Doggie Bath Time

Hi internet! I am Brynn. I have two great loves: the great outdoors and furry companions! I have one pet right now, and she is the greatest dog ever. Her name is Sydney and she is a four-year-old Australian shepherd. She is so funny, fluffy, and fun! Spoiling her is probably my very favorite thing to do. On my blog, I’m going to tell you all about the things I do with Sydney and how to have a happy and healthy pet — free from negativity, chemicals, and all kinds of harsh things! I am a strong advocate of all natural for everyone in the family. In time, you will get on board when you hear the difference it makes.

Guess what is for today? Something my precious pet adores: a bath at home. Like most dogs of any breed or size, she doesn’t relish a long ride in a car to a distant destination. She doesn’t fancy the folks at the groomers nor the smells of their bathing products. Not to mention all the scary sights and sounds. I have found a way around this problem by taking care of the matter in the comforts of my own home. You can find natural shampoos in specialty stores or make your own using recipes from Facebook. You can experiment to find which additives appeal to your pet. Some dogs like scents and a lot of foam, and others don’t. Also, since some animals don’t take to a long time under the faucet, the product must be easy to rinse off—and quick.

If you have ever made your own shampoo, you know that you can do it for your dog. There are a few minor adjustments here and there in ingredient ratios, and the outcome will be pleasing and agreeable. Sometimes it is no nice that the critter loves to linger for a time. I hope you have a good water heater to provide a nice session. I happen to have a gas model that works wonders whatever Sydney needs. All you need is the perfect place for the size of your pet. It could be a tub, shower, outside patio, or side yard. The time of year, of course, matters. When it is freezing with sinking temperatures, she loves her ablutions, all provided by yours truly.

In the heat of spring and summer, a bit of a cool dousing is a relief. Then the gas water heater gets a rest. The neighborhood kids love to come watch. Sydney has been known to make a spectacle of herself. Any season, any location, any time: a doggie bath is a great way to bond with your pet.

Protecting Your Pets Outdoors

There are so many things out there that can be harmful to our pets! From pests to poisons to predators, we have to do our best to be sure that they remain safe while in the great outdoors! In this post, I will give you some ideas on how to do that.

First, you need a harness or a leash —  a good one, not one of those retractable things that can break. If you have a yard, then you’re going to need a good fence for a dog. It’s hard to say what to get – if your dog is a chewer, a metal fence might be better than wood, but if you have a climber, chain link is a bad idea. Some dogs will just dig under fences, so you have to think of ways to avoid that too. I have a friend with a husky who has managed to escape no matter what she does. Now she takes him out on a leash even when they are in their own fenced-in backyard! With cats, they make little outdoor houses and tents, but it is safest for your kitties (and small dogs) to be indoor animals for the most part!

Second, be careful with what’s growing in your yard! Most people know not to plant things that are poisonous in their own yards, but don’t think about how they grow their prized flowers or vegetables. Chemical fertilizers are really appealing to dogs and are incredibly dangerous, especially commercial rose fertilizers. And cats will use all kinds of things as a litter box, get that stuff on their paws and then lick it off! Try using natural fertilizer instead, like coffee grounds or egg shells. Or you can block out your garden somehow to keep animals away from it.

Third, invest in a good flea, tick, and mosquito repellant for your pet. Talk to your vet to find out what he or she recommends. The cheap ones you get at the grocery store can be too harsh for some pets and will poison them. Some essential oils work well as a bug repellant, but others are extremely toxic, especially on cats. Again, talk to a professional before applying anything to your pet’s skin!

Next, be conscious of the temperature. Don’t leave pets outside in extreme weather – they can get heatstroke or hypothermia just as we can. Provide them with shade in the summer, and always have a shelter and fresh water accessible to then if they will be outside for any length of time. Watch little paws on things like ice melt or hot pavement, too. Paws are very sensitive and can be damaged easily. Lots of people think shaving their pets is a good, natural way to keep their pets cool in the summer, but if you cut the fur too close to the skin, your pet can actually get sunburned!

Lastly, know your area. Any type of fox, coyotes, or even predatory birds (especially if you have a smaller animal) in your neighborhood can be a threat. I’ve also known several people whose dog or cat was attacked by a neighbor’s pet who had gotten loose. In other words, there are creatures out there that pose a risk to your animal’s safety!

My best advice is to not leave your pets outdoors unattended. I know that’s not always possible, so I hope this post has provided some tips on how to make your pets a little safer while exploring the great outdoors!

