Walk With Your Dog: Help Yourself

walking with your dogWhen I was in the Air Force, we had to wear boots for work. I had never worn boots before. I left the Air Force after my first hitch. One thing I noticed immediately was my ankles had become very weak. My boots had been supporting my ankles for years and therefore my muscles hadn’t had to support my natural body movement. [Read more…]

Does My Dog Understand Me?

Does your dog know what you say when you say it? That’s the question posed by Jon Hanson, Ph.D. He introduces us to Chaser, a border collie who’s owner has taught her more than 1000 words. That’s as much as a preschooler!

But does she really know what is being asked of her? Watch now:

What is obvious is that with after standing by our sides for thousands of years, dogs have really figured us out. From our tone of speech, to facial cues and posture, a dog knows what we’re really saying, without saying it.

Can I Make My Dog Understand Me?

Like children, dogs can learn words and basic commands through positive reinforcement. I’m proud to say my golden retriever can go potty on command – that’s #1 AND #2, thank you very much!

Have you had success training your dog to be as smart as Chaser? Share in the comments below now!

Pet Exercise: Key To A Long Life

Does Your Pet Exercise?

Pet ExerciseSadly, 60% of pets in the US are obese. Most lead a very sedentary lifestyle, much like us humans. Truth is, not only does this cause stresses on your pets physical well being, but also on their mental wellbeing.

Rex and Mr. Pickles may appear to be healthy, but have you noticed increases in bad behaviors lately? Chewing clothing or furniture, excessive licking of paws (dogs), aggressiveness or short temperedness? These are all signs of a mentally “bored” pet. Dogs and cats require not only physical stimulation of exercise, but the mental stimulation that goes along with it.

There are Tools to Exercise Pets

For Cats: Consider buying a Cat Tree or climbing device. (Check out some examples by clicking the link) You can also hide treats in toys like this or that and place them around the cat tree or house. Make them earn their reward. Laser pointers are an easy stimulant that most cats love to chase.

Just be careful not to overdo it and keep play time limited to a few minutes at a time. Cats won’t give up a chase game easily and, for example, when a cat starts panting, it means you’ve played too hard for too long.

For Dogs: Today veterinarians are recommending no less than 60 minutes of walk time per day minimum. And no, backyard time doesn’t count – to a dog, the fenced in backyard is just another big, airy room in your home. Dogs need to get out and check their “pee-mail” on trees or fire hydrants, sniff the grass and track things.

Know this doesn’t mean you have to walk your dog 60 minutes at a time. For most of us, 15-minutes before work, 15-30-minutes after work and then another walk before bed is plenty opportunity to get up to that 60 minute mark. For those of you who work super long hours or have plenty of after school activities to attend, consider purchasing a daily dog walking package from Big Paw Pet Care to help fill in the times you may not be able to make it home.

It’s amazing how just a few extra minutes of walk time will improve your dogs temperament almost overnight.

 

Healthy Pet Food: Get Your Pet To Eat Better

In the early days of our country, dogs and cats main source of nutrition was table from scraps (or the occasional rat or mouse caught outside). In the years after World War I, there was a need to dispose of a large number old horses from the military stables. With that, canned pet food was born!

Yea, you read that right. YUCK.

Pet FoodRemarkably, canned dog food was an instant success and soon, dry food made of meat meal was introduced as an affordable alternative. By the end of World War II, dog food sales had skyrocketed to over $200 million a year. That’s 1940s money, folks!

Today, mass produced, brand name pet foods have a stronghold on the pet food market. To lower costs and maximize profits, big brands add all sorts of things to their pet food. Still, they are considered “complete” as set by the very low standards of the pet food industry.

Some researchers have found links to these poor food sources most people use and increases in pet mortality. Many vets and pet nutritionists agree that the astronomical increase in cancer related pet deaths can be related to the ingredients in most pet food. With little oversight and regulation, it’s up to you and me to ensure the food we provide our pets is the best we can provide them. But where do you start?

