New Year, New Pet Parent: Top 5 Resolutions for You AND Your Pet

Top 5 New Year's Resolutions for You AND Your Pet_Now that we’re a week into 2018 and all of the typical New Year’s fanfare has died down, we think it’s time for fresh twist on the New Year’s Resolution. Why not kill two birds (not really) and make some commitments to your pet parenting and your personal health and wellness? Read on for great ideas for resolutions for you and your pet.

#1 Get Moving

We know, we know. It’s at the top of everyone’s resolution list. But isn’t it more appealing to exercise with your dog, rather than in a gym? Commit to upping your daily walk game – but don’t limit yourself to just walking. Throw in some intervals (walk or run faster for short periods) or some games of catch or even a set of push-ups. It’s good for you, it breaks up the monotony of the walk and your dog will love time spent with you.

#2 What’s Up Doc?

Chances are, you have health screenings or doctor’s appointments you should make in the New Year. The same is true for your pet. Yearly examinations by your veterinarian are so important to good preventive care. Vet visits are also the perfect time to ask for advice, talk about nutrition, supplements or get an expert opinion on any behavioral issues.

#3 Get Out There!

Daily walks are great, but consider going a little bigger. Try hiking, trail running, snow shoeing, kayaking or any other activity that gets you and your dog outside and moving! It’s a great way to bond and the physical activity and mental health benefits are great for both of you.

#4 Primp and Polish

No one wants a stinky pet. Regular grooming — bathing, nail clipping, brushing teeth and coat – will make your pet more pleasant to be around and (bonus!) it’s healthier for your pet. Plus, all that nurturing and daily grooming is a great bonding activity for you and your pet. But pay attention – any skin and coat problems that don’t resolve with regular grooming, please see your veterinarian.

#5 All Work and No Play…

…makes pet parents very dull. More play time is a fun and positive resolution for people and pets! It’s a great stress reliever for you and who doesn’t embrace unconditional love and attention? Cats love the thrill of chasing a laser toy or catnip toys and dogs are happy with most any game, like fetch, tug and pull, hide and seek. It all works!

Lastly, it’s a New Year so don’t forget to take a moment to be thankful for all you have, especially the beautiful and loving pets who enrich your life every day.

8 Signs Your Dog is Aging

8 Signs Your Dog Is AgingWe all know how age can creep up on us, and that is certainly true for our dogs. The old adage “one human year equals seven dog years” is a good starting point, but in fact, small to medium breeds are considered a senior at 9 to 11 years, large dogs at 8 to 10 years, and giant breed dogs at 6 to 8 years.

Each dog, like each human, is different. Some signs of aging are obvious – others, not so much. However, being aware of the changes in your dog could help you catch health issues early. With diet, supplements, and extra care, many of these conditions can be prevented, delayed or managed, to give your dog the best possible quality of life. Here are some general things to watch for:

  1. Slowing Down

    What is usually considered “slowing down” or “a little stiff” may be a sign of arthritis. Extra weight makes arthritis even worse, so consider a high protein diet to help protect lean muscle mass while shedding fat. Proper weight and moderate exercise are the keys to comfort. Also consider joint support supplements and antioxidants for dogs, which offer good anti-inflammatory action and pain relief. And don’t forget a new dog bed for more comfortable sleep.

  2. Gaining Weight

    Older dogs can put on weight due to less activity, slowing metabolism, thyroid issues, etc. And we know that overweight and obese dogs have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Your senior dog needs more and higher quality protein and reduced calories and an age-appropriate exercise routine.

  3. Not Responding To You

    Has your dog stopped coming when you call? Is he hard to wake up after sleeping? Or does she get startled easily if you approach from behind? Hearing loss or deafness may be a reason for this. Take care to protect him from hazards such as cars and consider teaching hand signals for basic commands. Both dogs and cats can develop cognitive (learning and memory) problems as they get older, which are increasingly recognized as a form of dementia. Antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids for dogs (krill & cod liver oil is best for this condition) are valuable in keeping your pet’s brain functioning at its best.

  4. Cloudy Eyes

    As they age, dog’s eyes often show a bluish transparent “haze” in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging and the medical term for this is nuclear sclerosis or lenticular sclerosis. A white opaque cloudiness in the eye can also be a sign of cataracts, which will need treatment. Check with your vet if you notice any cloudiness or have questions about eye care.

  5. More Bathroom Breaks & Accidents

    As your dog ages, he will need to go to the bathroom more often. In older dogs, lower levels of hormones and slower nerve responses contribute to incontinence. If he starts having accidents in the house, increase your number of potty breaks throughout the day. Also consider a bladder control supplement to support your dog’s bladder muscle function and maintain bladder health in senior dogs.

