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Staying Cool this Summer

18 Jun

With Summer Solstice upon us this week, the days are definitely heating up. Heading out for a jog with Bailey requires a little more planning to make sure her paws don’t get burned on the road – or worse – she gets dehydration. Although it’s nice to take our walks anytime during the day – especially with Bailey’s unexpected burst of energy – being out in the blistering heat is no fun for pets or their parents.

In Northern California, temperatures have already reached 108 and summer’s just beginning. It’s important that Bailey and I stay active this summer, so here are some tips that help my fur baby stay cool.

  1. Try to exercise with your dog before sunrise or after sunset to avoid the hottest parts of the day. I prefer taking Bailey on her longest walk or jog in the early morning to try and drain her energy for the remainder of the day.
  2. Use a Cooling Dog Collar on walks if you have to take your dog out when it’s warm. KoolCollar is a frozen collar that drips cool water down your pooches core to help heat dissipate. You can find several other cooling dog products here.
  3. Make sure to have water available if you’re out on the town with your pup, or going for an afternoon walk. I love our portable water bowl, the Instant Dog Drinker. It’s also great to take to dog parks!
  4. Summertime is a great excuse to plan water activities for the family. Whether it’s setting up a baby pool in the backyard, turning on the sprinklers or heading to the lake, you and your dog is sure to burn off some energy playing in the water. If you have a Labrador, the only problem may be getting them out of the water. Click here to learn about common water toxins to make sure your pets are safe.
  5. Grooming and flea prevention are important especially in the summertime. Make sure your pet has flea protection during the summer and doesn’t get wet after two days of applying. Also, you can prevent dry and cracked paws by using PawGaurd Wax with Lanolin to protect against hot pavement and moisture pads during the dry weather.

We hope the help you stay cool this summer. If you have other tips or products you love, please let us know!

New Year’s Resolutions to Help Pets in Need

27 Dec

The days after Christmas always seem so quiet. Everyone returns to work, and the hustle and bustle of gift shopping, present wrapping, holiday parties and travel begin to wind down. People are taking their Christmas trees down, packing up their holiday decorations and contemplating their New Year’s resolutions. However, for our furry friends – did they really know any different?

Maybe our furry babies knew their pet parents were more stressed out than usual, they were left alone more often or a new puppy was added to the family. But, for them life continues as usual – without having to be dressed up or forced to pose for that holiday photo until next year. Actually, thinking about the holidays from our pet’s perspective – this time of year must seem very confusing!

As 2012 comes to a close, I can’t help but think about all the puppies that didn’t get adopted and the many animals suffering. I would love to adopt another puppy, but I know we wouldn’t have the time (or sanity) to devote to a second puppy!  So, I started thinking about other ways we could contribute to animals in need beyond the holidays.

Whether you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution – or just some ideas to help animals in need in your community – here are five ideas that I think are just as rewarding and personally plan to contribute to throughout 2013.

1. Volunteer or Donate at a Shelter: Adopting a pet isn’t the only way you can get involved at your local shelter. One of my personal New Year’s resolutions is to volunteer my time at the Sacramento SPCA. If you can’t volunteer, you can donate. Any contribution to help pets in need is important – no matter how big or small.

Sacramento SPCA

2. Pet Food Bank Programs: Many communities have developed Pet Food Bank programs as more and more people are surrendering their pets to local shelters because they can’t afford to feed them. You can help sponsor a family or donate food to help families keep their furry babies – who otherwise wouldn’t have a loving home.

Pet Food Bank

3. Maintain Local Dog Parks: With State Park & Recreation services on the decline (especially in California), neighborhood groups and community members can come together to help maintain your local dog park. You can also start a letter writing campaign to your City Official if your community is in need of a dog park.

Bailey at Park

4. Contribute to Animal Health & Awareness: Medical research is just as important for our pets, as it is for our family and friends. Whether you’re able to donate money, or simply spread the word, you can get involved and help find life-saving treatment for our furry friends.

Cancer Awareness

5. Use Social Media for Social Good: Many pet companies are creating online charity programs to increase engagement on their brand’s social media pages. By simply liking a post or sharing a photo, companies will donate money to an important cause. This is an easy way to get involved and help raise awareness within your own social network.

