Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Don’t let Halloween be a SCARY time for pets!

Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Halloween dog costume

The Headless Dogman makes a SCARY Halloween appearance!

Halloween is full of frightful sugar-induced fun for kids and adults alike, but when it comes to pets, the same treats that we enjoy can cause severe illness, or worse. If you have kids, make sure that they understand that their candy is NOT to be shared with the family dog(s)! (It’s just more for them anyway). Stress the importance of keeping their Halloween haul safe, and in a high place or closed cupboard that nosy wet noses can’t sniff out. Dogs may love chocolate as much as we do, but they don’t know how bad it is for them: if they make off with too many treats, the effects can be downright lethal.

Petplan, a pet health insurance company, released data that shows candy-related pet health problems and emergencies increase by 284 percent in the week after Halloween. Granted, that number comes from their specific claims data, and doesn’t include data from other insurers or non-insured pets; but based on this number, just consider how many candy-related trips to the vet go unreported, due to the majority of people that don’t have pet health insurance.

For more tips on how to avoid the biggest health hazards to pets at Halloween, read on…

  • Chocolate: everyone knows the dangers of chocolate to dogs. But how dangerous? Just one ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 50-pound dog.
  • Raisins: While everyone knows the dangers of chocolate for dogs, the dangers of raisins are lesser known. They’re actually extremely poisonous to pets, especially dogs. Even in small doses, raisin consumption can cause kidney failure in four-legged family members, so treat these treats the same as you would sugary sweets.
  • Candy wrappers:Even if you’re careful to keep candy out of reach of your pet’s paws, keep fun, crinkly wrappers out of their reach too. They can lead to intestinal obstruction, which often requires surgery. 
  • Keep pets calm: Pets can get seriously freaked out by the constant doorbell ringing, not to mention an overwhelming amount of small ghouls and goblins running around the neighborhood. Consider setting up a room with water, food, toys and a comfy pet bed where your pet can stay safe and sound. He’ll probably feel a lot calmer away from the Halloween fray anyway.
  • Safe and comfortable pet costumes: According to the National Retail Federation, 14.7 percent of pet parents will dress up their pets for Halloween. (And earthbath is a fan, as long as your pet is! We’re running a pet costume contest on Facebook – check it out!) If you costume your pet, make sure that your pet doesn’t mind the costume. Some find it very stressful, and for these anxious animals, we don’t advocate making them uncomfortable or unhappy. For those in costume, check to make sure that it’s costume safe and doesn’t constrict your pet’s movement or their ability to see or breathe freely. And even if you do dress your pet up, don’t leave the costume on for very long: pets in costumes can become overheated very quickly.

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Summer Coat Care for Dog Paddlers!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Remember back when you used to go swimming every day during summer… until your hair turned green from all the chlorine? And then you learned – always to rinse after swimming (good), wash (better), or pre-condition your hair before taking a dip (best).

Just because your dog may not be mortified by suddenly morphing locks of green, this doesn’t mean you can (or should) ignore summer swim coat care for him, just as you wouldn’t ignore proper summer hair care protection for yourself!

If your dog loves jumping in the lake, cavorting on the beach, or even diving into the pool, that summer splash factor can wreak havoc on your dog’s shiny coat and itch-free skin unless you take some simple grooming precautions.

For Pool Pooches:

Chlorine is notoriously drying – and dogs aren’t immune to its parching effects either. Dogs who join you in your backyard pool are likely to be more prone to itchy, dry skin and a dull, dry coat because the pool chemicals strip the skin and coat of their naturally protective oils. Remember, too, that a dog’s skin is more sensitive than human skin, with a pH that is nearly neutral (like pure water) – human skin pH is much more acidic, so we can tolerate the harsher acidity of chemicals (like chlorine) much better than our dogs.

Chlorine could even change the color of your dog’s coat: it could affect dark coats by dulling and even bleaching them out, and even turn those platinum blondes (hey golden retrievers, yellow labs, and snow white malteses – we’re talking to you!) green!

How to avoid these pool pitfalls? Just follow these three simple things:

1) Spray down your dog with a coat conditioner like any of our earthbath spritzes before he hits the pool. This conditioning spray will help create a barrier of protection for both his skin and coat from the drying effects of the chlorine.

2) After every swim, rinse him down thoroughly with pure, cool water. Rinse well longer than you think is necessary just so you ensure all pool chemicals and chlorine is completely gone. Towel dry, and then, if you have time (for an even better protective effect), follow with another spritz of earthbath conditioning spritz in your favorite scent! Comb through to get out any mats before they worsen, and to distribute the conditioning spray evenly.

3) Once a week, comb your dog out completely and bathe him thoroughly with any of earthbath’s gentle shampoos and follow with a conditioner. This will ensure any remaining chemical residue is completely washed out, and will also re-moisturize his coat.

