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Dog Dental Products We Can’t Live Without!

Dog Dental Acre

Our dogs dental care is one of the most important contributions we can make as pet parents to our dog’s overall health. It can also be a really big challenge as dog’s are not always on board with getting their teeth brushed. I have a mix of super cooperative dogs and also a few that absolutely won’t let me near their little choppers at all. My preference is always to do dental care at home but the reality is that some dogs have to dog to vet for a dental every year.

Over the years I have tried just about every pet dental product on the market for home dental care; here are a few of my favorites.

Dog Dental Toothbrushes

Ok, don’t laugh. My favorite toothbrush to use on my dogs is the Oral B Spin Brush. Getting a dog used to an electric tooth brush takes a little time but it is totally worth it. Electric tooth brushes do a far better job of cleaning teeth and are so much easier on the gums. Training dogs to tolerate the spin brush takes only a few simple steps. Introduce them to being brushed with the tooth brush off…no biggie…if they accept a regular tooth brush they probably won’t be bothered by a spin brush that is off. Brush their teeth with the brush off for several sessions but also turn the brush on and off over and over right next to them and reward them every time the brush goes on (I use teeny tiny training treats for rewards). Use your cheery voice to make the sound of the toothbrush very exciting. Keep moving the brush closer to their mouth turning it on and off. Eventually put it in their mouth for a second or so. Slowly work up to actually touching it to their teeth. If you stick with it they will accept it eventually. Some of my dogs have no problem with the spin brush except for the very front smaller teeth which are more sensitive so I turn the brush off for those teeth. Training my dogs to get brushed with a spin brush has paid big dividends in keeping their teeth healthy and we don’t have bleeding gums like you often get with a regular brush.

Many of the dogs that arrive here at the Manor have had a lifetime of little to no dental care and suffer from what I call “trench mouth”. A lot of rotten, smelly and very sore teeth. When they are healthy enough they get a professional dental treatment. But to get them started with home dental care I use disposable dental sponges. I buy these in bulk off of Amazon. The sponges are a really great way to brush without hurting already sensitive gums. I also them on my teeny tiny breed dogs whose mouths are so small that that it almost impossible to get a tooth brush in.

Dog Dental Toothpaste

I am huge fan of Virbac products. I have been using their dog toothpaste for over 20 years. It comes in a variety of flavors but we always order the poultry flavor. My dogs love it. Virbac products are NOT cheap. I order mine in 6 packs from American Diabetes Wholesale as this is the best price I have found for all of Virbac products. There are less expensive options for dog toothpaste on the market; perhaps even check with your vet as they may offer some. Please don’t use human toothpaste on your dogs though. Dogs don’t spit…they have to swallow the toothpaste you use on them so it needs to be safe for dogs to ingest.

I have written in the past about Virbac dental chews. I am really strict about what my dogs are allowed for snacks and chews. These are the only chews I allow my dogs and I have used them for over 20 years. I purchase these at American Diabetes Wholesale as well. Again, they are not cheap but they do really help with dental health and I have never had a choking or digestion issue with them. Their chews come in sizes; XL to very small.

Dog Dental Tatar Control

Even with regular brushing my dogs still get some tartar on their teeth. I use both a hand held scaler and an electric scaler to remove tartar. If its a tartar spot that is small and easy to scrape off I use a small hand held scaler. On tougher spots I use an electric scaler (you can get fairly inexpensive scalers these days on Amazon). The electric scaler takes a while. I don’t press the scaler on their teeth rather I just run it along the tough tartar several times…usually over several sessions. Eventually the tartar will break loose. If I’m working on removing tartar I do very small amounts of work at a time. This is not a fun event for any dog so I keep sessions really short and always reward them for working with me.

When I get a new dog that doesn’t have “trench mouth” requiring a professional dental but definitely needs some tartar removal I also use an Oral Care gel. There are a lot of gels and sprays on the market for helping to remove tartar. I would ask your vet before using any of them to make sure the ingredients are safe. I would also caution you that most of them (including the one I use) have alcohol in them so this is not something you want to use a lot and you really should read the dosing instructions carefully. The gels can help loosen up some tough tartar spots but they are definitely not something I would use as part of a daily dog dental routine (no matter what the packaging says).

One last product that I absolutely love to use (on both me and the dogs) is BR Rinse. Its an all natural rinse that keeps breath fresh and teeth white. For the dogs I pour a small amount of the rinse over the toothpaste on their toothbrush. It helps keep their choppers sparkly and their breath fresh.

Snoopy

I have two dogs at the Manor that cannot be anesthetized so they cannot ever have a professional dental treatment; Snoopy is one of them. So dog dental care really is no joke around here and we brush teeth every day. The only way to completely avoid ever needing a professional dental is daily brushing…that is straight from the vet. My Mountain Cur, Buster, is almost 10 years old and he has never had to have a dental because we brush daily. I am not being judgey…believe me…I have several senior small breed females that have to get professional dentals every single year…they will absolutely not have any part of daily tooth brushing. But with most dogs it really can be done if you really work at it and make it fun for them.

Thanks for reading our post! I wish you happy at home dog dental care! Sign up for our blog if you would like future posts. We blog about life at Misfit Manor about once per week. Our happy pack of Misfits love sharing their adventures and stories.

We are super excited about the new line of Dog Mom Planner Accessories we have added to our shop! Dog mom life is a busy life but being organized can still be fun and look pretty! Our planner accessories make great dog mom gifts too!

Pawty On!

Nancy & The Misfits

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Misfit Manor Diary….laser therapy for dogs

Misfit Manor Laser therapy for dogs
Misfit Manor, Nancy Halverson
Miss Allie

The magic of laser therapy for dogs. A few weeks ago our sweet little Allie broke out in screams of pain while we were handing out breakfast plates to all the Misfits. Her body became stiff and as she has a really bad heart condition we feared the worst and raced her to our vet. It turned out that her heart was fine; but she experiencing horrible disc pain in her back. Our vets gave her a steroid shot and sent us home with some meds and instructions to laser her at least 2x per day.

Luckily, we have our own veterinary laser at home. We have a unique household in that the majority of the pets here are either very senior or handicap. Our vets introduced us to laser therapy years ago with our dog Sam and we became instant fans. Laser treatments provide immediate relief for dogs that have arthritis as well as speed up healing for injuries such as surgical wounds or hot spots. Laser treatments at the veterinarians office are quick and easy albeit a little spendy when you have a lot of pets who need therapy.

As our Misfit head count of arthritic dogs grew it became unrealistic from both a time and expense standpoint for us to rely solely on trips to the vet for laser therapy. We started researching purchasing our own laser to treat the Misfits at home.

laser therapy for dogs

I invested a lot of time and energy into figuring out which laser made the most sense and fit in our budget. We settled on the Multiradiance My Pet Laser. We have had this laser for almost two years now and love it. It is definitely the best investment we have made in our pet’s health.

Rosie gets daily laser treatments.

We have five girls in the household now that get daily laser treatments multiple times per day. I call them the laserettes! Four of them have arthritic back and/or hip issues. Rosie has a genetic disorder that prevents her muscle development and storage of fat on her body. Rosie gets her legs lasered as well as her chest and jaw. The benefits of having my own laser at home are immense. While the initial investment in the equipment was bit of a financial pinch the time and money we save has paid us back very quickly. Having our own equipment at home also allows me to laser the girls as often as necessary. Petunia’s back issues can cause temporary weakness in her back legs and she will actually lose control and drag her back legs. Regular lasering has kept the leg weakness largely at bay and when she has a bad day I can laser her several times in one day and get her back up and running.

The process of purchasing the laser was fairly easy. I contacted the company directly. It shipped quickly and I was given training sessions over the phone and advice on how to treat the range of issues that my dogs have. The laser is small, light weight, durable and obviously super portable.

laser therapy for dogs

The added benefit is that we use the laser on ourselves too! Neither of us our young anymore and it is really nice to have a tool at home to ease arthritic pain in our own joints!

If you are thinking of purchasing your own laser I recommend doing a lot of research. There are so many different technologies on the market now and in a wide price range as well. This laser was the best fit for us. (I am in no way endorsing or being paid to endorse this laser…just sharing my experience to help other dog moms). Just to be clear; laser therapy is a treatment for arthritis…it is not a cure. It is something that we do for our dogs every single day. The laser is also not the only tool in our tool kit for fighting arthritis pain. We also utilize vibration therapy (theraplate), swim therapy and a variety of supplements.

To finish Miss Allie’s story…we were able to get her disc issues back on track within a week and she is running around being sassy and bossy again!

Dog Crown, Dog Birthday Hat, Dog Wedding Attire, Misfit Manor Shop

Life isn’t just lasers and vet visits here though. We have a lot of fun too! Maddie and I are having a blast designing a new line of dog crowns for our shop! Between getting our own online shop up and running (we are hoping to not have to use Etsy at some point) and designing new products we have been working like dervishes around here!

We have a newly revamped Misfit Manor Pawty Page on Pinterest…check it out when you have time for some really fun Pawty and dog lover content! And our Instagram page is steadily growing!

Thanks for taking a few minutes from your day to read our post! If you have time… check out our sweet little Misfit Manor Shop!

Blessings from our pack to yours!

Nancy & The Misfits

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Misfit Manor Diary – Trudy’s Halo

Trudy arrived here in one of the more difficult circumstances…at least in terms of adjusting to her new life at Misfit Manor. Being both blind and deaf she had so much to get used too…large yard and house…and lots of dogs.