  6. Lumps

    Your worst fear – finding a lump. Dogs often develop spongy lumps, called lipomas, as they age. These lumps are usually fatty tumors and no reason to worry. However, you should have your vet check out all lumps you discover. You should be checking for lumps frequently. On short-haired dogs they will eventually be noticeable by sight, but it’s better if you detect them early. On long-haired dogs, regular checks are vital, since they may not be visible even when they get larger.

  7. Bad Breath

    This sign of aging will probably be the first you encounter. Most dogs don’t have minty-fresh breath, but if it starts to smell funkier than usual, don’t ignore it. Dogs as young as three develop this and it’s usually a sign of dental disease. The longer the teeth are allowed to decay, the worse it will be for your dog and your pocketbook. The good news is that you can help prevent your pet from suffering through a good oral care regimen. Brush her teeth regularly, and in between brushes, natural dental chews will help keep them clean.

  8. Deteriorating Coat Condition

    Your dog may encounter skin and coat issues at any age, but he is more susceptible to them as he gets older. Look for dry coat, itching, flakiness, rashes or hair loss. Quality skin and coat care products can alleviate some of these issues, but talk to your vet to determine if there is a medical cause of the issue.

Enjoy your pets in their senior years. For more information on supporting your aging pet, please see our articles on aging pets in our Holistic Healthcare Library, and in particular the article, “Supporting Your Aging Companion” and video Celebrating Your Pet’s Golden Years.

Boarding or Pet Sitting? Which is Better for Your Pet?

Boarding or Sitting

Boarding or Pet Sitting: Pros and Cons of Both

The holidays, ski season, and warm-weather vacations are fast approaching and for many pet parents, that means having to make a decision about your pet’s care. Of course, we always want our fur babies with us, but if that’s not an option this year, you need a plan for your pet while you’re away.

If you’re a first-timer, your top two options are to hire a professional pet sitter or board them at a doggy daycare or kennel. In making your choice, you’ll want to consider your pet’s age, health and temperament, and of course, your budget.

Whether it’s a kennel or a pet sitter, your dog or cat will likely benefit from some calming remedies such as stress and anxiety remedies for dogs and cats. If you are preparing to board your companions, immune strengtheners are a great idea. Best to get started on those several weeks in advance.

Here are the pros and cons to consider:

Pet Boarding

Pros

  • Usually more cost effective than pet sitters, since pet sitters charge per visit and kennels charge per day.
  • Great option for social dogs who need a lot of exercise and activity.

Cons

  • Contagious diseases, like kennel cough, distemper, giardiasis and coccidiosis are found in kennels. This is a no-no for puppies and kittens as their immune systems are susceptible to picking up these illnesses.
  • Staff can’t always give each pet special attention (sometimes you have to pay extra for this).
  • The kennel will perform feedings, bathroom breaks and walks according to their schedule, not yours, which is not ideal for puppies.

Pet Sitter

Pros

  • Your pet can keep his or her routine, which is essential for puppies or kittens.
  • No exposure to contagious illnesses.
  • If you have a pet with special dietary or medical needs, the pet sitter can administer medications.
  • Pets are given special attention and playtime with pet sitters.
  • Pet sitters can also bring in mail, water plants, and turn lights on/off while you’re away.

Cons

  • Since pet sitters typically charge anywhere from $10 upwards per house visit, and that can add up fast.
  • If you hire a neighborhood teen (vs a professional service), service and quality can be unreliable.
  • If your dog or cat doesn’t react well to strangers, he or she may not be too fond of a pet sitter.
  • Between visits, your pet will have long hours of little to no stimulation or activity.

You know your pet best, so make the right call that meets their needs. Have a healthy and happy winter season from everyone at Only Natural Pet!

Pet Gift Giving Guide 2017

Pet Gift Giving Guide
The season of giving is upon us! And if you’re like 95% of all pet parents, you are already making a list and checking it twice for Fido and Fluffy. And why not? Our four-legged family members like presents too! It is estimated we will spend more than $60 billion this year in pet gifts alone.

As a natural pet parent, quality gifts matter. To keep everyone happy and excited, here’s the Only Natural Pet gift giving guide:

Holiday Treats

It’s the season of indulgence for all of us, so give your cat or dog some holiday treats like pumpkin spice biscuits or gourmet snowflake truffles. They can work it off in the New Year.

Toys

What are the holidays without toys? Cozy plush toys, puzzle treat balls or catnip treats will keep your beloved cats and dogs entertained through Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Pet Beds

After all that indulging and playing, it’s time for a nap. Give your dog or cat a luxurious place to lay their furry heads with a new snug and stylish pet bed.

Outdoor Gear

Baby, it’s cold outside! So keep your fur babies cozy and warm with insulated jackets, booties or stylish sweaters. Bonus: They’ll look great on the holiday card. Ruffwear outdoor gear is especially great for dogs in the winter time.

Collars & Leashes

Get (or give!) a new leash on life. Sure, it’s practical, but why not spruce up that old look with some added style and safety of a new collar or leash.