Bow Wow, Beach Dog

Though saltwater and a day in the sun can create perfect “sun-kissed beach hair” for us girls, that same sun, salt, and sand can result in nothing but an itchy mess for your dog unless you prep with a few key items:

1) Prep with a moisturizing conditioner or conditioning spray to protect his skin and coat.

2) Before you leave your day at the beach, make sure to give your dog a thorough brushing to get all the sand and grit out of his coat. Brush against the direction of hair growth, and then with it. Then give him a thorough rinsing in those beach showers – rinse him down completely to get rid of any remaining sand and rinse all of the salt out.

3) If he’s still itching later, or perhaps feels a bit grimy or sticky… it’s time for an earthbath! earthbath oatmeal and aloe or tea tree and aloe shampoos are perfect for itchy dogs, as these natural healers will help to soothe itchy spots and areas of discomfort. Generally, if your dog is spending a lot of time with you outdoors and especially at the beach, lake, or pool, a bath once a week as a necessity to keep him clean and comfortable. Definitely make sure to condition, so you’re protecting his skin and coat every time you shampoo. A perfect spritz for hot, itchy dogs is SheaPet’s Herbal Hot Spot & Itch Relief Moisturizing Treatment with Shea Butter & Tea Tree Oil Spritz, a great leave-on herbal skin tonic and coat conditioner.

4) Keep in mind what hot sand does to tender paws! Apply a soothing shea butter balm like SheaPet Aloe and Treatment Balm which is great to heal cracked pads, sun-sore noses, and hot spots.

“Freshwater” Fidos

Unfortunately, freshwater streams, lakes, and rivers are not quite as pristine as you’d like to believe.  Which doesn’t matter to your dog – who (we know from experience) would relish any opportunity to roll in a mud puddle – or to you, if you’re one of the majority of us who live near a body of water that is not an ocean.  Lakes, rivers, and streams are a blast to play in, but many of them contain fairly high levels of algae, sludge, pollutants, bugs, and even leeches!

This means – any dip in the lake should be followed by a full-fledged earthbath afterwards. Take care to observe all of the usual steps you’d take prior to bathing your dog – comb him out thoroughly to remove any mats or tangles, wet him down thoroughly, and scrub him to the skin with a gentle but effective shampoo. Remoisturize with conditioner.

If you’re hitting the pool, lake, or ocean frequently, it’s more important than ever to be using products that won’t strip away the natural oils of the coat and skin – which could do even more damage than not bathing your dog at all. That’s why, if you’re armed with earthbath, you can bathe as often as you like, and never have to worry about irritations!  The only thing you have to concern yourself with, is which of our 11 delicious fragrance options to use… this time!

And with that, the sun’s shining so… we’re off to the beach!

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Pet Travel Essentials

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

If you’re going to be road-tripping (or even heading out for a fun day in the sun) with your pet this summer, don’t forget your dog-specific travel supplies! We’ve compiled a list of the 8 most important items to ensure you both make the most of your day(s) off without any hassles or health trip-ups!

Make sure you bring along:

  • Travel dog bowls and clean water:  Don’t let your dog drink out of city puddles, or mountain-fresh streams and rivers. The same Giardia parasite you’re avoiding by not drinking out of streams and rivers could also infect your dog, along with a whole other host of worms and parasitic nastiness that you really don’t want to get involved with! Leptospirosis is a deadly disease that is easily picked up by dogs when they sniff or drink out of puddles or still water that has been contaminated by leptospirosis-infected urine (often carried by rodents, raccoons, skunks, etc). Vets see a lot of cases of leptospirosis in late summer and fall, particularly in places where it rains heavily. Scarily, not all dogs infected with this bacteria show any symptoms, yet if left untreated, it can eventually cause kidney failure and death. Prevent water-borne diseases and parasites in your pets by carrying your own water, so they won’t be tempted to drink out of mud puddles! Collapsible/foldable dog bowls or refillable doggy water bottles are easy to find, and quick and simple to pack along on any trip, from your daily neighborhood walk (critical in the summer heat) to car rides to longer hikes and travels.
  • Food: Depending on how long you’ll be gone, your dog will need to replenish his energy stores, just as you do! And if you’re packing a picnic or BBQ supplies at the beach, don’t leave Fido hanging out hungry. Ensuring you’ve got food along just for him will stave off the temptation to let him share your feast (which could lead to tummy troubles later)!
  • Travel Wipes: For muddy trails, river crossings, and whatever other kinds of  “gunk” your dog gets into, it will make the car ride home a much more pleasant experience if you clean off your dog’s muddy paws with earthbath travel wipes, made just for situations like these!
  • Dog Cooling Bandannas or Wraps: If it’s very hot, or if you plan to walk or hike several miles, make sure your dog doesn’t get overheated. If you’re hiking, you can all go for a swim in the lake or streams (but watch that he doesn’t ingest the water!), or else, for a safer and more reliable approach, you can use one of the specially made wraps or bandannas that you soak in cool water, or even place in the fridge or cooler for an intensified chiller-effect, that expand, allowing the water-filled material to evaporate through the layers as airflow moves over it.
  • Flea, tick and mosquito protection: Summer is insect season, and if you’re heading out into the great outdoors, you’ll want to be sure and protect your pet from fleas, ticks, mosquitos, flies, and other biting insects. Check with your vet for the best product(s) for your pet’s special needs.
  • Sunscreen: A lot of people don’t think about it, but if your dog is short-haired, light-colored, or shaved, he is just as susceptible to painful sunburn and skin cancer as you are. That means as you slather yourself up with sunscreen, so should you slather your dog. In addition, even if your pet isn’t white or particularly short-haired, the tip of the nose, especially if it’s pale or white, is prone to sun-induced tumors, as are the tips of the ears (or any area which is sparsely covered in hair and the skin is thin). There are specific sunscreens designed for pets, but sensitive skin or baby sunscreens can be used as well. However, be careful with the sunscreen you use on your dog, because some ingredients can be toxic if they are licked off. Zinc oxide should never be used because dogs can become dangerously anemic if it is ingested.