In the house Trudy adjusted really quickly! She memorized the lay out of the house really fast…impressive! She runs around this house like she owns it…and she does not run in to anything (unless I stupidly leave something out of place).

Outside of the house though is a different story…its a big scary world for a pint sized blind and deaf dog. I am perfectly fine if Trudy is happy living her life going no where but Misfit Manor….she can have a full life here. But I also felt like I owed it to her to see if she has a flair for adventure.

I saw on ad on Facebook for a “halo” for blind dogs and thought we have to give this a try. I have been working with Trudy for several days getting her acclimated to her new halo.

I only worked with her when we were outside of the house. I want her to know that putting on her halo means its time for an adventure.

The halo comes in 3 pieces; the harness, the padded wings and the actual halo.

I took time to let her adjust to wearing each piece in small steps.

Step 1 was the harness…would seem easy but I am not sure Trudy has ever had a harness on because she had a bit of fit initially. I put it on and took it off her several times in a row…treating her profusely every time it went on. I did this several times a day for several days…she now could care less if she has a harness on.

Step 2 was the wings (that the halo itself actually attaches too). That was pretty smooth…she really didn’t mind the addition of the wings. They are super light so I am not sure she really noticed them much. I only introduced either piece when we were outside of the house.

Step 3 was the actual halo. I attached the halo to the wings before I put the wings on her. The halo is so light that I highly doubt she knew it was there until it actually functioned for her. I had to bend her halo to make it longer to be a good fit for the longer snout of a dachshund…it came more rounded for a flatter faced dog.

It did not take long for Trudy to figure out that there was a halo there to protect her…initially she barked a lot every time the halo hit something in front of her…but as she ran around the yard…a yard that is full of large toys…other dogs….rock walls and more… she quickly figured out she now had something keeping her from doing a face plant into objects. As I worked with Trudy with her halo I only did it for really short periods of time at first. Trudy very quickly figured out that she can now run safely…she is “hell in a halo” in the yard now.

Trudy’s first walk with her Halo!

Once Trudy was comfortable in the backyard with her halo I started taking her out of the yard. It did not dawn on me until the first try at a walk that Trudy has probably never been walked on leash. She had no clue what to do. I gave her as much slack as I could and let her rip. Typically when Trudy is in unfamiliar territory she is pretty cautious and moves really slow..as you can see in her video she was trotting around like she owned it.

I am super happy with the halo product. It will give sweet Trudy the opportunity to have adventure outside of her familiar territory without fear of getting hurt.

Trudy is such a blessing. I am the luckiest dog mom alive!

Blessings from our pack to yours!

Nancy

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Misfit Manor Diary – Products I can’t live without!

With so many dogs in my house and four vacation rental properties I feel like I spend half of my life cleaning.  Believe it or not even with so many dogs my house is really clean…and I have a few secrets!

As much as I love pets…I can’t stand for my house to smell like pet.  I also allow pets in one of my vacation rentals and there is no way I can let that apartment ever smell like pet.  I have tried pretty much every cleaning product on the market and I have a few that I absolutely can’t live with out.

The first (and definitely my favorite product) is Angry Orange.  Angry Orange is the best cleaning deodorizing product I have found and trust me I have tried almost everything.  I add it to my bucket of mop water.  I keep a spray bottle of water and Angry Orange for dusting.  I sprinkle it on my steam mop.  I also use it to clean and deodorize the outdoor pet yard.  If I find I spot where someone has had an accident I clean it up with clorox first and then let Angry Orange sit on the spot for about 30 minutes and then wipe it up.

Besides the effectiveness of this product being really good it is non-toxic to pets and it is safe for tile and wood floors (which is all I have in my house).

The second product I cannot live with out is Zep Wall Cleaner Foam.   Let’s face it…dogs shake slobber, water, food, boogies and other unmentionables off of themselves and on

to the walls.  Wiping your walls with most products ruins the paint job on the wall.  I use this wall cleaner in the house and in my vacation rentals and I LOVE IT.  It doesn’t take the paint off and it cleans most marks off the wall.  My vacation rentals constantly get scuffs on the walls from people dragging in suitcases, dog crates, etc….this product makes the walls look clean again.  For the record I use really high quality paint from Sherwin Williams.  I don’t know how this would work with a lower quality paint so if you have cheap paint on your walls I would spot test it first.  In general I like all of ZEP’s products.  I use their shower cleaner in my rentals (it is fabulous) and their glass cleaner works far better than say a product like Windex.

The third product I can’t live without is my steam mop.  Because I don’t want harsh chemicals on my floors that are dangerous to my dogs I don’t use any product on the floors but Angry Orange.  But Angry Orange really isn’t, at least for me, sanitizing enough.  I vacuum and steam mop my floors every morning.   Let’s face it…dogs scooch their buts across the floor, they drool, they drag lord knows what in on their feet…the floors just have to be sanitary.  I use a Shark Steamer.   Its the only steamer I’ve tried so I don’t have any opinion on how it works relative to others.  It does last quite a long time though and it does the job.  I have a weeks worth of pads for it and toss them in the washer with hot water to get them clean.  I do sprinkle Angry Orange on the pads when I use them.

The last tool I use is my diffuser.  I buy the Innogear diffusers.   I usually don’t need it in the house but sometimes in my rentals someone will have cooked something that smells horrid or they have a dog in there that smells like it hasn’t bathed in a year.  I run my diffusers in the apartments while I’m cleaning with a mix of orange oil and lavender oil.  I’ll run them for a day if necessary.  Along with a good cleaning the diffuser will eliminate most odors pretty quickly.  A tip on using diffusers…they need to be cleaned.  About every 10 times or so that I use them I empty them and put a little vinegar in the chamber for a few hours to clean the residue off from the oils.

For all the dog moms out there fighting the good fight on keeping your house clean I hope you find this helpful!

Don’t forget our Pawty Shop of you are planning a special day for you pups!

Rescue On!

Nacny

 

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The Misfit Manor Diary

bettyisamazin1I believe there are very few things in life that are certain…besides death  and change.  I am not one who fears death and the older get the easier it is for me to embrace change.   My own life has traveled so many different paths…professionally, spiritually, geographically…its been quite a ride   I also believe that one of the luxuries of getting older is that we can look back at all the vagaries of our lives and appreciate them and welcome new opportunities to evolve as a person.

I’ve also learned to listen much more closely to what my body and spirit are telling me… to tune out things like fear, expectations, social norms and the demands of people who really don’t have my best interest in mind.

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The day Betty was sprung from the shelter.

I recently took on a new girl here at the manor; Betty.  This picture is the day she was pulled from the shelter by Paws4theCause.  She came here to the manor as a hospice case…and I use the word hospice loosely…she is doing quite well despite the fact she has some issues ambulating.  I expect Betty will be here for quite awhile.  The moment of Betty’s arrival was like a massive tail wind to my spirit.  She is joy…she brings 20170625_204746out the very best in me.  I love every minute of caring for this special girl.

20170625_205627My days with Betty have solidified what is next for me.   This month I am going to officially apply for my 5013c status and become a formal rescue focused solely on special needs dogs.   I will have the time and resources to focus on these dogs without distraction as a 5013c.  Much will stay the same here at the Manor…but some things will change.  I already have a good support system for my life with rescue dogs.  I run my online shops solely for their benefit (I will roll them in to the non-profit) and I am blessed by a lot of kind-hearted people who have supported my work with dogs in many ways (including financially).   Once I finish the process of getting my status I will be able to give tax deduction receipts to my supporters instead of just expressing my gratitude.  I will get some tax advantages that will help me allocate more resources to the dogs.  I will also be able to apply for grants for necessities like laser therapy machines and other (crazy expensive) physical therapy tools we could use here in the house as well building a special needs nursery for them in my home.

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Betty’s first acupuncture treatment

I have zero aspirations to be a large rescue…I will continue to focus on a handful of cases at a time but they will all be special needs…and as we all know that gets really expensive.  For a long time I felt fear about taking on dogs that I knew were going to have big vet bills…but every single time it works out.  Every time there is a new bill…the money we need shows up…every. single. time.  I believe the universe has the backs of me and these very special dogs.

I will start changing how I communicate with people; less social media and more blogging and direct networking with donors and volunteers.  I don’t believe that general broadcasting of my work on social media is actually a benefit to the work I do but rather a significant distraction.

I have scattered pictures of Betty throughout this post.  She is lovely…she will be face of this major decision for me forever.  I have so much to do to make this change happen…but I am so excited I could burst!

I wish that everyone finds the time to discover the work that makes their soul sing…because when you do…nothing else matters.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…anything to make them comfortable.

Vibration Therapy for Pets…our experience as pet parents.

theraplate, stem cell therapy, the rescue mama, nancy halverson, senior dog care,
Sam on his Theraplate

I have written about our Sam in the past, particularly the success we have had treating him with stem cell therapy.  Bret and I know very little about the first 4+ years of Sam’s life…in fact all we know is that he clearly didn’t have enough to eat and for some reason the majority of his joints are badly deformed (perhaps Rickets when he was a puppy but who knows for sure).  He has been ours for over 10 years now and he is a wonderful companion.

