Great Gifts For Your Favorite Pooch

December 14th, 2014 Comments off

Every pet outlet is taking advantage of the impulse buyer at this festive time of year. Pet stores and sites are tantalizing dog lovers with a vast array of “dog stuff”, and it is tough for dog lovers to resist with all the “hot buys” offered. Here a toy, there a toy, everywhere a toy, and your dog certainly needs a new toy (or two, or three!) for Christmas, right?

It is important to realize that there is NO agency overseeing the yearly $50 BILLION dollar dog toy market, and many of them are not good for your canine. With the market flooded with cheap imports, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Double check and then check again to make sure any toy is non-toxic and SAFE. Hazards can include anything from needles left inside stuffed toys to chemical laden paints and choking dangers, which are all too common with many of the toys. Although tennis balls are wonderful for some dogs, if the dog is an aggressive chewer, he can puncture the ball with his teeth and the ball is stuck in his mouth, or if he chews them in half, pieces can be swallowed…we have two dogs at the shelter right now that LOVE tennis balls, but cannot be left unattended with them. Squeaky toys are a favorite for almost all dogs, but again it is common for dogs to choke on them often causing a blockage that requires surgery. Dogs also love rawhides which can become soft when they are chewed and can lodge in the throat. I do not recommend ever giving raw hides to your dog!

Please choose products made in North America or Europe over those mass-produced and imported from other countries where safety standards are minimal. Inspect any toy for loose parts or pieces that might easily break off. Don’t give children’s toys to dogs, because they would probably chew off and choke on the eyes and noses of stuffed animals.

One of my very favorite commercial toy for dogs is the Kong. The Classic Kong has been around for more than 20 years, and is a “must have” staple for dog caregivers. Kong toys are uniquely shaped, extraordinarily strong, rubber toys with hollow centers, and they have an unpredictable bounce that lures most dogs into an ongoing game of catch, chase, and chew. (Sadly the Kong Company is now outsourcing some of their new products, but the Classic Kongs are made in the USA.) This amazing toy can be used for therapy, boredom, separation anxiety, other behavior problems, and just plain fun! Every dog should have several Kongs, especially if he is left alone for extended periods of time. A Kong can be stuffed with almost any kind of food your dog likes. Mix some of his meal with a little canned dog food, yogurt, peanut butter, cottage cheese…combinations are endless.

Another favorite toy is the CUZ, an ingeniously designed, natural rubber ball with feet….but that is not the only inventive thing about it. It squeaks…and the squeaker is built into the Cuz so that it won’t fall out. It has become a real favorite with the dogs at the shelter. It is a well-made toy made by JW Pets, a US based company that claims their ideas are l00% homegrown. They do their own inventing, designing, and creating in their facility in Texas…no outsourcing. They also have a big assortment of other creative, well made toys, with the latest addition being the Cuz Tails, which has a soft, squeaky tail that can be bounced, tugged and fetched …fun for both humans and canines. JW dog toys are better quality than most of the toys you find in dog toy departments. We encourage you to check out their website at You’ll find some really fun dog stuff.

Remember that no toy is indestructible, and as long as the toy industry is an unsupervised playground, it is the responsibility of the caregivers to keep their eyes on the ball, stuffing, and squeaker.


It’s Beginnning to Look Like Christmas

December 10th, 2014 Comments off

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go,  and  the gamut of holiday activities –baking, shopping,  gift wrapping, parties, and house guests—is in full swing.  Busy, busy, busy with many extras vying for your time.   As schedules become frantic, how do our pets fare?  What happens to the daily walk, the game of fetch, and  the quiet snuggle with a favorite human companion?   Taking care of your dog in the holiday season  requires a bit of  caution, because with all the interesting foods and decorations in our homes, there are many hazards.

