(NewsUSA) - Owning a pet has a lot of perks, but caring for one can take its toll on your wallet. According to the ASPCA, owning a dog or cat can cost up to $1,000 in the first year, and many people end up spending much more. The good news is you can cut your pet care expenses without compromising your pet's health and well-being. Here are a few ways you can save money and keep your pet healthy.
1. Don't skip the vet.
If you're trying to save money, it can be tempting to cut back on veterinary visits. But according to Julie Ciarmella of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, "an investment in preventive healthcare can reduce your long-term pet healthcare costs." Why? Because regular check-ups can prevent expensive complications down the road.
2. Get by with a little help from your friends.
Dog-walking, pet-sitting and kennel services can be some of the most expensive aspects of owning a pet. You can save money by taking the "you scratch my dog's back, I'll scratch your cat's chin" approach and tapping into a network of other pet owners in your area. Neighborhood dog parks are great places to meet like-minded pet lovers; or, you could try good old-fashioned advertising.
3. Choose high-quality pet products that give you more value for your money.
Reaching for the cheapest product can feel like a thrifty move, but you may be surprised by the impact "cheap" products can have on your budget. For example, cheaper clay cat litter needs to be changed more often, so cat owners go through bag after bag. World's Best Cat Litter is an alternative that harnesses the concentrated power of corn for long-lasting performance. You'll use less litter, replace it less often and save money in the long run.
In the end, remember that what your pet needs most is love. Keep things simple and invest in high-value products where it matters, and you'll be on your way to a pet care budget that works for you.
Mychelle Blake, MSW, CDBC, Lifestyle Contributor and Pet Behavior Expert
Living with a dog that barks constantly can be quite an irritant. Not just for the dog’s human family but potentially for neighbors, dog training classmates, and more. As a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, I have a confession to make – I have one of those annoying barking dogs! So, what do you do when your dog engages in this behavior? The first step is to determine the “why.”
Since dogs don’t have “words” like humans do, they use barking to express a variety of emotional states. Understanding what is motivating your dog to bark is very often the key to successfully resolving the problem. Let’s examine some of the common reasons behind excessive barking, and learn what you can do in each case:
Dogs who are understimulated mentally and physically can engage in repetitive barking to alleviate their boredom. Providing your dog with things to do during the day, as well of plenty of exercise, can go a long way toward decreasing this type of barking. Take your dog for long walks (or longer ones if you already walk your dog) and give the dog time during walks to sniff and engage in the environment so that he gets physical AND mental enrichment. When you can’t be with your dog, give him a food-stuffed or puzzle-type toy to work on so that he has a more positive activity to engage in than barking.
2. Fear and/or anxiety
Dogs that are fearful, anxious or stressed can use barking as a way to express their need for the “scary” or stressful thing or situation to go away. Helping the dog learn that whatever he is afraid of is not a threat is the key to solving this type of problem.
Some dogs, particularly dogs of guarding-type breeds or mixes, will bark to “alert” you of the presence of something new in the environment. In this situation, you want to provide the dog with an alternate behavior. For example, if your dog barks feverishly when the delivery man comes to the door, teach your dog a really strong recall (come) cue and use that to interrupt the barking. Reward the dog for ceasing to bark and coming to you, and gradually you can extend this to a “come and lie down and stay” behavior.
Barking can be a great way for dogs to get attention from humans. Even if you yell at your dog to be quiet, you can be unwittingly reinforcing this behavior because a dog that wants attention will take whatever he can get from you. Just as with the other examples, this can be modified using an alternate, incompatible behavior, such as asking the dog to sit, etc. Or, simply remove the reinforcement – when the dog barks at you for something, ignore him completely and wait for him to be quiet and then heavily reinforce that behavior. In the beginning you may find the dog barking even harder to get your attention (known as an extinction burst) so stay resolved and patient until the dog learns this is no longer a useful behavior (I recommend getting a good set of ear plugs!)
