Paws to Give THANKS!

November 23rd, 2015 Comments off

Thanksgiving reminds us to “paws”, and reflect on the many, many simple things for which we are thankful. With our days packed with responsibilities, and our world filled with stress and tragedy, it is easy to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, and take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. Faith, family, friends, and furbabies. We are all rich, if we add up our blessings, we realize that we should have an attitude of thankfulness, not just once a year, but all year long. Matthew Henry said, “Thanks Giving is good, but Thanks Living is better.”

It was Thanksgiving time when Rev Melissa Billing became aware that her area animal shelter had just rescued a dozen puppy mill dogs, and she decided that it was time to put Thanks Living into action. She was shocked to see the condition of the dogs, and was especially drawn to a little one huddled in the back of one of the kennels.

Billing tells it this way: “She was quite a mess; with a lot of hair missing and sores all over her body. When the shelter attendant tried to coax her out of the corner, she urinated on herself, and curled up in a tight little ball, shivering violently. The gal just shook her head, and scribbled a note on the chart hanging on the dog’s cage. Apparently this one was considered unadoptable. Her future was certainly not good. Impulsively I blurted out, “I’ll take her.”

A vet check confirmed that she had numerous mammary tumors, the result of too many litters of babies, but she was so undernourished, it was decided to postpone the surgery for awhile. Then one day, she had a seizure…she had epilepsy. It was weeks before she would even come close to us, but slowly she seemed to realize that she had a home and someone who would care for her forever. We named her DeeDee and although she no longer had continual litters of babies, it was almost as if she decided that her stuffed, plush donkey toy was her baby, and she carried it around from place to place. She even refused to go for a walk unless we took the donkey. My husband and I laughed at what the neighbors must think about two adults carrying a stuffed donkey with them when they were out walking the dog.

The months seemed to just fly by. We had her mammary tumors removed, and the meds controlled the seizures, but her life of fear and neglect at the mill had taken a horrendous toll on her. She had lost most of her teeth, and her eyesight was minimal. She loved us, and we loved her, but her body was just worn out, and she left us the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We did all we could to save her, but it was not meant to be. She passed away quietly and peacefully. Her passing at Thanksgiving was very sad, but appropriate. For you see, she was a blessing…a blessing in our lives for which we will be forever thankful. She came to us, discarded, sick, and without hope. In that year, we all learned what love could do. She taught us about loyalty and gratitude and forgiveness. We miss her! “

Be thankful for faith, family, and furbabies…they are all precious and priceless. Have a blessed Thanksgiving as you count your many blessings, and look forward to a year of Thanks-Living!!

National Pet Awareness Month

November 16th, 2015 Comments off

It’s official: companion animals enhance our health and well-being. The devotion and unconditional love that pets show their caregivers is awesome, and even the Centers for Disease Control admit that there are many health benefits to sharing life with a dog, so let’s set some time during November to honor National Pet Awareness Month with a favorite four-legged companion . Medical research reveals that pets can decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, generate positive feelings, and promote relaxation. They have positive impacts on people of all ages: they influence social and emotional development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and documentation has evidenced that in some cases, they have even been able to detect the oncoming episodes of seizures. The extra boost of exercise can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, levels and triglycerides, explains the Centers for Disease Control.

Pets fulfill the natural craving humans have for emotional relationships, and there are many ways pets make us feel better. A companion animal helps us feel less lonely and isolated. Ask many citizens living alone and they will admit that pets give them a sense of purpose; they always need something—food, a walk, a snuggle, or just a kind word. And as an added benefit, take a walk with your dog through the neighborhood, and more than likely someone will talk to you. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog talk to new people more often than if the dog wasn’t with them. Coming home after a tough day at work gives you something to look forward to…If you have a pet, you are never alone, and no matter how cranky you get, your dog always forgives you , and continues to show affection, offering unconditional and enduring love.

How is it that your dog can so powerfully influence your physical and emotional health? Experts explain it this way: “It’s providing a focus of attention that’s outside of one’s self. Pets let you focus on them rather than focusing inward on yourself all the time. One of the best ways to reduce stress and improve your outlook on life is to “get over yourself” which can sometimes be difficult to do, and caring for a pet takes your focus off yourself and the love and attention you receive in return is tremendously gratifying. Your dog accepts you without question, expects nothing of you, and is content just to share space with you.”

