Jan 11

Improving Your Mental Health with a Companion Animal

Guest Post by Jessica Brody

Creator of OurBestFriends.pet


Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.—Anatole France

It is safe to say that people really love having pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 72 percent of households in the United States own a pet, and it is no wonder with all the amazing benefits they provide: companionship, loyalty, and even increased physical and mental health.  If you are managing mental health issues and are debating whether to get a companion animal, here are some benefits to consider.

Combat Feelings of Isolation

Mental health challenges can often leave you feeling isolated. Social stigmas or health symptoms may be preventing you from getting out and socializing as much as you once did.
A pet can help you feel less lonely. Additionally, in many cases, they are intuitive enough to sense if you are feeling down or ill, and they will make an effort to comfort you.

The Rewards of Being a Caregiver

At times, people suffering from mental disorders tend to withdraw. This often means that someone is barely functioning enough to care for oneself, and perhaps even that is a struggle. Owning a pet requires taking care of another being and essentially can force someone to function — their pet is counting on them for survival. The responsibility of caring for a living thing can be just the tonic one needs to counteract despair.

Help with Mental Health Disorders

If you are suffering from mental illness that is characterized by aggressive outbursts like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or PTSD, you can also a consider a mental health service dog. These animals are trained to alert when you are suffering from an emotional attack, and they can soothe their owners by lying with them, licking them or distracting them.

Addiction Recovery

One of the most critical components of addiction recovery is a strong support system, and support can be of the four-legged variety. The unconditional love of a companion animal can be invaluable to reducing stress and coping with triggers associated with addiction. The moment a pet realizes he is yours and you are his, you become instant partners without hesitation. He will be by your side the moment you need him, and always give you the benefit of the doubt. This isn’t always an easy trait to find in a human companion.

Turn Your Frown Upside Down

When you smile at your pet, your serotonin and dopamine levels rise, which can improve your mood and increase happiness.

Which Pet is Right for You?

With all these benefits, who could resist? Now that you are on board, it is time to start the selection process.

If you are a first time pet owner, you will want to make some careful considerations when choosing your new family member. While dogs and cats are the most common, other unique options can also be considered.

According to ASPCA, other suitable species are horses, rabbits, ferrets, birds, guinea pigs and select other small mammals, small reptiles and fish. Make sure to leave the tempting monkeys and snakes at the zoo.

To find an animal that is a good match, look for these attributes:

  • Size: Large pets need space to roam. Unless they are low energy, like Great Danes, large pets are not suitable for cramped spaces like an apartment. Small- to medium-sized animals are better suited for small areas. Choose a pet that will be comfortable in your living space.
  • Activity Level: Having a companion that needs activity can rub off on its owner in the form of better exercise habits. However, some pets may be too active. Be sure to choose a companion that best fits your activity level.
  • Age: Younger animals, especially puppies, need extra care and responsibility. This may prove difficult for some owners. Older companions are often better as emotional companions as they are more docile. Consider the right age for your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

Loving an animal, and receiving their love in return can, as author Anatole France said, “awaken the soul.” Their unconditional companionship in times of emotional strife can lead you to more personal peace. Consider the pet that will best meet your needs, one that you will accept as a family member, and one you intend to keep and care for, forever. Not only will you find joy and acceptance, but you will find the love of a lifetime.

Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals.

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Nov 30

Another Chi Pin, Sir Winston, Finds a Home!

It’s always time to celebrate when a  rescue dog finds a fur-ever home.  One Chi Pin, Sir Winston, and his owner have found that they are the perfect match!

Sir Winston in his new home.

Sir Winston in his new home.

Why Adopt a Rescue Dog?

Rescue dogs are great pets.  Many dogs find their rescuers when a person comes to an animal shelter.  It is true that you do not choose the dog; the dog chooses you.  When that happens, he or she will melt your heart, and you will know that you were meant to be together.  In addition, adopting an adult dog from a shelter has many practical advantages.  Adult dogs are often house trained,* to some extent, and if not, it is quicker and easier to house train an adult dog than a puppy.  First, potty training is much quicker.  A puppy must be about 1 year old before the his or her muscles have developed enough to “hold it.”  Before that time, a puppy is physically unable to be potty trained.  An adult dog, on the other hand, is already physically ready to be potty trained, and just needs to be taught that outside is the place to go.  In addition to potty training, other “house rules” may be easier to teach to an adult dog.  For example, an adult dog typically chews much less than a puppy, and thus, you may be able to save some of your furniture from becoming a chew toy by adopting an adult dog.

*Note:  I use the term “house training” to include teaching all behaviors that you will expect of your dog while he or she is in the house, and potty training is only one of those behaviors.  Other aspects of house training include teaching your dog to chew only appropriate toys, stop barking when commanded, not jump on people, and any other rule you want to teach and are willing to enforce.  In other words, you must teach the “house rules.”

Adopt a shelter dog. Pick me.

I have loved spoiling my Chi Pin, Nano, because I can spoil him in a way that only a rescue can be.   Four years ago, Nano selected me at the animal shelter.  He had been rescued from a puppy mill, and when I brought him home, it was obvious that our home was completely different than anything he had ever experienced.  Previously, throughout his entire life, he had to struggle just to survive.  He settled into our home quite nicely, though, and now he is completely at ease at our house.  He is part of a family, which was a concept that he did not know existed prior to coming to us.  Although he does have to follow rules and use good manners, I lavish attention, play time, snuggles, and love on him at every opportunity.  It is heartwarming to watch him be able to enjoy it more each day.

Say Hello to Sir Winston

Three weeks ago, Sir Winston found his fur-ever home.  Like most rescues, his exact breeding history is unknown, but as you can see, Min Pin and/or Chihuahua breeds are likely in his background.  His new owner said she feels lucky to have found this sweet boy, but I know that Sir Winston is a lucky dog, too.  Enjoy your new home, Sir Winston!


