Archive for the ‘Pet Health’ Category

10 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Dog

Have you been dreaming of getting a dog ever since you saw the reruns of the television classic Lassie as a kid? Or maybe you were fortunate enough to watch the original series. While your dog might not be able to save you week after week from a burning building, a runaway freight train, or the bottom of a well (and in the time it takes to finish a 30-minute episode, too), owning a dog can be a wonderful experience.Puppy chewing

Here are 10 things you should know and consider before choosing your canine friend.

1. Dogs take up a lot of time and energy. Yes, they are rewarding. But if you live alone and work twenty hours a day, then perhaps a dog is not the best choice for you. Hey, there are always those super-cool robot dogs.

2. If you are not often at home, and you really want a dog, you probably should invest in a dog walker. You’d probably be wise to choose a dog breed that isn’t especially needy, too. Check out PetMD’s Breedopedia to select from a wide variety of breeds.

3. Any dog you get should be suitable to not only your lifestyle, but your surroundings. If you live in a shoebox apartment, then a large dog is not a good choice. You don’t want your dog to develop health issues, be bored, or destroy things. Large dogs really belong in big places with lots of outdoor space.

4. Consider which breeds are suitable for your region’s climate, especially if you have a yard and want to keep it as an outside dog.

5. Puppies require the most work when it comes to house training. If you: (a) don’t want your things chewed up, or (b) don’t have the time or money to train the puppy, consider adopting an already housebroken, adult dog.

6. Make sure you have lots of chew toys available for your puppy and keep all expensive things (like shoes and clothes) out of its reach; the same goes for chemicals and medicines. Puppies like to investigate and try everything, so make sure there is nothing dangerous around for them to sample.

7. Get your dog vaccinated and spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Oh, and take your dog to the vet for its routine checkups. Your dog will thank you for it and live a much better (and longer) life.

8. Get a proper leash and harness for your dog. A leash too small or too large may hurt it inadvertently during its walking routine, or, worse yet, allow it to hurt others or get loose and run away.

9. Health insurance is a must. Consult your veterinarian as to your best options.

10. Regardless of the dog breed you choose, have fun! They say there is no better friend than a dog. We have to agree.

Article by PetMD

Fruits That Are Safe for Dogs to Eat

Humans love fruit and we know bananas and strawberries are good for us, but did you know they are good for your dogs too? Not only will your dog love that he is getting “human food,” but you will love that the same benefits fruits provide us – aids in digestion, antioxidants, immunity boosts, better eye sight, healthier skin and hair – they also provide for your dog.Dog with apple

Feed fruits to your dog as a small training treat or stuff your dog’s favorite treat stuffer toy with some peanut butter and fruit for a great and healthy occupier.

Tips for Feeding Fruit to Dogs

  • Always talk to your veterinarian about any treats you feed your dog, including fruit.
  • Give your dog small portions of fruit only, especially the first time feeding them to your dog. Even though fruit is good for him, fruit is not calorie free. Also, you don’t know if your dog will have an allergic or other adverse reaction, such as gas or an upset stomach.
  • Clean fruit thoroughly before offering it to your dog.
  • If you can, introduce small portions of fruit to your dog when he is young. He may be more likely to try it and like it.
    Some dogs don’t like raw fruit. Try mashing it into their food or adding it as an ingredient when you make homemade dog treats. You can also use fruit juice, but make sure it is 100 percent fruit juice and not added sugars.
  • Avoid feeding your dog any type of seeds or pits. Although not all seeds are known to cause problems, it is better to be safe than sorry. What is known to be problematic or toxic are apple seeds, apricot pits, nectarine pits, plum pits, cherry pits and peach pits.

Check out this list of 13 fruits (and melons) for dogs and their benefits to get you started.

1. Apples: Source for potassium, fiber, phytonutrients, flavonoids, vitamin C. Note: Do not give dogs the core or the seeds, which contain arsenic. (Half of an apple slice is a good size treat.)