Some days we can hardly find time for ourselves, much less our dogs, but they deserve more than just water and food, and a quick trip outside to do their business. Maybe this month is a good time to MAKE time and continue throughout the year..

Every dog deserves:

  • Wellness checks: Do not wait until he has a major health issue.. regular visits to the vet often catch potential problems before they become serious threats to the dog’s health. Veterinary care can be expensive, but the positive effect pets have on their caregivers outweighs the cost to keep them healthy
  • Regular grooming: Grooming is important for more than just appearance; matted hair traps heat and prevents air from circulating freely, and early detection of lumps or bumps can be important discoveries during brushing.
  • Consistent , positive training: Obedience is important, but dogs do not automatically know the house rules and regulations. Training takes time, and bad behavior is usually because humans have not taken the time to teach them.
  • Housetraining also takes time, and patience.
  • Mental and physical exercise: All work and no play makes for a restless, bored dog. Dogs love to play, and you should MAKE time to play with your dog and give him physical exercise and mental stimulation. If left without appropriate outlets, your dog could become destructive or show other behavior problems.

When life gets hectic, and you feel overwhelmed, make time for your dog, and you will both feel better.


Old Dogs are the Best Dogs

November 16th, 2015 Comments off

It is always time to celebrate senior pets, but November is National Senior Pet Month, and animal welfare groups stress the importance of acknowledging, embracing, and truly celebrating our mature pets. As Doris Day explains, “Puppies are wonderful…romping and playing, tearing up things, chewing on furniture. Then they bond with you, and you learn that they are capable of giving unconditional love. No matter what happens, they are always there for you, through joy and sorrow, sickness and health, loneliness and despair. And when the years have taken their toll and they can no longer romp and play, they continue to give you all the love in their hearts…they deserve every bit of love and care that we can offer, for they have given their all to us Old dogs are grateful, devoted, and very faithful, and have earned our respect.”

Too often, older pets are viewed as disposable due to medical challenges, changing family situations, or simply because they’re not as much fun as they once were. There’s nothing sadder than senior pets who spend years with a family, and then find themselves homeless or in shelters, frightened and confused, where they are usually passed over by potential adopters who want a younger dog. The truth is that older dogs often have the perfect traits that people are looking for—they are quiet, calm, housebroken, and affectionate. They are true treasures!

A GRAND OLD MAN by Jeri Chrysong

My friend, I remember our earlier walks when you, in your youth, strained at the leash. I marveled at how a creature could walk so powerfully while simultaneously being choked to death by his collar. Today we walk together in the silence of great companions, my pace slower now to match your own, the leash of long ago abandoned. Your playful antics as a pup made me laugh. Your exuberant diligence as a watchdog in your middle years comforted me because I knew you would hear and alert me to every sound. I slept peacefully for many years. The realization that you have aged more quickly than I puzzles me..I am still middle-aged, yet you’ve entered your golden years without fanfare or much notice. You are a grand old man, and you are my best friend. Now, old boy, it’s your turn to lie in the sun and relax. Let me take watchful care of you and tend to your needs. Fear not that you have lost your usefulness, for when you look at me, still in trust and undeserved adoration, I find unconditional love and I am reminded to be a better person.

If you are blessed to have an older dog in your family, there are things that you can do to make life a little easier for your aging best friend:

  • Slippery hardwood floors can be difficult to navigate for aging pets. Non-slip rugs can ensure your pet has better traction when venturing around the house.
  • If your senior companion is losing her eyesight, it is important to keep clutter off the floors. Make sure there are clear pathways from your pet’s lounging spots to her food and water dishes. Keep her toys in the same place so they are easier to find.
  • Chances are, your older dog has some degree of joint pain. Make sure he has an extra comfortable place to rest those achy joints.
  • If your dog has trouble jumping into the car or up into his favorite chair, a ramp is an easy solution.
  • If you are not privileged to have an older dog in your own family, reach out to a lonely senior dog and make life better for him. Perhaps a neighbor or friend’s dog could use a little attention, or visit your local shelter, and you will find needy dogs who will appreciate any bit of attention that you offer them. As they share their beauty, dignity, and character with you, you will realize that old dogs are indeed the best dogs.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender—your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.


Don’t Let Halloween Be A Disaster!

