Dog Days Of Summer

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   It may be the middle of August already, but summer still has some warm life left in it before we are thrown into the chill and sweater-strewn days of autumn. Below, you will find some great activity ideas you can do with your dog before the dreary days of winter, as well as some helpful tips to ensure Fido’s health and safety.

Take Your Dog For A Walk
The days are starting to feel a little less blistering than they did in July, so why not take advantage of some of the cooler days by taking Fido for a walk? It’s a great way to get exercise, both for you and your pup. If your dog has a habit of being destructive and chewing up things (s)he shouldn’t, try taking him/her on walks to get rid of some of that energy. Taking walks with your dog is a good way to bond, relieve stress, and enjoy the outdoors. Make sure you have a secure leash and harness/collar (although harnesses are the best for walking) and a firm grip on the leash while walking your pet. It is also important for your pet to have a collar with an identification tag and license. Before taking a walk with your dog, make sure it isn’t too hot to walk him/her by using this effective trick: put the back of your hand to the pavement and if it is too hot for you to keep your hand there for five seconds, it is too hot to walk your pet. (link)

Take Your Dog Somewhere New
There are many restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, beaches, and other attractions that allow dogs, and if you’re looking to get away for a few days, or maybe just go on a day trip or outing, bringfido.com is a valuable resource to find pet-friendly attractions near you or your intended destination. The website even has an “Events” tab where you can find dog events worldwide for you and Fido to visit. 

…Or Somewhere Close
You don’t need to go far to have a great time with your pet. Teach Fido a new trick in the backyard, or maybe play a game of fetch or Frisbee. Call up some of your friends who also have dogs and schedule a day where you meet up at the local dog park or someone’s yard for some puppy socializing and people socializing too. Run around in sprinklers, make pet friendly ice pops (recipes can be found at dogingtonpost.com), or just enjoy the sunshine —  whatever it is, Fido will be happy to spend the time with you.

Helpful Tips/Reminders
– Remember to never leave Fido in the car for an extended period of time. When the temperature is in the 60’s (Fahrenheit) or higher, especially on a sunny day, it is recommended to not leave your dog in the car. Temperatures rise drastically in a car, even more than people realize. If you have any doubts at all about the temperature being too hot, do not chance leaving Fido in the car.
– Mosquitoes and other bugs too much to bear? You can find many bug repellents and do-it-yourself bug repellent recipes online that use essential oils and are safe to use on and around your pet. Don’t let pests get in the way!
– Always be on the alert for fleas and ticks by using products such as Frontline and bathe your pet in anti-flea and tick shampoos. Check your dogs regularly and thoroughly for ticks, especially if you or Fido have been in an area with tall grass/brush. Keep your dog up to date on all preventative medicines and vaccines, such as heart worm pills and rabies vaccines to ensure their health and safety as well as the health and safety of other dogs they may come in contact with.
– It may not seem to be too hot, but always be sure to have water available for your pet, especially when they are outside. Take the appropriate safety measures for your pet to ensure that overheating and dehydration doesn’t occur.
– Spend time with your pet, and have a safe and fun rest of the summer, both for you and Fido.

Adoption Tips: Dogs

So, after months of prodding from your children or a move out of that pet-free apartment or even a sudden desire for a furry friend, you’ve decided that your home would be more complete with a dog. That’s wonderful; dogs, or any pet really, have been proven to raise morale (source: webmd.com) and even keep you healthier. Before you go and bring Fido home, however, there are a few things you have to make sure of.

Are you prepared for a new pet?
Before you go looking for your new best friend, make sure it isn’t just a decision you’re making on a whim; dogs are a lot of work, and are worth all of that work, but only if you’re in it for the long run. If you have other pets, make sure that they’ll be alright with a new addition to the family. A few things you’ll need for Fido before you bring him home are:
– a collar (fitted with license and identification tags as soon as you can)
– a leash
– food and water bowls
– food (dry kibble is a good start)
– a crate
– baby gates (if you have spaces you want to keep your new friend out of)
– toys
– dog bed (optional, depending on if you want Fido in your bed or not)

What type of dog are you looking for?
This is a very important question, because there are a lot of factors to look into if you’re looking for a specific breed, such as temperament around children if you have any, allergen risks, etc. If you don’t have a lot of space, such as if you live in an apartment, a big, active Great Dane probably isn’t the right choice for you. Some key factors to look into when deciding on a specific breed are as follows:
– temperament, such as energy level, protectiveness, and intelligence
– size
– cost (such as grooming)
– allergies that would prevent you from certain dog fur exposure
– health problems associated with specific breeds (such as hip dysplasia in golden retrievers)
– compatibility with children and/or other pets (based on your individual situation)