  • Dog Pack or Saddle Bag: If your dog is going to be hiking along with you, depending on how far you’re going, he might as well carry his own weight! A travel bag specially made to be worn comfortably by your dog makes hiking and especially, backpacking, much easier on you, if he can carry his own food, water, treats, medications, dog bowls, wipes, and anything else he (or you) might need.
  • Watch for signs of overheating and heat exhaustion: Though not a material “item,” the best thing to bring along on any summertime adventure with your pet is constant vigilant awareness to your pet’s comfort level and state of energy. Remember, dogs only have their tongues to cool off, and an inexhaustible desire to “keep up” with you and please you. This means, unfortunately, that your dog will likely drive itself to complete exhaustion rather than prevent you from continuing your run/hike/walk/etc. So, it’s up to you to stop your dog before he gets to that unfortunate point.

    If panting isn’t enough to reduce their rising body temperature, the dog is in danger of developing heat stroke. Early signs of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, heavy panting, and thick, ropy salivation. Other signs are fatigue, muscle tremors, and staggering/confusion. If you think your dog may be suffering from heat exhaustion, take him to a cool, shady place, and apply wet towels or cloths to help cool the dog’s body down. Don’t let the dog rapidly gulp water, as this can create shock in its body and make it even sicker. Give the dog small amounts of water, and immediately call a vet.

  • Finally, if it’s too hot for you, it’s WAY too hot for your dog. Wait until it cools off before you do anything active.

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Pet Tips for the Fourth of July

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

The Fourth of July is one of the most dreaded holidays, striking fear and terror into little hearts everywhere… and sometimes sending the bravest of them all scurrying to hide under the bed or into a closet. We are, of course, talking about how this holiday affects your pets. Though you (and especially your kids) love the festivity of fireworks, their deafening noises can scare the daylights out of your dog or cat.

In addition, amidst all of the holiday hubbub, it can be very easy to lose track of your pet and before you even realize it, your (frantic or terrified) dog or cat may have gone missing. In fact, the Humane Society of the United States reports that animal shelters across the country are used to receiving “July 4th Dogs:” dogs who run off during fireworks celebrations and are rescued by animal control officers or helpful citizens who take them to the safety of a local shelter.

We’ve compiled this list of precautions to protect your pet this holiday weekend, so everyone in your family can enjoy a fun and safe Fourth of July!