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Sam and Luna snuggled on the Theraplate

Sam’s arthritis has been an issue since we adopted him.   Three years ago we thought we were at the end…he could no longer walk more than a few steps.  Stem Cell Therapy changed that and gave Sam renewed legs.  In the last year he has started to slow down again.  We heard about vibration therapy for arthritis and decided to give it try.   Vibration therapy is just what it sounds like…sitting still on a metal plate that vibrates.

We tried it the first time at our veterinarians office and Sam instantly laid down and fell asleep on the plate (so did Luna).  I did some reading on this form of therapy and ordered our own Theraplate.    I am not an expert on canine physiology so I won’t attempt to explain the science of how vibration therapy works.  I can only tell you what we have experienced and direct you to the research on the Theraplate website.

Sam was the reason we purchased the Theraplate…when Luna was alive she was on it every day as well.  After the first few sessions on the plate…Sam started going to the plate on his own…he would lie down and bark for me to come turn the plate on for him.  Certainly…vibration therapy is not a cure for a dog in Sam’s condition…but clearly it has provided comfort for Sam’s terrible arthritis.  When I tell him…”time for therapy”…he gets up and trots over to his plate.   After Luna passed away I started curling up on the Theraplate with Sam…it has become our time together to relax. Sam loves to be brushed and get belly rubs while he does therapy…these are moments I will cherish forever.

poodle_sm
The model we purchased…2 feet x 3 feet

I have bulging discs in my neck…for years they have been a nagging source of discomfort.  So I thought…why not try…its helping Sam.  I started on the Theraplate at least once a day.  It has provided significant relief from chronic neck pain for me.  It also afforded me the ability to start running again last fall.  As soon as I finish a run I lay down on it for 10-15 minutes…the therapy helps keep the aching of my old lady hips and knees at bay.

gorgeous-sam1We also put Snoopy on the Theraplate while he was recovering from his amputation.  Snoopy would doze off and relax almost immediately…not bad for a rambunctious puppy.

We purchased our Theraplate directly from the company.  It was just under $2,000 with shipping and arrived within a week of ordering.  There are other versions of the Theraplate on the market. My parents ordered a small device from Walmart.com and I know Nordic Trac makes a version too.  We are pleased with the investment we made in ours…I will always have at least a few older dogs in my home…it will never be unused.

All of our pets like the Theraplate (even the cats).  With the exception of Sam…who immediately got on the plate on his own with no concern…I introduce my pets to it by laying them on my belly while I am laying on the Theraplate.  I move them directly on to the plate after a few sessions and only for a short time until they are acclimated.

Vibration therapy started its popularity in the equine industry…to help horses heal faster from injuries.   It quickly spread to small animal therapy and also for humans.   Vibration therapy has many claims; increasing bone density, soothing pain, reducing inflammation, improving balance and more.  For us…(us being me and the dogs) it has provided significant relief from pain and has been well worth the investment.

If you would like to read more about our experience with stem cell therapy…follow this link:  Sam’s Stem Cell Therapy.

I am a full time rescue mom and artist.  My art helps support my family of pets and allows me to do something more for other animals still waiting for their forever homes.  I sell my art and cards at my ETSY shop.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: The Cadillac of dog strollers…yes I take my dog out in a stroller!

The best dog stroller on the market…

Pet Gear Stroller Review
Pet Gear Stroller The Cadillac of Dog Wagons

Yes, I am one of those “crazy ladies” who takes her dog trolling around the neighborhood in a stroller.  Kringles, my 16+year old pomeranian has an enlarged heart.   He can no longer go for walks…he tires within a minute or two…but Kringles does not want to get left behind either…so I am not leaving him behind!  I am sure that there are plenty of neighbors and passers by that laugh or poke fun at the crazy lady with her dog in the stroller…good thing I am not one to care what anyone thinks…especially when it comes to taking care of my dogs.  Kringles and I proudly troll the hood and will continue to do so every day that Kringles still can.20140906_113130

Dog Stroller
The old stroller

The first stroller I purchased for Kringles was rickety and uncomfortable…the cheap plastic wheels made for a bumpy ride and I really could only use it on flat paths at the park…no chance of navigating curbs.  Bret, (my wonderful husband) picked out a stroller fit for a king so Kringles could cruise in style.  We ordered the “Pet Gear: stroller from Amazon...it wasn’t cheap…it was $366.00 (shipping was free because we are Prime members) but it is now listed on Amazon at $329.00.  I have subsequently noticed this stroller on sale in a few catalogs for considerably less as well.

But was it worth it?  We’ve been using the stroller for months now and it was worth every penny! We use it daily for Kringles and we often use it with foster dogs we take in as well.   Here are my thoughts on the value of this stroller:

1) While it did require some assembly…Bret assembled it in less than 30 minutes…I am sure it would have taken longer if I had to do it but not bad.

Take one of our foster dogs out in the stroller.
Taking one of our foster dogs out in the stroller.

2) The basket of the stroller is incredibly roomy…we could fit two dogs in it if necessary.   There are times when my Jack Russell, who walks with me and Kringles, tires out.  I just add him in the stroller and he rides comfortable with Kringles.  The stated capacity of the stroller is 90 lbs…I can’t imagine pushing 90 lbs worth of dog in  stroller, can you?  When Kringles and Turnip are in the stroller together (combined weight of 35 lbs) I can comfortably push the stroller.  There are tethers on the inside of the stroller basket as well to keep a dog that might jump out from running away.

3)  The tripod frame and air wheels make it very stable (no tipping even if Kringles is jumping around).  The front wheel has two positions, locked and unlocked.  If it is unlocked you can turn the stroller with ease but if you speed up in this mode the stroller will wobble (not comfortable for the dogs).  I use with the front wheels in the locked position because I power walk.  In locked mode the ride is very smooth for the dogs no matter how fast I am walking.  The turns are bit more difficult however I have find that if I make my turns wide they are much easier.

Pet Gear Stroller4) It has a reliable brake.  The brake is a foot bar.  It is easy to lift “on” and “off”.

5) There are plenty of storage pockets for my phone, keys, poop bags, etc.  It has a cup holder on the handle bars.  It comes with a rain cover (how cool is that).  There is also storage space under the basket.

6) The bottom half of the basket stands high enough and is sturdy enough that I don’t have to worry about Kringles falling out even if have to stop fast.

7) The cushion in the basket is thick and soft.   It is lined with a black plush fabric.  I add a cool pad to the bottom of the basket on hot days.

8) The air wheels make it a very smooth and comfortable ride for Kringles.  They also make it easy to turn and go up and down curbs without Kringles being bounced around.  Because of the air wheels and the sturdy frame I can power walk with this stroller while still maintaining a comfortable ride for Kringles.  It is really helpful to have the tires properly inflated.  My husband keeps our wheels at 40lbs of pressure.

9)The stroller does collapse down nicely to fit in the car. The only downside I could find with this stroller is that it is a bit heavy for me to get in and out of the car…I can lift it but it is a bit of a struggle for me by myself.

10) This is a no zip stroller.  The hood comes down and snaps securely with one clip in the front.  Anyone who has used a pet stroller for awhile knows that zippers and furry creatures are not a good mix!

Hands down …this wagon was worth every penny.   This truly is the Cadillac of dog strollers.

cat rescue art, cat rescue, cat art, cat wall art
Rescue defined….

My dogs, like most all dogs, are lovers of routine…we have a daily schedule which makes managing an eight pet household pleasant for everyone…part of that routine is our daily exercise..which now, thanks to the Pet Gear stoller, Kringles can participate in again.

I added a picture of a painting I finished recently.  It is inspired by the spring and summer need for cats to be rescued from shelters.  The original painting is sold but prints will be available shortly at The Rescue Mama ETSY shop.  For other product reviews check out my Parent Resource Page.  If you are interested in all things pet, pet rescue and pet art follow my blog for weekly articles, my Facebook Page and my Pinterest Page.  If you are in need of pet sympathy cards, pet rescue art or pet adoption cards check out my items at The Rescue Mama ETSY Shop.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

 

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GPS tracking for your pet: practical parenting or helicopter mom?

TAGG GPS tracker for pets

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I recently purchased a TAGG GPS system for our newest adopted family member; Turnip.  We have not had problems with our pets ever going “missing” but 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year.   The newest addition to our family, Turnip, is afraid of everything and runs for a place to hide when he gets scared.  We decided to try a GPS tracking system on Turnip as an extra precaution against losing him.  We chose the TAGG GPS system.  I have to admit; initially I thought putting a tracker on my dog was leaning to far in to the “helicopter mom” paradigm…but now that I see how practical the system is I believe the additional safety it provides is a “no brainer”.

The reasons I chose the TAGG system over other systems:

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1) The TAGG range and battery life are the best available.   The entire point of the tracker is preventing a worst case scenario.  The TAGG tracker has the longest battery life on the market (it claims 10 days is possible) but I read reviews that had significantly longer battery life.  The only limit to the range within which your pet can be tracked is the range of Verizon service coverage in your area.  The battery life and range make for the maximum safety provision of all available trackers on the market in my opinion.

2) TAGG works with any internet enabled device.  The tracking system is run with GPS (through Verizon) and software. I don’t have to use a receiver to track my dog.  Systems such as Marc Polo, Loc8tor, Romeo and Garmin need receivers to track the dog.  If I lose my phone I could track my dog from any internet enabled device.  If I lose a receiver I am out of luck.