Sir Winston relaxing on his couch.

Sir Winston relaxing on his couch.

Read More on Min Pin Mania

Why Rescue?  Why Rescue a Dog: A Miniature Pinscher Story tells one story that illustrates the desperate need for adopting rescue dogs.  Read about the transformation of a Chi Pin, Nano, from a malnourished, sick little dog who was brought to an animal shelter after living at a puppy mill into the healthy happy dog he is today.

Why Rescue a Dog: A Miniature Pinscher Story also gives a brief introduction to the debate surrounding backyard breeders and the comparison of them to puppy mills.

So You Think You Want a Miniature Pinscher? A major reason that dogs are surrendered to animal shelters is that owners do not do their homework before adopting a dog, and the dog breed the owner selected was not a good fit for their family and lifestyle.  Researching the breed you are considering adopting is a key part to successful dog ownership.  So You Think You Want a Miniature Pinscher? points out many characteristics of the Miniature Pinscher breed.

Life with a Chi Pin describes what happens when you cross the “fearless animation and complete self-possession” of a Miniature Pinscher with the “saucy” expression of a Chihuahua.  Spoiler alert:  Watch out world!  Chi Pins will exhaust your body and win your heart.

Do You Rescue?

Tell us your dog’s rescue story.  We would love to help welcome your dog to his or her new home.


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Apr 10

Life with a Chipin

What is a Chipin?

Nano the Chipin

Nano the Chipin


A Chipin is a cross between a Chihuahua and a Miniature Pinscher.  Chi’s and Min Pins, as they are affectionately known, can each be a handful, and when combined, watch out!  You may have a sassy, willful, opinionated, and smart dog–possibly too smart–with an energy level that is off the charts.

Although the name Chipin sounds similar to Chin Pin, a Chin Pin is a very different dog.  A Chin Pin is a cross between a Miniature Pinscher and a Japanese Chin, aka Japanese Spaniel.

Meet Nano the Chipin

My Chipin, Nano, was a rescue surrendered to my local animal welfare in a box of puppies.  As best as we can tell, he was in a puppy mill that bred both Min Pins and Chihuahuas.  Even though he was not intentionally bred as a “designer dog,” I still call him that.  However, I doubt he cares if he is called a designer dog or a mutt.  He is happy to be loved, fed, and played with frequently.

Nano has all of the characteristics listed above, and in this post, I am going to share some insights I’ve gained by training him as well as some breed characteristics of both the Miniature Pinscher and Chihuahua and how those traits can intermingle when combined in the Chipin.

  • Chihuahua + Min Pin = Chipin

    • High Energy
    • Major Attitude
    • Full of Themselves, BUT

    Once You Own a Chipin, You Can’t Live Without One!

Energy:  Nano is Short for Nanosecond

Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas are known for their high energy level, but our Chipin, Nano (short for Nanosecond), has the energy of both a Miniature Pinscher and Chihuahua combined.  When we rescued Nano from the local animal shelter, we of course noted that he was a hyper, energetic dog.  We have owned Min Pins for more than a decade, so we thought we were prepared for Nano.

Our new little Chipin, was malnourished, but he just needed a few good meals or so we thought. What we didn’t know at the time was that he was actually sick.  His behavior was so hyper that no one ever guessed he was ill.  After having four abscessed teeth pulled and a round of antibiotics, we now observed his normal energy level.  It was beyond anything we had seen, and we were used to hyper dogs.

How to Exercise a Chipin if You are not an Olymptic Sprinter

Below is a video of Nano “chasing” the laser, but if you watch closely, you will notice that he is not chasing it, but actually racing it.  If it “wins,” he turns around and gets a head start for the next race.  In other words, he cheats!



Chihuahuas are officially listed as small dogs with medium energy by the AKC1.  According to the breed standard, they should not weigh more than 6lbs, have an apple domed head, and some Chi’s have long coats while others have smooth.  The Chihuahua expression is “saucy,” and their temperament is “alert,” projecting the ‘terrier-like’ attitudes of self importance, confidence, self- reliance.”

In other words, Chihuahuas are full of themselves.  They think that they are the center of the world, and the world should cater to them.  Thus, reminding them of their place in the pack is important.

Miniature Pinschers

Miniature Pinschers are slightly larger dogs, although like Chihuahuas, they are also in the Toy category.  Miniature Pinschers are 10-12 1/2 inches tall at the withers (shoulders) and have sloped foreheads.  In my experience, a healthy weight for a Min Pin is about 12lbs.  AKC2 uses words like “fearless animation, complete self-possession, and his “spirited presence” to describe the Miniature Pinscher temperatment.
Miniature Pinschers were originally bred to hunt vermin on farms and often went for long periods without human contact.  Therefore, Min Pins developed a mentality that did not depend on the approval of humans.  The lack of human contact along with the self-reliance necessary for survival shaped them into the “independent thinkers” that they are today.  In other words, they prefer that you are pleased with them, but it is not their whole world.


Since both Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas are intelligent breeds, it is no surprise that Chipins are no dummies.  Nano loves to create games complete with rules.  Then, I am supposed to follow the rules and he cheats!  For example, in one game, we race to the toy.  He lays the toy down, and then to make sure he gets to it first, he positions himself between me and the toy.  In another version of “race to the toy,” he hides around the corner and, because I am “unsuspecting,” he can grab the toy before I get to it.
He also has an active imagination.  When I throw his toy, sometimes, he pretends that he doesn’t know where it went.  He runs in tangents to it, and eventually, he “finds” it.  I am supposed to be impressed.


