Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Baby!

Merry Christmas to all you pooches & puppies out there!  Go to sleep tonight w/ visions of chew toys & raw hide dancing in your heads.  When you wake up, Santa Paws will have brought you lots of toys and goodies from his sleigh… if you’ve been GOOD of course! 


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Who DOESN'T Want a Puppy for Christmas?! But WAIT, not so fast!

Puppies and Christmas, they just seem to go together, don’t they?  At the shelter, people often want to adopt dogs for others.  Romantic boyfriends want to surprise the girl of their dreams with the puppy of her dreams, parents delight in the idea of lighting up their child’s face on Christmas morning with a new puppy, or a dutiful son thinks getting a dog for Mom at Christmas will be the perfect gift of companionship and prevent her from feeling lonely. 
My favorite foster dog, named Rudy because he came into the shelter around Christmas.  Read Rudy's heartwarming story here.
Although this is a wonderful ideal, sometimes it doesn’t work out so well.  The couple breaks up by New Years Eve, the puppy the parents chose gets huge, scares the kid and knocks him down, and Mom becomes overwhelmed at the prospect of caring for a dog.  I suggest people forgo the element of surprise for a well thought out adoption or purchase of a puppy or older dog.  It can be just as wonderful and surprising to thoughtfully gift wrap an animal shelter gift card, photo of a cute puppy, a leash, or a stuffed animal.  Tell the recipient that right after Christmas you’ll be taking them to pick out the pet of their dreams together.   Wrap the package beautifully, concealing your surprise, then make a day (or two) of searching for the right puppy or dog together.  The time you spend searching for their new best friend together will be a gift in itself and a great memory!

Before you decide that a dog is the perfect gift for someone else, be sure that their lifestyle will support the lifelong commitment of owning a dog. 

If the recipient is your child, make sure responsibilities for caring for the puppy are well thought out and that it’s the right time to add a pet to your family.  Everyone in the house should be on board.

If the person you are gifting travels frequently be sure that won’t become an issue.  Who will care for the dog while they are away?

Is there an apartment complex or Homeowners Association with restrictions that may impact dog ownership or the size and breed of dog they can have?

 
Do they live with someone else that should be consulted before bringing a new pet into the home? Are there other animals in the home already? 

Assess the ability to afford vet bills every year; annual vaccinations, checkups, and visits to the vet for occasional illness or injury.  They may need to spay or neuter the dog themselves.  Training, especially for puppies is important.  Including a gift card towards training is an excellent addition to your gift!

Once you determine that a canine companion is definitely the right gift, help them make the right decision about whether to get a puppy or an older dog, and what type of dog would best fit their lifestyle.

Puppies are irresistible, but they are a lot of work.  House training is the first order of business, and it takes time.  Some puppies learn within a couple of days, others can take weeks.  Basic obedience commands and good behavior must be taught.  No one wants to come home to find potty accidents all over the house and a ripped up couch.    Puppies are delightful but the first few months can be a lot of work.  An older dog may already be house trained and well behaved, or at least calmer and easier to train. 

The next question is what type of dog would be best.  What breed of dog, how big, will they shed a lot, what is the dog’s level of activity, do they slobber, will the dog howl?  These are important questions to ask before deciding on what type of dog will fit your lifestyle.  I love Animal Planet's Breed Selector on their web site, with a questionnaire that can help you decide which breeds of dog might be a good fit.







Would a small dog that doesn't shed be the right fit, or a larger more active dog?
At animal shelters, Adoption Counselors help customers select a pet that fits their lifestyle.  Don’t choose a dog based solely on looks, find the right breed (or breed mix) that fits the person’s lifestyle.  Whether you work with a shelter, breeder, or rescue to find the right dog ask a lot of questions about the breed to be sure it’s a good fit.   A dog is a lifelong commitment.  Do the planning up front and the gift of the right dog will be the gift that never stops giving!


THIS IS A RASCAL AND ROCCO PET PARADE BLOG HOP!!
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Serve Up A Healthy Canine Crudites Platter

Dogs love special treats.  We love to give them treats as a token of our love & affection, as training incentive, or just because we’re snacking in front of the TV ourselves, and really, what’s the fun of snacking alone!?  

As the holiday season begins we indulge ourselves with reckless abandon, eating and drinking our way through November and December, just in time to renew the New Year’s weight loss resolutions we’ll promptly break by March. 

For some reason, we extend these indulgences to our dogs as well.  We share turkey with gravy, meatballs, all matter of cheese products, chips, pretzels and occasionally lasagna (my Mom is guilty of that one!) from our holiday table.   

