Halloween Ideas for You and Your Dog

dog and pumpkin halloween photo

Everyone loves seeing their dog all dressed up in a cute Halloween costume.  There are so many adorable costumes out there, who can resist taking photos and sharing them on Instagram and Facebook.

If you are looking for a few more ideas to celebrate Halloween with your dog, here are a few additional ideas to try:

 

Carve Breed Specific Jack-O-Lanterns using a doggie face stencil.  Better Homes and Gardens has some adorable stencils you can download for free.   There are lots of breeds to choose from or if you are skilled at drawing,  try your hand at making your own.

Keep it pet-safe and use a mini LED light inside instead of a candle inside.

Bake Pumpkin Dog Treats for your pooch and his friends. Here’s a recipe combining the goodness of pumpkin, oats and coconut that we love!

Ingredients:

1 ½ c    rolled oats

¼ c       unsweetened all-natural coconut chips (not the sweetened shredded kind with nothing added)

¼  c      creamy peanut butter (make sure it does not contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs and is found in sugar free items.  Some good brands to choose are Earth Balance, Simple Truth, MaraNatha)

½ c       pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, but make sure nothing is added)

½ tsp   cinnamon

½ tsp    baking powder

1             egg

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line cookie sheet with wax paper.

Combine oat and coconut in mini food processor. Pulse for 30-45 seconds then place in a bowl

Add cinnamon and baking powder to the oat and coconut mixture

Mix together the peanut butter, pumpkin puree and egg and add to the dry ingredients.

Roll out ½ inch thick.

Cut with cookie cutters.  Bones, pumpkins or leaf shapes are fun to use.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

Make matching DIY Witch Hats for you and your dog.  All you need are a few pieces of black felt, some festive embellishments and a glue gun.  DIY Network has a pattern to get you started.  Decorate it to your liking to make it your own.  A little corded black elastic works great to keep the hat in place.

Acupressure for Your Dog

 

Paw Pod Photo
FitPAWS Paw Pods provide passive stimulation to acupressure points between your dog’s digits.

Acupressure is one of the most ancient healing arts.  Like acupuncture, which is uses the same pressure points, it is based in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  The primary difference is that acupuncture uses needles to activate the points. There is evidence that shows veterinary acupressure has been used since 2000-3000 BC. In ancient times, eastern cultures would use this art not only on themselves, but also on their animals.

Acupressure increases circulation, releases muscle tension and improves the flow of energy or qi. This form of therapy which brings energy and blood to an area, can be used to alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and injuries, it can reduce anxiety, motion sickness and nausea, and can even help with behavior disorders.

The Bladder Meridian is a great place to get start if you want to provide overall wellness for your dog. It begins at the inner corner of each eye, over the head and then breaks into two lines along both sides of the spine and runs down the back to the tail and down the back of the hind legs. There are many association points along this meridian that provide qi to all of the body’s organs.

To stimulate the Bladder Meridian, get your dog into a relaxed position on the floor alongside of you. Start at the base of the neck, using your palm if you have a large dog, and fingers if you have a small dog.  Press gently but and with healing intention as you follow the line down to the tail.  Do not massage across the spine itself, which can be painful, but to each side of it. One side at time. Skim over any raised or inflamed areas very lightly.  Press gently into any depressions or hollows you feel for a few seconds.  If your dog is not interested in the massage, don’t push him and save it for another day when he is more receptive.

Another easy way to active pressure points is with FitPAWS Paw Pods. There are acupoints located along the side of the base of the nail bed on the various digits. Paw Pods gently press against these areas when your dog is standing on them. It’s a great way to incorporate a little acupressure wellness with training and balance improvement exercise.

If your dog has a serious imbalance of any kind and you want to try alternative therapies, find a holistic veterinarian or certified therapist who is trained to identify the correct points to bring your dog into balance and restored health.

What is TTouch?

TTouch, or Tellington Touch, is a bodywork method designed by Linda Tellington-Jones.  It was first designed for bodywork on horses and then later discovered to be helpful to small animals and people.

TTouch is a method of making circular movements on the body, generally in a clockwise manner with light touch.  The circles awaken the cells, likened to turning lights on, and help your dog with healing and behavior.  Because each circle is complete within itself, there is no need to understand anatomy and even a few minutes a day can help your dog immensely.

The basic method is to make a circle starting at the 6pm position and go around one and a quarter times, to 9pm and then to slide your hand to the next position running down the back of your dog to the sides of his spine.  Keep your opposite hand on your dog and alternate from side to side until you get to the base of the tail and then run your hand along his tail to the very tip. The circles help your dog to relax, help speed along healing, build body self-awareness and confidence and help deepen your bond with your dog.