  • The traditional Christmas tree needs to be placed in an area where it is not likely to be knocked over, and secured well.   There simply are no perfectly pet-safe ornaments, but  glass ones, or easily broken ones should be placed high on the tree.  Ornaments with hooks to attach them to the tree often fall from the tree, and pets may catch their mouths on them , or swallow them.
  • Most dogs (and cats)  are attracted to tinsel, and may try to eat the stuff  which can slice up their gastrointestinal system.   Sweep up the pine needles that drop  to prevent ingestion of needles which  can cause gastric irritation.  Turn the lights on only when you are home because risk is always there with a live tree.   Do not allow your pet access to the tree water to drink.
  • Dogs love to investigate and most don’t understand that the presents are not chew toys.  Inquisitive dogs may tear open wrapped gifts,  and ingest decorative ribbons or strings (not to mention that gifts can be destroyed by a playful pet).  It is wise to limit unsupervised  access to the area.
  • During the holiday season, many lights are displayed, and, with these lights,  come electric cords.  Curious pets can find these cords interesting and fun , resulting in electric shock or burns.
  • Don’t leave lighted candles unattended.  Dogs may burn themselves or cause a fire if they are knocked over.  Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface, out of paws’ reach.  And if you leave the room, put the candle out!  Essential oils are highly toxic and should be also kept out of reach.
  • Fatty, spicy, and no-no-human foods such as chocolate, or anything sweetened with xylitol,  as well as bones should not be fed to your four-legs.  Ingestion of  high- fat foods  or other holiday foods such as yeast breads or fruit cakes with currants and raisins can result in serious gastrointestinal upset.  No alcoholic beverages should be left where an inquisitive dog can reach them.  Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the trash where you throw away the string or paper used to wrap the turkey or ham!
  • If you have house guests, remind them to keep all their meds zipped up and out of reach.  Handbags typically contain many items poisonous to dogs, including prescription meds, pain meds such as Tylenol, sugarless chewing gum, asthma inhalers, cigarettes, coins, and hand sanitizers.

Veterinarian Pamela Perry  emphasizes that the holiday season is stressful for both humans and canines.  “Your dog should have access to a quiet room where he can retreat if he becomes overwhelmed with all the hustle and bustle.  To keep his stress levels low, maintain his routine as much as possible.  Spend a few minutes –one-on-one  several  times a day, so he knows you  haven’t forgotten him.  It is likely that it will lower your stress level too.”

Dogs are treasures and are worth  making a few compromises and taking a little extra care to ensure a  happy, safe holiday  for everyone.

Christmas Puppies For Sale!

November 28th, 2014 Comments off

Most of us are busy writing our lists and will soon be checking them twice. We urge you to think carefully before you give a dog as a Christmas gift. Animals come with responsibilities, and the person receiving them may not be prepared to adequately provide for the animal’s care. When the holidays end, the kids go back to school, and the adults go back to work, what happens to the puppy?

A puppy is not a stuffed toy that can be tossed on the shelf when the newness wears off; the reality is that a pet is a serious long term responsibility and the decision to include a dog into any home should come only after careful consideration.

Please don’t just “get a puppy for the kids,” unless you are prepared for a lifetime commitment! And don’t fall for all the slick marketing techniques from the pet stores, and on- line-sites. Their motivation is not your happiness or the welfare of the animal; it is financial gain, as illustrated in this poem by Shannon McClure.

Adopt Don't Shop

Adopt Don’t Shop


Excerpt From – Merry Christmas From Ye Olde Puppy Shoppe!

By: Shannon McClure

We love our puppy customers.
They’re our #1 bread and butter,
Especially right now at Christmas time
With their MasterCards all a-flutter.

Oh sure, they’ve heard about puppymills
They don’t live in a cave.
The tree-huggers dreamed THAT whole thing up.
They’re really quite depraved!

All OUR pups came from “Local Breeders”.
These signs around TELL you so;
We paint em up and hang em high
Cause we want you to know!

We don’t put a price on honesty,
But this pup will cost eight hundred dollars.
You don’t think that we make the big bucks
Selling fish food and martingale collars !

But back to our Christmas Greeting
And why we wish you all Good Cheer;
You see, you are $pecial folks to us
At this festive time of year.

We love you cause you just don’t care
You buy it because you want it.
You can lay your cash on OUR counter, ma’am,
If you’ve got it, you OUGHT to flaunt it !!!

We love the things you DON’T ask !!!
It makes our job so easy.
If you saw the sights behind the scene
You’d probably get quite queasy.

You’ll never see the breeding dogs
Who suffer on the wire,
Or pups die of hypothermia
When their truck gets a flat tire.

We’ll keep you from our back room too,
And put a padlock on the freezer.
Those tiny puppies stiff and cold
Would not be a crowd pleaser.