Petsmart Pin for Pets

If you have any other ideas or New Year’s resolutions, please share them with us! We wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

Part 3: Life After TPLO Surgery

6 Nov

The first three weeks after Bailey’s surgery were the most difficult. The swelling and fluid build up in her leg was considerable and we were constantly trying to reduce the amount of weight she placed on it. The first three weeks are also the most critical after surgery to prevent infection and make sure the leg is healing properly.

After three weeks, we scheduled our follow up appointment to recheck Bailey’s leg. Thankfully, we had kept her calm and she was on her way to recovery. The next eight weeks were spent keeping Bailey under strict confinement, with little activity and minimal distractions.  The recovery period after surgery did take a considerable amount of time and effort, but it’s critical to make sure your dog’s life after TPLO surgery can be enjoyed to the fullest.

After twelve weeks, Bailey was able to slowly begin walking on her leg and no longer needed to be confined. We were advised to gradually begin walking her and to not let her become too active too soon. If you recall, Bailey had tore her cruciate ligament at six months and we had not be able to take her to obedience training. I knew she was still terrible walking on the leash, and feared trying to walk her right after surgery. We scheduled a private session with an experience gun dog trainer to help Bailey heal and give us control during the walk. It was still critical that Bailey didn’t pull aggressively or lunge at dogs, cars (or anything else) as she was strengthening her leg. Our trainer recommended the prong collar – known as the “pinch” collar – and it worked like a charm.

We were finally able to walk Bailey with control and confidence. We started her rehabilitation with a short five-minute walk a day and allowed her to roam around our living room. We began increasing Bailey’s level of activity each week, keeping her walks to five-minutes each, but increase their frequency with time.  As her strength and energy grew, we knew to push her a little further each week.  It’s amazing how leash walking strengths your bond – or maybe it’s just the entire experience we all went through – but, we would know when Bailey would need a break or would want to continue her walk.  It takes patience, attention and persistence – but eventually the hard work paid off.

It took several months for Baily to work her way up to a 30 minute walk, and then eventually an hour. A year later, we’ve rechecked both her knees to make sure she is strong and healthy. Thankfully, she’s made a full recovery and shows no signs of tearing in either leg. Doctors predict that more than fifty percent of dogs that have a cruciate tear in either one leg will eventually need their second leg repaired. We’re hopeful that Bailey defies their prediction.

She certainly still favors her right leg and gets sore with aggressive activity. We’ve learned to only take Bailey on runs 1-2 times a week, and limit them anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on the weather. The rest of the week, she’s quite content with walks. Although she may get sore, she is no longer in constant pain – and  she’s is still able to out run most of the dogs at the park. If we never told anyone about her cruciate tear or TPLO surgery, they would never know any different – and we’re hoping Bailey doesn’t remember a thing!

Part 2: TPLO Surgery Day and Recovery

11 Oct

In June 2011, Bailey had her TPLO surgery to correct her Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury (CCLI). Looking back, it’s hard to believe it was more than a year ago. Surgery day was difficult for us, but nothing compared to what was yet to come.

Before we dropped her off at the hospital, we had a phone consultation on what to bring and how to prepare our pooch for TPLO surgery. Knowing that most doggy parents will focus on saying goodbye to their furry baby, the nurse requested we write down our questions and concerns to drop off for the doctor. I thought this was a great idea! But realized after, it only works if the list actually makes it to the right person… Such as, “please don’t leave Bailey’s leash outside her crate when she’s recovering, she will find it and chew it.” Which is exactly what she did! So note, if it’s really important, have the vet tech write it down during your pre-surgery call so it’s in the chart.

Surgery day came and we dropped Bailey off in the morning with no breakfast and limited water. We had to leave her at the hospital overnight for the surgeon to monitor her and keep her comfortable, so we brought a familiar blanket. We picked her up as soon as we got the call the next morning. We requested to speak with the vet, before they brought Bailey out so we could focus on the instructions, pay our bill and pick up all her medications. I’m so glad we did because the minute Bailey saw us, she came limping over as fast as possible and fell to the floor for a belly rub. The poor thing was still groggy, and the vet tech was trying to keep the sling on her leg.

We had to use a cloth sling to keep her right leg stabilized and help her walk for the first couple months since it’s critical she didn’t place weight on her leg. Getting her in and out of our SUV was also tricky, so make sure someone is available to help lift your pet in and out of the vehicle safely. For us, this required two strong men to lift an 85-pound Labrador, which was all dead weight from the drugs.

