.... collars fall off. Keep that microchip information up to date as well. 
  7. Be a good neighbor: Pick up after your dog on those walks, and start working on those bad habits like fence running, leash pulling and excessive barking at everything. 
With all that said, remember that change does not happen overnight. And nobody (human or dog) is perfect. Be kind to yourself and make small changes over a long period of time.  For more resolutions, check out the list from 2016!