D is for Diet

DOne of the hottest topics of debate among dog owners is what type of food is best. The truth is, there is no one brand that is best for all dogs. And with so many different dog foods out there, and so much conflicting information, the pet store can be an overwhelming place, especially for new pet owners.

So how do you decide what’s best for your dog? First, ask your vet. This is particularly important if your dog has any health conditions that require a special diet. However, be aware that many veterinary clinics, even otherwise good ones, have incentive to promote some brands of dog food over others. Our first vet would push Science Diet to all their patients, giving free sample bags at your first appointment with any new pet. So I’d be wary of a vet that only recommends one brand. We’ve since switched clinics, and have received much better advice on food.

Basically, rather than worrying about the specific brand, look for foods that are high-protein, and that are low-grain or grain-free. Many dog foods are filled with corn, wheat, or rice. Wheat and corn are especially known to cause skin allergies in many dogs. Rice is more tolerable, but with the recent studies showing high naturally-occurring arsenic in rice, we’ve decided it’s better for us to avoid grains altogether. Many grain-free foods use sweet potato instead, which is a great alternative, with high nutrient content. And try to avoid anything that is brightly colored, as these generally contain dyes which are at best unnecessary, and at worst could cause an adverse reaction.

You want something with a meat protein as the first ingredient. If your dogs are sensitive to chicken or beef, salmon can be a good alternative. Ginny has had skin sensitivities, but they cleared up when we switched to a salmon and sweet potato food. Our dogs love chicken, but we don’t love the stink that ensues after they’ve eaten chicken-based food or treats. Some brands have food that contains wild game such as venison or rabbit. The important thing is to find a food your dog loves to eat that also has a good nutritional balance. With so many choices out there, you should be able to find a quality food that still fits your budget.

Hi, Mom. I like treats. You got any treats?

Hi, Mom. I like treats. You got any treats?

Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep your dog on a consistent feeding schedule and to carefully portion their food. Limit the amount of treats you give them–a difficult task if you have particularly persistent little beggars like ours! And while it may be tempting to slip table scraps to your well-behaved dog, that can lead to unwanted pounds and may lead to some unwanted behaviors over time. If you are vigilant, you can keep your dog at a healthy weight while still keeping meal time enjoyable.

Do your dogs have a favorite treat? Do you have little beggars at home like we do? Share your stories in the comments!

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C is for Charlie, Costumes, and Cameras

CHey, everybody! Charlie here. Mom wanted to tell you all my adoption story. Here it goes… I saw my people, knew they were mine, charmed them, jumped into Mom’s arms, and went home. End of story.

Now onto more pressing business… The Easter Bunny.

I met this legendary creature two years ago. Tessa couldn’t come with us, because she was too huge and miserable from carrying all those puppies inside her. So I was on my own when Mom and Dad took me to my favorite treat shop. I thought I had it made.

Then they set me on the lap of what I thought was the biggest stuffed toy ever made. It kind of resembled the bunnies I try to chase in my yard. I thought I’d see if it was tasty, as you can see in this first picture of the devious creature. I’ll present to you Exhibit A…

Exhibit A: I examine the subject closely

Exhibit A: I examine the subject closely

As you can see, the creature’s smile was suspiciously artificial, and those eye… I shudder every time I think about them. Well, it turns out the sweet, adorable bunny bit is just an act. These things are in league with the humans. A few seconds after I was politely licking its face, the beast talked–not in bunny speak, but like my people do! Clearly this is some evil rabbit-human alliance. Who knows what evils might have befallen me, had I not escaped this demon’s clutches and found safety with Mom and Dad. You doubt? See Exhibit B…

Exhibit B: I prepare for my escape from the Easter Bunny's evil grasp!

Exhibit B: I prepare for my escape from the Easter Bunny’s evil grasp!

I’m sure you can tell that this creature was up to no good. Thankfully, I’m very quick. I zoomed away, and almost made it all the way out of the store, but Mom and Dad were just a bit quicker than me for once. I still don’t know why they would take me to such a horrible place in the first place, unless they wanted me to know my enemy. That must be it, because the treats they picked up for me there? Rabbit chews. Who’s laughing now, Easter Bunny?