We hope you have a vet you like
That pup’s probably gonna need him.
Ivomec wears off in thirty days
That’s how long we’ve guaranteed him !!!

Who cares when you get that blue slip home
And find out that it wasn’t true.
Your Local Breeder’s way out in Kansas ?
HO! HO! HO! That joke’s on you !!!

We’ve got the carols playing
And a Santa, for good reason;
We’re all scrubbed up and lookin’ good
So you’ll make our Christmas season.

A Grateful Heart

November 23rd, 2014 Comments off

“The year has turned its circle; the seasons come and go.

The harvest all is gathered in, and chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures; the fields, their yellow grain,

So let your hearts overflow with gratitude… Thanksgiving is here again!”


The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to celebrate the blessings of the season with friends and family, and with the huge assortment of home-cooked food, it is tempting to share a few tasty treats with your canine companions, but use caution when offering your dog bits of your bountiful feast. Veterinary experts warn that many of the traditional holiday recipes for people are dangerous to your dog’s health, but if you feel you must share, do it safely with a few choices that are healthy for dogs:

  • Small tidbits of white turkey meat without the skin
  • Plain baked or sweet potatoes without the skin
  • Steamed carrots or green beans without any better, sauce or seasoning
  • Plain canned pumpkin, but NOT pumpkin pie filling…just plain pumpkin
  • Sliced raw apples or raw baby carrots

Thanksgiving leftovers can also be dangerous to your dog, and should be stored or discarded out of paw’s reach. Turkey bones and skin, the string used to tie the turkey, and the carcass itself can be lethal if eaten.

If you want to bake a healthy Thanksgiving treat for her, try this recipe by Liz Palika for some sweet potato cookies:

Sweet Potato Cookies:

  • Combine 2 cups diced sweet potatoes, cooked until mushy
  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2.5 ounce jar of turkey baby food.
  1. Mix ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet
  3. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. (20-25 minutes)
  4. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

Happy Thanksgiving from a thankful dog! Enjoy a tail waggin’ true tale as told to his favorite human, Barbara Shaner:

Hi! My name is Teddy and it is Thanksgiving time in our house. The humans are happy and so am I. I am a rescued dog, rescued from the Pound Place where I was with other confused, frightened dogs. I was not a puppy like some of them—I was all grown up so it seemed like no potential family even looked at me.

One day a lady came and talked to me. I tried my best, but she left and went to talk to some puppies. Oh, well, I thought, as I sadly went to the back of my cage and sat down. Then the lady came back with a man and their two human pups. They took me out to the big yard where I ran and jumped and played with the human pups. When the lady said, “I think this is our dog,” everyone smiled… especially me.

I was so nervous at first that I marked the dining room table, and I growled at the resident cat.

I was afraid they would take me back to the pound, but they just said, “This is our dog, and we will work things out.” And I am so thankful that we did work things out and I am thankful for many things: I have my own toys and daily playtime with my family, my own place and bed to protect me from thunderstorms (and sometimes I sleep with the humans!). I am loved and have the best life possible. I try to show how grateful I am by doing stuff like offering to clean the meat pans. Mom says no, but she just smiles and gives me an extra dog cookie. I help my people get their exercise and meet new people. I wish for all canines around the world a loving family, a warm house, tasty food, a cozy bed, lots of snuggles, good smells, and happy playtime

… now about those meat pans

just a couple licks surely couldn’t hurt me, could they?

(If I make my very sad face, I may not get the meat pan, but I will surely get another dog cookie…life is good).

A grateful heart unlocks the fullness of life

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a simple meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

A grateful heart makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow

—Melody Beattie

Senior Dogs

November 12th, 2014 Comments off

Animal Welfare Groups around the country salute our senior dogs during the month of November with National Senior Pet Month, but actually it is always time to celebrate our older dogs. One of my very favorite books is Gene Weingarten’s Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs, a collection of profiles and awesome photos revealing the unique appeal of man’s best friend in his last and best years. The book is a tribute to every dog who has made it to that time in life when the eyesight and hearing begin to go, when the step becomes uncertain, but when a dog attains a special sort of dignity and charm all his own. If you have ever been blessed by the company of an old dog, you will recognize him in this book. It would make the perfect gift…for yourself or someone else.