Chipin postal alert

Chipins can be protective of their “pack,” and sometimes are wary of strangers to the point of being aggressive.  Caution is advised when introducing any dog to a stranger, especially on the dog’s home turf, but increased attention should be paid when a Chipin or either parent breed, the Chihuahua or Min Pin, is involved.  However, they are good watch dogs and will let you know if a stranger arrives at your house.  I sometimes refer to Nano as our postal alert system.


Chipins can be very snuggly.  In addition to eating and playing, some of Nano’s favorite hobbies are watching TV, reading books, and napping.  OK, he naps during all three.  He loves to be picked up, and thinks that he needs my full attention all the time.  How else should I spend my time?  The entire world revolves around him, you know.


Chipins, especially those with short coats from their Chihuahua side, require little grooming.  An occasional brushing and nail trimming is all the grooming they require.  Chipins are well suited to apartment and city life because they can exercise in small spaces.  They do need to burn off energy, though, so be prepared for games of all sorts.  Evening playtime with Nano is something I look forward to every day.  And morning playtime, and weekend playtime, and…  And he looks forward to it, too.

Chipins:  Can’t Contain the Cuteness!

Chipin puppies may be the cutest animals in the world.  Their puppy innocence and curiosity together with their mania-like energy level leads to action-packed antics.   In the video below, posted on YouTube by, Betti335, you can see the perfect example of cuteness and energy.

Works Cited

1.  American Kennel Club.  “Chihuahua.”  Accessed 4/29/2017.
2.  American Kennel Club.  “Miniature Pinscher.”  Accessed 4/29/2017

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Apr 10

Raw Food Diet for Dogs: Myths and Facts

dog with boneWhat is a “Raw Food Diet?”

Have you ever considered putting your dog on a raw food diet? Many people are certain that their dogs are healthier because their food never came near a cooktop–but are they right?  Or, are they just believing what they want to believe?  So, what is on the “raw food diet,” and why should or shouldn’t I consider feeding this to my dog?

Like the name implies, a raw food diet simply means that nothing is cooked.  However, many people who use a raw food diet for their dog typically feed the following:  Muscle meat, often still on the bone; Bones, either whole or ground; Organ meats such as livers and kidneys; Raw eggs; Vegetables like broccoli, spinach; Apples or other fruit; Some dairy such yogurt1.

 Raw Food Diets:  Myths and Facts

alaskan husky

Although huskies may resemble wolves, their genetic make-up is markedly different.

Myth:  Dogs are carnivores.

Fact:  Wolves are carnivores, but dogs are not.2  Although both are in the order Carnivora, dogs gained genes during domestication that produce enzymes used to digest starches, which their wolf ancestors lacked.  According to the Merck Vetrinary Manuel,3 “A recent report shows that dogs have 36 regions of the genome that differ from that of wolves, and 10 of these regions play a critical role in starch digestion and fat metabolism.”

Myth:  Grains are unhealthy for dogs.

Fact:  Grains are a good source of carbohydrates for most dogs.  You may have been warned away from commercial dog food because it contains grains such as corn or rice.  As discussed above, carbohydrates are a necessary component of a dog’s well balanced diet, and although some dogs have allergies to certain grains, most dogs tolerate grains well.  Grains are not just “filler.”  They are an important component of a dog’s diet.

Myth:  I should feed my dog raw meat because it’s natural.

Fact:  Natural does not equal healthy.  In nature all wild animals, including wild wolves and ferral dogs, constantly battle disease, starvation, and death.  Wild animals do not enjoy optimal health, but your dog can.

Myth:  Cooking destroys natural enzymes that my dog needs for good health.

  • Bacteria Associated with Raw Food

    • Salmonella spp
    • Campylobacter spp
    • Clostridium spp
    • Escherichia coli
    • Listeria monocytogenes
    • enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus

Fact:  Your dog does not need enzymes from food for good health.  Your dog, like every living organism, needs enzymes, but he or she doesn’t need to get them from raw food.  Enzymes are proteins, and like all proteins, are made from amino acids.  Cooking denatures (unfolds) the enzyme but does not destroy the amino acids.

If the enzymes are delivered to the stomach raw, the hydrochloric acid will also unfold the enzymes, and so have the same affect as cooking.  Later in the digestive tract, protein cutting enzymes digest proteins into their constituent amino acids.  The dog’s metabolism then uses the amino acids to make his or her own enzymes.  As long as a dog has a balanced diet, he or she will be able to make all the enzymes needed for good health.  It doesn’t matter whether the meat was raw or cooked to upon consumption.

Myth:  Bones are good for dogs.

Fact:  Bones can splinter and puncture organs in the digestive tract.  In addition, large amounts of calcium can cause constipation and, over time, bladder stones.

Myth:  I should feed my dogs raw eggs, dairy, and organ meats.

Fact:  You should not regularly feed your dog raw eggs, dairy, and organ meats.  

Raw Eggs contain a protein called avidin, which binds to biotin, or vitamin B7 and makes it unavailable for use by the body.  Biotin deficiency can cause skin problems, hair loss, and poor growth.  Note:  Cooking the eggs denatures the avidin, and the eggs will no longer cause the vitamin deficiency.  However, eggs should still be considered a supplemental (treat) portion of the diet, if used at all.

Dairy.  Adult dogs, like most adult mammals except humans, lack the enzyme lactase that digests lactose, which is the predominant sugar in milk.  Thus, it causes symptoms very similar to those lactose intolerant humans experience when consume dairy products:  bloating, cramping, gas, and diarrhea.  Although you would notice the third and fourth symptoms, your dog might suffer the first two chronically without you knowing he or she is in pain if you repeatedly feed dairy.

Organ Meats.  Organ meats are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, and your dog may get too much of a good thing.  If routinely fed organ meats, especially in large amounts, some nutrients can reach high levels .  For example, your dog may get an excess of vitamin A.  Organ meats are also a rich source of iron, and high levels of iron can become toxic.