How can you adopt safely?
Shelters are always the best and first choice for pet adoptions, and many shelters have specific breeds rescued from puppy mills or otherwise unclaimed that would be perfect for your family. If you aren’t looking for a specific breed, shelters always have plenty of mutts or breeds you may just fall in love with. If you’ve gone to local shelters and just haven’t found the right dog to take home yet, you can always wait and check back at another time, or you can look into finding a reputable local breeder. Looking into petfinder.com is also a good option, but stay away from websites like Craig’s List and pet stores, where more often than not the dogs are coming from cruel puppy mills that you don’t want to help fund.

DIY Feral Cat Shelter

Even if you don’t see them, a feral cat community is probably right in your neighborhood. Now that the cold winter season has started, life can get difficult for these cats, leaving them vulnerable and prone to frostbite, which can lead to infections, disabilities, and death. Homemade feral cat shelters are easy to make and can take the edge off this winter for the colony in your neighborhood.

Materials:
cat shelter-rubbermaid
A large storage bin (Rubbermaids work well)
Foam core insulation (can be found at your local hardware store)
Yardstick
Box cutter
Straw or newspaper (no hay)


Instructions:

1.  Cut a door in the side of the storage bin, preferably several inches above the ground to prevent flooding. If cutting the bin is difficult, soften the plastic by blowing hot air on it with a hairdryer. Be careful not to cut or burn yourself. If you live in an area with a lot of predators (foxes, coyotes, etc.), consider adding a back door to the shelter as an emergency escape doorway.

2. Using the yardstick to measure the dimensions, cut a piece of the foam core with the box cutter to fit on the bottom of the bin.

3. Cut pieces of the foam core with the box cutter, making sure to leave room at the top of the bin for the roof piece of foam core to fit there.

4. Cut doorway(s) in the foam core that matches the doorway(s) in the side of the storage bin.

5. Stuff the newspaper or straw in the bottom of the bin to hold the foam core walls in place and to add some more insulation to the shelter.

6. Cut out a roof from the foam core to fit on top and place the lid of the bin on top, making sure it secures all the way and fits with the insulation.

7. Place the shelter in an area outside where it is somewhat protected from the snow blowing in the doorway.

 

How To Fix Fido’s Separation Anxiety

Separation-Anxiety-in-Dogs-600x399With our puppy Watson, leaving him home while we were out was always a problem; he’d tear up bedding, destroy everything in his wake, and eat things that should never pass his mouth. This was a huge issue; it was too hot to bring him everywhere in the summer, and too cold in the winter (leaving dogs in a too hot or cold car is never an option). My dad could no longer bring him to work during the day, and there was no way either one of my parents could leave their jobs just for Watson to never have to be left alone during the work week. Doggy day care was an option, except for the fact that it was a very expensive one.
On a side note, before you assume it’s separation anxiety bothering Fido, make sure there’s nothing wrong with him physically; his peeing on the floor may be a urinary tract infection, not an anxiety problem. Also be sure that there aren’t any behavioral problems that may be making your dog act this way; it can’t be fixed if you mistake it as anxiety over you leaving.
Our method, we eventually figured out, was pretty simple. To ease this separation anxiety, the exit from your home must be calm, just like the entrance when you return home to your dog. Watson, being as high strung as he is, needed something other than a nice goodbye to calm him down, so when we leave him, we give him a little treat that has natural sedatives to make him relax and lay down while he’s home. Make sure that your dog has no allergies before you use a sedative, and it’s also a good idea to check with your trusted veterinarian that it is okay for your dog to have sedatives as well.
Another good idea is to give your dog a Kong or other fun toy filled with a treat or tasty Kong gel. This keeps your dog entertained with something other than tearing up your couch or bed, and also lets the dog associate your leaving with a positive reward.
Another way to tire your dog out is to take him/her for a walk or run to the dog park before leaving him/her home. We do this with Watson so when he’s home he’ll sleep, and it’s usually as effective as the sedative, depending on how long the exercise session is.
While my dad is at work, he keeps Skype up on his computer to monitor Watson when he’s home alone during the work week. This monitoring isn’t accessible by everyone, but if it’s possible for you, I highly recommend it; plus, it also works when you go out and want to check on your dog with the Skype app. This way, if your dog is misbehaving, you can go home and prevent any real damage to your things or injury to your dog before it happens.
We have three dogs, so when Watson is home alone, we put him in a room with Daisy, one of our three, and he enjoys laying with her. Abbie, our other dog, goes in another room because she’s older and doesn’t like to play with young Watson even though he really wants to play with her. If you have more than one dog, your dog with separation anxiety may enjoy being with his/her brother/sister as it may give him/her a bit of comfort.
When you return home, make sure the greeting is just as calm as the goodbye. Greet your dog, but then wait until he/her calms down before paying attention to him/her. This establishes the calm environment your dog will eventually associate with your comings and goings, making for less stress and tension on both sides.