Another book that offers a loving tribute to our senior best friends is Beautiful Old Dogs, edited by David Tabatsky with photographs by Garry Gross, who writes, “ I think we need to have a change of mind, a change of heart, so that we can look at faces that are old, and actually see the beauty of them, not just dogs, but also humans. The dogs in this book are beautiful …they have love and compassion and are willing to give it to anybody who takes care of them…They’re faithful and they’re dedicated. It is my great hope that all of you will see the beauty in these senior dogs as deeply as I do. The older the better…dogs with soul in their eyes.” This book also includes a section listing resources for those who would like to get involved with senior dogs. Every dog lover needs a copy of this book…and it would make a great gift!

I sometimes feel like our TLC Canine Center is a Senior Citizen Center….we have quite a few older residents…there through no fault of their own…a death or an illness or sometimes just because they are old. These dogs have stories to tell…often sad stories, and all shelters and rescue groups have older dogs that are often passed by just because of their age. Most potential adopters are looking for a cute, cuddly puppy, and fail to see the wonderfulness of the older ones.

An Old Dog’s Lament

I’m sorry I’m not cute anymore. I’m sorry I got all big and old and you got tired of me.

I’m sorry you don’t have time to play with me, and think I’m more trouble than I’m worth.

It must be my fault that things turned out this way. Please forgive me.

Please tell me how to be cute again. Please don’t throw me away.

I am more tired than I used to be and I sleep a bit more.

I don’t see or hear as well, but what did I do wrong?

My human family I have been with for so many years is gone.

Here at the shelter, potential adopters pass right by me, pausing to let out a sigh,

“Too old… too worn…we want a puppy who will run and play, not one who limps.”

It must be my fault that things turned out this way. Please forgive me.

What did I do wrong?

—author unknown.

Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way that its animals are treated. I believe, we can tell even more by the way the older animals are treated. In today’s throw-away society, it seems that little thought is given to preservation or conservation , and little patience is applied to making possessions or relationships last. If it’s old or broken, obsolete or unattractive, just put it on the trash heap. Old dogs are truly the best dogs, and we urge you to get involved in helping these precious animals, maybe neighborhood dogs would enjoy some extra attention, or volunteer at your local shelter to visit older dogs, play with them, and get to know them. You will soon find yourself in love  Old dogs are devoted, grateful, and very faithful. You may even decide to take one home with you. We promise you will never regret loving an older dog.


Prevent Those Tiny Critters from Causing Harm

November 12th, 2014 Comments off

Sixteenth century poet John Donne once said, “The flea, though he may kill none, he does all the harm he can.” Parasites are definitely unwelcome guests at any time of year, whether they are microscopic bacteria or blood-engorged ticks the size of a pea, and these pests are more than nuisances…many carry diseases that can impair or even threaten your dog’s life. It is estimated that Americans spend more than a billion dollars a year in an attempt to get rid of parasites from their pets and homes, and when these jumping, biting pests appear in the spring, most pet caregivers rush out to buy preventative treatment in an effort to curb “the harm they can do.” However, as temperatures drop, many seem to feel that they can stop worrying about flea and tick infestations. The truth is that fleas can be more prevalent in October and November than at any other time of year. Throughout the summer, flea populations have increased and are peaking in the fall, and as the weather cools down, the pesky critters instinctively seek out warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist and lay eggs. Fleas can lay dormant for long periods in the larva and pupa stages until environmental conditions rouse them, and unless flea preventatives are used well into the winter. Problems such as flea bite dermatitis and possibly tapeworms may develop.

Ticks have also been abundant all summer, and they are still alive and well, even though cooler weather has arrived. Ticks are tough, and can hibernate and survive very cold weather, and although they probably won’t invade your home like fleas do, they can bring diseases into the house by clinging to your clothing or your pets. Ticks have become synonymous with Lyme disease, but most ticks do not carry this disease, and even if they are infected, they only begin transmitting disease if they are allowed to remain attached and feed for sustained periods of time, so it is important to examine your dog every day to locate and immediately remove any ticks. Work through his coat with a fine-toothed comb, and use your hands to feel all over for any suspicious bumps and creepy crawlers. When ticks are engorged with blood, they are visibly swollen and purplish, but unfed ticks will resemble tiny brown scabs, and are easy to miss. There are effective products to deal with both ticks and fleas, but DO NOT buy over-the-counter products which may be toxic to your pet. Always check with your veterinarian before using any parasite prevention product! Other parasites that drain a dog’s vitality can be quickly identified by a fecal sample. Fecal samples should be taken in to your vet regularly, so if a bug is found, it can be treated and eliminated. It is easier to expend a little extra time, energy, and money to prevent parasites from causing major harm.