Many dogs who become overly excited and who lack impulse control can bark to express their “enthusiasm.” My dog Odie is a puppy who came from a deprived background during his critical development period and lacks a lot of impulse control. With these types of dogs, you can work on training some “self control” behaviors, such as a sit or down stay, or even any type of alternate behaviors, such as a trick. The key is that the dog is doing something else that isn’t barking. So in Odie’s case, I taught him to target my hand with his nose, shake, high five, bow and a variety of other tricks, I also taught “traditional” cues such as sit and down, and when he begins to bark excitedly at home or in a class, I immediately ask him to do one of the behaviors and reward him for it. Training impulse control behaviors such as stays and settle can also be very helpful with these types of dogs.
Another important thing to remember with dogs that bark is the influence of breed. Some breeds have a tendency to bark more than others, such as terriers, shepherds and hounds. Take some time to research your specific breed, or breed mix to see what the breed(s) was originally bred for and what behavioral tendencies are common to help you understand the basis for barking behavior.
Always avoid punishing your dog for this behavior – most dogs bark due to an underlying emotional issue and punishment can either increase the barking or lead the dog to expressing their needs with an equally undesirable behavior. If you find you need assistance, particularly if the dog is barking due to a serious behavior concern, contact a professional to guide you. Visit the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, the Animal Behavior Society, and the IAABC to find a professional near you.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Halloween can be the spookiest night of the year, but keeping your pets safe doesn’t have to be tricky. The ASPCA recommends taking these simple, common sense precautions to keep your pet happy and healthy all the way to November 1.
Stash the Treats
The candy bowl is for trick-or-treaters, not Scruffy or Fluffy. Several popular Halloween treats are toxic to pets. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for cats and dogs, and sugar-free candies containing the sugar substitute xylitol can cause serious problems in pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.
Watch the Decorations and Keep Wires Out of Reach
While a carved jack-o-lantern certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively nontoxic, but can produce stomach discomfort in pets who nibble on them.
Be Careful with Costumes
For some pets, wearing a costume may cause undue stress. The ASPCA recommends that you don’t put your dog or cat in a costume unless you know he or she loves it. If you do dress up your pet for Halloween, make sure the costume does not limit his or her movement, sight or ability to breathe, bark or meow. Check the costume carefully for small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that could present a choking hazard. Ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.
Be sure to have your pet try on the costume before the big night. If he or she seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting your pet wear his or her “birthday suit” or don a festive bandana instead.
Keep Pets Calm and Easily Identifiable
Halloween brings a flurry of activity with visitors arriving at the door, and too many strangers can often be scary and stressful for pets. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. While opening the door for guests, be sure that your dog or cat doesn’t dart outside. And always make sure your pet it wearing proper identification—if for any reason he or she does escape, a collar with ID tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver for a lost pet.
Article from the ASPCA
With summer quickly approaching, families are starting to plan where to head next -- and they're looking to bring along a very important guest -- the family pet.
According to a recent survey from Petplan Pet Insurance, more than 78 percent of pet owners say they take their pet with them on vacation, an increase of eight percent over the previous year. If you're among the travelers adding pet-friendliness to your list of accommodation must-haves, consider staying in a vacation rental to make vacationing with your furry friend as seamless as possible.
Vacation rentals offer many of the advantages of home, like fully equipped kitchens, multiple bedrooms, more space and privacy all-around. For pets used to having plenty of space, vacationing in a typical 325-square-foot hotel room might leave them feeling cramped. The average vacation rental is 1,850 square feet, giving you, your family and your pet enough space to spread out in during your stay.
Vacation rentals can also help maintain some of the familiarity and routine pets crave. If your pet is used to sleeping in the living room, or their bowls are typically in the kitchen, they can still enjoy those comforts while away. Bring some of your pet's favorite toys and blankets along to help make your rental feel even more like home.
In addition to more room inside, many vacation rentals offer private outdoor space. Some even have large decks and fenced-in backyards, creating ideal vacation space for travelers with pets, whether you're barbecuing outside or letting your pet get some fresh air in-between attractions.
If you're worried your pet might have some trouble adjusting on vacation, a vacation rental can also give you added privacy from your neighbors. You won't have to worry about nervous barks disrupting anyone while your pet gets acquainted with their new surroundings. When you arrive, let your pet explore the rental and sniff around outdoors to help them adapt to the new space.