3) The hardware component for the dog is not intrusive.  The TAGG is small enough and light enough (it weighs 1.1 ounces) that it does not bother my dogs to wear it.  One specification worth noting is that is recommended for dogs (or cats) that weigh over 10 lbs.  Supposedly the TAGG is waterproof (I didn’t test that out but we have walked in the rain with no issues).

4) The system is a good value for a multi-pet household.  The initial hardware cost per device is $100.  The monthly service fee is $7.95/month if you pay for the entire year upfront.  It is $9.95/month if you pay monthly.  At first I thought the monthly service was expensive…until I realized that the trade off having to use a receiver.  The monthly service means I can track my pet from any internet enabled device.  If I just had a receiver and no monthly service I run the risk of losing or breaking the receiver and not being able to track the dog.  Adding additional pets to the service is only $0.95/month/pet.  You can add up to 9 animals to one subscription.  (Each animal needs its own hardware though).

unnamedEase of Set Up and Use:

The TAGG was super easy to set up…if I can do it anyone can.  All I used to get going was the Quick Start Set Up Manual that comes with the hardware and the web software (activate at http://www.pettracker.com).  I didn’t need any additional support but TAGG does have a support phone line and videos on their website for help.  The monitor requires an initial charging period.  While the TAGG was completing its initial charge I set up my system online.  It only took about 15-20 minutes to get the tracking system running on my computer. All you have to do is enter your pets data, your contact data and set your “safe zone”.  Once it was running on my computer I set up the phone app.  The TAGG system has both iphone and Android apps.  It only took a few minutes to get TAGG running on my Galaxy S5 (downloaded right from the Playstore). You can set the TAGG software up to alert you via text messages.   It can be set up to text messages to you anytime the dog is out of your pre-set range, when the dog returns to the safe zone, if the battery is low and when the battery is fully charged.  You can set up multiple people to receive the alerts.  (My husband likes this feature because he says he can track me from work!)

How it works:

When you do your initial set up at http://www.pettracker.com you will define a “safe zone” for your dog.  I chose the smallest radius of space around our house that I could (which is what the software defaults to).  That smallest “safe zone” is about a 3 acre range around your home.   If your pet is out of the “safe zone” you will get a text message (or email).  At the time of the alert you would then ask the software to track your dog to get the dogs location.  The TAGG system is not a “real time” tracker on your device..  You need to ask the software to track the dog’s location (which only takes seconds) once the dog has left its pre-determined safety zone.  tagg size

The Activity Monitoring Feature:

One of the features of the TAGG is that it can monitor your pets activity levels.  Unfortunately, the TAGG needs to be attached to a collar around the neck to do function as an activity monitor  None of our dogs wear neck collars but rather all wear harnesses so this is a feature that we cannot use.

I have ordered two more TAGG systems for Buster and Lacey.  The new systems will be the TAGG Plus.   The TAGG Plus is an upgrade in battery life and will have a temperature sensor.  New purchases of TAGG Plus are now not shipping until April/May.  When I ordered two more TAGG’s back in December the ship date was February…so expect at least a 3 month lag to get your product.  TAGG also recently merged with Whistle.  Whistle is a product that focuses more on pet activity monitoring.  I am sure that will mean some platform changes in the future.

look at that face

Our Turnip is such a sweety…we are grateful for technology that can help us keep him safe.

I hope this was helpful!

Rescue On!

Nancy

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Pet Parent Resources: Do slow feeder bowls really work?

Slow feeder bowls for dogs who eat too fast…

Most dogs are speed eaters…but Turnip was the first time I had a dog in the house who ate so fast that he vomited his food right back up within minutes.

look at that faceTurnip came here as a foster dog.  Given Turnip spent most of his life outside on a chain and terribly neglected I can understand why he eats while the eatin’ is good.  But we had to find a solution to help him keep his food down as he was a very thin dog with looming health issues.

I feed my dogs a mix of premium kibble and homemade doggie casserole (fresh chicken, veggies and fruit).   My own four dogs are used to eatin’ yummy food but for Turnip it was such a bonanza that his food disappeared in seconds.  For weeks I was hand feeding Turnip tiny bits of his meals at a time to keep him from vomiting or gagging.  But with six dogs and three cats in the house I really needed to find a long term solution to help him keep his food down that was a little more time efficient for me than hand feeding.

I had certainly heard of slow feeder bowls but never used one before.  I picked up the Martha Stewart slow feeder bowl at Pet Smart (it was about $20).   It worked remarkably well in terms of slowing Turnip down.  Turnip always gets served his bowl of food last (out of six dogs) when he was speed eating he would always be the first one of the six dogs eating (unless I hand fed him).  With the Martha Stewart bowl Turnip now is munching his meal long after the other dogs are finished and he has not vomited up a meal since we started using it.  pPETNA-5209436_main_t300x300

I chose this particular slow feeder bowl because it has a no slip bottom and the three feeder lumps in the middle seemed more likely to slow down food consumption (which is exactly what they did).  The only thing missing about this bowl is that it not on a pedestal or riser; we had to make a small riser for Turnip to eat comfortably at the appropriate level.   We give this bowl a rating of four out of five paws.

The only reason this bowl didn’t get a five paw rating is that it is made of melamine.  Melamine has long been used for dishes and has been deemed safe.  Howe41pOWoWDNVLver, if you remember back in 2007/2008 there were pet poisonings related to melamine that was used as a filler in pet food.  So melamine in any form needs to be used with caution.  Tableware made of melamine is deemed safe by the FDA (click here to see the guidelines and comments by the FDA).  However, when using anything made of melamine it should NOT be put in a microwave or a dishwasher (if you do this by accident I would throw the bowl away even if it says it is dishwasher safe).

Because of the melamine issue I also tried out a stainless steel slow feeder.  We tried the Durapet Stainless Steel Slo Feeder (Small).  I ordered it off of Amazon for $12.00.  This bowl gets one out of five paws…and only because its the only stainless steel option do I rate it at all.  I prefer to use stainless steel dog bowls from a safety and sanitary perspective but from the perspective of slowing down Turnip’s eating pace…it made little to no difference at all.  I don’t recommend this bowl.

We also tridownloaded the Kyjen Slo-Bowl Slow Feeder Slow Feed Interactive Bloat Stop Dog Bowl.  I ordered it off of Amazon for $13.00.  This bowl gets four out of five paws as well.  It did a great job of slowing down Turnip’s eating…just as good as the Martha Stewart bowl.  However, it is a little more challenging for me to keep clean.  Again, this one is made of plastic and while it is BPH free, etc. it is still plastic…so no microwave or dishwasher action.

Turnip is rotating between eating out of the Martha Stewart bowl and the Kyjen bowl and we no longer have issues with him vomiting up his food.

 

What if your dog just lifts the slow feeder bowl and dumps it?   While he is a fast eater Turnip was not impatient enough to lift up the slow feeder bowl and dump his food.  I have watched several video reviews of slow feeder bowls being picked up and dumped over by larger breeds who were frustrated with having to work to get their food out of the bowl.  Clever dogs…but not helpful if you are trying to slow down the dog’s eating pace.  If this were the situation with Turnip I would still have worked with the slow feeder bowls.  However,I would have integrated the bowl more slowly and trained him to use it.  I would have done this by only putting a small amount food at a time in the bowl and rewarding (him) with more food in the bowl for working  at getting the food out of the bowl without dumping it.   This would be a great time to bring out the clicker!

turnip 2I hope this was helpful!  Check out my Pet Parent Resource Guide for other reviews and tips I have written for pet parents!  Also keep in mind that I sell my Pet Rescue Art and Pet Adoption and Pet Sympathy Cards at my Rescue Mama ETSY Shop!
Rescue On!

Nancy

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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: Stem Cell procedures in dogs – part 2

Stem Cell Procedures for Dogs: the miracle we were looking for…

in the grassAbout a month a go I published a post regarding a stem cell procedure that we had done for our chocolate lab, Sam.  I said I would post an update on how this procedure has impacted Sam in another 30 days.  Here it is…

In the last month Sam’s quality of life has changed dramatically.  For context; prior to his stem cell injections Sam was at the point where he could only walk for about 5-10 feet before he had to lay down and rest due to pain from the arthritis in his elbows and hips.  Sam has never had normal legs.  His front legs are bowed to the point that he can not bend them  – he never has been able to bend his legs in the time we have known him (we rescued him 8 years ago).  Every vet that has examined Sam has always told us the same thing…it is the worst case of arthritis they have ever seen in a dog (especially to see a dog afflicted as young as he was with arthritis).

sam up

We are now about 7+ weeks out from the stem cell procedure and Sam is doing better than we could have hoped.  Sam isn’t just going on nice long walks (twice a day) but he has taken up running on his walks..it has been so long since he has been able to run.  My husband and I couldn’t be happier with the progress Sam has made.  When we had the final sit down with our vet 8 weeks ago to talk about Sam’s legs…knowing we were at a point where we had to either do something dramatic for Sam or let him go…. we told our vet (Central Kentucky Vets) that what we were looking for was a miracle…it appears we have received it.

Here is some video of Sam in the park with us earlier this week…not only is he running and fetching but as you can see he is one happy dog.  It was just about 8 weeks ago that we never could have imagined Sam fetching a ball again (well chasing a ball, he has never quite gotten the fetch and return part :)).