As much as they love us for it, some holiday treats can be downright dangerous to our dogs.  Chocolate is at the top of the list, which also includes onion, garlic, grapes & raisins, macadamia nuts and alcohol.  Many of these things are included in stuffing, cookies, and food gift baskets. 

Healthy snacks for your dog you probably already have in your kitchen
A healthy Canine Crudites platter can prevent guests from sneaking your dog unhealthy foods from the table
We can’t always control, or even remember, which foods our dogs should avoid.  Even if we know not to give our pets these foods, our guests may not have a clue as to what can be harmful to dogs.  Guests seem to get a kick out of giving a dog treats from the table, and they may not ask if it’s ok.  At our last New Year’s Eve party, one of our guests fed little Phoebe what seemed like a pound of Jarlsberg cheese.  Fortunately, the only negative side effect she suffered was gas…. all night long!

Preparing a Canine Crudites Platter can curb the temptation to sneak your dog foods that may be harmful to her.  The platter contains foods that are safe and healthy for your dog, and they’ll devour these treats with as much gusto as a handful of chips or a wad of pepperoni. 

Make this healthy Canine Crudites Platter

The platter can include slices of banana, apple, boiled sweet potato, or pumpkin - still have that Halloween pumpkin outside?   You can add carrots, snap peas, pineapple, or broccoli.   Top a few of these with a dollop of peanut butter or organic applesauce and a small biscuit to make it pawsitively irresistible to your dog.   You can also mash up tuna fish or cooked chicken, mix with peanut butter and roll into peanut butter balls.  

If guests want to give your dog some treats encourage them to offer doggie safe treats from the platter.  You can give your dogs these special treats without an ounce of guilt!

A  Canine Crudites platter is so easy to prepare, you probably have many of the ingredients in your kitchen already.  It’s no-bake, inexpensive, and healthy.  Best of all, your dog will love you for it! 
My dogs love healthy treats right from my kitchen
My girls love these healthy snacks!

What healthy vegetables do your pets like to eat?  Leave us a comment and share!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Road Trip With The Dogs!

ROAD TRIP WITH THE DOG!!  Sounds simple right?  It is!  Well, it can be with some smart planning.

Tips for road trips with pets
Icy and Phoebe love road trips!
Over the river and through the woods.. and barreling down the Interstate.. to Grandmother’s house we go!

Is a Road Trip Right For Your Dog?

For a successful road trip with your dog, first decide whether you should bring your dog with you at all, a lengthy road trip isn’t for every canine.  If your dog hates the car or has a tendency to puke, pee, or poop in the car it may not be a good idea to take her on the road.  Find out beforehand if your dog gets car sick. Road trips with a dog that's car sick is no fun!   

If she isn’t used to car rides, you can spend some time acclimating her to the car.  Use treats to create a positive association with the car.  Take a few weeks to accomplish this and start off in the car while it’s parked in the driveway.  Gradually work up time spent in the car from 5 minutes to about 40 minutes.   Note: This post contains Affiliate Links

Pet travel, travel with dogs
Stopping at the Arkansas Welcome Center along Interstate 40


Plan Ahead For Success On The Road


If you decide a road trip will work for you and your dog, making sure she stays safe and calm during the trip and ensuring you’ll have everything you need is a critical part of road trip planning.  On our first long road trip with Icy and Phoebe I packed everything but the kitchen sink into the car.  I was so stressed out about finding dog friendly places to stay along the way that I was a ball of nerves, which in turn made the dogs anxious.  I have since gotten into the groove, finding dog friendly lodgings in advance and culling down the stuff I bring.   Here are some tips that make for a smooth road trip with the furkids.

** Consider what the environment will be like for your dog at your destination.  Make sure she'll be welcome, not merely tolerated.  There should be an adequate place for your dog to sleep, eat, potty, go for walks or run around in a yard or dog park.  Are other pets living there or visiting as well?  You don’t want Fido to eat your Mom’s parakeet, that’ll put a damper on things for sure.

** I always visit AAA, either in person or online for up to date maps, TripTiks and travel books.  I have the AAA PetBook, which is a Godsend.  It lists, by state, dog friendly lodgings, recreational areas & parks, dog parks, emergency veterinary care, travel and safety tips.  It doesn’t include every type of lodging, mostly those that are “AAA approved” hotels and campgrounds.  The book also includes Canadian lodgings.  I love getting the AAA discount on hotels, usually 10%!