There are many different hand positions and movements with names like Clouded Leopard, Lick of the Cow’s Tongue and Snail’s Tail, amongst others.  The names were chosen to help make learning fun and easy to remember.

There is also an ear work technique, called Ear TTouch, which is particularly helpful in the case of an emergency and can help you keep your dog from going into shock.  There are many acupressure points at the base of the ear that help with relaxation, digestion and overcoming car sickness.

If you are interested in learning TTouch, there are many books and videos on the subject or you can even take a certification class.  At the very least, be sure to watch a few videos and learn the basics.  It can make a world of difference for your dog.

What is Integrative Veterinary Care?

 

holistic dog care book image
Integrative care for your dog is a whole-body approach.

Integrative holistic veterinary care is a whole-body approach that incorporates both western and eastern modalities.  Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) includes acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, massage, herbs and nutrition.  There are also alternative therapies such as cold laser, homeopathy, flower remedies, essential oils, Tellington Touch (TTouch) and water therapy that your dog can benefit greatly from.

Since we are all about preventative care and holistic healing, Tashi and I work together with our holistic veterinarian to create a whole-body approach for optimal health.  We use all of the methods that are briefly described here as part of our integrative therapy.

Acupuncture and Acupressure have been used for centuries.  Whether using traditional needles, laser acupuncture or pressure points, the goal is to get energy moving and restore the body.  Blockage of any type is where pain and disease start. There are specific energy channels, or meridians, where energy flows throughout the body.  Acupuncture or Acupressure is applied in specific areas depending on what is going on in the body.

Chiropractic is also about clearing blockages, but the focus is on the spine and how it affects the nervous system.  Every organ in our body is regulated by the nervous system, the same is true for your pet. The spine is protected by vertebrae which are connected by muscles and ligaments. If the muscles or ligaments are tight, the spine is not able to move as it should and vice versa.

Massage works on the soft tissues of the body, which works hand in hand with chiropractic.  Massage increases the flow of nutrients to the muscles and aids the body in getting rid of toxins.  It also reduces inflammation, and stimulates circulation.

Laser Therapy, also called low-level laser, cold laser therapy and Class IV laser, uses light to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation.  It’s done on the surface of the skin and there is no need to shave the fur.  Hot laser on the other hand, is has a higher risk of cuts or burn due to the intensity of the light.  Cold laser is what is typically done on dogs and cats.

Herbs, the root of medicine, when given properly, can do wonders for your pet, for treating and preventing disease, without the use of synthetic drugs.

Homeopathy was developed in the 1700’s in Germany.  It’s a medical system with the basic belief that “like cures like”.  It claims a substance that causes the symptoms of disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Homeopathy comes in various forms such as sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels and tablets.

Tellington Touch (TTouch), created by Linda Tellington-Jones, is a technique to help your dog’s physical and emotional health.  It can help with behavior problems, pain, circulation and the clearing of energy flow.

Water Therapy includes swimming, treadmills and underwater massage, all wonderful ways to help your dog with muscle tone, pain management and relaxation.

 

FitPAWS Paw Pods

FitPAWS Paw Pods

 

We recently got some FitPAWS Paw Pods.  They are great for balance,  neural stimulation and building core strength.  Your dog can stand on either the dome side or for a bigger challenge, he can stand on the flat side.  They in a pack of 4 and can be used individually or together.  We are just starting out with them, so the first thing we did was get used to touching them with right and left front paws.  Then we moved up to standing on them, one paw at a time, then both at the same time.  Our goal is all four paws on four different paw pods.  I’ll post an update as we get there!  It’s a lot of fun working together on the training too!

Read more about FitPAWS in our blog post here. 

 

FitPAWS Exercise Demonstration – Step Up

FitPaws step up image
FitPAWS are Happy Paws!

I thought I’d share some of my FitPAWS exercises with you! Mom needs to get one of those iPhone tripods so she can photograph me while supporting me, but we thought we’d go ahead and get started!

This is a step up from the FitPAWS Disc to the FitPAWS Donut. It elongates my back and give me a good stretch, while improving my muscle tone. We do some rotations that go about 5-8 minutes every day.

You can learn more about FitPAWS in my blog post FitPAWS for your Dog’s Fitness.

If you want to try FitPAWS, you can get a 15% discount at FitPAWSUSA with my special Barking Princess friends and followers code 18A-AMBTBP

 

 

 

FitPAWS for Your Dog’s Fitness

 

FitPaws image
FitPAWS is a great way to build your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness.

Are you looking for ways to improve your dog’s fitness, core conditioning and balance?  FitPAWS is a great tool to add to your dog’s fitness and conditioning regime.

What is FitPAWS?  It’s canine conditioning and rehabilitation equipment.  FitPAWS helps develop confidence, body awareness, strength, balance and coordination. Their inflatable platforms such as their discs, pods, peanuts and donuts are fun ways for your dog to improve his fitness.