Here is a recap of how things have progressed since Sam’s stem cell procedure:

  • First week after the procedure:  Sam was terribly sore.  The first few days after procedure, other than to get up to eat and potty, Sam did not want to move much.   We were advised to get him walking as much as possible and as soon as possible.  This was hard, certainly for him but also for us as we felt horrible for adding to his joint pain, but he did it…our Sam is one tough cookie.  Basically, the first week after the procedure completely sucked.
  • Second week after the procedure:  Sam started wanting to move around more than the first week.  He volunteered for his walks as opposed to us having to goad him.  He was going on short walks a few times per day, longer than the week prior, but very slow and with a lot of resting.  Sam remained very stiff when he first got up from resting.
  • 30 days in: Sam’s walking started improving a lot.  His walks were getting longer, faster and he was not having to stop to rest nearly as much.  We noticed Sam trotting around the house instead of just walking (and not just trotting after food).  He could walk longer distances and was trotting a lot on his outings instead of just walking slow.  His stiffness seemed to improve quite a bit when transitioning from a resting position to movement.
  • 7 weeks out:  Sam’s walking has continued to improve and he has started running on his outings…. a lot.  Sam literally runs from one thing he wants to pee on to the next thing he wants to pee on.  The walks that Sam goes on (which he runs for a good portion of now) are considerably longer than the distances he has been able to walk for a very, very long time.  Sam still has stiffness when he gets up from resting but nothing like it was before.  Most of the time he hops up from laying down and within a very short period of time he is at his normal gait. (A normal gait for Sam is still quite akward but it works for him).  We have been able to reduce Sam’s pain meds and he is still feeling good.  Prior to the procedure Sam was unable to do the traditional “dog stretch” –  where the dog stretches out his front legs and lifts his backend up in the air.   Now Sam does the “dog stretch” quite often.  Sam has always been a happy dog despite his health issues. Lately though he is the happiest we have seen him in a very long time.

We are not trying to convince anyone that they should do a stem cell procedure on a pet.  When we are making tough decisions for our pet’s health one of the first things we do is start reading up on what other’s pet parents have experienced.  Stem cell procedures for dogs are still very, very new.  We don’t know how long we will continue to see improvements in Sam’s mobility and comfort level nor how long this will last.   We did have extra stem cells banked for Sam so we can do the procedure again in the future if we need to.

If you are interested in reading more on stem cell procedures in animals here are some links to informative materials that I read to learn more about the treatment;

St. Louis Vet on Stem Cells

Stem Cell testimonies (with before and after videos) by patients in Hawaii

Article in Tulsa Pet Magazine that explains the what and why of stem cells

Article from the American Veterinary Medical Association on stem cells in theory and practice

Stem Cell article in BARK magazine

USA Today article on canine stem cell therapy

Arthritis Foundation Article on Stem Cells in pets

Vet Stem Website  (this site is full of information, just keep in mind stem cells are their business)

If you didn’t catch my first post on Sam’s stem cells click here: Sam’s Stem Cells.  I will continue to post on his progress in the future.

If you are anything like us there is little you won’t do for your pets but making the big decisions for them can be so hard.  I hope you find this post helpful.

If you like pet news, rescue advocacy, pet art and fun crafts for you and your pet consider following my blog.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest page.  Check out my Art Gallery, Parent Resources and Free Tutorials for all sorts of great pet art and ideas.  Please keep me in mind when you are shopping for Pet Rescue Art and Pet Adoption Cards and Pet Sympathy Cards….I sell my items at my Rescue Mama ETSY shop. I donate a portion of all of my sales to pet rescue organizations.

Update: July 10, 2015.  We are now nearly one year from Sam’s Stem Cell procedure.  Sam continues to do very well.  He goes on nice walks everyday, he still runs (in his own goofy sort of way) and he can still jump on furniture and in to his pool.  Sam’s quality of life continues to be very high.  His right elbow is his most difficult joint.  We did bank Sam’s Stem Cells after his first procedure.  We are currently contemplating another injection in to his right elbow.

Rescue On!

Nancy (and Sam)

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Sam and Sparky snoozin’ in the office.

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Confessions of an imperfect pet mom: Stem Cell Procedures for dogs with arthritis…

Stem Cell Procedures for dogs with arthritis…

sam up
Our Sweet Sam!

This is a picture of one of our dogs, Sam.  Sam is somewhere between 10 and 12 years old; he is a rescue so we really aren’t sure of his age.  Sam has terrible arthritis.  He has been to many vets and each has said the same thing…Sam has the worst elbows they have ever seen.  Sam’s has never walked like a normal dog; his elbows are so bowed that he walks with his legs locked straight (and even goes up and down steps like that).  Sam’s health problems though have never inhibited him for doing a lot of walking or from being an incredibly happy dog.  However, in the last few months the pain Sam was experiencing in his front legs was enough that he could only walk for about  5-10 feet at a time before he needed to lay down.  Since we have recently moved we took Sam to a new vet here in Kentucky.  Our new vet suggested we try stem cell injections in Sam’s joints.  We felt we had to do something to try to ease his pain or we had to start thinking about letting him go.  Because Sam is a very healthy dog (and crazy happy) other than his horrible arthritis pain we wanted to look at any option we had to find some comfort for him.  We started doing some research on stem cell procedures until we were comfortable that we understood exactly what the vet was suggesting.  We decided to go ahead with the procedure several weeks ago.  We had the injections done in both Sam’s hips and elbows.

I write about this because I know how hard it is to make these kind of decisions for our pets and the first thing I do when considering something aggressive for my dogs is read what other pet owners have had to say about the procedure in question.

The procedure required Sam to be anesthetized so the stem cells could be harvested from his belly.  Our Sam is so skinny (he’s always been skinny) that the vet had to make a larger incision in his belly than he would have liked to.  They did get enough stem cells and we were lucky the stem cell counts were very high.  We ended up with extra stem cells and had them banked so that if the injections were successful we had the option to do it again in the future without having his abdomen cut open again.

After the stem cells are harvested they are processed (takes about four hours) and then Sam was given a lower level of anesthesia to have the stem cells injected into his joints.  Sam came through the two procedures (both done in one day) fine.  It was really nice that this was a one day procedure (we had him back home by 4:00 the same day).  (Bret and I are a bit pathetic; we can hardly stand for any of our pets to be gone for even a day).  Sam was very sore for a few days after the surgery.  I will admit it was really hard to see him so sore when we already knew he had so much pain in his joints.  Like any pet parent we were questioning our judgment and feeling like crap for putting him in any additional discomfort.  We gave him anti-inflamitories, pain meds, antibiotics and did a lot of icing of his joints.  The extreme soreness lasted about three days and all we could do was give him meds and ice packs and spoil him (which he completely took advantage of :)).

Its been a about three weeks now and Sam is showing signs of improving each day.  Sam now walks all the around the block (a long block) twice a day without having to lay down and rest.  He still walks with a bit of limp as his right elbow (as you can see in the picture) is really rough.  Sam even trots for a good part of his walks and he is trotting around the house.  He still shows the typical signs of arthritis when he first gets up from laying down, I don’t expect that will ever go away, but once he gets moving he is significantly better.  We know this isn’t a cure but only a way to manage his pain so he can continue living in comfort.  We don’t know how long the improvements we are seeing will last.  We also know that given the severity of Sam’s arthritis he will continue to need meds and other therapies (ice, laser treatments, etc.) for the rest of his life…but that is ok with us.

We are anxious to see how things go the next few weeks as stem cells take some time to work so there is room for more improvement yet.  But it certainly appears we are going to have some more time with our sweet Sam in which he can enjoy life in comfort and continue to do his favorite thing…go for walks and pee on stuff.   So far, we are happy with our results and Sam, of course, is the happiest of all us!

I am certainly not trying to recommend a stem cell procedure to anyone, just sharing our experience with it so far. Making these kinds of choices are so tough and is really specific to each dog’s situation but I know I look to others to hear about their experiences first hand…so here is ours.  I will post another update on Sam in a month or so.

Rescue On!

Nancy

 

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Prevent Pet Poisoning

March is Poison Prevention Awareness Monthmr yukc

Pet poisonings are far more common than we think and usually come from household items that we tend to believe would be harmless to our pets (things like sugarless gum).  I am attaching an article I wrote last year about how my husband and I poison proof our home, garage and yard.  We also talk about what the experts recommend you do (or not do) if your pet is poisoned; we had our own poison incident many years ago, it turned out fine but we went in to panic mode and missed some key actions we should have taken.

Article: Prevent Pet Poisoning

Rescue On,

Nancy

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The reality of pet theft

kringles in car seatPet Theft

Who wants to think about pet theft?  I sure don’t and frankly in the past I never thought much about it…that is until one day we got an alert via our local newspaper…a home, not too far from ours had been robbed.  What was the only thing the robbers took?  The family dog.  This news story really started me thinking more about this topic more and given that February 14th is National Pet Theft Awareness Day I thought I should do my part to spread some awareness.  Pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us.