2. Bananas: Source of potassium and carbohydrates. (1 inch is a good size treat.)

3. Blackberries: Source of antioxidants (anthocyanins), polyphenols, tannin, fiber, manganese, folate, omega-3. High in vitamins C, K, A and E. (2 or 3 blackberries is a good size treat.)

4. Blueberries: Source of antioxidants, selenium, zinc and iron. High in vitamins C, E, A and B complex. (2 or 3 blueberries is a good size treat.)

5. Cantaloupe: Source for vitamins A, B complex, C, plus fiber, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. (1 inch of cantaloupe wedge is a good size treat.)

6. Cranberries: Source for vitamin C, fiber and manganese. Helps fight against urinary tract infections, plus balances acid-base in dog’s body. (2 tablespoons of stewed cranberries added to dog’s food is good size portion. Note: To stew cranberries, put them in a saucepan with water, cover and cook until tender. Put them through a sieve and add to dog food.)

7. Kiwis: Source of fiber, potassium and high in vitamin C. (A half a slice or one slice of kiwi is a good size treat.)

8. Oranges: Source for fiber, potassium, calcium, folic acid, iron, flavonoids, phytonutrients, vitamins A, C, B1 and B6. (Half of a segment is a good size treat. May cause stomach upset if fed in too big a portion. Remove the rind and any seeds.) Do no feed your dog any part of the orange tree—see below.

9. Pears: Source for fiber, folic acid, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, copper, pectin and vitamins A, C, E, B1 and B2. (1 or 2 pear cubes is a good size treat.)

10. Pumpkin: Source for fiber, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zinc, iron, potassium and Vitamin A. Note: Although you can feed your dog pumpkin seeds, most recommend feeding them to dogs unsalted, roasted and then grounded. Do not feed your dog any other part of the pumpkin due to the small, sharp hairs on the pumpkin stem and leaves. (1 to 3 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin [not pumpkin pie mix] is a good size treat.) We sell organic canned pumpkin for pets!

11. Raspberries: Source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, potassium, manganese, copper, iron, magnesium. Rich in vitamin C, K and B-complex. (2 or 3 raspberries is a good size treat.)

12. Strawberries: Source for fiber, potassium, magnesium, iodine, folic acid, omega-3 fats, vitamins C, K, B1 and B6. (A half or 1 strawberry is a good size treat.)

13. Watermelon: Source of vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium and water. Do not feed your dog the seeds or rind. (1 to 3 pieces of 1-inch watermelon wedge is a good size treat.)

Fruit Bad for Dogs
Although some fruits in small portions can be good for your dog (unless your dog is allergic), never offer your dog the following. If your dog accidently eats the below fruit, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Grapes or Raisins: They have caused many cases of poisoning when ingested by dogs.
Avocados: They could cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Figs: Figs have caused allergic reactions in some dogs. Also, the fig is grown on the Ficus tree (Ficus benjamina), which causes skin inflammation if your dog comes into contact with it. Ficus plants or trees also cause diarrhea and vomiting if your dog ingests them.

Orange tree: The orange tree (Citrus sinensis) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses due to its psoralens and essential oils. You don’t want your pet to ingest the seeds, peel, leaves or stem of this tree or fruit. Symptoms of orange tree poisoning are depression, diarrhea and vomiting.

Lemon tree: The lemon tree (Citrus limonia) is toxic to dogs, cats and horses due to its psoralens and essential oils. You don’t want your pet to ingest the seeds, peel, leaves or stem of this tree. Symptoms of lemon plant poisoning are depression, diarrhea and vomiting.

