Spring is Officially Here – And so are the Fleas!

We are all enjoying the longer days and the warmer spring weather.. However, in addition to the welcome showers, spring also brings some unwelcome guests that should be of concern to pet caregivers. As outside temperatures and humidity rise, the onslaught of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks begin. It is important to be conscientious about flea and tick prevention because these pests are more than itchy annoyances to your dog. Both fleas and ticks can transmit other parasites and diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and flea allergy dermatitis.

The best way to deal with fleas to prevent them! According to Dr. Michael Dryden, a leading expert on fleas, preventing flea infestation is one of the most important things pet caregivers can do for their pet. “For some reason,” asserts Dr. Dryden, “most people tend to react to fleas AFTER the fact. They seem to treat pets when they see fleas, then stop once the problem seems to be resolved.” Not a good idea. That philosophy only results in a frustrating ongoing cycle of re-infestation. We encourage responsible pet caregivers to use preventative treatment all year round! An even more serious parasite than fleas and ticks is heartworm which can seriously damage your dog’s heart. Spread by the bite of a mosquito, adult heartworms settle inside the heart and lungs, and slowly strangle these organs until they cease to function properly.

Many over-the-counter flea, tick and mosquito control products can be purchased at pet stores and on the internet. However, all products are NOT equal. If they are misused, they can sicken or even kill your pet. We urge you to talk with your veterinarian about the best preventative treatment for your four-legged companion. Parasites are a medical problem and it is wiser to spend a little time, energy and money preventing a medical problem rather than playing catch up to cure an existing one!

With the continual pet food recalls, more pet caregivers are making homemade food for their furbabies. The TLC has a Canine Recipe Book and a favorite recipe is Poultry Loaf. Served on top of their dry food, dogs snarf it down with intense concentration. For those of you who don’t have the TLC Canine Cookbook, here’s the recipe for Poultry Loaf (and if you would like a copy the cook book, just contact us):

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons wheat germ
  • ½ cup chopped carrots.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Put into a lightly greased loaf pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour( or until done) Crumble into pieces and serve over dry dog food. Freeze in small portions for later use.

Appreciate Your Pet

While we always love and appreciate our pets, the Animal Welfare Association claims this as a special month to appreciate them even more, stressing that appreciation means love, understanding, paying extra attention to your pet, and doing something special. Here are just a few ideas for you to celebrate your pet this month.

  • Good old fashioned attention is always welcome…taking them to an extra long walk (maybe on a new route, with new sights and smells)…extra tummy rubs or ear massaging…. quality lounging time with your dog.
  • Nothing shows your appreciation more than making sure your pet is happy and healthy. It is important to stay up to date on necessary vaccinations, and have regular checkups. Many problems can be easily corrected if detected early. Sounds gross, but fecal checks are probably one of the first indicators of health problems. Usually a healthy poop is well-formed, firm but not hard, moist, and doesn’t fall apart when picked up. If your dog’s poop strays from the norm for a day or two, it may not be serious, and even blood doesn’t mean that your dog is dying, but it definitely warrants a visit to the vet, and just because you don’t see worms doesn’t mean that parasites are not infecting your dogs. A fecal sample should be taken to the vet for examination at least once a year, or if you detect a change in color, odor, consistency, contents, or amount of poop.
  • A couple new toys are a great way to appreciate your dog, but if your pooch already has an over-abundant supply of toys, have a “toy exchange party. Your dog-lover friends probably have the same situation. Toys that are in good condition can be washed and exchanged… toys that a friend’s dog is no longer interested in can become a “new” toy for yours! And it gives you an excuse to throw a party!
  • Volunteer at your local shelter or rescue…your opportunities are almost endless…writers, graphic artists, and photographers can help produce fliers, newsletters, or information packets; dog health professionals and groomers can offer free or discounted services….dog trainers can provide positive training methods….socializing or transporting the dogs …money, supplies and your time are always needed. Keep in mind that anything you do is appreciated.
  • According to research, dogs have the genetic potential to live 20 years, but humans often rob years from their lives by feeding low quality pet foods. Deciphering a pet food label may be confusing, so www.dogfoodafvisor.com, an independent on-line site, ranks all the major dog foods. Click on BRAND and it will rate any specific food, or you may also review all brands A to Z. If you check the ranking of the dog food you are currently feeding, you may decide that it’s time to make a change. (Popular foods like Beneful, Iams, Kibbles and Bits, Pedigree, Purina, and Science Diet all rate law). It is also important what treats you are giving your dog. Most commercial treats are not healthy, and some are downright toxic. There are continual warnings about dog treats (and foods) that are potentially poisonous to your dog.

We recommend NO commercial treats, but especially avoid those that are imported from China. Make your own homemade treats for your companion animal. There are plenty of recipes that can be found online. Here is a very easy-to-make healthy treat:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups flour (preferably wheat)
  • 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 cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (If you want to make fancy looking cookies, roll to ½ inch think and cut into dog bone shape… the dogs don’t care about their appearance, but if they are for gifts, they will look more impressive.)

“Dogs have given us their absolute all…We are the center of their universe….We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.
They serve us in return for scraps….It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made…they are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole” (Roger Caras) CELEBRATE PET APPRECIATION MONTH BY SHOWING YOUR DOG SOME EXTRA LOVE AND ATTENTION !


Americans Spend Big Bucks on Valentines

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, more than $800 MILLION will be spent on pets this Valentine’s Day, one of the biggest holidays for advertisers out there. Wow! And I thought our economy was tight…not that I am opposed to giving your dog a Valentine.