The equipment is used by dog trainers and rehabilitation professionals as well as many pet parents who want to offer an additional way to help their dogs whether they are getting ready for the show ring, are recovering from an injury or just want to get in better overall shape.

Improving balance and stability is important for dogs of all ages, from puppies who are just starting to develop their coordination, to senior dogs that might have lost some of the strength they had in their earlier years.  The more your dog improves his balance and stability, the more body awareness he will have.

The amount of time your dog will need on FitPAWS varies from dog to dog.  Some dogs tire after 5 minutes and other can go for 15 minutes. The key is to not over-do the exercises, but to do them regularly and in short increments. Some of the balance work is more about endurance than repetitions.  A few minutes of balancing on a K9Fitbone goes a long way!  Working together through the exercises is also a great way for you to build your relationship and communication with your dog.

You will use treats to encourage your dog to go through the movements, so be sure to select something that is high value but not too high in calories.  Lamb or bison lung are great treats because they can be broken into small pieces and both have a lot of air so the calorie content is low.

We worked one on one with a rehabilitation expert who introduced us to FitPAWS, but you can learn all the moves you need by watching some FitPAWS videos online.   It’s important that your dog be closely supervised when using the equipment.  It’s not play-equipment, but truly exercise and rehabilitation tools that can greatly enhance your relationship with your dog while improving his fitness and well being.

As a Barking Princess reader, I’m able to share a special discount code  with you.  Use discount code 18A-AMBTBP  at checkout for 15% off any regular priced equipment.  Please note, it can’t be used on kits that are already discounted, sale items, apparel or third party products.

FitPAWS are happy paws!!

CBD Oil for Dogs – relief for pain and anxiety

CBD oil for dogs picture
CBD oil is beneficial for dogs with joint stiffness or anxiety.

Have you been curious about giving your dog CBD oil? Cannabidiol oil (CBD) is becoming a popular supplement for dogs who experience anxiety or who suffer from inflammation caused by any number of things, including arthritis.

Cannabidiol is a natural compound found in the hemp plant that is very beneficial to both humans and dogs.  When CBD enters the body, it activates the  endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is a biological system made up of neurotransmitters that bind to receptors that are involved in a variety of processes including pain sensation, mood and memory.

In case you were wondering, hemp comes from the same Cannabis family as marijuana but they are two different plants.  Marijuana has high amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive constituent of cannabis, from about 5-35% and low amounts of CBD, which is the opposite hemp which has very low THC (less than 0.3%) and high amounts of CBD.  CBD does not have any intoxicating effects like those caused by THC.

Not all hemp oils are created equal.  Here are a few helpful tips in finding a product that is right for your dog.

  • In order to be effective, it’s best to choose a full spectrum cannabidiol, not an isolate.
  • Be sure the manufacturer you choose use third party lab testing for quality and potency.
  • Make sure the manufacturer uses a supplier who farms organically.
  • Also find out how the oil is extracted from the plant.  Never chose a company that uses butane or ethanol as a distraction solvent. Vapor distillation seems to be the best process.

There are a lot of manufacturers out there, but a few of the companies we like are Pet.Releaf and Healthy Hemp.

CBD oil can be very helpful to help your dog if he is suffering from car anxiety, fear of fireworks, motion sickness and tension.  It can also be very helpful to alleviate pain associated with arthritis.

Personally, I have tried CBD oil for my dog who experiences car anxiety.  I’ve tried every product on the market over the years and nothing was working.  CBD was one more thing to at least try and I am very happy to say it seems to be working!  I administer the recommended dosage amount about 30 minutes before we get in the car and she is much calmer while we are traveling.  I was worried about CBD oil because I didn’t want her to feel lethargic or too relaxed or seemingly depressed.  I’m pleased to say none of those things take place.  She is much happier on our road trips which makes everyone in the car happier too.

Our holistic veterinarian recommends cannabidiol as well as our rehabilitation professional.  They have both have told me of their experiences seeing dogs who have less stiffness and pain from arthritis and less anxiety when they are taking CBD oil.

 

What is in your dog’s food?

What is in your pet's food image
What is in your pet’s food?

Do you know what is in your dog’s food and how to read his food label? If you had a pet during the 2007 terrifying pet food recall, you probably started being a lot more aware of the short comings of the pet food industry.  Many people checked to see if their dog’s food was manufactured by one of the companies in question and then quite possibly with relief simply moved on if they confirmed their dog’s food was not being recalled.

It was not too long later we went through the chicken jerky recall.  We thought we were buying something safe only to find dogs were getting sick and dying again because of what they were being fed.  Then we took note to not buy chicken jerky that had been produced in China and started looking for the label Made in the USA.