Nothing to sneeze at: food allergies and your dog—signs, symptoms and what to do By Elizabeth Pask and Laura Scott Food Allergies in Dogs
Is your dog itching and scratching? Does she have frequent ear infections or poor coat quality? You could be contributing to your dog’s distress without knowing it if she’s allergic to what you’re feeding her. Food allergies are a rising concern with dog owners and it seems like more and more dogs are suffering from them.
But what exactly is a food allergy?
Food allergies are different from food intolerance. Food intolerance is the result of poor digestion, such as lactose intolerance. People and dogs with lactose intolerance are either missing or have low levels of the milk digesting enzyme lactase.
Food allergies are the over-response of your dog’s immune system to an invading protein. In the case of a food allergy, this protein is contained in your dog’s food. Proteins are present in most of the foods your dog eats. While most people recognize that meats are a source of proteins, there are also proteins present in grains and vegetables. Any one of these proteins has the potential to cause a food allergy.
Your dog’s gastrointestinal system (mouth, stomach, intestines) protects her from potential allergens each day. Approximately 70 percent of the body’s entire immune system is centered in the gastrointestinal tract. When your dog eats a meal, the food is first digested in the stomach. The large pieces of food are broken down into smaller pieces by stomach acid and then enzymes and stomach acid work together to break the complex protein structures down into smaller structures. The partially digested food then moves into the small intestine. The food is further digested until the proteins are broken down into their smallest parts, amino acids, which can then be absorbed into the body through special cells called enterocytes. Enterocytes act as both a welcoming hostess to amino acids that they like and want, and as bouncers (door guards) for amino acids they don’t like. When a whole protein is absorbed in the intestines instead of being broken down first, the immune system reacts and your dog shows symptoms of a food allergy.
When the System Works
The intestinal tract’s ability to prevent the absorption of whole protein is dependant on the health and integrity of the mucosal barrier. It is the proverbial guardian of the body at the gastrointestinal gate. The mucosal barrier (lining of the gut) is comprised of both structural components and immune system components. The structural components physically prevent the absorption of large proteins. The immune system component is responsible for recognizing potentially harmful contents of the gastrointestinal tract. The health and integrity of the gastrointestinal tract is dependant on the normal structure and function of the enterocytes, effective protein digestion, and the presence of the dog’s immune cells (called IgA cells) in the gastrointestinal tract.
The Gut and Immune System Together
Prevent Food Allergies
IgA cells are a type of immune cell secreted in the intestine. Some of the IgA will float freely in the contents of the intestine while other IgA attaches to the wall of the intestine to prevent whole protein from coming in contact with the enterocytes. Just like volleyball players they bounce whole proteins back into the contents of the intestine for more digestion. The more effective protein digestion in the stomach and intestine is, the smaller the proteins are when they come in contact with the IgA. Small proteins and single amino acids do not get bound to the IgA and are allowed to pass by the IgA and be absorbed into the body as nutrients.
At a Glance Some of the breeds most prone to food allergies include: Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, Springer Spaniel, Collie, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Miniature Schnauzer, Retriever, Shar Pei, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Dachshund, and West Highland White Terrier
Most common food allergens include: beef, dairy, and wheat.
Least common food allergens are fish and rabbit.
General signs and symptoms of allergies include: dry itchy skin, excessive scratching or licking, bald patches, a high frequency of hot spots, ear infections, skin infections, diarrhea, and vomiting.
When the System Fails
Malnutrition can affect enterocyte structure and function. A poorly functioning or damaged enterocyte can let whole proteins into the body. Once a whole protein has managed to breach all of the gut’s defenses, gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) takes over. GALT can prevent the body’s natural immune response to a foreign protein. Most of the time this is what happens, but in the case of food allergies, GALT does not prevent the immune response and an allergic response (immune hypersensitivity) is formed.
Unfortunately, every time the food is eaten, this over-response of the immune response becomes greater. So continuing to consume the diet that caused the allergic response results in a greater and greater response every time. After this hypersensitivity is formed, each time the dog eats the food, mast cells in the body’s immune system release hertamine. If this hertamine release is large enough, it may manifest as diarrhea, itchy skin, chronic skin infections etc.