Bacteria:  The Big Concernsalmonella

One source of disease wild animals face is through uncooked meat.  Meat is contaminated with intestinal bacteria like salmonella and E. coli when processed–either by canine teeth or human machines–and that bacteria can cause disease.  Worse yet, those bacteria can be spread to humans.

Even if your dog does not look sick, he or she can be a carrier of disease.  In their policy on raw food diets, the American Veterinary Medical Association explains the following:  “Cats and dogs can develop subclinical infections with these organisms [Salmonella spp, Campylobacter spp, Clostridium spp, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus] but still pose a risk to livestock, other nonhuman animals, and humans, especially children, older persons, and immunocompromised individuals.”4

Does this mean that you need to rush your dog to the emergency room if he eats a gopher?  That probably won’t be necessary, but why expose your dog to more risk than necessary through feeding raw meat?


Keep It Simple

Due to many factors, including high levels of bacteria and the difficulty in obtaining optimum, balanced nutrition, dogs fed raw meat diets are often not as healthy as those fed commercial dry dog food.  In this case, the simple solution is likely the best solution.

yorkie dog


Works Cited

1.  Raw Dog Food:  Dietary Benefits, Concerns, and Risks.  WebMD.   Accessed 3/11/17.

2. Coppinger R, Coppinger L (2001) Dogs: a new understanding of canine origin, behavior and evolution. New York: Scribner. As cited in: Reiter T, Jagoda E, Capellini TD (2016) Dietary Variation and Evolution of Gene Copy Number among Dog Breeds. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148899. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148899.

3.  Dog and Cat Foods:  Raw Meat-based Diets.  Merck Veterinary Manuel.  Accessed 3/25/2017

4. AVMA Policies:  Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source in Cat and Dog Diets.  American Veterinary Medical Association.  Accessed 3/20/17.


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Apr 09

Outdoor Summer Fun with Your Dog

Explore the Great Outdoors


Summer is a great time to be outdoors with your dog.  Photo Source:  Pixaby

Dogs love the bright sunshine and fresh air that the great outdoors has to offer.  So, whether it’s a week-long camping trip or an afternoon trip to the park, take your dog on an outdoor adventure.  Whatever outdoor activity you have in mind, make sure that your dog is safe.  For all outdoor adventures, flea and tick prevention is a must, and check the area for other hazards like sharp rocks or thorns that might cut your dog’s feet.

Read the post Bug Off! Keep Fleas and Ticks Off Your Dog for more information about fleas and ticks.


What dog doesn’t like a long walk in the woods?  There are so many new smells to sniff, sounds to hear, and sights to see!  I love to watch the excitement in my dogs when they realize that they are going on a hike.  Their whole body wags, and sometimes I wonder if they are going to actually burst!

Don’t know where to go?  Check out Wikipedia’s List of State Parks by U.S. State.


dog and woman with fish

Take your dog on a fishing adventure. Photo Source: @malbc

Who would be a better fishing companion than your dog?  Loyal and funloving, your dog will follow where ever you go.  When you come back, you can tell all the fishing stories you want, and your dog won’t call out your tall tales.

For more reasons to take your dog along on your next fishing trip, check out Bark Post’s 21 Reasons You Should Take Your Pup Fishing.


Whether you are in an RV, tent, or cabin, camping is more fun when your dog is with you.  Camping overnight brings some additional challenges as compared to a day trip.  For example, before you go make sure your camp site is pet friendly and that you can control your dog’s barking.  Losing a night’s sleep wouldn’t be fun for your or the other campers.

Camping tips: How to enjoy the great outdoors with your dog has some great advice and packing guides to make sure your camping trip is fun for all.


Even though my dogs hate baths, they will occasionally take a dip in their “swimming pool,” to cool off.  Silly me–I thought the 14 inch metal pan full of water was their outdoor water dish.  I was obviously mistaken.

Some dogs love water, and can’t spend enough time in it.  If you don’t believe it, check out this video of little dogs in the water.


 Should You Take Your Dog Swimming?

Never force your dog to swim.  Since having fun is the entire point of being outdoors with your dog, forcing your fearful dog into the water defeats the purpose of your outing.  Frightened dogs often panic, which can lead to early fatigue or drowning.  Besides, making your dog do something that scares him or her decreases trust in your dog-human relationship.

Some breeds are better swimmers than others.  Although some dogs are great swimmers, not all dogs are born knowing how to swim.  According to Animal Planet’s article, “Do All Dogs Know How to Swim,” natural instincts, anatomy, and genetics all play a part in a dog’s ability to swim.  For example, some dogs like retrievers, were bred to retrieve water fowl or perform water rescue.  Other breeds may have more difficulty swimming.  Anatomical features like short legs makes swimming difficult for some breeds, like bulldogs, dachshunds, and boxers.  The short faces of pugs make breathing difficult, and they tire easily.  Small dogs may be good swimmers but get cold easily.  Whatever the breed of your dog, always use your best judgement and consider the safety and emotional state of your dog.

Keep your dog safe.  Whether at the lake, beach, or pool, make sure your dog is safe.  Consider a doggie life jacket.  In my experience, I have found that Outward Hound offers quality products.  You can find Outward Hound life jackets and other gear in stores such as Walmart and Amazon.  


Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe in the Water

No matter where your pooch makes a splash, follow these pointers:

  • Rinse him off after he’s been in any type of water. Seawater minerals, salt, chlorine, algae, and pollution can irritate or damage his skin and fur.
  • Remove his flea collar before he swims. Water can wash off its active ingredients.
  • Dry your dog’s ears completely to prevent an infection. Try an ear cleaner that has a drying agent in it.
  • Learn canine CPR. Mouth-to-nose resuscitation and chest compressions could save a dog’s life in an emergency.
  • Never leave your pal alone in the water.

