Commit to your Dog’s Health

October is a busy month, filled with fall activities, and it is also recognized as National Pet Wellness Month, when caregivers are encouraged to re-evaluate your pet’s health and there are many tips to help keep them safe and healthy all year round.

  • Pet proofing your home is important whether you have a new pet or have had pets for years. There are many every day products, including medicines, pesticides and some household plants that can prove poisonous to our animal friends. It is a good time to go through your home and make sure that all potentially harmful objects are out of your pet’s reach.
  • Did your dog have a complete wellness check this year? If not, schedule one soon rather than later. It is important that dogs visit the vet more than just when they are sick or injured. A physical can ward off diseases by getting routine vaccinations, and allows your vet to look for any signs of potential health problems which may be effectively treated if caught in the early stages. If you have a senior pet, remember that pets age faster than we do, and therefore need check-ups more often.
  • If your dog isn’t already spayed or neutered, you are missing out on major health benefits. According to the ASPCA, female dogs that are not spayed have a much higher chance of getting uterine infections and breast cancer, and intact males have a higher incidence of testicular cancer.
  • Dental hygiene is an often overlooked area, and dental problems often lead to other health issues, such as heart, kidney, and joint problems. These are serious problems, and it’s worth taking the time to promote oral health. According to veterinarian Brook Niemiec, “The only time that dogs get bad breath is when they have serious periodontal disease, and by the time a problem manifests itself, disease is probably in an advanced state. With some breeds, as many as 90 percent will have some level of early gum disease by the time they are one year old. Taking care of your dog’s teeth is like changing the oil in the car. If you don’t do it regularly, you will have bigger and more expensive problems later on.” It is estimated that about 80 percent of all dogs over three years of age have oral disease, so it is important to perform routine home dental care and schedule regular oral exams by your veterinarian.
  • Most of us really aren’t prepared for emergencies, but it is important to put together a plan to keep your dog safe in case of a health crisis, or a natural disaster. Include a safe pet-friendly place to go, a list of any items you need for yourself, and also for your dog, with medications and contact numbers like your veterinarian or pet hospital.
  • Take a closer look at what you are feeding your dog. Not all pet foods are created equal, and you may need to rethink your pet’s food. Many foods contain cheap fillers that don’t provide your pet any nutrition, and wellness starts by what you give your pet for food. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so, an independent site ranks all of the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and they will rate any specific food, or you may also review all brands A to Z. You may be surprised to learn that many popular foods are not healthy foods. It is also important what treats you are giving your dog. Most commercial treats are not healthy and some are downright toxic. We recommend NO commercial treats, and especially not those that are imported from China.

Here is a very simple, easy to make, healthy treat:

1 egg

½ cup water

2 ½ cups flour (preferably whole wheat flour)

1 teaspoon sugar

½ cup non-fat dry milk powder

6 tablespoons of margarine.


Mix ingredients and knead until the dough forms a ball.

Pinch off small bits and drop on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees…

Note: if you want to make fancy looking cookies, roll to ½ inch thick and cut into dog bones… the dogs don’t care about their appearance, but if they are for gifts, they will be more impressive looking.)


Dogs give their human companions unconditional love and are always there with an encouraging wag of the tail!

They are indeed very special animals.

We need to realize that they depend on us to provide for their well-being.

Dorothy Hinshaw Patent



Is Your Dog’s Food Making Him or Her Sick?

Some pet caregivers still recall the huge 2007 pet food recall for melamine contamination from ingredients imported from China. More than 40 pet food brands, including some of the best known names, were involved in the 2007 recall.  Have things changed?  Not much.  According to Pet Supplies, not a month has gone by in 2013 without several recalls.  Last month both Nestle Purina and Proctor and Gamble recalled products.  The Veterinary Information Network reported health problems linked to sweet potato treats similar to those related to chicken jerky treats (also sourced from China) which they had reported earlier this year.  The seemingly endless list of recalls leave people worried that the items they bought on Monday will be recalled on Friday. How do you determine which foods and treats are safe for your dog?  Read the labels carefully, and PLEASE don’t buy ANY treats sourced in China. Not chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken treats, or sweet potato treats. Buying only food and treats made in the U.S. won’t remove all risk of winding up with a tainted product, but it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet safe.  I recommend not feeding any commercial treats. Most of them are NOT healthy, and there are many great easy-to-make recipes for homemade treats.

Pet food/treat packaging usually has a toll free number listed on the packaging. Take the time to call, and be prepared for vague, unsatisfactory responses.  Be polite but insistent about the source and origin of ALL ingredients, and locations of production facilities.  (Being imported from a responsible place does not mean that they were not sourced in China, shipped to another destination, and then sent to the U.S. pet food companies.)

Human grade ingredients means that meats and everything, including the grains are USDA inspected. …ask for authentication of this claim. There are few regulations as far as the ingredients in pet food, and commercials show fresh chickens and whole grains. Realize that the green nuggets are NOT green vegetables…they are nuggets that are dyed green with very little vegetable content. Same with other colored kibble or treats.   With much confusing, misleading info in pet food labeling and advertising, bear in mind that most of the ingredients in most pet foods, including meat by-products and meat meal, are at the low end of the food chain, and are NOT human grade: they come from whatever remains of the animal parts not deemed fit for human consumption.

The hallmarks of a high quality pet food or treat include:

  • A whole meat source should be listed as one of the main ingredients.  (Primary sources are listed first on labeling)
  • Superior sources of protein. This means either whole meats or single source meats. Generic fats such as “animal fat” can be anything from recycled grease from restaurants to a mystery mix of various fats. What do you think is in “animal digest,” for example?
  • Natural preservatives. No artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. A healthy product with top quality ingredients shouldn’t need additives or extra sweeteners…

Choices have to be made regarding what to feed your companion animal, and cost doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best nutrition, and “premium,” “natural”, and “gourmet” are simply gimmicky marketing terms which are usually meaningless… To find out how a specific food is rated, go to; you can also request that they notify you of any new food or treat recall.  With literally hundreds of different brands available, navigating the maze of canine nutrition can be overwhelming, but if your dog’s food is negatively impacting her health and well-being, changes need to be made… not easy, but possible!.