October 27th, 2015 Comments off

The spookiest night of the year is almost here. Halloween is a fun holiday—for two legs– but this haunted affair can be a disaster for your four legged companions. You know that the scary-looking rowdy crowds who ring your doorbell are just the neighborhood children, but your dog doesn’t. Your dog may be a happy, friendly companion on most occasions, but trick-or-treaters in strange garb can spook him and cause him to dart out when you open the door Stress from a constantly ringing doorbell, knocks at the door, and weird looking strangers at the door create anxiety or fear for most dogs Halloween is the second most common night for dogs to go missing (following the Fourth of July.), so it is important that your dog’s tags are current, with proper identification, just in case there is an inadvertent escape. Please take proper precautions to keep your dog safe on Halloween, as a bite or a missing dog can quickly ruin everyone’s fun.

NEVER leave your dog (or cat) out in the yard. We discourage this any time of year, but especially at Halloween, when pranksters sometimes decide it would be fun to tease an unsupervised animal. Every year there are too many reports of animals that have been terrorized, stolen or even killed. Make a cozy retreat for your dog in a separate room during trick-or-treat hours. Provide a blanket, a favorite toy or two, and play soft music or leave a radio or television on to muffle the holiday noises.

Resist the idea of letting the family dog accompany the kids on their door-to-door begging. Children may have a difficult time handling a pet, and he could get loose, especially if spooked by the strange sights and sounds. Spooky costumes and scary activities can unnerve even the most placid dogs.

Trick or treat candies are not for pets. Candy in general is loaded with sugar and fat, which can lead to serious GI issues and pancreatitis, and all forms of chocolate can be dangerous, even lethal for dogs. Chocolate contains a caffeine-like stimulant substance that, when ingested by your pet, can cause serious problems. ASPCA toxicologists state “Halloween is to veterinarians what April 15 is to accountants. Calls about pets who have become ill after eating candy spike their highest around Halloween.”

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is showing up in all kinds of products, including sugar-free candy, gum, and mints. It is also found in many other products including some brands of peanut butter, so beware. Even small amounts of Xylitol are toxic to dogs.

Empty candy wrappers smell like what was in them, which can also attract your dog. If your dog eats foil or cellophane candy wrappers, the result can be a life threatening bowel obstruction requiring surgery.

Some people hand out those little boxes of raisins or small bags of trail mix containing raisins, instead of candy. Unfortunately, raisins are toxic to dogs and ingestion of just a few can potentially cause kidney failure. Chocolate covered raisins pose an even bigger risk.

Lighted candles and jack-o-lanterns should be kept out of reach, since dogs (and cats) could easily knock over a candle or pumpkin, causing burn injuries or even a fire.

Dogs will chew just about anything, and streamers and fake spider webs may cause intestinal blockages if ingested, and electrical cords, if chewed, can damage your pet’s mouth, or deliver a potentially deadly electrical shock.

Costumes can definitely be hazardous to your pet’s health, especially when their range of motion, vision or hearing is restricted by a costume, and buttons, bows and other small accessories can be pulled off and choked on or swallowed. If you dress up your dog, be aware of the possible problems.

This is a good time to discuss with your children or young friends the importance of showing respect toward animals. Encourage them to tell you if they see anyone trying to antagonize an animal. A child who is abusive to animals needs professional help.

Give your dog a haven where he can feel, safe, comfortable, and relaxed—tucked away from any Halloween activities so that you can enjoy the ghoulish and ghosties, long legged beasties, and things that go bump in the night. HAPPY HOWL-O-WEEN!

Halloween Costumes For Your Dog

October 27th, 2015 Comments off

It is impossible to ignore the fact that pet product marketers have latched onto another moneymaker for themselves—Halloween costumes for the dogs. The pet stores are loaded with really neat outfits, but the fact is that they are a commercial venture targeted to humans, not for the enjoyment of the dogs. (Estimates indicate that more than 70 million dollars will be spent on Halloween costumes for companion animals.) According to Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, emergency critical care and toxicology calls to the Pet Poison Helpline increase by 12 percent during the week of Halloween, making it one of the center’s busiest time of year. One major reason for the calls is ingestion of costume parts, and VPI documents that the average cost for treatment is more than a thousand dollars. Dress-up is usually a major mess-up from a dog’s perspective. Most pets prefer their “birthday suits” , and are not excited about wearing a costume, and most, however cute they may be, are uncomfortable, annoying, and potentially dangerous! As adorable as they are, it is easier than you might think for him to get tangled up, or become frantic, while all dressed up. My advice is to FORGET DOG COSTUMES, but I realize that many caregivers will not heed my advice… many of you have already bought your dog’s Halloween outfit… so all I can do is to admonish you to please make sure that the costume is safe, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict his movement, vision, hearing or ability to breathe.