Which brings me to the most important part of TPLO surgery – what you’ll need to prepare for in advance of bringing your pup home. Now, this list might vary depending on your dog’s size, age and behavior. Our situation was extreme – we had a one-year-old lab, with no obedience training. So, while CCLI might be common in large breeds – your dog might be older and better behaved (I’m pretty sure most dogs are better behaved then Bailey). So, the best advice is to discuss what you’ll need and what to expect with your dog’s surgeon. Click here for helpful information and after care instructions. However, here is a list of items that we found helpful:

  1. An extra tall enclosed exercise pen. Your dog will need to be in a confined area for at least three months. Our doctor didn’t recommend keeping Bailey crated for that long since it’s hard for them to stretch out and can be difficult to get in and out of on three legs. Instead, our vet recommended an enclosed space be no larger than 4×4 for Bailey’s size in order to limit her mobility. And, this was just large enough for one of us to keep her company and give lots of belly rubs during recovery.
  2. Arrangements for other animals in the house. Since it’s important to keep your pup quiet and minimize their stress, the vet recommended keeping other animals in the house separated for the first few weeks – or three months if there was the possibility of Bailey getting up and injuring herself. This meant our kitty stayed in a spare room and enjoyed a feline retreat!
  3. Large SmartTemp hot/cold padsThe first couple of days after surgery you’ll need to ice the incision and leg to minimize swelling. We found a regular cold pack worked wonders. Since Bailey was so large, we used a couple to fully wrap her leg from her knee to her ankle. We also were advised to massage her leg to help drain fluid build up.
  4. Time off from work or someone to supervise your pooch at least the first week after surgery. Your dog will need constant care and supervision during the first week after surgery. Not only will they need your help to monitor their pain, you’ll want to make sure their incision stay in tact and doesn’t get infected. You’ll also want to make sure they don’t have a reaction to any prescribed medication.
  5. Lots of chew toys. If your furry baby is as active as ours, you’ll want to invest in lots of chew toys. We had to get creative from interactive toys to Kongs filled with frozen food. To this day, Bailey still likes plays catch lying down. For more ideas, click here.

The first couple days home with Bailey were very quiet. She still had her morphine patch on and she was on strong pain medication. Thankfully, we didn’t have to sedate her – she must have known that something wasn’t quite right. She even let us ice her leg three times a day, along with massaging her ankle to help reduce swelling and the excessive fluid build up. Because she was crate trained, she didn’t mind being contained to a tight space, and loved the extra attention when we would join her in the playpen. During the first couple weeks, we even slept downstairs with her since she wouldn’t be able to go up stairs for at least three months.

Another helpful tip is to check if you’re able to email your vet. Most doctors welcome email if you have questions. Dr. Runyan placed a follow up call a couple days after the surgery to check on Bailey and encouraged us to send him photos of her leg on email. This was extremely helpful to make sure the bruising and swelling was normal. I’d encourage you to do the same if you have a question about your pet that might be easily resolved with a photo – or even video. It not only saves you a trip, it will help you feel secure in your pets health and recovery.

If you missed Part 1 in our Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury (CCLI) series, click here. Check back for Part 3 in our CCLI series, life after TPLO surgery! Thanks for reading.

Part 1: What’s a Cruciate Ligament Injury?

8 Oct

A common theme throughout all my stories is Bailey’s unbelievable drive and crazy Labrador personality. After all, she was breed to hunt, so it isn’t a surprise that Bailey’s a high-energy dog with stamina that seems to have no end. But, what did surprise us was the unfortunate sporting injury that occurred only after six months due to Bailey’s fierce running, which quickly took a toll on her knees.

After purchasing Vet Insurance for Bailey, we were aware of the common problems in Labs – hip dysplasia, cancer, swallowing foreign objects, etc. But – we thought ligament or sporting injuries wouldn’t be something we’d have to worry about for several years to come. So, when we started seeing signs of Bailey walking and sitting awkwardly at just six months of age, we thought…maybe she’s bowlegged?

Our crazy pup still had the energy of a puppy, and she still charged after the ball to play fetch, chase the cat around the house, and run out of control around the yard. But, after all the playing, we started noticing Bailey was placing less weight on her right hind leg and had trouble getting up after laying down. We also notice, she couldn’t sit without sticking her right leg out to the side.