Choose to Adopt

In a perfect world, people would spay or neuter their pets. But not everyone does. I’m not getting on my soap box about that today, though. Maybe some other time. Instead, today I want to talk about adoption. Many people believe that shelter animals are damaged goods – that they either came from homes with severe neglect and are unsocialized or wild, or that they were behavior problems and that’s why they’re in the shelter. That’s simply not true.

Yes, there are animals that came from bad environments. However, many shelters will foster animals to experienced homes before making them available for adoption to help socialize them and bring out the pet’s real personality. There are other animals that have been given up through no fault of their own – financial reasons, allergies, change in family situations, etc. These pets are already housebroken, have been brought up in loving homes, and are just looking to be part of a family again! Some of them are even purebred!

My best friend’s cat passed away. She was really upset for a long time but then she decided she wanted another. She went back to the animal shelter where they had been so nice to her when they put her first cat down. They had another cat that had been in the shelter for so long, they gave her away for free! They said they had almost given up trying to find a home for her and maybe would have had to put that beautiful girl down, how terrible is that? My friend took her home and the cat, now named Tigger because she likes to pounce on things, are living happily ever after.

My little brother adopted a dog recently. He already has two but when he brought them to the vet, she mentioned that they were having a lot of trouble trying to rehome this one black lab whose owner was deploying for a year and then moving overseas and couldn’t bring the dog. My brother’s always wanted one, so he brought his other two dogs in to see what they thought of Shep. Everyone got along great, so now he has a three dog pack. They all get along so well that it’s hard to tell that Shep is new.

When I volunteered at a shelter, we heard stories like this every day. People would take home a pet and then either come in, email us, or send a note to let us know how well the new addition to their family was doing. It was the second biggest highlight of my day – after watching a pet go home with a new family of course.

Let me tell you, adopting a pet can be a great experience. I would know, that’s where I met Sydney. We are another one of those adoption success stories. She was just the saddest, sweetest looking little ball of fluff when I saw her and I knew she and I were meant to be a family forever.

There are humane societies, animal shelters, and websites that list pets available for adoption. Take a look. You might just find your new best friend!

Should You Make Your Own Pet Food?

I think I would need both hands to talk about all the pet food recalls in recent memory. With everything from plastic and metal to other euthanized animals (so nasty), it can be scary every time you walk down the pet food aisle! And you have to wonder, who can you trust?

Well, if you’re tired of the giant pet food corporations taking shortcuts and risking your pet’s health, you can actually make your own pet food. It sounds a bit scary, but it really isn’t. I do it for Sydney and we’re both pretty happy with the results. Here’s what you need to know in order to get started.

First, I recommend talking to your vet. They might tell you to avoid sodium or how many calories you need to be feeding them. Some pets need special diets due to health concerns. You’re going to need to be sure that you can either meet those needs somehow. Please don’t just find a recipe on the internet and start making it for your pet. There can be serious long-term consequences if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Remember that just because something is all-natural or safe for humans does not mean it is good for pets. It’s important to know that you’re meeting your pets’ nutritional needs without exposing them to scarier things. Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. But did you know raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure? The additive xylitol, found in many human foods, can also be fatal. Nuts, too (peanuts are legumes). Onions, garlic, and chives are also terrible for dogs, but even worse for cats! There’s a whole list of things that people can be unaware of and unknowingly poison their pets with – I don’t know them all. So please, please, make sure you talk to your vet about that stuff, too.

That’s what not to do, sure. But you’re probably wondering what to do. Look for reputable recipes specific for your type of animal, You’ll want things that have very specific ingredients (ie “mashed sweet potato” vs “cooked vegetables”) to be sure that you are meeting your pet’s specific needs. You will also likely need to use a supplement. It’s hard to meet all of your pet’s food needs through diet. Lean meats should make up at least 50% of their diet (cats slightly more than dogs). Liver is actually a fantastic meat to use. Sounds gross but Sydney loves it!

Calcium is beneficial to animals. Meaty bones will work well for dogs, but bone meal might be better for cats (a word of caution – only use bone meal marked for human consumption, not the gardening kind). Some fats are helpful too, to promote a healthy skin and fur coat.  While most animals don’t eat carbs in the wild, you should include some in their food.

Also, sure, our pets’ wild relatives eat raw foods. That does not mean you should feed your pets raw food! Your pet’s wild cousins also don’t live as long as you want your pet to. I’m all for a natural diet but follow food safety measures to prevent food-borne illnesses and disease!

Know that if you have a growing kitten or puppy, or a pregnant or nursing animal, there’s a lot more to consider with nutrition – so again, please talk to your vet or veterinary dietician before you change their diet and start making your own food. Going natural can be a great option but please be careful and be sure you’re doing it right.