  • Don’t take your pet along with you to watch your city’s fireworks display. If you’re considering this idea, consider that to your pet, it will seem like they are being tortured, for no understandable reason. Pets LOVE routine, and in addition to routine, a nice CALM routine. To take them so far out of their comfort zone as to a city fireworks celebration will  be nothing but pure terrifying torture to your pet.  In some municipalities, pets aren’t even allowed. Remember how sensitive an animal’s hearing is, as compared to a human’s and be considerate of your pet’s comfort.
  • Keep your pets indoors at home in a sheltered, quiet area while you party. Even neighborhood firecrackers, loud music, and block party celebrations can scare pets. In this case, it’s best to keep your pet confined to a quiet room in the house that he feels comfortable in, with his bed, a lot of chew toys, and some comforting white noise left on, like the TV or music, to mask foreign noises, and to keep him company while you’re out. Remember too that some animals can become destructive when frightened, involuntarily eliminating or defecating in fear, or displacing their anxiety by chewing, scratching, digging, and so on, so be sure that you’ve removed any items in the room you leave your pet in that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if he chewed it.
  • If your pet behaves nervously by pacing, whining or crying, distract her by playing with her or doing something she enjoys. Don’t pay extra-special attention to her by petting, holding, cooing at or otherwise babying her. This may actually reinforce her nervousness or fright.
  • Ensure your pet is safely confined in a spot they will feel comfortable in. Some pets can become so upset or frantic by loud noises that they simply want to bolt. Dogs can be very ingenious, and can find very clever ways to get out of rooms, houses, or fenced yards, only to become lost or worse. One such tragic story reported by the Humane Society recounted what happened when a 2 year old dog, left at home alone while her family was out for only four hours to celebrate the Fourth of July, escaped from the house and fenced backyard. The family returned home to feces on the living room floor, an open sliding glass door, and a hole under their fence. Only days later did they find their dog, dead, on the side of a road where she was often walked. “From what we can tell, when she heard the fireworks she freaked out and pooped on the floor inside—for the first time ever—then she opened the sliding glass door with her paw, and dug a hole outside our fence…. She went searching for us.”
  • If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, and there is no safe/quiet haven in your house, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for alternative ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.
  • Never leave your pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard. In their fear by the unusual loud noises and lights of fireworks, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost. See the tragic story recounted above.
  • Don’t let your pet help you with the Bar-B-Q! This is a no-brainer, but keep your pet away from grills, charcoal and lighter fluid. Sunscreen, insect repellent and citronella candles can also hurt your pet.
  • Even though you’re indulging, resist the urge to indulge your pet! Your pet will most likely happily eat up anything you give him, but remember that onions, salt, avocados and chocolate can all be fatally toxic to dogs and cats. In all of the festivities and crazy activity, it can be hard to keep track of what your pet has eaten, or what guests have “spoiled” him with, and too much “people food” can make your pet very sick.
  • If you suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic substance, or is displaying signs of overindulgence: Contact your vet or the 24-hour Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.
  • Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running loose without any identification should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners.

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Four legs to fitness!

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Got a dog? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably yes, or else it’s “I’m planning on getting one soon.” Great! Grab the leash and get ready to hit the trail, sidewalks, or parks for a path to fitness! What better weekend to start a new fitness routine than Memorial Day weekend? (…If you find yourself lapsed on your New Year’s resolution… that is!) Whether you’re in the U.S. (celebrating a long 3-day holiday weekend this weekend) or not, the last weekend in May is pretty much the official start of summer, with long days of sun, languorous lounging at the beach, and picnics in the park to kick it all off.

Results of a recent study revealed that people who have dogs and regularly walk them are 34% more likely than those that don’t have dogs to meet government-mandated physical-activity guidelines, which equates to 30 minutes of “moderate” exercise each day, at least 5 days a week.

The data, which was gathered through a telephone survey of nearly 6,000 adults, revealed that of those that owned dogs, about 61% take their dogs for regular walks, for at least 10 minutes at a time. As for the other 39%, we are pretty sure that both they – AND their dogs – could benefit from some extra daily activity! The good news from the study is simply this:  Just having a reason to move regularly (i.e. your activity-loving, walk-needing dog) has a serious advantage when it comes to meeting physical activity needs for health benefits. Walking your dog regularly means you’re much more likely than most other people to get the government recommendation of at least 150 minutes of exercise each week (though only 27% of the regular dog walkers took their dogs walking for 30 or more minutes each walk). And if this isn’t enough good news, dog walkers were also  more likely than non–dog owners to amp up their exercise to “moderately intense,” taking a walk around the block to new lengths (and speeds), perhaps going further each day, walking faster, starting a jogging routine, or more. It seems that “moving begets more moving” – exercise feels great – to you AND your dog, and taking that first step really is the hardest. Once you’re moving, it’s easy to simply keep going!

Doggone Good Benefits

Other research has suggested that owning one or more dogs can not only help encourage people  to lead more active lives, but reduce stress through bonding with their canine companion, as well as the known stress-relieving effects that regular exercise brings. Dog owners also have been found to have healthier blood pressure (see above for why!). It’s pretty simple: Dogs — like humans — need regular exercise to stay happy, healthy, and relaxed. In an earlier post, we spoke about the mental benefits to your dog from regular exercise: a daily walk can prevent cognitive dysfunction disorder in dogs (which is mental decline similar to Alzheimer’s disease in human)!

When we exercise our dogs, we exercise ourselves, too. Just don’t forget to refresh yourself on the rules of dog walking etiquette, for the benefit of your dog as well as your neighbors. So, get up off the couch and get your walking shoes on! Find a meaningful reason to walk so you’ll do it often: your muscles, your heart, your frame of mind… not to mention, your dogs… will thank you.

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