Give that dog a treat!

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You’ve probably given a lot of thought to your dog’s food. Whether you feed kibble, canned food, a raw diet, or a hybrid of these options, we know that it’s not a choice you’ve made lightly. Your dog’s meals are important. They are how he gets the energy for those endless games of fetch (or throw-and-bring-halfway-back), what keeps his coat shiny, and how you keep his weight under control.

How about those extras, though? The in-between meal snacks, training treats, and little nibbles you give him throughout the day? You want to choose nutritious and safe grub there, too!

As with their everyday food, knowing how to read labels on your dog’s treats is key. Ingredients are listed by weight, so what you see listed first is what is present in the largest quantity. Whole, named proteins are good. Mystery meats like “poultry meal” or “animal fat” are not. Artificial preservatives, colors, and humectants (additives that keep treats chewy) are undesirable. Natural sweeteners like molasses are safe, artificial ones should be avoided.

There are plenty of “human” foods that can be given as dog treats as well. Carrots, broccoli and blueberries are good for your dog and you have the added advantage of knowing exactly what’s in them! 

Try the easy peasy recipe below and let us know if your dog flips for these tasty biscuits!

Preheat oven to 350 F then mix:

3 cups flour

1 cup smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/4 cup shredded carrots or zucchini

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup water

Roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Place on a cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Turn the biscuits over and bake 10 min more. Cool completely before passing them out to Fido!

 

Pet Sitting Prep!

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Set your dog up for a successful stay with your pet sitter with these prep steps:

  • If your sitter has never stayed with your dog before, set up a walk through.You’ll want that walk through to cover the following:

-Where the dog food, meds, walking gear and treats are

-Where both your pet sitter and the dogs will sleep

-The location of cleaning supplies

-A practice run with both the alarm and key. This is especially important if you have a “tricky” door!

-Anything additional your sitter needs to know about the house such as gate latches, the location of the fuse box, and how to use the universal remote!

  • Make sure there is an adequate supply of your dog’s food, supplements, and medications. Leave a medication schedule even if instructions are printed on the bottles. If there is a specific way your dog takes meds (hidden in peanut butter, only with meals, wrapped in cheese), put that in the instructions as well.
  • If there are rules about furniture, waiting to be released for meals, or stopping and sitting on walks be sure to tell your sitter so she can reinforce proper behavior.
  • Let your neighbors know someone is staying at your house so they aren’t concerned when they see a stranger letting themselves in! Put a call in to your vet and alarm company as well.
  • Inform your sitter about any special circumstances like allergies or phobias. Does Muffy fight with Buffy over bones or terrorize the cat? That’s also info we need!

With these steps completed, you are ready to pack your bags and enjoy your trip knowing that you have prepared your dog for a comfortable stay in his own home while you are away!

Kongs and Crates!

Enrichment, play and problem solving… these are VERY important parts of a dog’s life, especially for those who are still waiting for their forever home! More and more shelters and rescues are realizing that a dog who’s bored and has pent up energy has a harder time “putting their best paw forward” when meeting potential adopters. Dogs who exercise their brains through enrichment opportunities, like puzzle toys, are calmer and happier which can REALLY make a difference when it comes time to meet a potential forever family!

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Two of our favorite puzzle toys are the Kong Classic and the Kong Wobbler. Both can be stuffed with treats and food which the dog then has to work to remove. When dogs engage with these interactive toys, they benefit by exercising their brains and then by experiencing success, both of which are critical for canine happiness!

Another very important piece of equipment for shelter and rescue dogs is a secure crate! Crates give dogs a place to rest and retreat and are crucial for a foster who will need downtime as he or she gets adjusted to a foster home. Fido is also doing a “cash for crates” drive – any amount you donate will be put toward much needed new crates for foster and rescue dogs!

Because she knows that access to puzzle toys really enhances the quality of a dog’s life, Daisy’s one wish this season is to bring Kongs and crates to as many shelter and rescue pups as her little paws can carry!

Stop by Fido before Dec 31st and purchase a Kong voucher for a shelter dog – a $16 dollar donation gets a brand new Kong AND a Kong Wobbler for a lucky homeless pup! You’ll be able to write a Holiday message or wish for a homeless dog which will be delivered with their Kongs! You can also donate toward our “cash for crates” fund! Kongs and crate funds will be split between two awesome organizations – P.O.E.T. Animal Rescue and I Heart Dogs!  

Hiring an In-home Pet Sitter

Hiring a pet sitter to watch your beloved pooch while you travel is daunting. You want someone with experience and a good knowledge of dogs in general, but also need someone who understands your dog specifically! Choosing the right person requires a little legwork but it is well worth the time to find a good fit!

Here are some questions to ask your potential puppy sitter:

  1. “What is your experience with dogs?” Ideally your sitter will have handling experience, but don’t discount someone who simply has a passion for pooches!
  2. “Do you have references?” Someone just entering the pet sitting field may not have many, but they should all be glowing! Speaking with previous clients about their experience will give you a better picture of your sitter. If they have not done in-home stays before, ask if you can speak to their vet, or even friends whose pets they have helped care for.
  3. “Can you handle my dog’s specific issues?” Dogs with special needs like medical conditions or behavioral issues need thoughtful handling. Make sure your sitter can manage meds, special diets, phobias and triggers if necessary.

Be sure that you do a thorough walk through with your sitter. This will be a time to go over their contract, arrange payment, and discuss details of your departure and arrival as well as introducing them to your dog and house. Ask questions about what the stay will include outside of dog care (watering plants, bringing in the mail, etc) and how much time they will be spending with your dog.

Please share your pet sitting concerns and stories in the comments!

Chomp! How to deal with those sharp puppy teeth!

Around 12 weeks of age, your puppy will start losing his tiny, razor sharp baby teeth. For the next few months he will turn into a mouthing machine as he dislodges his milk teeth and soothes his sore gums. How can you help him through his teething phase without becoming his favorite chew toy?

A variety of things that are acceptable for your puppy to chew on is essential. Frozen treats to relieve aching gums, firm toys to provide satisfying pressure, and soft toys that Fido can sink his teeth into should all be in the rotation.

Check out Kong for durable toys that can be frozen for long lasting chew sessions. Made with a soft rubber that is gentler on loose teeth than the material used for their classic toys, Kong’s puppy line has several offerings. There is the familiar stuffable Kong, a teething stick with ridges to smear food into, even a pacifier shaped Kong that can be filled and chilled.

Nylabone makes several toys for puppies at this stage, some edible and some not. Of their non-edible toys, we particularly like their “teething ring”, which has bumps and nubs to provide gentle pressure on sensitive gums.

Soft toys can be anything from a knotted up dish towel to the most expensive squeaky toy the pet store has to offer. Rope toys can be soaked and frozen and are fun to dig newly emerging teeth into. For dogs of all ages, be sure to supervise play with soft toys to prevent destruction and ingestion! All toys must be chosen with your dog’s size and jaw strength in mind and taken away if they start to deteriorate.

Instilling proper chewing habits when your dog is still a baby will serve you well in the long run. Be sure to upgrade to bigger toys as your dog grows and always praise him for chewing the things you want him to work on!