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How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Halloween

Every Halloween, the streets are lined with frightening strangers – decaying mummies, wicked clowns and hungry zombies – arriving at your door every few minutes demanding a gift of food for their bags. This is what Halloween is like for your pet, and it can be terrifying! Add on to that a few holiday safety hazards and the stage has been set nicely for disaster. Keep your pet safe this October 31st with these tips:

Trick or Treat
Halloween candy is the bane of dentists everywhere, but also a regular presence on Halloween night in emergency veterinary clinics. Something that tastes so wonderful to us can be incredibly dangerous for our four-legged roommates.
Halloween puppy

    Chocolate – Halloween provides easy access to this deadly treat, especially when you have a fully-stocked bowl of those amazing chocolate-and-peanut-butter pumpkins. Chocolate is dangerous to both dogs and cats, and can be lethal, and the symptoms include diarrhea, quick breathing, high heart rate, vomiting and even seizures.
    All Other Candy – A good rule of thumb when it comes to all candy for your pet is this: don’t do it. Even non-chocolate candy is dangerous, as it may contain, xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and seizures.

All Hallow’s Eve is also called the “Mischief Night,” and while many practice harmless pranking, sadly many beloved pets fall victim to those with less honorable intentions. Many animal shelters will not allow any black cat adoptions during the month of October, to deter any would-be cruelty inflictors. No matter how deplorable, it can be avoidable, so keep your pets inside on the days surrounding Halloween.

People in Costumes
If you live in a kid-friendly neighborhood, you better stock up and leave the porch light on, because they are coming for you. While it’s fun for us to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the creative costumes America’s youth is donning this year, it’s 100% terrifying for your pets. “Who are these strangers at the door? Why do they keep knocking on the door? Why do you open the door, and then why do they yell? I’m pretty sure I just saw a zombie.” While we can’t really explain this October holiday with our pets, we can take certain steps to make sure they’re as comfortable with the situation as they can be.

    Pick a room far away from the front door and designate it the pet room for the evening. Turn on low music or a television in the room so sudden knocking or doorbell-ringing isn’t quite so jarring. Buy yourself some time with a few jerky treats and chew toys.
    If pets can’t be confined to one part of the house, at least make sure they have no access to the front door. With so many constant openings and closings of the door, all to reveal strangers in costume, it’s easy for Fluffy to slip out into the night for tricks of her own.

Your Pets in Costumes
Be sensitive to your buddy. While many pet costumes are hilarious and adorable, it’s important to make sure that your dog or cat is okay with wearing whatever you have chosen. I’m not saying that he’s going to choose whether he wants to be Lady Gaga or a hotdog, but he can let you know quickly if the costume doesn’t fit. You wouldn’t want to wear an uncomfortable costume all night, so don’t put your pet in something tight, restrictive, irritating, itchy or painful.
The one costume your pet should not go without this Halloween is an identifying tag, engraved with your phone number. Many pets go missing on Halloween, so make it easier for rescuers to reach you when they find your dog.

Pumpkin is a delicious fruit can be a nice addition to your pet’s diet. However, Halloween presents its own set of dangers when it comes to the cheerful orange decoration.

    Too Much of a Good Thing – Pumpkin in small quantities can act as a natural regularity booster, but too much can quickly up that power to laxative and even intestinal blockage. Make sure any decorative pumpkins are not within easy access to dogs and cats, who may just decide they’re going to eat the whole pumpkin before you even realize it’s happening. Similarly, another fall decoration, corn, can also cause gastrointestinal problems, so keep it out of reach as well.
    Jack-O-Lantern – You certainly want the neighborhood to enjoy all the hard work you put into your jack-o-lantern, but don’t forget that the unusual glow from the candle can attract more than trick-or-treaters. Keep pets away from any items that have a flame, including pumpkins and decorative candles.

Halloween can be scary for your pet, or it can be like any other day with careful planning and consideration for your pet. Remember your first concern is your pet’s health and safety, and if that can be accomplished while dressing your dog as the Toto to your Dorothy, your Halloween will be one to remember.

Blog from Wellness Pet Food.