According to PetFinder at least 5 million pets are reported missing each year.  Of that 5 million it is believed that 2 million are stolen and only 10% of those of stolen are recovered.  According to the AKC the top five breeds that are stolen are Yorkies, Chihuahaus, Pomeranians, Labs and Frenchies.    The AKC also reports that the number of pet thefts has been increasing every year since 2008.  Ok, here is the rough part and the big reason why we all need to think about protecting our pets from thieves…the pernicious reasons why these creepy people steal our pets.  This is a tough list to stomach but here are the leading reasons pets are stolen;

  • to be sold to laboratories for experiments
  • to be held until the thief can collect a reward from you
  • to be used as bait dogs to train fighters
  • to be used as breeders
  • to be used as meat to feed exotics (i.e. snakes, etc)
  • to be used as meat for human consumption
  • to be used as fur
  • to be sold in pet stores
  • to be used in satanic rituals (black dogs and cats especially)
  • to be used in sadistic acts

source:Pet Finder

dealing dogsIf your interested in more information on this nefarious underworld of stealing and using pets there is an HBO Documentary that focuses on the topic.  It is available on Amazon for $19.95.

I know for most of us it is almost to much to process.  How can anyone even think of a sweet pet being used in such ways but the reality is that it does happen and it can happen to any of us in an instant.

So what can we do as pet parents to protect our pets?

The absolute Golden Rule for protecting your pet from theft is simply to never leave your pet unattended.  Pets are routinely stolen from yards (especially dogs that are tied in the front yard unattended), when unattended in cars or tied up outside a shop where the owner is just running in for a minute or two.  I have a six foot fenced back yard and I still won’t leave my pets out unattended.

Other really important things you can do are;

  • Microchip your pet – I can’t emphasize this enough.  Your odds of recovering your pet are so much higher if your pet is micro-chipped.  There are many, many stories of lost micro-chipped pets being returned to their families even years after they had originally went missing. The Microchip is also undeniable proof that the pet is your if there is a dispute.  If you want to learn more about micro-chipping talk to your vet or check out Home Again or AVID.
  • Spay/neuter your pet. It’s obvious, your pet is less likely to be taken for breeding purposes if it can’t breed.  A pet that is spayed/neutered is also less likely to wander.
  • Have plenty of pictures of your pet handy and know any special identifying physical marks on your pet (moles, missing teeth, the color of the wick on their claws, etc.). The burden will be on you to prove that a cat or dog is yours if someone has stolen it and is claiming it as their own.
  • Be part of a community effort to help recover lost or stolen pets.  You can sign up on Home Again to get an email alert anytime a pet is missing in your area.
  • Don’t turn a blind eye when something doesn’t look right.  If you think a pet theft is in process call the police immediately.

What if the unthinkable happens and our pet is stolen?  Well, thankfully there is a lot we can do but it is important to act fast.

  • Call the police and your local animal control to report your pet missing (and any shelter/rescue groups in the area).  Check with your local animal control/pound daily.
  • Call the local vet clinics and animal hospitals in your area and let them know your pet is missing (give them a picture if you can).
  • Start with your neighborhood and move out from there canvasing with fliers to let people know your pet is missing.
  • Contact your local news outlets and ask them if they do alerts for missing pets (many of them will).
  • Get information out about your lost pet via social media – good people will spread the word fast to help find a pet (watch out for scam artists who will claim to have your pet and want a reward).
  • Watch for any local ads that are advertising the sale of a pet that matches the description of yours.

There are web resources you can use.  You can get a pet amber alert at www.petamberalert.com.  They do charge for their service but it is worth contacting their pet detectives to find out about the service (1-877-875-7387).  You can also post information about your lost or stolen pet on the following sites Pet Finder, Missing Pet and Findfido.   There is also a facebook page; StopPetTheft that you can post to.

I realize this is a dark subject that none of us likes to think about but pet theft is real and it can happen to any of us.  The more aware and prepared we are the less the likely we ever face such a terrible situation.  I hope you found this helpful.

Rescue On!

Nancy

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BEST DEALS Post – Dog Toothpaste

clips feb 001

Great Price on Dog Toothpaste!

With a house full of rescued pets my efforts at good dental for all of them can get really expensive really quick!  Since February is Pet Dental Month I wanted to share one of my BEST DEALS on dental products.

I have been using CET Enzymatic Toothpaste for my pets since 2003.  I have used both the poultry and beef flavors with success.  I was introduced to this toothpaste by my veterinarian but it was really expensive to buy it from the vet clinic.  I purchase my toothpaste (and my CET chews) from American Diabetes Wholesale at much better prices.   You can get a three pack from them for $17.61 (that is about 50% cheaper than retail).  I have been ordering from American Diabetes Wholesale for several years now.  I have never had a problem ordering from them and they typically ship the day I order.  If you order more than $100.00 worth of items the shipping is free.  I order chews and toothpaste from them all at one time so I can take advantage of the free shipping and be stocked up for long periods of time at the best possible prices.

I am not paid to endorse Virbac or American Diabetes Wholesale – just showing some solidarity with other pet owners like me who are constantly fighting the high cost of pet care!

Rescue On!

Nancy

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Cold weather ideas for dog play!

Well, here we go with another multi-day cold snap in Minnesota – thought it made sense to re-post my cold weather play ideas…stay warm!

Keeping dogs busy in cold weather

I am a stay at home dog mom so fun and exercise are a big part of our day.  We love our walks at the park but living in Minnesota means there are times (in winter and summer) when it just isn’t safe to take the dogs outside for any extended period of time.  Because a cold snap in Minnesota can last for many days (ok, it can be weeks) I have to get creative to keep the dogs busy inside.    Given we have already had an incredibly cold start to the winter it seemed like a good idea to share some of our ideas!  I don’t know about your dogs but mine will only get as excited about an activity as I am …the more fun I seem to be having the more they want to participate in activities with me.

#1)  We play HIDE and SEEK

This is hands down the most fun and the best exercise.   Hide and Seek is also a great way to be practicing basic commands (stay and come).  Because we have a four dog household right now it really takes both of us (me and husband) to play this game.  One of us hides and the other seeks with the dogs.    The hider always has really small size rewards for everyone when they finish a game.   The one who seeks with the dogs keeps them in a “sit, stay” until the hider yells “come”.   We can play just four or five rounds of hide and seek and the dogs will be pooped out.  We even have one cat who always joins in when we play this.  We use the whole house when we play and get them really excited – it is so fun to see their excitement when they find daddy!  The dogs all crash for a nap after this game.  We usually play for about 20 minutes at a time.

#2) We make dinner a game

When we have long days cooped in the house I make meal time an activity for the dogs.  I use food puzzles ( pictured below) to make their dinner a physical and mental excercise.  My favorite food game is the Buster Cube because it gets them moving around so much.  I have used these with all of my dogs with success.  Some of my dogs figure out food puzzles right away (the labs) others I have to patiently help them along until they figure it out on their own.  When I give my dogs food games – I SUPERVISE.  I make a cup of coffee and sit in the room to make sure no one’s food puzzle gets stuck anywhere and to manage any misunderstandings about who is supposed to playing with what game.

december 16 2013 001december 16 2013 002december 16 2013 003december 16 2013 005Dec 30 006Dec 30 004Dec 30 001

#3) Indoor Agility

I have agility equipment for my dogs.  It is just for fun as none of them are/were competitive agility dogs.  The equipment I have is inexpensive, light weight and easy to use.  I bring it in the house for the winter (and in the summer heat) and we play; jumping through hoops, running through the tunnel, etc.  This does require a big room and/or furniture moving but it is worth it to see them having fun.  My dogs don’t interact with the equipment unless I do.  I get excited and use their basic commands to achieve little things with the equipment.  I try to keep the equipment in a room that is carpeted (or put down area rugs while we play) to avoid any slipping incidents on hard surface floors.

december 16 2013 049december 16 2013 053december 16 2013 050

#4) Train them to do activities that give them exercise

My favorite game to get the dogs moving is called “In the basket”.   I came up with this years ago when I got really tired of picking toys up after my dogs.  I have a lab whose idea of fun is to just pull every toy out of the toy box and scatter it around the house for me to clean up later.  Since my dogs have a lot of toys picking up after them gets old quick.  To combat this I trained them to pick up their own scattered toys and place them “in the basket” (I use a laundry basket).  They get a reward for putting them in the “basket”.   This can go on for quite some time, I just keep re-tossing the toys out of the basket.  I train my dogs with a clicker (my labs and my pom when he could still hear).  To train activities like this I will use the clicker to capture a behavior that I want them to repeat, even if I have to manipulate it, in this case putting a basket right under their noses when they have a toy and marking the exact moment they drop the toy in the basket with my clicker.  My Lhasa has no patience for training with a clicker (or otherwise).  She figures out activities like this (eventually) by watching the other dogs.

#5) Long lasting snacks

My dogs get a snack every afternoon.  When we are cooped up I prepare packed full frozen Kongs for snack time.  I pack them with items like peanut butter, applesauce, bananas, mashed sweet potatoes, meatballs, cooked oatmeal, etc. and stick them in the freezer in the morning – Kongsicles can keep the dogs busy for an hour.

#6) DIY Grooming

I do all my own dog grooming.  With a seven pet household I would be broke if I had to pay a groomer.  Grooming takes energy for the dogs.  For my small dogs – they go what we call the “wet crazies” when they get out of the bath – sprinting around the house all crazy like – we of course egg them on and have a good time with them – but they are pooped after a bath.  My pets are used to grooming enough that they don’t fuss too badly but it still takes time and energy for them.  When its cold out grooming takes particularly long because they need to be dried with a pet drier.  It is a nice way for them to get a lot of attention from me and they usually lay down and nap for a few hours after it’s all over.  I learned grooming techniques from books and videos and by asking lots of questions at the vet.  Grooming my own dogs takes a lot of patience and work on my part but it is very rewarding and I love the one on one time with each dog.  I pasted pictures of the three books I used to learn about grooming, they were all still available on Amazon but are certainly not new releases.  Their are also a lot of free resources available online to learn about grooming.   I have a lot of links to sites and videos for grooming on my Pet Grooming Pinterest Board.