How To Pet Proof Your Home

Before you take home a new (hopefully rescued) puppy or kitten, you have to prepare your house for the little bundle of joy; making sure to keep hazards away from your pet and prevent accidents.

Living Room/Entry Room

* Put away games and toys when not in use
* Keep dangling wires up and out of reach
* Put knick-knacks and plants out of reach
* Vacuum to clear away any stray strings, dust, or other small things that could provide a hazard
* Keep outside doors closed so pets don’t escape
* Put shoes in closets when not in use to avoid chewing

Kitchen/Bathroom

* Store chemicals on high shelves or in closets to avoid spills
* Possibly child-lock cabinets
* Keep trash bins and toilet lids closed
* Keep foods out of reach

Bedrooms

* Keep clothes in closets and drawers (to avoid damage and swallowing of cloth/string)
* Keep lotions/makeup items out of reach
* Keep wires out of reach
* Get a pet bed if you don’t want your new friend in your bed

Garage/Outside

* If you let your pet outside, be sure to have a fenced-in yard or some other way to keep your pet from getting lost/wandering
* Clean any antifreeze/oil spills as soon as they happen
* Keep tools out of reach
* Microchip your new pet so if they get lost they can be safely returned

Source: American Humane Association

How To Make Healthy Treats for Dogs

Every good dog owner worries about the ingredients in their store-bought treats and foods; and with indeciferable words like “ethoxyquin” and “Propylene Glycol”, it can be hard to know just what Fido is eating. The truth is, if the word cannot be easily pronounced, the chances are that that ingredient is really bad for your pet. With these easy-to-make recipes and simple cookless treats, your wallet, and Fido, will both be full and happy.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies

Makes: 25

Ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons of peanut butter
– 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 teaspoon of salt
– 2 1/2 cups of flour (whole wheat)
– 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (ground)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add water as needed to help make the dough workable, but the dough should be dry and stiff. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick roll. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. Bake in preheated oven until hard, about 40 minutes.

Recipe from AllRecipes.com

 

“Leftovers” Easy Dog Treats

Ingredients:

– Pieces of meat (unseasoned, if seasoned, rinse off all seasoning well)
– Potatoes
– Vegetables (no onions)
– Fruit (no grapes or raisins)

Directions:

1. Cut ingredients into ½ inch thick pieces
2. Spray lightly with cooking spray
3. Place in a food dehydrator or into a 200 degree preheated oven until  dried

Recipe from cesarsway.com

 

Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt Treats

 

Ingredients:

– 32 ounces vanilla yogurt
– 1 cup peanut butter

Directions:

1. Melt the peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl
2. Combine the yogurt and melted peanut butter
3. Pour the mixture into cupcake papers
4. Place in the freezer

Recipe from cesarsway.com

 

Wheat Free Sweet Potato Chicken Rounds [For Sensitive Stomachs]

 

Makes:3-4 dozen rounds

Ingredients:
– 2 medium sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed)
– 1 chicken breast (cooked and shredded)
– 1/2 cup white rice flour
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 cup oat flour
– 1/2 teaspoon honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl mix all ingredients one at a time, kneading well after each addition.
3. Once dough is well mixed roll dough into 1/2 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet. Flatten with the flour dusted back of a spoon or bottom of a glass.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned at the edges. Cool and refrigerate.

Recipe from doggiedessertchef.com

 

No Prep No Mess Treats

 

Fortune Cookies

These I give my dogs! Whenever I go to a chinese restaurant, or get takeout, I always save my fortune cookies for my dogs. Just remember not to give these too often, and to remove the fortune in the middle before giving it to your dog.

Simple Vegetables/Fruits

Dogs love raw vegetables, and they’re an essential part of a dog’s diet. Give Fido chopped and raw pieces of:
– cucumbers
– green peppers
– Spinach
– broccoli
– carrots
– pumpkin
– celery
– apples
– bananas
– strawberries
– mango
– oranges
– cantelope
– pineapple
– apricots
– pears
– raspberries

Peanut Butter

Dogs have a blast eating peanut butter! Just take a spoonful of peanut butter and have your dog lick it off. Remember not to give peanut butter like this very often; moderation is key.