Mosquitoes have been terrorizing both humans and canines this fall, and mosquitoes are the culprits in transmitting potentially lethal heartworm. Unlike fleas and ticks that live on your dog, mosquitoes just drop by for a quick meal, and then are gone, but they have the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm which can be fatal to an animal. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to be diligent in the consistent use of VET APPROVED flea, tick and heartworm prevention products.

Everyone is afflicted by “the fleas” of life”—you know, colds, bills, broken bones, and little nuisances of one sort or another. Let’s strive to eliminate all the fleas—from our dogs, and from our lives.

—William Styron


‘Tis Pumpkin Season

November 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Here a pumpkin…there a pumpkin…everywhere you look there is a pumpkin…or two…or three…or more, and it is definitely the season for everyone to indulge in pumpkin-flavored sweets, and by everyone, we mean everyone, dogs included.   There are many human foods that you should definitely not share with your pooch, but pumpkin has health benefits for both two-legs and four-legs.  Loaded with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and alpha and beta carotene, the health benefits of pumpkin can result in a healthier immune system, healthier skin, healthier eyes, and a healthier coat.  (Even the seeds are a doggy super food.) Wow!  That’s not too shabby for a treat that almost all dogs love.    Here are a few health benefits of pumpkin when given in small portions:

  • Some health care professionals believe that the oils contained in the seeds and flesh of pumpkins support urinary health in dogs, and anyone whose dog has had bladder or kidney stones, know how much suffering they can cause.  Supposedly adding pumpkin to his diet can help avoid this painful condition.
  • The antioxidants and essential fatty acids contained in pumpkin seeds help moisturize your dog’s skin   from the inside out.  Spread seeds evenly onto a lightly greased baking sheet, and roast in a 375 degree oven for about l0 minutes, and cool before serving one or two as a special daily treat.   (Leftover seeds should be stored in an airtight container).  Don’t overdo the portion sizes, since minerals like iron and fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A can accumulate to unhealthy, even toxic levels.
  • According to Laci Schaible, founder of, pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix with spices and sugar…just plain pumpkin) is great for digestive health.  Adding a tablespoon or two (in proportion dog’s size) to their regular meal is known to help keep a dog regular.  It can also help dogs with indigestion or upset stomachs.  Again remember to not overdo portion sizes.
  • Most of our dogs seem to have the same weight problem as most of us humans, and dogs seem to naturally love pumpkin, so if you are looking to take a few pounds off your overweight companion, try reducing the portion of their food and mix it with a small amount of canned pumpkin.  The tummy will feel just as full, and she will enjoy the new taste treat.

November seems to be the month of putting delicious pumpkin into every baked food imaginable, so adding pumpkin to dog biscuits should be a no-brainer.   Hopefully you will forget about non-healthy commercial dog treats and try this easy-to-make recipe


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not pie mix pumpkin)
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you mix the first four ingredients.   Then add the flour.  (I knead it with my hands).  Dough should be workable…not too sticky, but not dry and stiff.  (Add a few drops of water if needed).    Pinch off bite sized pieces and place on lightly greased cookie sheets.  Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.   If they get too brown, it’s okay…they will just be crunchier….if they are still soft, they will be chewier…dogs aren’t fussy…they love them any way they turn out!


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Howl-o-ween is not fun for most dogs!

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Halloween means parties, lots of candy, and fun filled activities for the two legged, but for companion animals it is often a time of anxiety and fright. We encourage all caregivers to adhere to basic safety rules to keep the four-legged safe and stress free.