Pet safety tips for the 4th

When we think of the 4th of July the first two things that come to mind are barbecues and fireworks. Let’s first address why backyard barbecues can pose problems for dogs. The smell of food, a large group of adults, playing kids, and other excited pets can easily overstimulate a dog, increasing the potential for poor behavior and bites. And don’t forget to keep those barbecue skewers our of paw’s reach!

dogflag“Leaving your dog at home as you head out for holiday activities and events is the best thing for you and your pet,” says ARL president Mary Nee.  “Prevention is responsible pet ownership.”

Second, while we humans love a good fireworks display, our pets find it absolutely terrifying. The loud popping and banging noises and fiery flashes of light easily startle and alarm dogs.

To ensure that your 4th of July holiday is fun for you and less stressful for your pet, here are a few tips:

  1. Keep small pets indoors preferably in a room with the shades down. You can turn on the TV or radio to provide some distraction.
  2. Have your pet on a leash or kept in a carrier if you must be outside with them.
  3. Be aware that some pets become “fearfully aggressive” due to loud noises. Protect your pets from people who are waving sparklers or setting off home fireworks.
  4. Never punish your pet for his fearful behavior, but don’t reinforce the behavior by trying to sooth your pet with ‘it’s ok’ or similar words.  Paying attention to your pet may positively reinforce the fearful behavior.

Many animal shelters report increases of “stray” animals after the July 4th holiday due to the number of pets running away in an attempt to avoid the noise and excitement. Be sure that your pet has a current ID tag and/or microchip so that you and your pet can be easily reunited in the case he or she runs off.

If you believe any of your pets has a noise phobia, talk with your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your pet safe during the holiday.  (We have natural products like Rescue Remedy and Ark Natural’s Happy Traveler that will help to calm nervous dogs.)

Lastly, if your pet must travel with you this July 4th remember never to leave your pet in a parked car.

“On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can top one hundred degrees in less than 10 minutes – even with all the windows cracked,” explains Boston Veterinary Care’s Dr. Shophet.  “That’s why leaving a pet inside a parked car is the most common cause of potentially deadly heat stroke.

Article by the Animal Rescue League of Boston

Does your pet need digestive support? A look at PROBIOTICS, PREBIOTICS, AND PUMPKIN

You cannot turn on the television without seeing a commercial for probiotic enhanced yogurt touting relief from bloating, or fiber supplements promoting regularity. Dogs and cats alike can suffer from gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation; these symptoms can be avoided with the addition of supportive products designed to aid digestion.


What are Probiotics? Meaning “for-life”, probiotics are good bacteria which maintain the population of helpful intestinal flora. Since probiotics are already found in your pet’s digestive tract, additional supplementation acts as further support for existing flora, which boost the immune system, ferment otherwise indigestible material, make vitamins K and B, and prevent overpopulation of harmful bacteria. Adequate levels of these beneficial bacteria promote healthy stool formation and reduce or eliminate gas and bloating. And, for your feline companion, probiotics reduce the occurrence of vomiting and hairballs.

What are Prebiotics? Prebiotics are non-digestible sugars that act as food for probiotics. Fermented dairy products such as yogurt contain both the sugars that the probiotics need to thrive and the probiotics themselves, providing a double dose of digestive support. Honey, garlic, and artichokes contain naturally occurring prebiotics as well.

What about fiber? Fiber is non-digestible but edible plant matter. After digestion, fiber is what remains of plant cells. There are soluble and insoluble types of fiber, which is why fiber is useful in preventing and treating both constipation and diarrhea. Because insoluble fiber absorbs water, if there is not enough water inside of the colon (constipation) it absorbs moisture from outside of the colon. If there is too much water inside of the colon (diarrhea) it absorbs it, removing it from the stool. Probiotics ferment dietary fiber into short chain fatty acids which help repair the colon walls, which prevents colon cancer.