Source:  Dog Water Safety:  Tips to Keep Your Pet Healthy

Consider a Doggie Life Jacket

dog life jacket from outward houndOutward Hound makes doggie life jackets in a variety of sizes.

Blue Green Algae

One hazard at lakes that is often overlooked is blue green algae.  Blue green algae, which is actually a type of bacterium, produces hepatotoxins and neurotoxins, which can be fatal if ingested by you or your dog.  Read the post Toxic Algal Blooms are Hazardous to Dogs, for more information about identifying and avoiding this hazard.  As mentioned above, you should always rinse off your dog after a swim. 

Take an Afternoon Outing

If you aren’t ready to take your dog on an overnight trip, you can
still enjoy Mother Nature by taking an afternoon trip to the park or recreation area of your choice.  

puppy sleeping in chair outside

Outdoor relaxation.  Photo Source:  Pixaby



Pack a lunch and head for your local park.  Make sure to take a walk first to dissipate your dog’s anxious and excited energy, and pack a special treat or chew for your dog.  Your dog will love the treat, and you might get a minute or two to eat your lunch in peace!

Nap Outdoors

What is nicer than napping on a lazy afternoon under a shade tree?  Stretch out with your dog in a hammock in your backyard or throw down a blanket.  It will be great bonding time for you and your dog.

What Do You Like to Do with Your Dog Outdoors?

Share you idea of a great day in the sunshine by leaving a comment below.

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Mar 25

Bug Off! Keep Fleas and Ticks Off Your Dog

dog in grass

Protect your dog from fleas and ticks.

Fleas + Ticks = Ugh!

Flea and tick season is upon us, and it is here a bit early this year.  So, it will be more important than ever to be vigilant about keeping fleas and ticks off of our furry friends.  In this post, you will find information about diseases transmitted by these pests and pros and cons of different forms of flea and tick treatments, including some home remedies.

  • Fleas and Ticks Transmit Disease1

    • Some Fleaborne Diseases
    • Tapeworm
    • Plague
    • Some Tickborne Diseases
    • Lyme Disease
    • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
    • Ehrlichiosis (Dog Tick Fever)
    • 1Not Comprehensive Lists

Why Treat for Fleas and Ticks?

In addition to flea and tick bites being uncomfortable to your dog, they carry many diseases that affect both dogs and humans.  While ticks are more likely to spread disease than fleas, one should also avoid flea bites like The Plague–literally–as fleas are the insect vector of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes Plague.  The box to the right notes some illnesses transmitted by fleas and ticks.

While you or your dog may not get sick from a flea or tick bite, they can be itchy, and the bites may become infected.  Preventing an infestation will prove to be worth your time and money.

Links to More Information
Disease Information Source
Tapeworm CDC.gov
Plague & Murine Typhus Purdue University
 Tickborne Diseases of the United States  CDC.gov

When Should I Treat for Fleas and Ticks?

In most areas, the best time to start flea and tick prevention is now.  The map  below is a link to WebMD’s state-by-state flea and tick activity tracker, which is an interactive map showing the level of activity in each state.  As you can see in the static version posted here, flea and tick activity is at least moderate in most states.

Flea and Tick Activity State by State2

2From WebMD Flea and Tick Activity Tracker.  Accessed on 3/25/2017

How Should I Treat for Fleas and Ticks?

Commercial Flea and Tick Preparations



NexGard is a chewable tablet made by Frontline Vet Labs (a Merial/Boehringer Ingelheim company).  It kills fleas as well as the Lone Star tick, black-legged tick, American dog tick and brown dog tick.  The active ingredient is afoxolaner.  It has been proven to be safe and effective by the U.S. FDA for up to one month.

Pros:  Easy to administer, U.S. FDA approved.

Cons:  Pricey ($20 per dose3)

Frontline Gold

frontline gold
Frontline Gold is a topical solution applied to the base of your dog’s neck.  Like Nexgard, Frontline Gold is made by Frontline Vet Labs.  It kills fleas and ticks as well as chewing lice.  Frontline Gold contains three active ingredients:   fipronil, (S)-methoprene and pyriproxyfen.4  Fipronil kills adult fleas and ticks, (S)-methoprene attacks flea eggs and larvae, and pyripoxyfen helps kill the next generation of flea eggs and larvae before they become adult fleas. Frontline Gold is effective for up to one month and  has been approved by the U.S. EPA.

Pros:  More moderately priced than Nexgard ($13 per dose3),  U.S. EPA approved.

Cons:  Less convenient to administer than a chewable tablet.

K9 Advantix IIK9 Advantix II

K9 Advantix II is a topical solution administered once per month that kills fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, biting flies, and lice.  K9 Advantix II is made by BayerDVM.  It has three active ingredients:  imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyriproxyfen.   K9 Advantix has been approved by the  U.S. EPA.

Pros: Moderately priced ($10 per dose3).  U.S. EPA approved.

Cons:  Less convenient to administer than a chewable tablet

3Prices are approximate and were obtained on 3/23/2017 from web retailers.

4Frontline Gold Web Site.  Accessed 3/25/2017.

Home Remedies and Alternative Medicines

Citrus Baths

lemonIf ticks are not a problem where you live, you could try citrus juice to repel fleas.  Rub your dog’s coat with juice from the citrus fruit of your choice.  A word of caution, though:  Citrus oil is toxic to dogs and cats,5 so be careful to only expose your pet to the juice.  In this case, citrus oils are not safe for your pets even though they are natural.  Also, the acid from the citrus juice could also irritate sensitive skin, so watch for sensitivities or allergies.

Pros:  Natural, your dog will smell lemony fresh

Cons:  Does not deter ticks, skin sensivitivy issues, possible adverse reactions from citrus oils.