  • Make sure any costume isn’t a tight fit. Tightness around your dog’s neck, paws, legs and torso, or tight elastics can pinch his body and cause a great deal of discomfort. The costume should not constrict the animal’s movement, or his hearing, and should not impede his ability to bark or breathe. Many of the costumes that I looked at would hinder a dog’s vision which could be very dangerous.
  • Most costumes are made of cheap, scratchy material to which your dog could have an adverse reaction to it. If you notice him scratching while trying on the costume, remove it. An allergic reaction could cause an itchy rash, and possible infection.
  • Check to make sure there are no small or dangling accessories that she might chew off and swallow. Buttons, ribbons and tassels could cause intestinal blockage or choking if swallowed.
  • Some elaborate Halloween costumes can cause your dog to overheat. Depending on the outfit, the temperature, and your dog’s coat, it is easier than you think for him to overheat while all dressed up.
  • Be sure to try on costumes before the big night. Place it on the floor, and let your dog sniff and examine the costume. After he examines it, drape part of the costume over his back…repeat this several times before you actually put the garment on him. Take it off and put it back on several times. If your dog seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal anxiety, please don’t force him to wear the costume. A festive bandana would make for a happier dog!

Marianne at ASPCA says, “Dogs have beautiful coats of their own, giving them individuality. Man-made coast should be put on animals for protection, when needed, not for the amusement of people. Animals are neither interested or laugh about such nonsense Perhaps we should be more concerned about their feelings, rather than our enjoyment. It is our responsibility to make sure our dog’s Halloween doesn’t turn into a nightmare!


Cold Weather Brings About Dangers

October 21st, 2015 Comments off

The leaves are changing colors, cooler weather is setting in. It is time to change the antifreeze, wage war on the little mice moving in from the fields in search of warmer housing, and stock up on candy for Halloween. This beautiful time of year is enjoyed by everyone, both two legged, and four legged, but also brings its share of potential dangers for the four legs under your care.

  • Since there’s less daylight this time of year, it is more likely that dog walks will sometimes take place at dusk or even after dark. Be sure that both you and your dog are visible. Reflective accessories provide an effective way to keep both you and your dog safe and always carry a lighted flashlight.
  • If you have young kids, you probably have school-related items lying around that dogs see as chew toys. Glue sticks, pencils, and magic markers may be low in toxicity but are not edible, and you could end up with a sick dog, and plastic shards from a gnawed marker or glue stick or wood splinters from chewed pencils can harm your dog’s mouth or innards. Play dough and silly putty can definitely cause damage. Keep out of paw’s reach!
  • Most antifreeze/coolants contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs. It has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by animals. It is fast acting and results in kidney failure and possible death. Just small amounts can be fatal if ingested. Products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol are considered safer than the traditional antifreeze, but should be kept out of reach of pets (and children.) Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don’t hose it down the driveway, and if you suspect that your pet has consumed even a small amount of antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Rodenticides cause severe bleeding, and kidney failure. There are no safe rodenticides, and whether out of hunger, boredom, or just curiosity, pets will consume these products, so if you use them, be sure to put them in places inaccessible to your pets. They can kill!
  • Both kids and dogs enjoy playing in the colorful piles of raked-up leaves, but these leaves can quickly accumulate moisture, bacteria and mold, and ingestion of them can cause digestive upsets including vomiting, diarrhea, and a decrease in appetite. Dried leaves are often burned as part of fall’s cleanup, and curious dogs should be kept separated from this activity.
  • Freestanding heaters can be tipped over by rambunctious pets and pose a hazard, and can be a danger for your pets. Make sure you close doors on your fireplaces or block off any fire pits to keep your pet protected, and be sure you turn off any portable heater in your home every time you leave the house in order to keep your pet safe from potential accidents.
  • It’s mushroom season, and although most mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the few that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish which are which, so the best solution is to keep pets from areas where any mushrooms might be growing. Our household pet, Cooper, found mushrooms in his little fenced yard and, despite the fact that he threw them up, he was one very sick pup for several weeks. Seek immediate vet care if you suspect that your dog has chewed on mushrooms.
  • With colder weather, many pet caregivers stop worrying about flea and tick infestations. The truth is that fleas can be more prevalent in the fall than at any other time of the year, as they are frantically seeking warm bodies and other warm places to feed and exist. Ticks have been abundant this summer, and they can hibernate and survive very cold weather. Another major nuisance this fall has been mosquitoes, and they pose serious health risks, with the potential to transmit life-threatening diseases such as heartworm. Be diligent in the consistent use of flea, tick, and heartworm prevention products.