Now at six months it was pretty hard for the vet to diagnose anything, Bailey could barely walk straight on a leash – and no one would have thought such a young puppy could have already torn her Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL). I’m sure we came across as over concerned puppy parents, and we were told that Bailey just had a gallop in her walk. After a couple months, her knee progressively became worse until she wasn’t placing much weight on her right leg at all. Something wasn’t right, even though we hoped for the best.

After another visit – and a progressively worse leg – our veterinarian referred us to Dr. Robert Runyan, DVM, one of the top surgeons in Northern California. Dr. Runyan could see how nervous and concerned we were. He was patient with all of us – especially Bailey – who had already begun tearing up the waiting room trying to get the treats on top of the counter and ripped everything out of the trash. He quickly noticed Bailey (and my own) discomfort as he moved her knee joint and assessed her range of movement. Shortly after, he recommended a radiograph, which inevitably confirmed she had ruptured her right CCL.

However, the worst news was still to come. At this point, Bailey was only eight months old, and she wasn’t done growing. The radiograph showed her growth plate wasn’t fully closed. Until she was done growing, surgery wasn’t an option – and only time would tell how much longer we’d need to wait.

For the next three months we had to cancel puppy training, limit all rigorous play, and use the leash for potty breaks and stair use every day. Bailey was placed on Rimadyl for any pain, swelling and discomfort. I’ll admit, I was worried about giving Bailey medication for so long and it’s potential side effects. However, we trusted our vet’s recommendation and didn’t want Bailey to be in any more pain.

Finally, Bailey was 11 months old at 85 pounds when she finally stopped growing and we scheduled the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery.

According to VCA Hospitals, here are some common signs of CCLI:

  • Limping
  • Abnormal sitting posture – (leg straight out to the side)
  • Difficulty rising
  • Stiff gait
  • Exercising intolerance
  • Hind limb muscle atrophy
  • Stifle (knee) swelling and thickening

Risk factors for CCLI:

  • Obesity
  • Conformational defect
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Age
  • Arthritis
  • Prior injury to joint
  • Large or giant breed
  • Poor muscle tone

Breeds most likely to develop CCLI:

  • Akita
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • English Bulldog
  • Labrador & Golden Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • St. Bernard

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, please make sure to take your pup to the vet. To learn more, here is a video from Dr. Brian Beale, a board certified veterinary surgeon, who explains more about CCLI, signs and treatment.

Thank you for reading Part 1 of our CCLI series. My next posts will explain our experiences during surgery day, post-op care and life after having TPLO surgery. Check back or follow our blog to get notified on our next post.

Happy Health, Happy Tails

27 Sep

Vaccines are an important part of your new puppy’s health in order to strengthen their immune system and help keep them happy and healthy throughout their life. While you may hear concerns about over vaccinating adult dogs, puppy wellness vaccines are critical to your pup’s development. And don’t be alarmed – depending on where you live and your pet’s activity, your veterinarian may suggest additional vaccines to protect your pooch. As with any health decisions, it’s important to be informed and understand your pet’s health.  Here is a list of the main vaccines to expect giving your new furry baby.

When we brought Bailey home at six weeks of age, she had already begun her first round of puppy vaccines. But, because there was a chance she was still nursing, our vet recommended that we begin the puppy wellness vacciness from the beginning to make sure her body was producing antibodies on her own. It’s good to talk to your breeder about when they plan to begin any vaccines and how to best continue.

It’s typicall to begin puppy vacinnes at six to eight weeks, which will be around the time you pick up your new puppy, so make sure one of your first tasks is to schedule a visit to the vet. At that time, your vet will discuss vaccine recommendations, your vaccine schedule and any other needs for your puppy, such as deworming, flea and heartworm prevention. It’s important to understand how to keep your puppy safe during this time, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need – you’re paying for the time!  Click here for a complete schedule during your puppy’s first year.

While puppy vaccines are generally safe for all dogs, there are a few things you should watch for after the your puppy gets it’s shots. Click here for symptoms and possible reactions to be aware of.

One last thing to remember is immunity is not immediate! After your last round of vaccines, it takes a week or two for their little bodies to pay catch up and be fully immune. So, you’ll need to wait before you can begin socializing your new pup. This includes play dates with dogs who have not been vaccinated, any areas where unfamilair dogs may have previously pottied (even front yards) and definitely parks and public places. The LAST thing you want to do is pick up your new puppy and head to the pet store!! Pavo is highly contagious and you don’t want to expose your new furry baby.