Make a Change

Look for the following terms on your pet food label and avoid those foods:

  • Meat and poultry bi-products: FYI: that’s not meat. That’s anything, and we mean ANYTHING else that may have come from that animal carcass
  • Meat and bone meal: Sounds like something that your pet needs. In fact, the basis of meat and bone meal is render down scraps, removing most of the water and leaving mostly protein. The reality is, using the word MEAT is too vague. This simple term allows manufacturers to use any one of the four D’s as a source of meat: Dead, Dying, Deformed and Diseased animals. They come in the forms of beef, poultry, slaughter animals determined too ill for human consumption, road kill (that’s no joke, folks), expired grocery store meats and euthanized shelter animals (again, not a joke).
  • Animal Fat: Filler…tasty and fattening. This can also include used restaurant fryer fat.
  • BHA/BHT: Food preservatives, known carcinogens banned in human food but not in pet food
  • Propyl gallate: Another food preservative that imitates estrogen causing issues and cancers in both male and female animals
  • Ethoxyquin: A preservative and pesticide, known to cause cancer in humans and animals
  • Corn, soy and wheat in all forms: In the wild, wolves diet would be 95-98% protein with the remaining portion made up by partially digested vegetation in the stomach contents of their prey in the form of fruit, vegetable or grasses. Modified filler crops like corn, soy and wheat were never part of any animals diet, including dogs.

Confused about Pet Food? Don’t be!

There are many options out there from commercial grade raw diets to high quality kibble. The most important thing is to feed your them the best pet food you can afford. Seek out specialty stores dedicated to providing consumers and pets with the best in high quality, pet foods. Most labels have very few, easy to read ingredients. Stop by or visit their websites for expert advice on your pet’s food needs and find a good product at an affordable price.

Top Tech Gifts For Dogs 2014

Christmas is right around the corner and you may be asking your self: What do I get my semi-geeky, tech loving pooch for Christmas? Well, we have some ideas below.

Big Paw’s Top Tech Gifts for Dogs Guide

PetziConnect from PetZilla – This amazing new device mounts in your home and connects to your WiFi network. From here you can view your pets, speak to them and even TOSS THEM A TREAT! It’s an amazing device that is managed through a simple app on your phone. How cool is that?

 

Fetch by GoPro: Everyone has a GoPro camera these days. The versatile and nearly indestructible cameras can be seen in hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos capturing surf board-views of surfers at play, perusing skyscrapers or mountains on a drone and now, from your dog’s point of view with Fetch. This simple to use, adjustable harness fits all sizes of dogs and gives you first hand perspective of a dogs world.

Halo Mini Dog Collar: Halo creates awesome LED safety bands to make sure runners, couriers and more get noticed. Now, for you early morning or late night dog walkers, the Halo Mini brings your pet the same “noticeability” on walks after dark. Be seen, be safe with he Halo Mini.

 

With these items your dog will definitely have something to bark about to his friends!

 

 

Christmas Presents For Pets

Many local pet retailers have a visit with Santa planned for pets. What is your pet asking Santa for this Christmas?

In 2014, Americans will have spent approximately $58.5 Billion (yes, that’s a “B”) on pets. A good hunk of that, about $14 Billion, will go to over the counter medicines, supplies and toys. Toys!

That’s a lot of Christmas presents for pets!

FullSizeRenderThis year our family added a new dog, Linus, which means he needs a Christmas stocking to match our other pup’s stocking. So, we’ve invested about $20 in his Christmas present already. Unfortunately for our holiday spending budget, we’ll most likely make a mad dash on Christmas eve and overspend on our pups just as we do every year…but that’s ok with us.

How about you? Are you spending big on your pets this year? Comment below and let us know!

In the meantime, enjoy a video of some happy puppies opening their Christmas presents:

Argus vs Tator Tot (Video)

Poor Argus.

He looks like most of us at lunch on the Friday before a holiday. The end of the day being just….so…out…of….reach.

Argus vs Tator Tot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argus is a Vizslas and lives in Austin, Texas. He LOVES tator tots.

argus vs tator tot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Argus is known for being a bit naughty and he knows it. You can see him checking if the coast is clear for the tator tot snag.

argus vs tator tot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Argus Vs. Tator Tot: Everyone wins!

Argus is one of two very loved Vizslas and their mom has devoted an entire YouTube channel to their mischief. In the video titled Argus vs. Tator Tot, his mom set up a camera to capture what is a routine in their house every time they clean up from a meal.

Don’t worry about Argus, however. In the end, he DID get the tator tot after the camera finished rolling. (Also, for those of you concerned, he has a vibrating collar on, not an electric shock collar.)