Our companion animals depend on humans to keep them safe, healthy and happy, and we will all enjoy a wonderful fall if we just follow a few guidelines.


Here A Pumpkin, There A Pumpkin

October 12th, 2015 Comments off


It is October and definitely pumpkin season! The time when everyone focuses on pumpkin flavored treats, and while there are many people foods that you should not share with your pooch, pumpkin is not one of them. Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. All those nutrients sound impressive, and they are all good for both two-legs and four-legs.

Veterinarians have long known the benefits of adding a little canned pumpkin to a pet’s diet regularly. The fiber in canned pumpkin (PLAIN pumpkin, NOT pumpkin pie mix) is a great source of fiber and helps with digestive regularity. If your dogs are experiencing constipation or diarrhea, mix a tablespoon of pumpkin straight from the can into their normal food. Not only will they love the taste, but it may also ease stomach issues. There is some evidence that the nutritional benefits of pumpkin mean healthier skin, healthier eyes, a healthier coat, and a healthier immune system…not too shabby for a treat that almost all dogs like. “As with any remedy,” says Tony Buffinton, DVM, “I recommend consulting with your veterinarian about the amount and the frequency, and following up if you don’t see a problem resolve.”

Interested in trying a healthy, homemade pumpkin treat for your dog? Here are a few easy recipes :

3 Ingredient Peanut Butter/Pumpkin Treats

  • ½ cup peanut butter (check to make sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs)
  • 1 cup canned plain pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1 ¾ cups wheat flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together and drop by small spoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 8-l0 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or freeze for up to 3 months

Yummy Punkin Biscuits

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk
  • 2 ½ cups flour ( brown rice flour gives the biscuits a crunch but wheat flour is okay)
  • Water as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients together. It is easiest to mix with your hands, adding enough water as needed to make the dough somewhat workable.
  3. Drop by small spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork.
  4. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, and bake 15-20 more minutes.

Honey-Pumpkin Bites

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 ½ cups wheat flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix and knead with your hands. Dough should be workable, not too sticky, but not dry and stiff. Add a few drops of water if needed.
  2. Pinch off bite sized pieces and place on lightly greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes until golden brown. If they get too brown, it’s okay…they will just be crunchier…if they are soft, they will be chewier. Dogs love them any way they turn out!

The best way to store leftover canned pumpkin is in the freezer since it will only last a short time in the refrigerator. Scoop your canned pumpkin into an ice cube tray that has been sprayed with a cooking spray, freeze and, when frozen solid, pop into a freezer bag. Thaw one out when you need it, stir to blend any separation of water, and mix into your dog’s next meal.


And Now For the Good News

October 12th, 2015 Comments off

Last week’s Paw Prints received many responses from caregivers who honestly did not realize that some of the people-food-treats they were giving their dogs could cause harm to them… various forbidden people food for dogs include chocolate coffee, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, apricots, cherries, peaches plums, avocados, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, grapes, raisins, onions and any things containing xylitol, the natural sweetness that is found in chewing gum, baked goods, and some toothpaste. It can also be purchased as a sugar substitute to bake with or sweeten beverages. It is not harmful to humans, but it is toxic for dogs, and it is becoming increasingly popular in more foods.

Now for some good news: there are many favorite people foods that are dog friendly… in fact, some offer health benefits (to both two-legged and four-legged). These are just a few that we serve regularly to our TLC residents.