5ASPCA Animal Poison Control:  Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.  Lemon.  Accessed 3/25/2017.

Essential Oil

rose geranium oilEssential oils are increasingly popular, and some people have used rose geranium oil to  help prevent tick bites.  They apply few drops to the dog’s collar.  Use rose geranium oil with caution around your cat and dog as they can be toxic, and never use it on your cat.  Although web sites vary on exactly which essential oils are toxic, most agree that some are.  In their article “Natural Home Remedies for Flea and Tick Control,”  Pet MD, advises pet owners not to use essential oils on their cat because of the possibility of a bad reaction.  In addition, the ASPCA lists geraniol and linalool, which are derived from geraniums, as toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.6

Pros:  Easy

Cons:  May not be effective, possibly harmful to cats and dogs

6ASPCA Animal Poison Control:  Toxic and Non-Toxic plants.  Geranium.  Accessed 3/25/2017.

Don’t Use GarlicGarlic-caution

Garlic is sometimes touted as an alternative and natural flea and tick preventative for dogs.  However, large amounts of garlic –like those suggested for preventing fleas and ticks–can cause anemia due to damage to red blood cells, or it can cause gastrointestinal irritation.7

7ASPCA Animal Poison Control:  Toxic and Non-Toxic plants. Garlic.  Accessed 3/25/2017.

Counterfeit Products

In 2004 the EPA launched an investigation into the sales of counterfeit flea and tick products.  This investigation resulted in a prison sentence of at least one man, and the U.S. EPA issued stop sale, use, and removal orders  to retailers and other distributors of counterfeit products for use on pets.

How Can a Pet Owner Identify Counterfeit Products?  The following are some of the issues identified with counterfeit products, and should serve as a red flag to consumers:

It Might Be Counterfeit If…

  • There are differences in weight between the outer package and the product inside8
  • There is a lack of directions in English
  • The products not packaged in child-resistant packaging
  • The directions for use are missing
  • The product in the container is not appropriate for the animal or size of animal pictured on the outside
  • There are stickers on the box to hide the foreign labeling
  • The EPA registration number is missing
  • It is a fgoreign labeled product with stickers containing some U.S. information
  • It is a foreign-labeled product.

8U.S. EPA:  Avoid Counterfeit Pesticide Products for Dogs and Cats.  Accessed 3/24/2017

 Do Something to Prevent Fleas and Ticks

Not treating your dog for fleas and ticks puts both you and your dog at risk for insect-borne illnesses as well as sores, infection, itching, and discomfort.  Depending on the option you choose, treatment can be expensive, but you and your dog are worth being pest-free!.

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Mar 19

Rest in Peace, Penny

To Penny the Miniature Pinscher:



Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…



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Jul 20

Pool Safety Tips for your Puppy

By Vee Cecil, Guest Blogger

Pool Safety

For many families, the summer is the perfect time to get a puppy. Often, our work schedules are a little more relaxed and with the kids out of school, there are some extra helping hands to smooth the transition.
But even with the extra help, anyone who’s ever cared for a puppy knows what a handful they can be. It seems they live to get into anything and everything that they shouldn’t. And in the summer, with pools open for business, there are even more dangers to keep you on your toes.
The pool is definitely a high-risk area for an energetic, curious puppy. If you’re planning on having your pup by the pool, be aware of possible mishaps and take steps to prepare for them in advance. Here are a few tips to help you do so.

  • Key Safety Tips

    • Don’t assume that your dog can swim.
    • Puppy-proof your house and yard.
    • Keep your dog hydrated and in the shade.
    • Learn dog CPR.

Know That not All Puppies are Natural Swimmers

Because of the term “doggie paddle,” I think we often assume that all dogs can swim. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. As Amy Shojai on About.com explains in her article on puppy drowning, a dog’s ability to swim really depends on the breed. So, don’t assume your puppy will instantly be able to swim if he or she falls or leaps into the pool. The article notes that puppies are at an especially high risk for drowning because of their “inexperience, curiosity and fearlessness.” Be sure to keep a close eye on your puppy and be ready to lend a helping hand when they take their first plunge into the pool.

Puppy-Proof the Pool Area

We’ve all heard of baby-proofing a home to protect babies and toddlers from possible accidents in the home. So, why not do something similar to protect our puppies from trouble? The House Breaking Bible.com provides great advice on how to puppy-proof your house and yard. For example, if you have a fence around your pool, be sure the gate is self-closing. That way it is less likely to be left open for your puppy to sneak in.

Also be sure to puppy-proof the area where you keep your pool chemicals and other household products. As the In the Swim Pool Blog guide to pool chemicals shows, many of the chemicals that are effective to clean your pool are also toxic. If not stored properly, the fumes they release are dangerous for people of all ages but can be especially dangerous for children and animals.

Make Sure Your Puppy Takes a Break in the Shade

Temperatures soar in the summer, and while taking a dip can be a great way for your puppy to cool off, Bark Post.com stresses the importance of taking steps to keep them cool outside the pool as well. As the article advises, make sure your puppy has a shady place to sit and is staying hydrated in the summer heat.

Learn Dog CPR

If an accident does happen, you’ll want to be able to act fast. Dogs can be resuscitated using CPR just as humans can. But you must know how to do it successfully and which method to use based on your dog’s weight. Pet MD.com provides CPR instructions for dogs weighing less than 30 pounds and for dogs weighing more than 30 pounds. Read through the instructions and post them near your pool so that you can act fast.

Puppies are happy and energetic, and those are certainly qualities their owners should take time to enjoy. But that energy can get your puppy in trouble in the blink of an eye. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure you and your puppy have a fun-filled summer.

* * *

Vee Cecil lives in Kentucky and loves sharing her passion for wellness through her recently-launched blog. She is also a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor.