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

B is for Bonding with Your New Pet

BAdopting a new pet is exciting. You can’t wait to take your newest family member home. But what happens if things don’t go quite that smoothly once you get home?

It’s normal for a dog to have an adjustment period when arriving in a new home. Even dogs who are already housebroken may have accidents in the house. Your dog may act scared of its new surroundings, or overly excited at meeting new people. This transition period may be longer if you have existing pets at home. (I’ll have another post later in the month on introductions.)

One of the best ways to help your dog bond with you is to spend plenty of active one-on-one time with them. The most basic way to create a bond is to take your dog on walks. Go far enough so the dog gets tired, and try to keep them moving rather than stopping every three feet to mark or sniff. This helps build discipline, while still letting your dog get to know the neighborhood. Tessa was fairly unsure when we brought her home, but she really started coming out of her shell when we would take her for walks. She would constantly look up at us with the most adoring look you ever saw.

Charlie loves his fox!

Charlie loves his fox!

Play time at home is crucial, too. Find a toy that they really like and they will get excited to play with you. Charlie had one of the toy foxes without stuffing, Tessa and Tonks love any sort of ball, and Ginny adores soccer balls (especially these stuffed ones from IKEA). Remember: a tired dog is less likely to get into trouble around the house!

Of course, most dogs will bond well with anyone who feeds them. Reward them with healthy treats for good behavior. We like the little training treats that are just a few calories each. Make a game of it. Engage their minds as well as their playful nature. If your dog has had a few too many treats prior to entering your home, you can always just use bits of their dry food to entice them.

Showing your new best friend lots of affection and patience will go a long way toward making them part of the family. Do you have stories of dogs who took a bit of TLC? Share them in the comments! I look forward to hearing about your fur babies!

Categories: Play | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

A is for Adopt, Don’t Shop

A

Today is the first day of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. I’ll be posting each day in April except Sundays, with topics related to adoption and rescue that are inspired by a different letter of the alphabet each day.

To start things off, I thought I’d focus on the popular slogan for pro-rescue folks: “Adopt, don’t shop!” So why are we so pro-adoption rather than encouraging people to buy from a breeder?

The most basic reason to adopt is to save a life. According to the ASPCA’s website, approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are euthanized each year. These are mostly healthy animals of all ages, both pure breeds and mixed. Why add to the pet population by breeding when so many dogs and cats sit in shelters? (Our guinea pigs would like to remind you that there are plenty of homeless pocket pets at shelters, too!)

Charlie's adoption picture!

Charlie’s adoption picture!

Also, most shelters have a wide range of animals. You can meet dogs or cats of different breeds and ages, and the shelter staff can help you pick the right animal for your situation. You can adopt an animal who is past the puppy/kitten stage, maybe even fully housebroken. And in my experience, most shelter dogs are just friendlier and more grateful to find their forever homes.

So the next time you’re looking for a new family member, please consider your local rescue shelter. Adopt, don’t shop!

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , | 11 Comments

A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal

As April approaches, the A to Z Challenge is just around the corner. That means it’s time to reveal our theme for the month.

Since this is our first time doing the challenge, and really the start to our blog, we thought we’d pick a theme that is dear to us: adoption!

Throughout the month, we’ll talk on subjects related to animal rescue and adoption. We’ll also share the stories of our own little pack. We’re really looking forward to telling our tales and visiting other blogs during the challenge!

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We’re taking on the A to Z Blogging Challenge!

A to Z Blogging Challenge

Since our lives aren’t already crazy enough (yeah, right), we decided to take things up a notch by participating in this year’s A to Z Blogging Challenge. The idea is to write a blog post every day in April except Sundays, with each post inspired by a different letter of the alphabet. We figured this would be a great way to jump-start the blog, and could help our Twitter and Facebook friends get to know us a bit more. Amy’s been cooking up some good ideas for posts, and Josh is getting ready for some tie-in posts on the Facebook page. If you have suggestions for posts you’d like to see about our dogs or animal rescue in general, let us know in the comments! And if you’re participating, please share your blog’s URL and we’ll check out your posts. Have a great weekend, everybody!

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