So, how do you incorporate these into your pet’s diet? Probiotics and prebiotics are usually a package deal. Fermented raw goats milk, Doggy frozen yogurt and supplemental powders are excellent additional sources of these super digestive aids. Many premium foods add probiotics and prebiotics after cooking to ensure optimum efficacy. Fiber is easy to supplement as well. Canned or dehydrated pumpkin or sweet potatoes make palatable options that can be mixed into your pet’s regular meal daily, or as a treat. While none of these products are essential to your pet’s diet they are invaluable in maintaining optimum digestive health.

Article by Jenny Cournoyer
Jenny is an employee at Maggie’s and a graduate of UMASS Amherst, she has studied Pre-vet and Animal Science and is very knowledgeable about pet care and nutrition

Article by Jenny Cournoyer

Jenny is an employee at Maggie’s and a graduate of UMASS Amherst, she has studied Pre-vet and Animal Science and is very knowledgeable about pet care and nutrition

Is your pet getting enough to drink?

Is your pet getting enough to drink?
Like us, cats and dogs are primarily composed of water. They lose water daily through urination, defecation and respiration. Digestion, especially of dry food, requires vast amounts of water to properly prepare the food for nutrient absorption. Without enough water it is impossible for the kidneys and liver to properly filter the bloodstream, which can result in toxicity. Therefore, adequate water consumption is absolutely vital to the health of your pet.1897373414_76df7b064c_z
Dehydration is a common problem for companion animals eating a diet primarily composed of kibble. Kibble is usually between seven and ten percent moisture, requiring additional supplementation of water, typically in a water bowl. The wild forebears of our dogs and cats would have met most of their water needs by eating the flesh of their prey (containing 75-80 percent moisture) and occasionally drinking from streams. In the wild, animals will only drink from a stagnant water source, such as a puddle, in times of drought or famine. Many pets will naturally choose to drink out of the freshest water source available. So when you see your cat lapping up the water around your bathtub drain, or your dog with his head in the toilet bowl, it is effort to rehydrate with fresh water.
Failure to drink enough water can result in bad breath, dry nose and mouth, lethargy, susceptibility to infection (especially urinary tract infections) , dull coat and dark, smelly urine. It is easy to monitor your pet’s hydration status by performing either a basic turgor test or a capillary refill test.
• Turgor test: gently lift the loose skin between your dog or cat’s shoulder blades and then release. If properly hydrated, your pet’s skin will return back to normal instantly. If anything other than an immediate return is observed, your pet is dehydrated. The more slowly the skin goes back to it’s original position, the more dehydrated the animal is.
• Capillary refill test: with your index finger, firmly press the gum line of your pet for three seconds, and then remove your finger. The color should return to the area in less than two seconds. The sooner it returns the better, and the more slowly it returns, the higher the level of dehydration.
There are a variety of ways to ensure that your pets are getting enough water. Incorporating canned food into a dry diet is helpful, and switching to a raw diet is ideal. In a raw diet, none of the water is cooked out of the food; therefore no additional water is needed to digest it. Freeze-dried raw diets and dehydrated diets are also excellent choices when saturated according to package directions. Encourage your pet to drink as much as possible from their dish by changing the water twice a day and cleaning it often. Stagnant water grows bacteria which smells and tastes unpleasant. To provide a constant fresh water supply, consider a pet fountain in which the water circulates continuously. Pets that are sick, pregnant, nursing or very active have greater water needs. In high temperatures, dogs and cats lose more water through respiration and will need additional access to water. Supervise dogs tied outside as they can either knock over their water bowls or become tangled out of reach. All life sustaining processes require water. Without water food can’t be digested, toxins can’t be excreted and air can’t be absorbed. It is the least expensive form of preventative medicine. Make sure your animals are getting enough for a lifetime of health.

Article by Jenny Cournoyer
Jenny is an employee at Maggie’s and a graduate of UMASS Amherst, she has studied Pre-vet and Animal Science and is very knowledgeable about pet care and nutrition

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