Isolating the Problem
The first thing you need to do is work with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog’s symptoms truly indicate a food allergy. If that’s the case, your vet will likely recommend that you try an elimination diet— feeding a food that has a different protein (meat) source and a different carbohydrate (grain) source than what your dog has had before. Common anti-allergy foods (novel protein sources) include kangaroo and oatmeal or venison and potato. This prevents the immune response from continuing to be triggered.
Your vet may also suggest that you try a hypoallergenic diet. These foods are made with hydrolyzed proteins. That means that the proteins are already broken down into pieces that are small enough that IgA won’t bind to them and they won’t trigger an immune response.
Lamb and rice foods used to be considered “hypoallergenic” when most commercial dog foods were made with chicken or beef and corn or wheat. Since most dogs had never had lamb or rice before, it was a good option for dogs that experienced allergies while eating a regular food. Now, however, many dogs are showing allergies to lamb and rice diets. This is to be expected since an allergy can develop to any diet. If your dog is allergic to lamb and rice you may need to find a food with different ingredients such as fish and oatmeal, or venison and sweet potato.
While your dog is on any special diet, it’s very important that she doesn’t get any other food such as cookies, treats, rawhides, people foods, etc. Since you don’t know yet exactly what she is allergic to, you don’t want to give her something other than her food and trigger the allergic reaction. Once you’ve got her on a food that she is not reacting to, you can start to reintroduce other foods. If your dog reacts, you’ll know exactly which food (or foods) causes the problem.
Preventing Food Allergies
Is there anything we, as owners, can do to avoid food allergies from developing? This is one of the toughest questions in dog nutrition today. While we still don’t really know how to prevent allergies entirely, there are things you can do that may help your dog fight off numerous allergies.
Promote a healthy mucosal barrier. This can be done by ensuring that our dogs, and especially puppies, have adequate nutrition and health care.
Watch out for gastroenteritis. There have been some theories that early gastroenteritis or severe gastroenteritis, especially in puppies or young dogs, can result in an adult dog that is more likely to develop food allergies. Preventing gastroenteritis, in theory, is easy— just don’t let your dog eat anything but dog food and treats. In actuality, this is much harder to deal with. Dogs eat a variety of things, some that are not harmful—grass, dirt, bark, wild berries (i.e., raspberries, strawberries), sometimes a little cow or horse dung—and some that are not good for them (rotten garbage or dead animals). It can be very hard to police what goes in your dog’s mouth.
If you suspect that your dog has gotten into garbage or eaten something that may cause tummy upset, it may be best to feed your dog a low-protein diet (boiled white rice or potato) until the suspected tummy upset passes or you consult your vet. In general, if diarrhea lasts more than 72 hours without signs of getting better or if the diarrhea seems especially severe or malodorous, you should consult your vet. In these cases, do not attempt to treat the dog yourself with over-the-counter medications because diarrhea is the body getting rid of bad things in the gut. To give something that stops the diarrhea can result in keeping the bad things in the gut and causing a serious illness.
Promote effective protein digestion. In general, your dog should have no problem digesting protein. If you are feeding a homemade cooked or raw diet, grinding or blending your protein source in a food processor can be helpful in improving protein digestion. In kibble-fed dogs, the protein is already ground before it is kibbled so there is no need to grind it.
Choose a dog food with exclusive protein sources. A food that only has one or two protein sources can be helpful in giving you more choices later on should your dog develop an allergy. For example, if you use a food with five protein sources (i.e., turkey, chicken, duck, salmon, and tuna) and your dog develops an allergy to it, you now have to find a food that doesn’t contain any of these protein sources. This can be challenging. Conversely, if you feed a diet with chicken as its sole protein source and your dog develops an allergy to it, you can easily find a diet that doesn’t contain chicken.
Preventing food allergies may be impossible in dogs that are prone to developing food allergies. Some breeds are becoming noted for food allergies (see sidebar p.82). As a result, it is possible that a propensity for developing food allergies may be genetic, in which case, we should avoid breeding dogs that have food allergies.