There are some very practical items, but for the caregiver who really wants to go all out, there is a plethora of extravagant (and ridiculous) gift options, including real mink coats that are farm raised and custom made in Canada…a Canadian Golden Sable. Lined in colored matched flannel backed satin, is on sale for half price for a mere $747.00. Then there is the 3.2 MILLION dollar diamond dog collar which is featured on www.ilovedogs.com . Dubbed the “Bugatti of dog collars”, this 52-carat diamond dog collar, designed by Forbes Senior Editor Matt Miller, is truly the “world’s most expensive. ” Beyond the Crate offers dream house mansions….the Hacienda Celebrity Dog Mansion was custom made for a Hollywood personality. This “dog house” is designed by a “world renowned artist and designer” who creates some of the most upscale dog houses in the world . The Hacienda Mansion sells for about $30,000, depending on the number of extra amenities requested. For exact pricing and a free consultation, contact sales@beyondthecrate.com . I love dogs, but I cannot believe that anyone would even consider purchasing some of the outrageous gifts that are available. Just proves that some people definitely have more money than common sense.

For most animal lovers who don’t have the time, money, or inclination to spend big bucks on their pets, there are no worries. The reality is that our pets don’t know it’s Valentine’s Day, and they won’t feel slighted if they don’t get any grand gift. An extra walk, a few quality minutes of your time…and maybe a home made treat or two will mean more than a million dollar collar.

And here’s a valentine from your favorite pooch:

I love dog biscuits, stuff in the garbage can, smelling spots in the back yard, my squeaky toys, and long walks, but what makes my tail wag more than anything is you, my best friend. I love having you as my person, and I try every day to take good care of you. My very favorite thing is being close to you. You fill my days with joy, and I hope that nothing ever comes between your being my person and my being your dog. You have my unconditional love and loyalty, no matter what your life brings. I would run miles to be with you, risk any danger to protect you, and kiss away your tears to comfort you. You are my true love, and I want to always be the one who makes you smile. I wear my heart on my wagging tail, and I will always love you more than anything…even biscuits. Every day is Valentine’s Day when I am with you.

Love always,

Your faithful dog


If you feel the urge to bake, here’s a simple recipe for cheesy dog treats that your dog is sure to love.

  •    2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
  •    2 cups whole wheat flour (or white will work if you don’t have wheat)
  •    ½ cup oil
  •    ½ cup milk
  1.    Mix together and drop by spoonfuls on lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a glass.
  2.    Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.


You can do it! Yes you can!

A few weeks ago, an editorial in one of the newspapers that share our Paw Prints really caught my eye….Paul Struck wrote, “If you want to feel good, volunteer. “ Roger Caras once stated, “Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe.  In return we give them the love we can spare, the time we can spare.  It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” Animal lovers agree with that statement, but often are uncertain as to how they can improve the plight of underprivileged animals: “I feel so sorry for all the neglected, needy animals, but what could I possibly do?” One of the best ways is to volunteer!

By becoming a volunteer at a local shelter or rescue group is a great way to help our needy dogs. Shelters rarely have enough volunteers! In addition to walking, socializing, and providing basic training, volunteer opportunities may include adoption counseling and administrative support. Maybe you don’t have enough discretionary income in this tough economy to contribute money, and your life is too busy to visit the shelter on a regular basis. Keep in mind that there are many ways to help that may be better suited to your skills, interests, or time constraints.  Age isn’t a limitation either. Caela Kruger, an eleven year old girl from Aurelia, involved herself in a project which netted the TLC dogs a huge box of “good things.” Residents of the Good Samaritan Center and Otsego Place regularly bake dog biscuits…..anything that you do for a shelter or rescue group that they don’t have to pay someone else to do, results better care for the animals.

  • Writers, graphic artists, and photographers can help make fliers, information packets, or newsletters. Groomers can offer free or discounted services. Trainers are always needed to help with evaluating dogs or dealing with particular behavior problems.
  • Familiarize yourself with local and state ordinances and legislation relating to dog welfare, including vehicle safety, breed bans, and animal cruelty. Take the time and effort to write letters and e-mails to your local and state representatives expressing your views. Dog lovers in Iowa should check out Iowa Voters for Companion Animals at www.wp.iowavca.org. This group is an organization concerned about the welfare of companion animals, and advocate for better laws to protect them, and better enforcement of current laws. Their purpose is to “advance the humane and responsible treatment of companion animals through education and grassroots advocacy.” They lobby for changes to Iowa law to provide for greater protection of the thousands of dogs in commercial breeding facilities, or puppy mills, and they always have up-to-date information on legislation being considered at the state level. If you live outside of Iowa, do some research to find similar advocacy groups.
  • Have a party…..if you have a special occasion, you probably don’t really need gifts. How about asking everyone to bring a donation for your local shelter. Leashes, bowls, toys, and monetary gifts are always welcomed. If you want to involve your guests, make homemade treats.
  • Take every opportunity to let others know about the benefits and fulfillment of helping dogs in need.

Here’s a very easy, fun recipe for Peanut Butter Cheerio Balls. (Be sure to have enough of all the ingredients!)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  • ½ cup peanut butter,
  • 4 cups Cheerios,
  • 2 cups flour (can be either wheat or white),
  • 1 cup vegetable oil,
  • 4 eggs

Combine ingredients together. Mix thoroughly.

Form rounded teaspoons of the dough into balls, squeezing each ball in your hand to press it together to reduce crumbling during baking (and if it crumbles, that’s okay…the dogs will enjoy the crumbles too!) Bake on greased cookie sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.

When cool, put in plastic baggies for delivery (these need to be refrigerated.) The main problem with this fun activity is that the humans may decide to eat a few themselves. This may be the most memorable party you can ever have!

Remember: if you want to feel good, volunteer! As Struck emphasized, “Volunteering will add far more to your spirit than it takes away from your calendar.”