Now, if you’re puppy is anything like Bailey – at 14 weeks, they have more energy than they (or you) know what to do with! At six weeks, Bailey was a bundle of energy, but at least she was little. After a couple months, she was much bigger and growing rapidly. She was also faster – making our yard more like a playpen than a sizable area to sprint. Are you, or someone you know, also pulling their hair out wondering how to drain their pup’s energy until fully vaccinated? Here are some tips to try:

  • Start obedience training as soon as possible. Mental exhaustion is works like a charm, while instilling some manors. (We’re still working on this!)
  • Stock up on interactive toys that stimulate your pup to burn off some energy. Check out our favorite chew toys here.
  • If you have a Labrador or hunting breed, “Find it” or “seek” might be your new favorite game! We would hide (high value) treats around the living room and backyard and encourage Bailey to use her nose and “find it.” You’ll need to be patient and practice, since puppies naturally use their eyes vs. their nose – but this is a great way to start developing other senses.
  • Practice leash walking in safe/clean areas, such as the backyard or driveway. (This was Bailey’s least favorite).
  • Introduce them to swimming. When bailey was little, we let her practice in the bathtub and then purchased a baby pool when the weather was warmer.

Still have questions? Here is a good resource with more information. Good luck and enjoy your new furry baby!

You may also like:

Chewing Time

Video: Water Babies, or Not?

Did Someone Say Food?

Pet Insurance: Are you covered?

To Spay, or Not to Spay?

25 Sep

One of the first medical decisions we had to make with Bailey was if we were going to spay her or leave her “intact.” This wouldn’t have been a topic for debate if Bailey was a pound puppy, but we did have an eighth generation AKC Certified Labrador Retriever on our hands. We realized breeding or showing her would be too ambitious for us to take on, but we also had to consider the health benefits and risks of spaying her.

After consulting with our veterinarian, there are five main factors to consider when thinking about spaying or neutering your pet:

  • Age
  • Health Risks/Benefits
  • Cost
  • Behavior Problems & Fixes
  • After surgery care

There is a lot of research and debate about when and if you should spay or neuter your pets, so it’s important to talk to your veterinarian. The majority of research agrees that spaying your pooch before their first heat (generally 5-10 months of age) will significantly lower their risks for certain cancers. According to Pets.WebMD, the number one benefit of spaying is to help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Spaying can help prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs. Additionally, research shows that female dogs spayed after their second heat have a 26% higher risk of developing mammary cancer than those spayed before their first heat.

After learning about these benefits, we decided to spay Bailey at six months of age. Our veterinarian also recommended reparing her hernia while she was under anesthesia, which was a two for one deal. So, if you’re furry baby was born with a hernia or has other conditions – you may want to discuss if it’s possible to fix them all at the same time.

If you’re worried about how much spaying or neutering costs, there are lots of low-cost options available at animal shelters and organizations. Depending on the location, costs can range from $70 to $200, or more. However, cost mostly depends on the weight of the dog, which is another reason not to procrastinate if you’re considering the surgery. The ASPCA is a great resource for low-cost options and clinics available. If you have pet insurance, your plan might cover all or a percentage of the surgery.

Research also shows spaying and neutering may affect unwanted behavior. While many of the behavioral benefits are associated with neutering males, there is some discussion that spaying might contribute to behavior problems in females. However, most research notes that both males and females become more docile. I have to admit – we haven’t noticed any change in Bailey’s behavior. She’s still just as rambunctious and smart now, as she was at six months. You can read key findings from a 1997 study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital here.

Last, but not least, make sure to plan your pups after surgery care. Most spays take less than thirty minutes, but are invasive and cut through the abdominal muscles to remove the ovaries. It’s important to make sure your dog has proper care for at least 24 hours after the surgery and they get lots of rest. Bailey was very disoriented when she was released to go home and she was prescribed an anti-inflammatory and pain killers. If this is the first time your dog has undergone anesthesia, you should watch for adverse reactions and alert your doctor immediately if you’re concerned. Knowing that Bailey was a high energy pup, we kept her crated for a few days and used the leash to take her potty to ensure she didn’t injure herself by running.

After a week, Bailey was feeling better and healing well. We often think how great of a mother she might have been, but she still practices her motherly skills with our cat and other pups at the dog park.