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Feb 02

Doga: A Mind and Body Experience for You and Your Dog

downward facing doga pose

Photo Credit:  Linked from the article “Yoga with Your Dog? Check Out Doga!” at Managed Moms.com

Dog + Yoga = Doga?

Doggie yoga, or doga, is a great way to relax with your dog on a cloudy day. It can bring the tranquility and harmony of yoga to you as well as strengthen the bond between you and your dog.

Humans Do the Strangest Things

When I started practicing yoga at home, my Min Pin/Chihuahua mix was very concerned, especially when I was in corpse pose. I think he was certain that I was ill or injured because when I didn’t respond to his nudges or licks, he sat on my face to guard me. I later learned that some dogs actually participate in their person’s yoga routine. Doga is a great rainy day activity that will engage the body and mind of both you and your dog.

In this extremely cute video, Pancho the Chihuahua mimics his owner’s yoga moves exactly.

How Does My Dog Participate in Doga?

A large part of doga is relaxation for you and the dog.  Thus, it is important not to force your dog to do poses it doesn’t feel comfortable doing.  That being said, dogs can do several doga poses, and, of course, they get to take part in being petted and attended to by you.  In the beginning, you may want to focus on deep breathing and relaxation with your dog.  Remember, a large part of doga is strengthening the human-canine bond, and thus, doga should be fun and relaxing for your dog.  Min Pins and other small breeds can act as a weight to deepen your stretches. With a larger dog, you may reach over it to extend a stretch or position the dog under your knees in a supine position to relieve pressure on your spine. During the relaxation portion of your practice, add massages for your dog. Leg and joint massages are common among doga practices, and tummy rubs never hurt.  Talking to and praising your dog in a soft voice will complement the experience.

[yop_poll id=”7″]

See Doga in Action

This12 minute video is an example of a doga class in action.  As you will see, the yoga instructor emphasizes allowing the dog to do what it is comfortable doing and not forcing the dog into poses.

If you are interested, doga classes are offered in many major metropolitan areas.  When I did a quick internet search for “doga classes,” the results included information about doga classes all over the U.S.

Doga Strengthens the Canine-Human Bond

The biggest benefit of doga, in my opinion, is strengthening the Canine-Human bond.  It is well documented that positive feelings, such as love and bonding, release endorphins, which stimulate pleasure centers in the brain.  Thus, positive emotions act chemically to make you feel good physically as well as mentally.  It is likely that it does the same for your dog.

In addition, when have you ever been with your dog where there wasn’t a chance for laughs?  A doga class is no exception and can provide laughs in abundance.  Since laughter is the best medicine, you’ll likely get a hefty dose of an all natural remedy for any ailment!

Other Benefits of Doga for Humans

While the humans work toward getting fit, they also  socialize their dog and bring the positive energy of the canine-human bond into your yoga practice.  An added benefit is that the dog can provide motivation to practice yoga regularly.  For example, your dog may start bringing you your yoga mat.

Other Benefits of Doga for Dogs

Dogs need stress relief, too.  Dog brains are very similar to human brains, and dogs can suffer from conditions like depression and anxiety just like humans can.  Doga can provide one avenue to relieve your dog’s stress, and this will make your dog as happy and healthy as it can be.

In addition, the time you spend with your dog while practicing doga is important to your dog’s health.  Dogs have evolved to be near humans, and thus, have a need for bonding with their owner.  The time, attention, and tactile stimulation a dog gets from doga is extremely important to form and maintain this bond.

Practice Safe Doga

Be sure to keep your dog’s safety in mind and don’t put your dog in unnatural positions. If you want to balance your dog in some of your poses, make sure your pose is stable and consider having a friend act as a spotter. For example, if you want to balance your dog on your thigh while in a warrior pose, you don’t want your leg to be shaking. Remember that Min Pins have a fine bone structure, which can lead to fractures if your Min Pin falls or is dropped.

What Do You Think?

Have you or someone you know tried doga?  What was it like?  How did he or she like it?  Do you have tips that might be helpful to others attempting doga?  Comment below and let us know!

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Sep 10

Canine Bug Out Bag

The Essentials For Fido

dog wearing back pack

Stock Your Canine Bug Out Bag

Photo Credit: Conny Liegl on Flickr

A recent episode of Revision 3’s DIY Tryin, Build an Emergency Kit with These Essentials, covered items for a disaster preparedness kit for humans. While watching, I began thinking about what essentials I would need for my two Miniature Pinschers. I came up with some obvious and, I think, not-so-obvious items that would be handy in an emergency.

The Obvious Emergency Essentials

1. Food

Obviously, your dog will need food if you are displaced for more than a few hours, and it is important that your dog have its regular food and not people food. Your dog will likely be nervous–probably terrified–if a tornado or earthquake strikes, and that can cause stomach upset. Add to that kibble that your dog isn’t used to, and it could come back to haunt you, literally. People food is richer in fat and not formulated for dogs. Thus, giving your dog people food under normal circumstances can be trouble. Giving your dog people food in an emergency is just asking for trouble. Besides the mess, which no one wants to deal with in any situation, vomiting could worsen any dehydration your dog is experiencing. In addition to the food, an antacid like Pepcid might be helpful. Ask your veterinarian what she recommends and what dose to give.

  • How Much Water?

    A healthy dog typically needs about one-half to a full ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.

    –VCA Animal Hospitals

2. Water

Remember when you are calculating how much water to store that you will need to include water for your dog also. This could be important if you have a Great Dane. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “A healthy dog typically needs about one-half to a full ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.” Don’t forget to include a drinking dish. Collapsible dog dishes are available, but a clean, empty food carton will work just as well.