  1. We recommend never leaving dogs outdoors unattended for extended periods of time, but it is especially important at Halloween when they become easy prey for pranksters who may tease, injure, and even kill pets. We suggest that they be kept inside in a separate room during trick-or-treating visiting hours. Too many strangers dressed in weird outfits can be scary for pets, and it takes only seconds for a frightened animal to dart out. ( Be sure that he has proper identification so that if somehow, he escapes and becomes lost, your chances will be better of his being returned to you.)
  2. Halloween costumes for dogs are bigger business again this year, with all the pet catalogs and pet departments featuring a grand variety of dog outfits. I admit that many of them are really cute, but I remind you that this is a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. Most pets prefer their “birthday suits” instead of wearing a costume that can be stressful and potentially dangerous. My advice again is to forget the costume…dogs are dogs; they do not need to be dressed up, but I realize many caregivers are going to dress up their pets anyway, so PLEASE make sure the costume is safe, and not too uncomfortable!
  3. Keep Halloween candy and edible treats out of your dog’s reach. That bowlful of candy for the trick-or-treaters can be dangerous for animals. Chocolate is extremely toxic to animals, and the foil and cellophane candy wrappers can cause serious problems if ingested, and many sweet treats contain the sweetener xylitol, which can cause serious health problems. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are not necessarily toxic, but they can produce gastrointestinal upset if ingested.
  4. Carved pumpkins are super decorations for the season, but caution is needed if you choose to add a candle. Pets (or small children) can easily knock over a lighted pumpkin and get burned or cause a fire. Dogs seem to have a fascination for wires and cords, so extra caution is needed to keep any cords from electrical decorations out of reach.

Since it is a night for treats, your dog would certainly enjoy some special chews. All you need is a sweet potato and five minutes preparation time for these healthy, inexpensive Sweet Potato Chews:

Sweet Potato Chews:

– Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

– Scrub the sweet potato….don’t even need to peel it.

– Cut it into thin slices…the thinner the slice the crisper it will be…and place in a single layer on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

– Bake in the oven for about 3 hours or longer for crunchy treats…or if you have a dehydrator, you can pop them in that instead of the oven.

We encourage parents and teachers to talk to the children about the importance of always showing respect toward their animal friends, and to be especially alert to any friends annoying, harassing, or pulling pranks on them. Ask them to tell you if they see anyone trying to antagonize an animal. A child who is abusive to animals is not just “being a kid”; there is a definite connection between violence toward animals and violence toward fellow humans.

Remember your animals depend on you to keep them safe and sound on this ghost and goblin night, and by using a few common sense cautions, it will be a Happy Howl-o-ween for everyone!!

Enjoy spooky music, chocolate treats and scary movies?

October 19th, 2014 Comments off

For most of us, Halloween is a festive time with spooky jack-o-lanterns, kids in costumes, and plenty of candy, and money conscious marketing experts are promoting the idea of putting the dogs in costume, and millions of Americans are following their suggestions. All the pet catalogs and pet departments are featuring a grand variety of costumes, and many of them are really cute…hard to resist, but the fact is that they are commercial ventures targeted to gullible humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. Do you really believe that your dog will enjoy wearing cheaply made, ill-fitting, sometimes dangerous clothing? If you are honest, you will probably admit that your dog would be more comfortable in her “birthday suit” than wearing a costume. Our dogs love us and have a deep desire to please…they will do almost anything to gain their humans’ approval, but who benefits from dressing them in costumes? Dogs are dogs, and most of them dislike the confinement of costumes, and dress up is usually a major mess-up for the animals. We encourage you to reconsider before you rush out and spend big bucks (or even little bucks) on that cute costume.

Now for another fact: I realize that many pet parents are going to ignore my suggestion, (some have already purchased the outfit), and so here are a few tips:

  •  Think safety, not cuteness…the costume should not restrict the animal’s movement, vision, or his hearing, and should not impede his ability to breathe or bark. I browsed through some really cute costumes in several pet departments, and almost all of them had small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces that the dog could choke on. Buttons, tassels, and ribbons can cause serious intestinal blockage, and poorly fitted outfits can get twisted or caught on external objects.
  • Does your dog have sensitive skin? The synthetic materials found in most of the costumes, besides being uncomfortable, can generate allergic reactions, which will result in an evening of uncomfortable scratching and skin irritations, even with non-allergic dogs.
  • Don’t wait until the BIG NIGHT to try on all costumes…you need to have several dress rehearsals, and if your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, pay attention. If he starts to lick or chew at himself or the costume, it is likely that he is stressed. Sure he looks cute, but forcing him to do something that he does not want to do can result in bad behaviors and future conflicts. Is the “cuteness” worth the price? Wouldn’t he honestly be happier going “au natural”? And if you can’t resist parading her in a costume, never leave her alone. Ridiculously cute can quickly become downright dangerous.