But what about beyond that? Can kibble ever be a good choice for your dog?  What about the mainstream foods we find at PetSmart and Petco or the new frozen products? One of the most important things you can do for your dog is to provide a wholesome species appropriate diet.  What that looks like can vary from person to person, depending on several things.  You owe it to your dog to learn how to read the label and actually read it. Make sure your dog’s food is void of corn, wheat and soy.  These are ingredients that your dog doesn’t need and that can hurt him.  There is an abundance of overweight and diabetic dogs in our society in a large part, due to what they are eating.

Make sure the first ingredient on your dog’s food label is a whole meat such as beef, chicken, lamb or turkey.  Avoid foods that have a chicken by-product or chicken meal as the first ingredient. Sometimes this is also labeled as poultry by-product meal (PBM).  Animal by-products are what is left of a slaughtered animal after the parts intended for human consumption have been removed. By all means avoid foods that have a grain such corn as the first ingredient.

The pet food industry has a long way to go on implementing appropriate regulations that ensure what you are buying is safe for your dog.  There are a handful of corporations that make most of the brands you see on the shelf at the big box stores.  It’s a big money industry that doesn’t want to spend profits on studies that will force them to purchase more expensive ingredients.

If you want to feed a raw diet but aren’t sure where to start, there are several smaller companies that put your pet’s health first who offer frozen, freeze-dried and dehydrated options.  Ideally it is best to have the least amount of heat possible in the manufacturing process.

Also if you haven’t already seen the documentary Pet Fooled, featuring the acclaimed holistic veterinarians Karen Becker and Barbara Royal, be sure to watch it.  You can rent or buy it on iTunes or watch on NetFlix.

 

May I Pet Your Dog? – Preventing Dog Bites

 

 

dog getting pet image
Not every dog wants to be pet at any given time. Watch for the signals that say it’s okay to pet me.

 

“May I pet your dog”  – This simple phrase is important not only to teach children, but to remember yourself.  All too often people approach dogs, who look so innocent, and just reach out and pet them without asking.  As a pet parent, you might have had this happen as your heart stops as a stranger reaches out before you have a chance to say “wait”. You panic that all will be okay and your dog will not nip or bite.  If only people would give a moment of respect, and ask before approaching, so many bites and nips could be prevented.

We’ve all heard the horror stories of dogs who have always been so well behaved and then one day they bite someone. Preventing dog bites is easy with these simple steps:

  • Teach children to never run up to a dog and just start hugging him or reaching out. This is a recipe for disaster in many situations. Dogs get scared of people suddenly entering his territory and can respond in less than friendly ways.
  • Always ask “May I pet your dog?”. In response someone might say “he’s pretty shy, so no, I don’t think you should today”. Be sure to respect that.  They are telling you “no” for a reason.  If a dog is alone, it’s always best to not just reach out and pet him.
  • If the pet parent says, “yes, you may pet him”, approach slowly and calmly with your arm stretch out in a fist so the dog can first sniff the back of your hand. If you see any teeth, bulging of eyes or firming up of the dog’s body, just bring your hand back and don’t proceed to pet.

Signs a dog is okay to pet include:

  • Wagging tail
  • Tail turned up, not tucked in
  • Dog approaching you and wanting to lick or lean into you

Signs a dog does not want to be pet include:

  • Bulging eyes with the whites showing
  • Snarled up snout
  • Teeth showing
  • Tail tucked in

It’s also important to remember that a dog who is in his parent’s arms being carried, or perhaps sitting in a shopping cart going around at the store, is often in “protective mode”, so it’s especially important to ask before petting in these situations.

The Yellow Dog Project – If you see a dog wearing a yellow ribbon or bandana tied to his leash, this is to let you know that particular dog likes to have his space and should not be approached. It’s a trend that some pet parents have taken on, but not everyone knows about.  It definitely does not mean if the dog does not have a yellow ribbon or bandana on, it’s safe to approach, but if does definitely mean that if you see a dog wearing one, let him have his space and if you are walking another dog, do not take your dog up to sniff him.  The pet parent is letting you know this dog likes to protect his territory.

Service dogs should not be approached while they are working.  They have a job to do and as tempting as it may be to ask if you can pet one, you should respect that they have a job to do and leave them to do it.

There are a variety of reasons a dog might not want to be pet, so don’t take it personally or think he’s a bad dog.  It’s possible the dog is older and has aches and pains, he could be feeling protective or perhaps just not feeling all that great that day, or he might just not enjoy being pet by someone, whether he knows them or not.

Socializing your dog when he is a puppy, or going through a Canine Good Citizen Course, at any age, will help your dog be more approachable. Your dog will learn how to interact with a variety of humans and other dogs, which will set him up for success.  But remember, even with the best socialization and training, observing and respecting signals is the only true way to prevent a bite.