Don’t Give Up
Dealing with a dog with food allergies can be challenging and disheartening. Proper diagnosis of food allergies can make it easier and understanding why food allergies start can help us prevent future allergies from starting. On a personal note, my Labrador has had food allergies all his 12.5 years. It has been a long road and often a difficult one. It is so much easier to find novel protein sources now than it was 12 years ago. If you have a dog with allergies, take heart, it will get better.
Article From Modern Dog
Large dogs and extra large dogs require more thought and planning when owners purchase a permanent dog bed. Even though large dogs can be just as lovable as their smaller canine counterparts, they require a more complex sleeping situation than small dogs.
It’s obvious that a large dog requires a large dog bed, and that an extra large dog requires an extra large dog bed. This goes without saying. But how big? And what kind of bed is best?
In this instance the answer is a function of not only the size but the breed of dog. You must measure the dog when he is fully grown, or at least have an accurate idea of what his size will be when he is fully grown. Just as with smaller dogs, you have to take into account your dog’s sleeping style – for example, whether he sleeps curled up in a ball or stretched out across the bed. All of these factors will help define your choice of large dog bed for your canine pal.
Placement is more of an issue with larger dogs than smaller ones. No matter how sweet and cuddly your large dog is, very few people want to share a bed with a Great Dane. And the size of the dog definitely limits the spaces available to him for sleeping. You can’t squeeze a Great Dane comfortably into a small bathroom and expect him to stay there overnight.
Large dogs tend to have a strong protective instinct, and so it is quite often the case that they sleep near the front or back doors. If your living room or family room happens to be the nearest space to one of those doors, a large bed that resembles actual furniture serves a dual purpose. First, large dog beds and extra large dog beds that mimic real furniture will keep your oversize pet off of the real furniture without making him feel deprived. And secondly, furniture type beds are actually more comfortable than a more standard round dog bed. They have pillows to rest heads and paws on and they are treated with flea and tick resistant powders to keep your dog free from those bothersome pests while he sleeps. In addition, they are sometimes filled with memory foam and gel products that conform to the musculature of the animal, which helps keep him comfortable while he sleeps.
by Ken Marlborough
Dogs And Easter
Easter is a big holiday where many people celebrate with a new outfit. Why not get your pup in on some of the excitement by getting him or her a new outfit, too. Dog clothes are very popular and there are a variety of options to choose from so you can find something that matches your dog's personality and your personal tastes without much difficulty.
Dresses for Girls
Traditionally girls will get a brand new, beautiful dress for Easter. If you have a female dog, you can extend this tradition to include your pup. The variety of doggie dresses available is large enough that you can find something that suits your pup perfectly. They come in all colors such as light green and blue, yellow, white and pink, so finding something in Easter colors should be easy as well.
Not only do you have a variety of colors to choose from but there are also many styles that include plain and simple designs to lacey and decorative. The main thing to remember about the design is to not get anything your pet could chew on that poses a choking hazard. Otherwise, you can look for designs that you believe will look the best on your furry friend. If your girl is rowdy and a dress just wouldn't fit her personality, you may want to consider looking into a nice shirt instead.
T-Shirts for Boys
Many people dress formally for Easter, which means a nice shirt or vest and your male pup can do the same. You can choose to follow tradition and dress him in a black vest and a white tee shirt or you can go more relaxed with a handsome tee shirt in any color. You can also go the funny route and get a nice slogan tee that will make your little man's personality shine through.
The great thing about dressing a boy dog for Easter is that almost any color is considered traditional so you can go for pastel blues or greens, a black, white or darker blues and greens. Generally, reds of any hue are not considered an Easter color but that shouldn't stop you if your little guy looks great in red.
Matching Leash and Collar
You can complete the Easter outfit for your pup by buying him or her a new matching leash and collar. There are many colors and styles available so it will be easy to match the accessories to the color of the new Easter outfit. Even if you can't find colors that match exactly, you can find something that goes with the overall color scheme.
Adding these accessories will make the outfit look more put together and stylish. Another great thing about buying a new leash and collar is that these are things your pet can continue using even after the holiday has past. Dressing your little girl or guy up for Easter is a lot of fun and it's a great way to include your pet in family activities.