516OwO1OIVL__SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_51Yt2GLjRiL__SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_51HnTXlZ2fL__SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

#7) Trick training or something they like

I have some dogs that love trick training and some that have absolutely no interest (my Lhasa).  For those that like it, we have a blast learning silly tricks.  I use a clicker to train behaviors – there are endless books available on different tricks you can teach your dogs.  For my Lhasa, I play tug tug with her as she seems to see trick training as beneath her.

#8)  Fetch/Keep Away

I have some dogs that love fetch and some that have no interest.  In the house it can be a risk to household damage so we usually play keep away instead.  My husband and I will toss the ball back and forth to each other, the dogs may get the balls but we don’t let it go uncontrolled around the house.

#9) Practice the stuff that matters

I am the type of person that likes to see my dogs just being dogs.  It’s not important to me that they are perfectly groomed, are sport champs or know fancy tricks, etc.  But there are a few things that are really important to me; 1) that they have  solid recall (“come” command)  and 2) that they know better than to walk out a door with out me.  We practice these two skills a lot and I use the days we are stuck inside to take advantage of this.  My dogs tend to follow me around the house all day.  When I leave the room, not all the time of course but sometimes, I leave them in a “stay” until I reach another part of the house and give them the “come” command.   It gives us a chance to practice the command that can save their lives and for them to do a little running around the house.  The other thing we practice is doorbell etiquette.  I have no problem with my dogs getting all excited when the door bell rings, in fact  I like it.  However, once the door is opened they need to be able to hold a “sit stay” no matter what.  This keeps them from jumping on guests and more importantly from bolting out the door.  I have adopted two rescues that were runners so this has been a particularly important skill for us to master.  Control at the doorbell doesn’t happen by magic but only with a lot of practice (particularly when you have four dogs).  I have a remote control door bell that I use for practice so I can ring the doorbell from anywhere in the house.  We practice going to the door and having manners (staying in a sit) when the door is open.  They get a lot of praise and a small treat for good behavior at the door.  They seem to have fun and appreciate the attention and excitement.

#10)  Massages

My dogs line up for their massages.  It is a good way to get them calmed down at night and it is also a good way for me to be aware of any changes; lumps and bumps or sores, that may be occurring on their body.  They all have their favorite spots for a rub down.

#11) FIELD TRIP

My dogs love field trips.  They know either they are going to the park or they are going to get a special treat.  When I take my dogs on field trips I usually only take one of them – it’s their turn for one on one time with me.  I do not leave my dogs in the car under any circumstances when I take them with me.  Besides the weather risks of being too hot or too cold in a car, my dogs simply do not like to be left alone in the car so I don’t do it.  So when I say I take them on a field trip it means that I am taking them somewhere that either doesn’t involve us getting out of the car – say a bank deposit (drive thru) which always means they get a treat from the teller or it means I am taking them somewhere they can go – like a friends house, park, vet clinic (a supply run) or pet stores.  When the weather is inclement I make a point of taking special trips that are more for their sake then mine.  A walk around the pet store is a whirl of scent stimulation for a dog- it doesn’t have to cost much (I always buy something – usually just a few treats from the treat bar or a few cans of kitty food for the shelter collection basket).

A lot of our activities in the house will include using tiny size treats for the dogs to reward them for a job well done (not always – sometimes praise is good enough) but given the increased amount of food rewards we cut down the size of their dinners a bit to compensate.  Particularly with our senior dogs we try to be diligent about keeping them at a healthy weight.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful for you!

On the journey,

Nancy H., The Rescue Mama

tips for bad weather

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Paws on the Wall – easy pet craft!

Paws on the Wall  Paws on the Wall

This was a really fun project, especially since the dogs contributed the paw art.

Here is a free tutorial for this project: Paws on the Wall

Paw Print Arttable setting 014May 13 2013 097

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Keeping dogs busy in bad weather…

Keeping dogs busy in cold weather

I am a stay at home dog mom so fun and exercise are a big part of our day.  We love our walks at the park but living in Minnesota means there are times (in winter and summer) when it just isn’t safe to take the dogs outside for any extended period of time.  Because a cold snap in Minnesota can last for many days (ok, it can be weeks) I have to get creative to keep the dogs busy inside.    Given we have already had an incredibly cold start to the winter it seemed like a good idea to share some of our ideas!  I don’t know about your dogs but mine will only get as excited about an activity as I am …the more fun I seem to be having the more they want to participate in activities with me.

#1)  We play HIDE and SEEK

This is hands down the most fun and the best exercise.   Hide and Seek is also a great way to be practicing basic commands (stay and come).  Because we have a four dog household right now it really takes both of us (me and husband) to play this game.  One of us hides and the other seeks with the dogs.    The hider always has really small size rewards for everyone when they finish a game.   The one who seeks with the dogs keeps them in a “sit, stay” until the hider yells “come”.   We can play just four or five rounds of hide and seek and the dogs will be pooped out.  We even have one cat who always joins in when we play this.  We use the whole house when we play and get them really excited – it is so fun to see their excitement when they find daddy!  The dogs all crash for a nap after this game.  We usually play for about 20 minutes at a time.

#2) We make dinner a game

When we have long days cooped in the house I make meal time an activity for the dogs.  I use food puzzles ( pictured below) to make their dinner a physical and mental excercise.  My favorite food game is the Buster Cube because it gets them moving around so much.  I have used these with all of my dogs with success.  Some of my dogs figure out food puzzles right away (the labs) others I have to patiently help them along until they figure it out on their own.  When I give my dogs food games – I SUPERVISE.  I make a cup of coffee and sit in the room to make sure no one’s food puzzle gets stuck anywhere and to manage any misunderstandings about who is supposed to playing with what game.

december 16 2013 001december 16 2013 002december 16 2013 003december 16 2013 005Dec 30 006Dec 30 004Dec 30 001

#3) Indoor Agility

I have agility equipment for my dogs.  It is just for fun as none of them are/were competitive agility dogs.  The equipment I have is inexpensive, light weight and easy to use.  I bring it in the house for the winter (and in the summer heat) and we play; jumping through hoops, running through the tunnel, etc.  This does require a big room and/or furniture moving but it is worth it to see them having fun.  My dogs don’t interact with the equipment unless I do.  I get excited and use their basic commands to achieve little things with the equipment.  I try to keep the equipment in a room that is carpeted (or put down area rugs while we play) to avoid any slipping incidents on hard surface floors.

december 16 2013 049december 16 2013 053december 16 2013 050

#4) Train them to do activities that give them exercise

My favorite game to get the dogs moving is called “In the basket”.   I came up with this years ago when I got really tired of picking toys up after my dogs.  I have a lab whose idea of fun is to just pull every toy out of the toy box and scatter it around the house for me to clean up later.  Since my dogs have a lot of toys picking up after them gets old quick.  To combat this I trained them to pick up their own scattered toys and place them “in the basket” (I use a laundry basket).  They get a reward for putting them in the “basket”.   This can go on for quite some time, I just keep re-tossing the toys out of the basket.  I train my dogs with a clicker (my labs and my pom when he could still hear).  To train activities like this I will use the clicker to capture a behavior that I want them to repeat, even if I have to manipulate it, in this case putting a basket right under their noses when they have a toy and marking the exact moment they drop the toy in the basket with my clicker.  My Lhasa has no patience for training with a clicker (or otherwise).  She figures out activities like this (eventually) by watching the other dogs.

#5) Long lasting snacks

My dogs get a snack every afternoon.  When we are cooped up I prepare packed full frozen Kongs for snack time.  I pack them with items like peanut butter, applesauce, bananas, mashed sweet potatoes, meatballs, cooked oatmeal, etc. and stick them in the freezer in the morning – Kongsicles can keep the dogs busy for an hour.

#6) DIY Grooming

I do all my own dog grooming.  With a seven pet household I would be broke if I had to pay a groomer.  Grooming takes energy for the dogs.  For my small dogs – they go what we call the “wet crazies” when they get out of the bath – sprinting around the house all crazy like – we of course egg them on and have a good time with them – but they are pooped after a bath.  My pets are used to grooming enough that they don’t fuss too badly but it still takes time and energy for them.  When its cold out grooming takes particularly long because they need to be dried with a pet drier.  It is a nice way for them to get a lot of attention from me and they usually lay down and nap for a few hours after it’s all over.  I learned grooming techniques from books and videos and by asking lots of questions at the vet.  Grooming my own dogs takes a lot of patience and work on my part but it is very rewarding and I love the one on one time with each dog.  I pasted pictures of the three books I used to learn about grooming, they were all still available on Amazon but are certainly not new releases.  Their are also a lot of free resources available online to learn about grooming.   I have a lot of links to sites and videos for grooming on my Pet Grooming Pinterest Board.

516OwO1OIVL__SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_51Yt2GLjRiL__SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_51HnTXlZ2fL__SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

#7) Trick training or something they like

I have some dogs that love trick training and some that have absolutely no interest (my Lhasa).  For those that like it, we have a blast learning silly tricks.  I use a clicker to train behaviors – there are endless books available on different tricks you can teach your dogs.  For my Lhasa, I play tug tug with her as she seems to see trick training as beneath her.