If you still have questions, read these frequently asked questions about spaying and neutering here.

Pet Insurance: Are You Covered?

18 Sep

It wasn’t long after we brought Bailey home that we realized how much time, attention and money this adorable Labrador was going to be. Her high energy and drive made us question – what wouldn’t this puppy get into!

After hearing my stories, my colleagues mentioned that we should look into purchasing pet insurance – and that our company actually provided this benefit. Pet insurance? Really? What a genius idea! 

In just the first couple months, we had already incurred hundreds of dollars in vet bills just from puppy wellness visits and vaccines – I couldn’t imagine how we would budget for any unexpected health issues. The thought of something happening to our new little one and not knowing how to pay for treatment was unbearable. After learning more about pet insurance and the advantages, it seemed like the most affordable way to make sure Bailey’s planned medical needs and long term health we’re covered.

Whether you’re thinking about a new puppy or adopting an older dog, you may consider looking into pet insurance – and more importantly, which carrier and plan is right for you. If you have a pet or considering pet insurance, here are a few tips to consider before making a purchase.

  1. Learn if there is a waiting period before your coverage begins. It usually takes at least 30 days.
  2. Most providers don’t cover pre-existing conditions, common breed problems, or previous diagnosed issues.
  3. Understand your provider’s cancelation policies or restrictions.
  4. Choose a plan that provides an affordable deductible or co-pay option.
  5. Ask about the provider’s reimbursement procedure, timing and if there are any claim fees to be aware of.
  6. Do your homework on the right provider and plan options. Use review sites or forums to learn from others experiences.
  7. Look for available discounts through company work/life benefits, or by covering multiple pets. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
  8. Ask if your provider requires a preferred animal hospital or vet. Also, certain providers are limited to specific states.
  9. You know your pet the best. Choose the right level of insurance that will protect them and you. The first step is getting them covered. You can always change or upgrade your plan later.
  10. Many providers offer access to pet experts, online advice and other helpful resources to keep you informed. Take advantage of the free information available.

The process of finding a provider and plan that works for your family can seem overwhelming. However, if you take your time and ask the right questions – it will hopefully save you money in the long run. If for nothing else, to make sure you’re prepared in case something unthinkable happens to your furry baby. Our decision to purchase premium coverage for Bailey has saved us more than $2,000 and provided us peace of mind that she will receive the care needed – without worrying about vet bills.

Good luck and feel free to contact us if you have any!

Paw Perfect Beauty Secrets

13 Sep

New York Fashion Week might be coming to a close, but there are some beauty trends that never go out of style.

It’s true that Labradors may have low-maintenance grooming needs, but they can often be prone to seasonal allergies and every pup needs to look their best. Weather your looking for a shiny coat, less shedding or smoother paws – you’ll want to continue reading Bailey’s paw perfect beauty secrets to keep your pooch looking their best all year long.

A healthy Coat

Omega-3 Krill Oil: Just one pill a day will keep your dogs coat shiny and help prevent dry skin. The Omega-3s don’t give your dog that fishy smell or gas that fish oil may. 

Virbac Hexadene Medicated Shampoo: A gentle shampoo that helps prevent skin rashes, acne and pyoderma (a common skin allergy) without irritating the skin.

Planet Petco Natural Shea Butter Daily Moisturizing Spray: A great moisturizer to freshen up your pooch and keep their fur shiny and smelling like coconuts!

Less Shedding

Oatmeal Baking Soda Conditioner Shed Repel & Odor Control: Smells delicious and leaves fur soft, while helping to minimize shedding.

FURminator: Reduces up to 90% of shedding. We typically use around Bailey’s hind legs and neck.

Smooth Paws

Four Paws Paw Guard with Lanolin: Our best kept secret! Bailey’s paws can get rough and cracked with a lot activity. After applying paw guard to her pads at least twice a week, we see a tremendous difference. This protective wax helps shield paws from heat, ice and rough surfaces. It also helps smooth any cracks that might already exist.

Red-Itchy Eyes, Ears and Skin


Benadryl Antihistamine Tablets:
When the wind kicks up, Bailey gets a runny nose that won’t stop, along with red eyes and ears. We give her up to 3 tablets (based on weight) and it clears them right up! Check with your vet if you think your dog might have allergies.

