Switching to a Raw Diet

The commercial pet food industry is a scary business. From questionable ingredients that can make your dog sick to misleading marketing tactics, navigating the shelves to choose a healthy and affordable food is a daunting task.

We consulted canine nutrition expert Sabine Contreras, author of The Dog Food Project, to find out what’s really in commercial dog food and now, we’re going raw.

The health benefits of a raw diet made it a no-brainer.

The Honest Kitchen dehydrated chicken food

“It’s species-appropriate and addresses many health concerns, including dental care, digestive health, skin problems, allergies, obesity, and more,” Contreras says. “I don’t recommend it for immune-compromised animals and it’s important to be careful with dogs who don’t tolerate much fat, but the average dog will benefit greatly from eating a raw diet instead of processed kibble.”

Some folks may have the time to whip up homemade food for their pets, but I’m not one of them. I want to give my dogs the best but I need convenience, too. So we decided on The Honest Kitchen’s dehydrated food, which Contreras assures is quite a step up from kibble.

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Home for the Holidays; People with Pets Tend to Stay Put

If you’re a pet parent, chances are you’re staying home for the holidays. Most pet owners consider their furry friends part of the family and have a hard time leaving them behind during the holiday season when travel options are sparse.

holiday info graphic 1

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Rover.com Brings Dog Sitters to You

Whether it’s vacation, the holidays or work, we hate leaving our dog behind when we travel. Are you nervous dropping him at a kennel or even a dog hotel? Now there’s another option where the dog sitter comes to you – Rover.com.

rover.com home pageRover.com is a nationwide site of 25,000 sitter profiles where you can search and find the perfect fit for you and your dog. Co-founder Greg Gottesman thought of the idea after a bad experience at a high-end kennel where his dog, Ruby Tuesday, was injured. He thought his dog would have been more comfortable in his own environment.

“He and his team pitched the idea for Rover.com at the 2011 Startup Weekend in Seattle and won top prize,” Rover.com CEO Aaron Easterly says.

If you’re worried about having a stranger in your home, rest assured Rover thoroughly checks out its sitters.

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Free Weight-Loss Contest for Bay Area Pets

Just call it Biggest Loser: Pet Edition. One Bay Area vet clinic is launching a weight-loss contest for your dog or cat, and it’s free!

weight loss challenge

Dr. Kristina Hansson came up with the weight-loss challenge to help overweight patients like the cat pictured here.

Cornerstone Integrative Veterinary Hospital in Marin County was inspired to start this weight-loss challenge due to a startling trend in pet ownership: roughly 50 percent of our furry friends are now overweight, which is leading to a number of health issues.

“Most don’t realize their pets are overweight, they just think they are a bit chubby,” Cornerstone owner Dr. Kristina Hansson says. “But when explained all the problems associated with obesity, they tend to take it very seriously.”

To enter the contest, schedule a free consultation with the office in September, where they will assess your pet and do a weigh-in. All overweight cats and dogs are eligible and the winner will receive a one-year wellness plan valued at over $2,000.

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Driven to Bark Campaign

Countless dogs are left unattended in cars every day. Did you know it doesn’t even have to be that warm outside for the temperature inside the car to become dangerous very quickly? Even at a comfortable 72 degrees outside, the interior of a car can reach 106 degrees within 30 minutes.

dogs in car with window cracked

Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a car can reach a deadly level fast; your dog can die from heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes of exposure.

And when it is hot outside, the temperature inside the car soars to a potentially deadly level within minutes, even with the windows cracked. Dr. Ernie Ward demonstrated how excruciating it is for a human, and that’s without a fur coat! Dogs can die from heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes of exposure to very hot temperatures.

Surprisingly, it is legal in most states to leave your dog unattended in a car; only 15 states have statutes in place discouraging the practice. But Petplan pet insurance wants to change that. They’ve launched an initiative called “Driven to Bark” through We the People, the White House’s online petition site.