  • Carrots are one of the very favorite treats at the TLC is raw baby carrots. Carrots are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, and most dogs like them. (If your dog is unsure, rub a bit of peanut butter on them J) Missy, one of TLC older residents even does a little dance when she hears the rattle of the bag of carrots…
  • Sweet potatoes are a source of fiber and Vitamin C, and are great sliced and dehydrated as a chewy treat…easy to make and much healthier than most commercial treats.
  • Lean meat, especially chicken, given in moderation, can be added to almost anything to make it tasty for dogs… just avoid fatty meats with added sauces or seasonings.
  • Peanut butter contains heart healthy fats, along with vitamin B, niacin and vitamin E, and I have yet to meet a dog who didn’t like the taste of peanut butter… this favorite people-food has always been considered a safe treat, but there some new brands of peanut butter and other nut butter spreads that dog owners need to be aware of because they may contain the ingredient xylitol. Be sure that your peanut butter isn’t sweetened with xylitol if you plan to share it with your dog.
  • Yogurt is another favorite with TLC dogs. It is high in calcium and protein, and yogurts with active bacteria can act as a probiotic and are good for your dog’s digestive system. Just choose only yogurts that do not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
  • Apples and pears cut into bite-size pieces help to clean residue off a dog’s teeth, and are a good source of fiber as well as vitamin A and C, and are enjoyed by SOME dogs…However do NOT feed the core…seeds can be toxic. Blueberries, and strawberries are also safe, healthy treats.
  • Oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which can be especially beneficial to dogs with bowel irregularity issues. It is also a great alternative grain for dogs allergic to wheat. Just cook it well and do not add any sugar or flavor additives.
  • Cheese is a great treat of any dogs that are not lactose intolerant. Opt for low or reduced fat varieties and don’t overfeed. Cottage cheese is always a good choice.
  • Rice is great for any dog, especially if there are stomach troubles. We usually flavor the rice with low fat, salt free broth for a little added flavor!
  • Pumpkin is a good source of fiber as well as beta-carotene/vitamin A. It can help keep the GI tract moving and can aid with digestive issues.
  • Scrambling up an egg for your pooch is another great way to give a protein boost… Eggs are a source of easily digestible riboflavin and selenium, making them a healthy snack.

Good nutrition may result in extending your dog’s life, and although the people food suggestions are not meant to replace your dog’s normal, balanced died, they offer alternatives to add a little variety to your dog’s meals.

Don’t Feed That To Your Dog

October 12th, 2015 Comments off

Americans spend billions of dollars a year on food for their pets, but despite the best pet food available, some dogs would rather eat human food. Rich and fatty people-foods are favorites of most dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers, or from getting into the discarded scraps. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which includes an acute onset of vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. A dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy, so it is best to avoid giving in the next time your precious pooch adorably begs for table scraps. Dogs love to get into the trash, and a medical problem arises if the trash contains bones or moldy or spoiled food. Keep your garbage in inaccessible places!

Certain foods that are good for humans can be dangerous for canines, causing varying degrees of illness, or even death. This list of forbidden people food includes some especially toxic ones:

  • CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, AND CAFFEINE can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get “caffeine” toxicity, and chocolate contains both caffeine and theobromine, which are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than white chocolate, but both should be kept out of paws’ reach.
  • ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES contain ethanol, which can be toxic when ingested, and pets can be highly affected by small amounts of alcohol. Not just the drinks should be avoided. Steer clear of food made with alcohol. The bad effects range from vomiting and diarrhea to death.
  • APRICOTS, CHERRIES, PEACHES AND PLUMS contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, hyperventilation, difficulty breathing, and shock.
  • AVOCADOS contain a toxic component, persin, a fungicidal toxin, which is a fatty acid derivative. The leaves, fruit, bark, and seeds of avocados have all been reported to be toxic to animals. Do not feed your dog any component of the avocado.
  • MACADAMIA NUTS. Although the mechanism behind why these nuts are toxic is a mystery, it has been documented that as few as six nuts have caused severe toxic signs. Dogs develop weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and difficulty walking, but usually the symptoms dissipate In a couple days without causing permanent damage.
  • YEAST DOUGH. If your dog eats yeast dough before the yeast has fully risen, the dough will continue to rise in the dog’s stomach, and as it continues to rise, gas accumulates in the dog’s intestines, which can cause extreme distress or the stomach to rupture.
  • GRAPES AND RAISINS were once offered as treats but it has been determined that these fruits can cause kidney failure. Any dog that ingests more than a few grapes or raisins will need aggressive medical treatment. Without treatment, death is possible.
  • ONIONS. Dogs lack the enzyme necessary to properly digest onions and this can result in gas, vomiting, diarrhea or severe gastrointestinal distress. If large amounts of onion are ingested, the red blood cells may become fragile and break apart. Severe anemia and even death can occur if the dog ingests lots of onions.
  • GUM, CANDY, BAKED GOODS (AND TOOTHPASTE!) Many of these contain a sweetener called xylitol, a sugar-alcohol sweetener, and dogs that eat this can develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, causing weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse and seizures. Ingestion of as little as .1 gram of xylitol per kilogram of body weight can be deadly for dogs, so if you suspect that your dog has ingested a food containing xylitol, seek veterinary care immediately.