 

Chinchilla Dust Baths

Once a week, chinchillas require a cleaning session called a “dust bath”, in which he/she rolls around in a container of “dust” to get clean. This is because chinchillas cannot get wet, due to their plush fur and easily-oily skin. In their native Andean Mountains, chinchillas take these so-called dust baths in volcanic ash to get clean, which, of course, is not available to the average chin owner.

The first thing a proper chin owner needs is a container in which the chinchilla can take their dust baths. You can find the right sized containers at your local pet store, which are usually made of ceramic or plastic. The average dust bath container can go for as much as $15-$25, which can be a little pricey for a simple container. The other option is the cheaper, yet just as effective container that I myself use with my chinchilla Caesar. I use a simple mop bucket that you can find at virtually any store, like Wal-Mart or Target for a couple of dollars. No matter what method you use, make sure that your chinchilla’s dust bath container is only used for his or her dust baths and nothing else.

The next step is purchasing the dust. Dust bath dust is not actual dust; it’s a specially formulated substance that is specifically made for chinchillas, so only use dust bath dust, don’t use homemade formulas to save money. It isn’t worth saving a few dollars at the expense of your chin’s health. Dust bath dust can be found at your local pet shop in different sizes, depending on how much you want to spend at once. A 3lb tub is about $10, which is the size I usually get.
Bathing your chin is very simple. You take the desired container (bucket or specialty house) and pour in one to two scoops of dust into the container.

Then, if you have a specialty chinchilla bath house, you put it in his/her cage and let him/her roll around for about ten minutes.

If you have the bucket, you put it on the floor, place your chinchilla inside, and let him/her roll around in it for about ten minutes.

When your chinchilla is in his dust bath house, he may try to escape like my pesky Caesar does. When I give Caesar his dust bath, I also clean his cage, so I am not able to watch him while he’s bathing. I put the removable cage top of his old cage on top of the bucket so he can’t escape, which is a good tip if you’re doing something else while he/she’s bathing. You could also just watch your chin and make sure he/she bathes right.

After your chinchilla is bathed, put him back in his cage, clean out his dust bucket/house, and store it away until next time.

Keeping Your Chinchilla Occupied

Chinchillas are social, active, and intelligent pets. They require exciting toys and play things to keep them occupied, because an active chinchilla is a happy one. When a chinchilla gets bored, he or she can become overweight, unhappy, and can even develop depression. Safe, effective toys can be fashioned from the most common household items and pet store finds at a price that will ensure that you and your chinchilla are satisfied.

Shower Curtain Loop

One of the simplest chinchilla toys is the shower curtain loop. You take a simple shower curtain ring and attach it to the cage so your chin can chew and play on it. For more fun, make a curtain ring chain with two or more to keep your chinchilla’s attention, but always make sure that the ring is completely solid plastic, with no glossy coating that could be harmful to your little Caesar001 (2)chinchilla.

Classic Tube Toy

Another simple toy that will please your chinchilla is a toilet paper tube. Chinchillas love to chew, and toilet paper rolls are safe and easily chewable. Your chinchilla will have a blast pulling apart the cardboard and turning it into bedding. Just remember that the toilet paper roll must be completely free of paper and glue.

Treasure Trove Tube

Just like the above toy, a toilet paper tube is needed. Then you can stuff the roll with hay and very few small treats. Your chinchilla will have loads of fun digging around for the treats, and then pulling the tube apart later.

Salt Lick Hanger

Salt licks are mineral, circular blocks that chins love to lick and nibble on, and can be found at any pet store in the chinchilla section and usually average at a price of $0.50-$0.99. They have a hole in the middle, usually for hanging, but chinchillas can easily get bored and the salt lick is hard to reach in a standard wood/salt lick hanger. For this toy, you need the salt lick and a piece of bendable, but yet sturdy, piece of wire. You loop the wire through the hole in the salt lick and attach the ends securely to the cage bars so the lick hangs slightly inside the cage. Make sure that the wire ends, which can be sharp, are not facing the inside of the cage, and there is no risk of impalement by the wire. Another thing to remember is to make sure that the wire is not zinc coated, as zinc can be very harmful to chinchillas.

There are so many ways to safely entertain your chinchilla, and almost any household item, with a little dedication, can be transformed into an excellent toy to get your chinchilla active and happy, without costing a fortune, leaving you and your chinchilla happy.