PhytoVet CK Wipes: Another common problem for Bailey is yeast infections on her skin, primarily in her webbed paws. When we see she’s itching her paws insistently, we know there’s a problem. These wipes help clear prevent any flare up that might happen. In the past it’s gotten so bad, that she’s licked and chewed her paws raw. So, these wipes are helpful to keep around.

Virbac Epi-Otic Ear Solution: No one likes smelly ears full of wax. Not only does this solution help prevent ear infections – it leaves Bailey’s ears smelling and looking clean!

Clean Teeth

Pro-Pet Canine Toothpaste & toothbrush: Bad breath can be a fashion disaster. Every pup needs healthy and clean gums. Thankfully, Bailey loves having her teeth brushed. This toothpaste seems to be anther treat. There are lots of toothbrushes out there – so find one that works for you!

Natural Rawhide Rolls: Once in awhile we use these to help prevent tarter build up. The intense chewing helps clean Bailey’s teeth and keeps her busy for at least 30 minutes.

These are just a few of our secret beauty tips to keep our pretty girl looking, feeling and smelling her best – during any season!

Did someone say food?

31 Jul

There is nothing Bailey loves more than food. Pavlov’s theory is true when it comes to Bailey. As soon as she hears the word or we spell F-O-O-D, she starts salivating. If we mention the word “treat,” she instantly becomes an obedient soldier, ready to do anything on command for that delicious snack.

With her intense food motivation, we’ve learned the importance of reading ingredients to make sure Bailey’s getting the proper nutrition. Especially when you’re using treats for obedience training – calories, sugar and fat can quickly add up!

As with any nutritional information, it’s important to understand the main ingredients and their percentages. Do the main ingredients list: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal (all fillers)? Or, does your dog food list natural ingredients, such as: deboned chicken, chicken meal, peas, potatoes, turkey meal, pea fiber, whole carrots, whole sweet potatoes, blueberries and cranberries.  Ingredients in both dog food and treats are very telling – and you might be surprised the percentage of Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Carbohydrates and Crude Fiber. Just as we would look at ingredients to watch our own weight – we need to do the same for our pampered pets.

Another important decision is when to feed your pooch. To help Bailey not get hungry throughout the day (and devour her meal), we feed her twice daily. Depending on your brand’s feeding guidelines, you would give half the amount in the morning and the second half in the evening. For puppies, it’s recommended to feed them three times throughout the day. You’ll always want to watch your dog’s weight and alternate the amount depending on how lean or heavy they’re looking. You’re veterinarian can help you determine what’s ideal for your pet.

Here are some additional food related tips we’ve learned:

Food Allergies

After about 6 months, Bailey also started developing allergies – common among Labrador Retrievers. Her eyes and skin would get red, and she began to chew her webbed paws. Before we knew what she was allergic to, the vet warned us about food allergies. We quickly realized how hard it would be to determine which food she might be allergic to because of the variety of ingredients we were giving her. So, as a new dog owner, you may want to limit the amount of ingredients (or proteins) to your pup until you know they may react. Thankfully, Bailey has seasonal skin allergies and not a food allergy!

Digestion Problems

Some food brands high in protein or that include rich proteins (i.e., venison, liver, beef or pork) tend to upset Bailey’s stomach. Fish, poultry and lamb products have worked the best for us. You also want to make sure your dog is having healthy (and solid) poops and they’re not too gassy.

Vitamins and Supplements

After Bailey’s torn ACL in her right knee, her veterinarian recommended she take Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements. This helps with common joint problems in Labradors and arthritis in older dogs. You can find these supplements (among other vitamins) in a variety of dog food or treats. We also give Bailey one Omega-3 krill oil vitamin a day for a healthy coat. These don’t give her gas like fish oil does, and they help against dry/itchy skin.

Avoid Bad Habits

There’s nothing worse than an 85 pound Labrador scouring the counters for food scraps or stealing food off your dinner plate. Proper table manners begin with reinforcing good behavior – and for our family that means no human food for Bailey. Many common foods can be toxic to dogs, not to mention very unhealthy. Setting boundaries will help keep you and your dog safe in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

Bailey’s Favorites

Below are some of Bailey’s favorite treats and tricks we use to slow down how fast she eats her food:

The bottom line – a healthy dog is a happy dog. It starts with nutritious ingredients, but healthy food behavior is just as important – from both the owner and the dog!

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