By Lisa A Mason
Always measure your dog's neck, chest and length, to ensure a proper fit.
Shop our Easter dog outfits and accessories at
Big & Small Dog Boutique.
St Patrick's Day Dog Clothes
Our big and small dog boutique offers a great selection of St. Patrick's dog clothing.
Another way to get is to create them yourself. Looking for ideas of what to create? Do an Internet search and take it from there. This is particularly true for big dogs. Dog clothing providers appear to focus on dogs, and the cost of a dog outfit that is bigger is a little bit more than the same style for a doggie. Then too, bigger dogs come in numerous different shapes. Some possess a torso or a chest, although it may not do for a Greyhound that's the same height so that a set of dog Christmas garments may fit one pooch such as a Labrador flawlessly.
There are several ways to make a vacation outfit such as weaving, knitting, sewing or crocheting, in addition to other options. Take inventory of what you have on hand - that way of throwing them out. Additionally why not hunt nonprofit thrift stores for substances as a way to return to the community.
If you keep an open mind regarding the look of the outfit, you could find notions and fabrics which lead to an invention. If you keep an open mind significantly longer lasting sense of satisfaction than buying longer lasting sense of satisfaction than garments - in essence, a present a ready made set of vacation dog yourself.
You don't need to know how to knit or sew to create dog St. Patrick's Day clothes. Know how to knit or sew to create dog holiday clothes may Vests can be cut out of felt, or Cloths be taped, safety pinned or stapled together. Just create double sure that your dog isn't getting poked by anything. You may also keep it simple - create a cape or a ruffle to the neck. Some dogs don't keep it simple - create a cape or a ruffle to the neck they're utilized enjoy wearing anything around their belly, but to the neck to a collar and will tolerate items that attach.
Shop our St. Patrick's Day dog clothes, dresses, vest and accessories.
Even though Valentine's Day is a holiday of romance, chocolate and roses, it is essential that you maintain the health and well-being of your puppy in mind. The biggest health challenge for dogs throughout the holiday of love is the large quantity of chocolate candy. Did you know that soda poisoning is the second most typical cause of unintentional poisonings for dogs? This compound is found in the hot chocolate part of soda and acts as a stimulant inside the dog's system. Little dogs may be contested from smaller quantities of theobromine than big dogs. 1 and ounces of dark soda or Baker's Chocolate could be a lethal dose for a little dog.
Each number of chocolate has another degree of theobromine. White chocolate has the smallest quantity of theobromine, roughly 1 mg per ounce. Milk chocolate, the most typical sort of chocolate, comprises 65 mg of theobromine per ounce, semisweet chocolate includes 165 mgs and baking soda has about 400mg. Whenever you and your puppy eats chocolate, the theobromine is quickly absorbed from the stomach and intestines to the bloodstream. It's carried to all elements of the body and is finally metabolized by the liver and after that eliminated in the urine. Dogs have an extremely tough time metabolizing theobromine, it may take roughly 15 to 20 hours to get a dog to remove 50% of the theobromine absorbed from its body.
It only takes 5 hours to get your human body to dump the surplus theobromine from your system. It directly affects the heart and may cause an extreme improve in heart rate, a rise in blood pressure level, as well as irregularities in their heart rhythm. This is why people find soda so irresistible, chemically it imitates their feeling of infatuation by causing rapid heart beat, hyperactivity, flushing of the skin. The dogs nerve system is negatively stimulated by theobromine. Stimulation of the nerve system may improve respiration, improve panting, and induce nausea, and vomiting. Theobromine acts a diuretic causing considerable quantities of human body fluid are lost by urination, which might lead to dehydration. Within two to 3 hours of consuming a toxicity dose of chocolate, their puppy will appear excited, agitated or nervous, might exhibit polydipsia, and can vomit. Within 8-10 hours, the dog can be extremely hyperactive, have difficulty walking, might develop seizures and eventually might fall into a coma and die.
So what do you do if you find that your puppy has gotten to your present basket of chocolate? In case your dog consumed just a small number of white or milk chocolate, he might not need treatment.