It really is fun browsing through the catalogs and pet departments to see all the unique costumes, but ask yourself what your real motivation is…will your dog be happier with or without a costume? My advice is FORGET THE COSTUME! Your dog will appreciate a decision to settle for a festive collar or a cute bandanna.

Your dog has one aim in life—to bestow his heart… and he asks for little in return.

He may well be the most memorable friend in life,

one who loves you even when you aren’t very lovable.

Without a choice, without a voice,

your dog depends on his humans to make the best decisions for him.

—J.R. Ackerley


Autumn Safety Tips

October 13th, 2014 Comments off

Many people consider Fall their favorite season of the year…. brisk Autumn temperatures, the aromas of drying crops, and the variety of colors as the trees begin to lose their leaves, but although the seasonal changes have great appeal for people, they also present many potential health hazards for our dogs.

The pleasure of watching the colors of fall sometimes disappears because of the tedious job of cleaning up the seemingly endless supply of leaves. The noises created by leaf blowers may spook your dog, causing him to hide or even run away. Additionally, gas powered devices can leak oil or fuel, and create a source of toxicity if your pet licks a substance from the ground or on his paw and ingests it.

Piles of leaves remaining on your lawn quickly accumulate moisture, which promotes mold and bacterial growth which could cause digestive tract upset if swallowed, and burning dried leaves definitely can be become a fire hazard to both humans and pets.

Antifreeze works wonders in your car as cold weather comes, but it is a very dangerous toxin for dogs. Thousands of dogs are poisoned each year by ingesting antifreeze that drips onto garage floors and driveways, or is left in easy-to-open containers. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that makes it attractive to pets, and a dose of less than half a teaspoon per pound of body weight is a lethal dose. Most antifreeze products are almost all ethylene glycol, a potent alcohol that is readily absorbed once it is ingested. Some newer antifreeze products use 50 percent or more propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol, making them safer than older products, but they can still cause alcohol poisoning, so it is important to exercise caution with these products, and minimize exposure your dog may have to them by carefully cleaning up any spills, and keeping your eyes open for any suspicious looking puddles when taking a walk.

If you move your plants indoor during the winter, be aware that many plants are poisonous to pets. Just a few include amaryllis, aloe, lilies, carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils, daisies, philodendron, some palms and grasses, poinsettias, holly and common herbs. For a complete list, go to

Seasonal allergies can kick in for dogs in the fall, and although these are usually evidenced by skin allergies, they can also be allergic rhinitis, evidence by sneezing, loud snorting or snoring, and discharge from the nose. If your dog shows evidence of allergies, a vet visit is advised.

Ah, October…the month when the little mice start moving in from the fields. If you use poisons or traps to keep unwanted critters from taking residence in your home, be aware that any poisons that kill these little nuisances will also sicken or kill your dog, and accessible traps can injure a curious pet by snapping shut on an inquisitive paw or nose. There are no safe rodenticides, and whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, your dog may consume these products, so it is important to keep any poisons in places that are inaccessible to pets and children.

With the shortened daylight hours, it is likely that you will sometimes be walking your dog during daybreak or twilight, and the best ways to keep you and your pet safe are reflective gear, flashlights or light up collars and leashes….all products that are available at pet stores or on line. Sometimes weather conditions make it difficult to walk outdoors, but regular exercise is important. You can exercise your dog indoors on a treadmill or set up an indoor “agility” course using household objects, such as clothes baskets, broom handles and furniture.

Dogs with short coats or no fluffy undercoat may need a doggie coat or sweater for their walks, but many dog coats are either worthless, difficult to put on the dog, or are obviously uncomfortable for him. Choose for practicality, not “cuteness.”

The fall season is a great time of year to enjoy the sights and smells of the season with your pet, and with just a few precautions, you can keep your pet safe, healthy, and happy during these crisp, cool autumn months!