Check out the video and remember: keep reaching for your dreams!

3 Reasons To Avoid Rawhide

In our Pet Tech First Aid and CPR course we cover many aspects of your pets daily life to promote a safe, healthy environment for your pet. During our section on choking management, the discussion inevitably turns to chew toys and treats. As pet sitters, we encounter all types of products visiting our clients at their homes. Some are relatively safe when used with supervision, others are dangerous from the outset and should be avoided. 
 
The one item that always falls into the danger category, even under close supervision, is rawhide. 
 
What Exactly Is Rawhide? 
 

pet sitter“Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes. To make them more appealing for dogs, some rawhide treats contain beef, chicken, or liver flavorings.” (Source: Pet WebMD: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/rawhide-good-or-bad-for-your-dog)

 
Why Avoid Rawhide? 
 
1. Choking: Chunks of soggy, yet firm hunks of rawhide can easily be swallowed by your dog. These flat pieces of semi-rigid, processed flesh can swell when they become wet with saliva. They can lodge in your dogs throat, blocking airways and cause choking. In most instances of choking by a dog, the cause most often is rawhide (more than handballs, small tennis balls and other chew toys).
 
2. Turn Stomachs Into Knots: Some dogs, especially puppies, cannot digest rawhide. Being a processed form of animal skin, it doesn’t remotely resemble the organic nature of prey food that a dogs body is able to digest. Moreover, some dogs are allergic to rawhide and may vomit or have loose stools after consuming it. And going back to point one, if your dog is able to swallow a piece of rawhide, but vomits, it doesn’t mean it won’t become a choking hazard on the way back up. 
 
3. There Is WHAT In Rawhide?: Rawhide is not a food, but a highly produced byproduct of the food industry. And the details can be downright gruesome: 
 
Removing the hair from hides often involves a highly toxic recipe: sodium sulphide liming. A standard practice is to procure rawhide in the “split lime state” as by-products from tanneries, facilities that top the list of U.S. Superfund sites. In the post-tannery stage, hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide. And that’s just one step.
Other poisonous residues that may show up in rawhide include arsenic and formaldehyde. Even dog skin is a possibility. [sic] Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” (Source: http://thebark.com/content/dangers-rawhide-dog-chew-toys)
 
 
A Better Chew “Toy”
 
The fact is for dog owners, you need to supply your pet with something to chew or else you’ll end up with chewed furniture and chewed shoes. Unfortunately there’s not one perfect solution for all pets and pet owners. So we recommend several items for dogs who need to satisfy the need for chewing: 
 
pet sitter1. KONG brand chew products (unstuffed) 
2. Nylabone brand chew products can be safe as long as you select the size appropriate for your dog and they are not consuming pieces bigger than a grain of rice
3. Deer/Elk Antlers or Raw Beef Bones: Depending on your comfort level with raw bones, both beef bones or antlers can be a long-lasting product for your dogs to chew. However, some dogs have been known to break teeth on these types of products, so check with your vet on your dogs dental condition before offering these to him. 
4. Bully Sticks are an all natural, safe alternative to rawhides. 
 
It’s important that you never leave your dog by themselves when chewing a chew toy or bone. Supervision is always required. Additionally, after each chew session you should wash the item with hot water, and a mild soap, as you would your pet’s food dishes, to avoid bacterial growth and contamination. 
 
For more advice on safe pet products or advice, feel free to call us anytime at 321-345-PETS (7387)

Hilarious Pet Selfies

These days you’d be hard pressed to find someone who does not have some form of smart phone or at least an online presence with Facebook, Twitter or 100’s of other social media sites. Even my 3-year old has his own iPad mini. But the obvious next evolution in social sharing will come from our pets! Check out these pet selfies from a few pets who already have this “social media” thing down!
 
  
 

1. The Adventurer Pet Selfie
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2. The Playtime Pet Selfie

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3. The Lazy Sunday Pet Selfie

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4. The Cat-sel Adams Pet Selfie

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5. The #BFF4Life Pet Selfie

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Bunny Bonus:

The Mr. Weekend Selfie

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Adorable Howling Husky

This is Einstien. He’s a few weeks old and just found his boy-boy howl.

And he’s about the cutest thing you’ll see today:

The only think scary about this howl is how adorable it is!