#8)  Fetch/Keep Away

I have some dogs that love fetch and some that have no interest.  In the house it can be a risk to household damage so we usually play keep away instead.  My husband and I will toss the ball back and forth to each other, the dogs may get the balls but we don’t let it go uncontrolled around the house.

#9) Practice the stuff that matters

I am the type of person that likes to see my dogs just being dogs.  It’s not important to me that they are perfectly groomed, are sport champs or know fancy tricks, etc.  But there are a few things that are really important to me; 1) that they have  solid recall (“come” command)  and 2) that they know better than to walk out a door with out me.  We practice these two skills a lot and I use the days we are stuck inside to take advantage of this.  My dogs tend to follow me around the house all day.  When I leave the room, not all the time of course but sometimes, I leave them in a “stay” until I reach another part of the house and give them the “come” command.   It gives us a chance to practice the command that can save their lives and for them to do a little running around the house.  The other thing we practice is doorbell etiquette.  I have no problem with my dogs getting all excited when the door bell rings, in fact  I like it.  However, once the door is opened they need to be able to hold a “sit stay” no matter what.  This keeps them from jumping on guests and more importantly from bolting out the door.  I have adopted two rescues that were runners so this has been a particularly important skill for us to master.  Control at the doorbell doesn’t happen by magic but only with a lot of practice (particularly when you have four dogs).  I have a remote control door bell that I use for practice so I can ring the doorbell from anywhere in the house.  We practice going to the door and having manners (staying in a sit) when the door is open.  They get a lot of praise and a small treat for good behavior at the door.  They seem to have fun and appreciate the attention and excitement.

#10)  Massages

My dogs line up for their massages.  It is a good way to get them calmed down at night and it is also a good way for me to be aware of any changes; lumps and bumps or sores, that may be occurring on their body.  They all have their favorite spots for a rub down.

#11) FIELD TRIP

My dogs love field trips.  They know either they are going to the park or they are going to get a special treat.  When I take my dogs on field trips I usually only take one of them – it’s their turn for one on one time with me.  I do not leave my dogs in the car under any circumstances when I take them with me.  Besides the weather risks of being too hot or too cold in a car, my dogs simply do not like to be left alone in the car so I don’t do it.  So when I say I take them on a field trip it means that I am taking them somewhere that either doesn’t involve us getting out of the car – say a bank deposit (drive thru) which always means they get a treat from the teller or it means I am taking them somewhere they can go – like a friends house, park, vet clinic (a supply run) or pet stores.  When the weather is inclement I make a point of taking special trips that are more for their sake then mine.  A walk around the pet store is a whirl of scent stimulation for a dog- it doesn’t have to cost much (I always buy something – usually just a few treats from the treat bar or a few cans of kitty food for the shelter collection basket).

A lot of our activities in the house will include using tiny size treats for the dogs to reward them for a job well done (not always – sometimes praise is good enough) but given the increased amount of food rewards we cut down the size of their dinners a bit to compensate.  Particularly with our senior dogs we try to be diligent about keeping them at a healthy weight.  I hope some of these ideas are helpful for you!

On the journey,

Nancy H., The Rescue Mama

tips for bad weather

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Craft Tutorial – Hand Crocheted Dog Leash

art gallery 047   This is Kringles modeling one of our hand crocheted dog leashes.   Click here for a free tutorial on how to make your own!  Leash tutorial

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Prevent Pet Poisoning

    Prevention & Resources

mr yukc

Most of my pet memories are the type of memories that give me the warm fuzzies.  But there is one memory  that makes me cringe;  my first dog (my Rottie puppy) had his way with  a bottle of prescription medicine.  I found a cracked open bottle and pills all over the bathroom floor.  Since I couldn’t be sure I could account for all the pills, off to the emergency vet we went.  I am certain  my rickety little GEO Metro  broke speed barriers that night.  Some wonderful vets took care of Hercules and everything turned out fine.  I, however, was horrified with myself for letting the incident happen and decided I needed to take a hard look at properly pet proofing my home.  Accidental pet poisonings are all too common and one of the main culprits is prescription and OTC drugs.  The best thing I can do as a caregiver to my pets is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Preventing a pet poisoning starts with knowing what is toxic to our pets.  When I brought the first pets in to my home I had a huge learning curve in “all things pet” but I was a complete “goose egg” when it came to knowing how seriously dangerous some common household items are to my pets.

I also underestimated my pets’ (especially a puppy’s) ability to get into cupboards, closets and hidden corners that granted access to things that should be off limits.  I learned very quickly that pet proofing my home  was more than closing cupboards and clearing counters and it has since become part of our household management on a daily basis.  “Proofing” the home for the pets isn’t really much different from proofing a home for a child.  Over the years I have found that maintaining a pet proof home keeps my house neat because it requires being diligent about putting things away – medicines, vitamins, chewing gum, salty snacks, raisins, batteries…nothing gets left outs.

In some cases there are things that we have just parted ways with for the sake of our pets; we don’t put any presents under the Christmas tree ahead of “opening day” and you won’t find items like grapes, Easter Lillies or Poinsettia plants in our house.

Following is a summary of lessons learned for protecting our pets from poisoning that we have gathered over the years.  I hope you find it helpful.

Continue reading Prevent Pet Poisoning

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Satisfying a dogs need to chew – BEST DEALS – CET Enzymatic Chews

My first dog was a Rottweiler named Hercules; he was an awesome dog but his need to chew was no joking matter.  If I didn’t provide him with an appropriate item for his chewing enjoyment at least once a day he would chew other things – like the walls of my house (no kidding).

Herc in the pool

I took the chewing issue to my vet as I didn’t feel informed about all the items sold in pet stores for chewing and we had a few bad experiences with some of them.

I wanted a dog chew that was (1) safe for my dog to chew (well as a safe as a chew can be) (2) wouldn’t make a big mess when the dog chewed it (or smell bad) and (3) was affordable.

cet chews

My vet introduced me to the CET Enzymatic chews by Virbac.    CET’s are beefhide that is treated with an enzyme that helps with plaque build up on the dogs teeth.  For our immediate needs at the time, a Rottie with a chew fettish,  the benefit for Hercules’ dental hygiene was a side-perk – we were just looking for a decent “chew” option.   Over 10 years later CET chews are the only chews I use with all of my dogs (they have been a good tool for all my dogs …Rottweiler to the Pomeranian).

For a chew, keeping in mind all chewing items carry risk for a dog, I have had minimal issues with my dogs choking or digesting these chews.  I do have a 12 year old black lab that is a really aggressive chewer that will sometimes gag a little on the chew (gross I know but he manages it himself – it has never turned in to a choking incident).  I will say, even after all these years, I supervise my dogs when they have chews – there is always the possibility of a choking incident with any chew.   My dogs have not have experienced any digestive upset from the CET chews – even my chocolate lab with a hyper-sensitive stomach.  The upside is that these chews also really do seem to help keep the dogs teeth clean.

My second criteria for a chew was that it didn’t make a mess all over the house when it was soaked with doggy saliva.  (I learned the hard way that some dog chews will stain your carpet – sure makes ya wonder what it’s doing to the dogs tummy too).   I will notice tiny little wads of the CET chew stuck to the carpet after the labs finish their chews.  The little wads do clean up easy (manual pick up – even my Dyson doesn’t get them) but there is no staining or discoloration of my carpet from the chews.  The CET chews don’t smell bad either.

The final criteria for a chew was that it was affordable.  CET Chews are actually quite expensive – especially if you have multiple dogs like we do.  Historically, I had always purchased the CET Chews at the vet office and would subsequently have a nose bleed after I wrote the check for them.  The good news is that they are becoming more widely available and the price is coming down.

The purpose for this post is to share the history I have had with these chews and to highlight the best deal I have found on them which is on the American Diabetes Wholesale website.   I pasted the link to the site here http://www.americandiabeteswholesale.com/product/cet-enzymatic-oral-hygiene-chews_5972.htm?source=SiteSearch .  I purchase the chews in 5 Packs which gets me 56% off the retail price.  If your order is over $100.00 the shipping from them is free.  This works for well for us as I typically order multiple 5 packs and the Virbac toothpaste at the same time to take advantage of the free shipping.  My experience with their service so far has been good – they process the order the same day and the shipping is fast and free.  I have recently noticed a slightly better price for the CET Chews on another site, www.entirelypets.com.  They have a sale price that is almost $1/bag lower than American Diabetes Wholesale (as of 4/24) and they offer free shipping on orders over $85.00.  I did call them to see if this was a permanent sale price or temporary sales price and they did say it was probably a temporary sale price but its worth checking this site out too.  I  do not have any experience ordering from this company yet.

I hope you find this “BEST DEAL” post helpful.  I am NOT a paid spokesman for any product or website mentioned on this page and I don’t write product reviews on any pet items unless I have had years of experience with multiple breeds interacting with the product.  I am simply sharing our experiences in the hope we can help others with the learning curve on caring for their pets.  I will close this post with a reminder that all chew items carry a risk for a dog – when I hand out  chews to our dogs I make a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and relax with the dogs while they enjoy their treat.

As always, the first stop for any questions about a pet’s care for us will always be our veterinarian.