Finding Pet Friendly Hotels and Other Places

** We travel across the country a few times a year with Icy and Phoebe.  I map out and time our route using AAA trip tiks and Google driving directions.  That way I can book all the dog friendly lodgings we’ll need in advance.  This alleviates the stress of trying to find a dog friendly place as we roll into each city.   I’ve had great experience with Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, and Comfort Inn hotels which are very dog friendly and a good value.  

** Many places charge a pet fee per night or per stay, and sometimes per dog. Some only allow one dog, some allow only small dogs, and some charge a cleaning fee.  Many won’t allow you to leave a dog unattended in the room.  Make sure you know all the fees, restrictions and policies.  I have found places that don’t charge a pet fee at all, like Red Roof Inn,  places that charge up to $150 per night per dog, and everything in between so do your homework!

Icy and Phoebe, relaxing in one of our hotel rooms.  I used to lug their beds and blankets around until I realized they love to just lay on the rug in the hotel room!
Pet friendly hotels

** Make sure your dog is up to date with required vaccinations, especially Rabies.  I bring my dogs’ Rabies certificates and proof of other vaccinations when we travel.  You never know when you might need to board your dog or put her in doggie daycamp, both of which require specific vaccinations. 

** We stop every 2 to 4 hours for potty breaks and to stretch everyone’s legs.  Some rest stops have a Pet Area where you can walk your dog around for awhile, which is really nice.

Tips for traveling with dogs
Icy enjoyed a cool dip in the water on one of our trips to gorgeous Sedona, Arizona

** I look online for Starbucks, Crackerbarrel, Panera Bread or Paradise Bakery CafĂ© locations to get a break from all the fast food along the way.  Starbucks, Panera, and Paradise Bakery Cafe are usually dog friendly on the patio.  It’s a nice break for all of us, weather permitting.  The rest of the way it’s usually quick stops at Wendy’s or McDonalds.


** Check out BringFido.com, GoPetfriendly.com, and Dogswelcome.com l for dog friendly activities and destinations in the area you’re traveling to.  You’ll also find lodging reviews from other travelers and helpful travel tips and information on these sites.

Tips for travel with pets
Phoebe is so comfy in her hotel bed, she won't get up!

Pack the Essentials for Yourself and Your Pet

** Pack extra dog waste bags, making sure you’ll have enough for the round trip.  Bring a towel and some paper towels so dirty or wet paws don’t soil your car.  Doggie wipes are a great idea in case you need to do a quickie dry bath or clean-up pet messes.   Once in New Mexico, we walked our dogs in the hotel’s grassy potty area.  I don’t know what was in that grass, but both dogs rolled around in it and came out stinking worse than a skunk!   We bathed them in the hotel tub, but they still smelled.  We used the wipes a few times the next day until we found a PetSmart off the Interstate., where they got scrubbed up thoroughly.  We were SO grateful, I never gave a groomer such a big tip!

** Pack a cooler with plenty of water for both you & your dog in case you don’t want to drink the available water somewhere.  Pack extra food for your dog, both ways, so you don’t end up scrambling around looking for pet food along the way.  Don’t forget food & water bowls and any medications your dog takes.  Pack some plastic utensils and napkins as well.   I bring crackers, Jiff to go peanut butter cups, cereal bars, or fruit cups. 

** A first aid kit is a must.  You never think you’ll need it, but accidents happen.  On the last night of a 5 day trip, we took Icy out for a late night potty break and she somehow cut her paw open.  We used our first aid kit to cleanse the wound, stop the bleeding, apply triple antibiotic ointment and bandage her paw until we could get to the vet the next day.  You can buy a pet first aid kit at most pet stores, or assemble one yourself.  

Driving with pets, road trip with dogs, pet travel tips
** Pack a few of your dog's favorite chew toys and snacks to calm nervousness or boredom.  An extra collar and leash is a good idea just in case.   A favorite blanket takes up less room in the car than a large dog bed.  Using a travel harness or a crate is the safest way to travel with your dog.  I’ll be honest with you though, I don’t crate my dogs and I don’t always use the travel harness.  Icy weighs 50 lbs and likes to stretch out on a blanket in the back seat.  Phoebe likes to sleep in her dog bed, which fits on the floor behind the passenger seat.   If your dog isn’t calm or won’t stay still in the car then you must always use a crate or travel harness.

PetSmart

If you’re travelling with your dog this season, start preparing now so you and your dog can enjoy the time travelling and bonding!     

Please Share your favorite travel tips by posting a Comment!