Driven to Bark needs your support. The petition will be reviewed by White House staff if 100,000 signatures are gathered in 30 days. Signing the petition is very easy; just enter your full name, email address and then confirm your email address with a quick click inside the body of an email from We the People.

Please sign the petition and share this cause on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #DrivenToBark.

 

Training Tips to Use with the ThunderShirt

yellow dog wearing a thundershirtWe’ve already detailed how the ThunderShirt works but if you’re planning on using the shirt for the first time this 4th of July, make sure you know how you should act when fireworks go off.

Did you know you shouldn’t yell at your dog for barking? ThunderShirt offers some training tips on their website to use with the shirt.

We also consulted The Pooch Coach, trainer Beverly Ulbrich, for tips on dealing with 4th of July noises. Here’s what she suggests:

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What You Don’t Know About Flea Medicine

You have Frontline stocked and religiously give it to your dog every month. He’s protected from fleas and ticks, right? Well, maybe.

frontlineTopical flea medicines like Frontline or K9 Advantix lose their effectiveness throughout the month, especially if your pup has had a bath or goes for a swim during that time. So by week three or four, the effectiveness could only be at 50 percent or less, which is a problem for dogs who are flea allergic.

Bay Area Veterinary Dermatologist Dr. Nicole Eckholm says your dog will generally be okay if you give a topical flea preventative once a month but if you dog is flea allergic, it might be a good idea to give it every three weeks.

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How to Clean Your Dog After a Skunk Attack

By: Beverly Ulbrich, The Pooch Coach

There are a lot of good articles about what to do if your dog gets sprayed by a skunk, but no one has time to read through it all or watch videos when it happens. So here are some quick, easy steps you can take to be prepared, help your dog suffer less and get rid of the smell.

skunk wash

The three ingredients you need to make a skunk wash. But be careful, these ingredients MUST be mixed in an open container or they could explode.

1. Be prepared. Stock these items so you’re prepared in advance: baking soda, three percent hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish-washing detergent, such as Dawn. Nature’s Miracle also makes a Skunk Odor Remover.

2. Contain the smell. Your dog will want to rub off the oil on whatever he can find, so try to keep your dog outside or at least away from anything in your house.

3. Act quickly. Every second counts. The oils sinks into your dog’s coat quickly and it burns his eyes, mouth, nose and skin.

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More Suspicious Meatballs Found in San Francisco

suspicious meatballs san franciscoYet another round of suspicious meatballs has been found in a San Francisco park frequented by dogs. A woman spotted a plate of meatballs with pills sticking out of them Monday morning at the Sunset Reservoir near the corner of Ortega and 24th Avenue.

Police are testing the meatballs to see if the pills are poisonous. A $25,000 reward is being offered by the Animal Defense Fund for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for these meatballs.

This is the fourth such sighting of suspicious meatballs in San Francisco in the past two years. A dachshund named Oskar died in July 2013 after eating a suspicious meatball in the Twin Peaks neighborhood.

Some residents think off-leash dogs might be targeted because not all owners clean up after them.

To keep your dog safe, keep him on a leash unless he is 100 percent reliable with recall and the command “off!” or “drop it!”

We have frequented the Sunset Reservoir and there are many areas an off-leash dog can get into trouble with poisonous meatballs potentially hiding in the brush on the hills flanking the fences of the reservoir. We stay on the path and only let the dogs run on the grass where we can see them.

Tick Season Underway; How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Wild winter weather has led to an early emergence of ticks and with tick season now officially underway, we’re laying out the tips to make sure your dog stays safe.

tick

Photo by: André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Ticks are found virtually everywhere in California and if you visit woodsy areas with tall grasses, like the Marin Headlands, you will want to check your dog for ticks once you leave.

“Comb your dog or look him over thoroughly after outings to find ticks before they attach,” Dr. Brandy Vickers of Avenues Pet Hospital says.

It’s important to check your dog as soon as possible after leaving wooded areas. The faster you find a tick and have it removed, the lower the risk of transmission of tick-borne diseases.

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