3. Collar and Tags

Make sure that you keep your dog’s collar in good condition. If it slips off, the information on the tags is gone forever. Check the clasp or buckle and any seams for signs of wear. If it is questionable, replace it. Check the collar and tags regularly. Does your dog have both a vaccination tag and one with your contact information? If not get them. Are they chewed beyond recognition? If so, replace them.

4. Leash and Harness

Many parks and shelters will allow dogs on a leash, but a dog without a leash may be denied entry. Plus, your dog will be scared and may be hard to control without one. You may want to attach the leash to a harness, especially if you have a little dog. Little dogs like Min Pins have small tracheas and when too much pressure is applied to the throat, like when a scared dog pulls at the leash, a condition called “collapsing trachea” can develop. Once damaged, the trachea can take a long time to heal. Pressure to the trachea can be prevented by using a harness.

5. Doggy Do Bags

After a disaster is not the time you want to start hunting for a doggy do bag. If you don’t have any of these bags already, you can get them at a pet supply or a few Ziplocs will do nicely. These are small, light, and require very little space in your kit. Be a responsible dog owner and throw a few bags in your preparedness kit.

Not-So-Obvious Essentials

6. Microchip

When animals are scared, they run, and that is why microchipping your dog before disaster strikes is crucial. As discussed previously, collars fall off and tags get chewed. Microchipping is an inexpensive, safe, and effective way to find your dog if you get separated during a disaster. A microchip is a small device about the size of a grain of rice. It is implanted under the skin and can be read by scanners at most animal shelters. Most animal shelters check for a microchip immediately, and this is the fastest way to get your dog back if it runs away. My most recent dog’s microchip cost $35, installed.

7. Vaccination Records

Vaccination records may come in handy in or after a disaster. Many kennels require proof of vaccination before boarding a dog. If your house is demolished, you won’t be able to get to those records. In addition, you may need to stay at a hotel, or with friends or relatives. Bringing a dog along could be a burden. Many hotels don’t allow pets and allergies or small children at the house of a friend or relative may make accommodating a dog problematic. When your dog gets its vaccination, just put the paperwork with your emergency kit instead of throwing it away.

Another reason to keep vaccination records is because scared dogs sometimes bite. Even though your dog is typically friendly and gentle, any dog that feels threatened will defend itself. Vaccination records may prevent a quarantine or worse.

8. Dog Toys

You may be asking yourself why would anyone need dog toys in their disaster kit? There is a very good reason: to calm your dog. Having a toy may calm the dog, either because having its favorite possession is soothing or because playing with it is distracting. One of my Min Pins is named Nano, which is short for Nanosecond. By his name, you can imagine that sitting still in a cramped tornado shelter for hours is not an option. I think it is possible that he would burst with pent up energy. Also, playing with the dog would be distracting for the humans, too.

9. Travel Carrier or Crate

Need a place to store all the canine supplies? I highly recommend getting a travel carrier or crate. I know that this may not be possible for large dogs, but crates are invaluable in a disaster. Dogs are naturally den animals, and a small space can be comforting, and it can help protect people as well as dogs. Here is one example:I was driving down the highway a couple of years ago when I suddenly found myself in a rollover accident. My dog, Zeus, was in a travel carrier, and he was unharmed. Otherwise, there was a good chance that he might have been ejected from the car and crushed. When bystanders came to help, Zeus would not let them get near me to see if I was injured. He had been treated roughly, and it was obviously all their fault. Someone got the carrier from the car, and I was able to put the dog in it, which calmed him down. Thus, it kept the bystanders from getting bitten and was a place that the dog felt safe.

10. Muzzle

As discussed above, frightened animals will bite. A muzzle will protect people with whom you may come into contact as well as reduce your liability. In addition, a muzzle can prevent barking. I had to take cover once in a friend’s house and had my dog with me. He was frightened, and he barked the entire hour that we stayed there. I was embarrassed, but helpless because in his frightened state, he wouldn’t follow my command to “hush.”

11. Treats or Clicker

Whatever incentive you use to get your dog to obey your commands, you will need them in an emergency. Treats or a clicker don’t take much space, and they can mean the difference between a willful canine and a well behaved dog.

Dogs Are Just Like Humans

OK, so maybe dogs aren’t JUST like humans, but they have many of the same needs. Below are a couple of things that are just as important for dogs as they are for humans.

12. Medications

Does your dog take medicine? Many dogs have heart conditions, are diabetic, or have another disease for which a medication is essential. If your dog takes medicine, make sure that it is included in your kit. As discussed previously, keeping your dog calm is important. You may want to ask your veterinarian if a mild sedative like Benadryl would be appropriate to give your dog. Be sure to get dosing instructions. Many dog owners hesitate to give their dogs medicine for anxiety, but like with people, dogs suffer from upsetting circumstances. In a disaster, we can’t reassure them with words, and so they likely think that the world is going to crash down and are in fear for their lives. A mild sedative may help them through this difficult time.

13. Blankets and Ponchos

If you are cold, your dog probably is, too. If you have a small dog, like a Min Pin, blankets and ponchos may not be a problem. I can just tuck my dogs in my coat. However, this is more difficult to do with a big dog. A larger dog may need its own poncho and blanket. Tailor this to your dog. A dog with thick fur in southern California may not a blanket, whereas a short haired dog in a cold climate does. Any dog that can’t fit in yours needs its own poncho. Remember: wet fur is not warm fur.

Keep Disaster from Becoming Tragedy

The tornado that ripped through Moore, OK tore down houses, fences, street signs, and landmarks. In fact, the tornado did so much damage that rescue workers had difficulty telling where the houses had been. As you can imagine, many dogs were missing after the tornado, having run off in fright. For many months, dogs and owners were being reunited. During these happy reunions, many of the owners said something to the effect of, “I lost so much. I didn’t want to lose my dog, too.” Do the most you can now to help save your dog in the future.

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