It’s Playtime!

Pets love to play, and it is really beneficial to them. Toys are a great way to keep them happy and active, and it can even cut down on some problem behaviors! There are all kinds of toys out there. Some are cheap and others really pricey. So what’s good to buy? I’ll give you some ideas on what to look for so you and your pet can enjoy some serious playtime.

  1. Think about the activities your pet likes. Is your cat a pouncer or a scratcher? Does your dog like to chew, or does he like to chase? If you think about the types of things your pet likes to do, it may narrow the field down a little so that you can get something your pet will really like. Dogs can get frustrated with things like laser pointers because they are never able to actually “catch” the beam (and some have destroyed the wall or floor where their owners pointed the beam), whereas cats might just like pouncing on it. You know your pet best, so trust your instincts.
  2. Dogs like toys that make them feel like hunters. So they like toys that make noise, can be destroyed, or taste like food. Be sure that anything you get them isn’t toxic if they eat too much of it. Many plush dog toys sold today are made without stuffing and lack beading for eyes and noses, which makes them a lot safer (and less messy) for your dog to play with. Cats on the other hand, like small things they can bat around and chase. They also like things they can explore or hide in.
  3. Your pets also want to play with you! Many dogs like playing fetch or tug of war with their owners. I have known cats who like to play peek a boo and things that those fishing rod toys with something dangling at the end of a string. Pets love spending time with you, and getting involved in their playtime is the best!
  4. Something that challenges pets a little (but not to the point where they get frustrated) are great for keeping your pet’s mind engaged in activity or to keep them busy when you are away.

Personally, I like toys that are made from natural materials and free from chemicals and dyes – like rope toys for dogs or sisal balls for cats. I like knowing that the toys I give Sydney are safe.

There are also some things to NOT let your pets play with: rubber bands may be entertaining for cats, but they can be dangerous. Don’t let pets play with string or ribbon unsupervised, either, because you don’t want your pet to eat them. Plastic bags may make appealing sounds for your pets but they cause the same suffocation risk they do with us and are harmful if chewed on or swallowed, so keep your pets away from them.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on toys. Rotating the toys you have will keep your pet interested in them and will bring some excitement back into an old toy.

Keeping Older Pets Healthy

Although we want to think of our pets as always being with us, that’s not reality. Did you know that dogs are considered “senior” at the age of 7? And cats reach senior age when they are between 8-10 years old. That doesn’t seem like much in human years, does it? I mean, we were barely out of elementary school at those ages! It is sad that pets have a shorter lifespan than people, but there are things we can do to help our older pets live long and happy lives.

First, keep up with the vet visits. Just like us as we age, senior pets are at risk for more health problems. You may need to bring your pet in for checkups more often. Discuss it with your vet – most recommend at least two visits a year. Certain breeds have a predisposition to particular issues, and your vet will let you know what they are. You also need to keep them up to date on their vaccines, just like you did when they were younger.

Second, watch their diet. Sometimes pets will show their age through changes in their eating habits. Not eating could be a sign of their slowing down or a medical problem. O r they might gain weight because they are eating and not as active as before. So pay attention to how much they eat and how much they weigh. You may have to adjust the amount you feed them or change their food. When in doubt, ask your vet!

Third, just like people, there will be complications that come with old age. Their fur may go grey or white, they may lose vision or hearing, or they may get tired or stressed more easily. Just let your pet dictate the activities they participate in, and if you know something will be upsetting (like fireworks), comfort them in the ways they like best.

There are some natural ways you can help your pet age more gracefully. You can learn pet massage, which will help ease joint pain and soreness. It can help your animals stay frisky for longer, and it is a great bonding experience for the two of you. Getting a few wooden stairs or a ramp to help them get in and out of the car or to their favorite sleeping spot, like your bed, more easily. And it doesn’t require a trip to the vet or medications or anything.

There are also some supplements you can discuss with your vet, too. These are great to help get some more good years out of your pet, and are a more natural option than medications. Essential fatty oils will help keep your pet’s coat shiny, but it may also help with brain function. Glucosamine and chondroitin are another good combination that can ease arthritis and inflammation issues. Talk to your vet to see what they recommend for your pet.

Another thing I want to mention is that there are a lot of senior pets out there available for adoption. Some places waive adoption fees for these pets or offer reduced rates to facilitate adoptions. Just because these pets are a little older does not mean you will be robbed of any of their love or happiness. Senior pets need love too, and they’ll love you just as much as a younger animal. So don’t pass them by if you are at a shelter and thinking about bringing home a new member of the family.