Some favorite people food can certainly cause harm to our dogs, but not all is gloom and doom… there are many dog-friendly human foods to share with your furry friend. Next week’s Paw Prints will discuss some of these foods that are healthy for both two legs and four legs.


Will You Help the Helpless?

September 22nd, 2015 Comments off


Animal welfare groups across the country are struggling to raise awareness of the plight of hundreds of thousands of puppies suffering in cramped, crude, filthy puppy mills where there is constant breeding of unhealthy and often genetically defective dogs solely for profit. . It is common to find dogs housed in makeshift shelters such as salvaged trucks, semi trailers, or old buildings without heat or adequate ventilation, meaning that the dogs freeze in the winter and die of heat in the summer.. Kept in small cages their entire lives, their fur is matted and filthy, and bodies are covered with sores. Many have bite scars because of the dog fights that occur in such cramped conditions from which there is no escape. They aren’t exercised, and lack socialization or human compassion. They are not provided adequate vet care or nutrition. Adult dogs are bred until their bodies are so worn out that they stop producing or develop serious health problems, at which time they may be shot, abandoned, or sold at auctions. Unfortunately this is a reality for thousands of dogs in Iowa puppy mills.

Iowa is still the second worse state in the entire country for the number of puppy mills, and it seems like everyone “feels bad”, but improvement is slow… until we become involved, really involved, things will not change. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” In a world of people who seemingly couldn’t care less about puppy mill dogs, , hopefully excerpts from this letter I am sharing (with permission) from a rescuer to a puppy mill owner, will inspire us all to become people who couldn’t care more! One of the most powerful things we can do is to spread compassion to animals. The power of animal lovers joined together can change animal protection and welfare. Let’s use our power and decide to help the helpless!

“Dear Puppy Miller,

I have been involved in dog rescue essentially my entire life, and for the record, I am not an animal rights activist. I am simply a person who believes in the right of humane treatment for all living beings. What I witnessed on your property was far from humane. Hundreds of terrified ailing faces, imprisoned in their wire confines, some staring at me, but most too fearful to look into my eyes, so unsure of how to interpret human contact. That experience has caused me countless sleepless nights and to this very day, the sadness and the fear in their eyes haunt my very being.

I am completely aware that you were operating within USDA standards and that many of your dogs are AKC registered—what a despicable thought this is. I am also aware that in your circles, commercial breeding dogs are considered livestock. Dogs are not livestock…years ago, man domesticated dogs to be our protectors, hunters, herders, guardians, but most of all our companions.

I focus on just one of your dogs, Lily, that I brought home with me. It was agonizing for our family to watch her survive through four surgeries to remove mammary tumors, to attempt to repair her decaying face, and to spay her, removing the papery black, pus filled organ that was once her uterus. How selfish of you to never see her pain, just dollars. You spent more than forty years of your God given life, using dogs for personal gain. No regard to their physical or mental well-being, just cashing in on their ability to reproduce. Think about the thousands of dogs that passed through your hands—you robbed them of the simply joys they so deserve…a good meal, a warm, comfortable place to sleep, medical attention, and most of all, a human companion to make their lives whole. In our home, Lily learned about being a family member, being a dog, being worthy, being loved. She changed our lives forever, and she died as a direct result of the neglect she suffered for seven years in your care. How many others have suffered the same fate? Your industry has been hidden far to long. The word is out. The days are numbered. People like you will soon venture out into fields of honest work and leave the care of God’s creatures to those of us who truly care.”

To see the complete story of Lily and other puppy mill dogs,  go to

If you are really concerned about the plight of Iowa dogs, we invite you to mark Saturday, October 3, on your calendar. The TLC, 602 East Chaney Street, Newell, Iowa is hosting an informational meeting and a PIZZA PARTY!!! Come join us at noon for pizza, and learn the facts about Iowa dogs. We are privileged to have Mary Lahay, President of Iowa Voters for Companion Animals, as our honored guest. Mary will share specific ways you can be involved in making life better for Iowa dogs.

Please RSVP that you will join us for free pizza and inspiration – call 712-272-3553 or e-mail

There may be times when it seems we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to try…A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history—Gandhi


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