You have a lot of great options for pet gift-giving, but remember that spending quality time with YOU is the best gift you can give your dogs and cats. Have a healthy and happy holiday season from everyone at Only Natural Pet!

6 Tips to Get Your Dog Ready for Cold Weather

6 Tips for Winter
Maybe you look forward to it and maybe you dread it, but whatever your opinion on winter, one thing is true – it’s a time when our beloved pets need a little more care. That beautiful fur coat is not enough protection for the upcoming cold weather months. Before the mercury dips too low, make sure you and your four-legged friends are ready.

#1 Bootie Time.

In the warmer months, booties are great for protecting paws from rocks and debris. In the winter, it’s the ice, salt and antifreeze that can injure them. Both salt and ice can have sharp edges which can cause injury and salt pellets can burn a dog’s paw pads. During walks, your dog’s paws can also pick up deicers, antifreeze or other chemicals that could be toxic. Dog booties from Ruffwear and Pawz are great because they protect against all these elements plus they help your dog’s grip on the ice. If your dog refuses to wear booties, try a dog paw wax, like Musher’s, and make sure you wash and dry their paws thoroughly after being outside.

#2 Sweater weather.

Coats and jackets for dogs aren’t just a pet fashion statement. Dogs with short or shaved fur or smaller breeds of dogs need the extra protection from the biting cold. And when fur gets wet it loses much of its insulating ability. When shopping for a dog sweater or coat, make sure you get the correct fit. Also make sure it doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to see or move comfortably.

#3 Time for reflection.

During winter’s shorter days, you’ll probably be doing more dog walking in dark pre-dawn mornings and dark nights. Make sure you dog is easy to see with a reflective jacket, collar or use a reflective light.

#4 Ditch the itch.

During the winter months, the cold air outside and the warm, dry air inside leave our skin dry and flakey. It’s the same for our dogs. Consider using a humidifier to add moisture into the air which helps keep skin hydrated. And omega rich salmon oil is a must for keeping your dog’s skin & coat healthy. Regular brushing and grooming can also help with this issue, as it gets rid of dead hair and stimulates your dog’s skin to produce more oils. Be sure to use natural shampoos, herbal ointments or natural oil supplements to soothe skin, or a natural skin and itch remedy.

#5 A spill that can kill.

Sure, you probably use pet-friendly ice melts, but that doesn’t mean your dog won’t come across dangerous chemicals while out on walk so steer clear of spills. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle.

#6 Enjoy the great indoors.

The threat of frostbite to dogs is real, so don’t leave your dog outside for long periods of time. Even sunny winter days can be deceiving, as wind chill can make the actual temperature colder than it really is. When it’s cold or wet out, keep younger, older and sick pets indoors.

Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet. Use common sense, and follow these guidelines, and you can keep your dogs safe and healthy through the winter months.

Five Steps to Fighting Pet Obesity

5 Steps to Fighting Pet ObesityYou’ve seen the headlines – as a population, we are getting fatter. Close to 40% of adults are obese and that number continues to grow. But you may not know that this same epidemic is effecting our pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese. Now consider that more than 60% of the owners of overweight dogs don’t think their dogs are obese, and you can understand why this situation is not improving.

How did this happen? Most experts blame rising pet obesity on the shift in pet diets toward highly processed, grain and carb heavy foods, and less and less exercise (incidentally, some of the same factors that drive human obesity). No matter the cause, the results of pet obesity are clear – osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ligament injuries, kidney disease, cancer, and an overall decreased life expectancy of more than two years.

As pet owners who believe in natural nutrition, we are not immune to this issue. As a result, here is a five step plan for recognizing and tackling pet obesity.

  1. Look and feel – Real scientific measurements such as the body condition score (BCS) is a great diagnostic tool, but you can start by doing a quick assessment at home using your eyes and hands. Start by feeling your pet’s ribs. You should be able to feel each individual rib with a slight layer of fat over them. You should not need to work at finding those ribs. Then look at your dog or cat from above. You should see a waist behind the rib cage of a cat or dog in the healthy weight range.
  2. Talk to your vet – a trip to the vet will obviously give you a very clear picture of your pet’s ideal weight, but with blood and urine tests you can also rule out other factors that may be causing weight gain, including issues related to the thyroid, metabolism or hormonal problems.
  3. Tackle the nutrition issue – A highly processed, grain-based diet of carbohydrates fed to animals designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce overweight pets. Talk to your vet about switching to a diet consisting of more meat and nutrient rich fruits and veggies, or consider dehydrated raw pet food which is high in protein, digestive enzymes, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
  4. Meal timing and portions – The next step is to look at how often and how much your pet eats. It’s a myth that pets can always self-regulate their diets, so no more free feeding. Also, you’ll want to limit the amount of treats and no more table scraps for Fido.
  5. Get moving – Taking your pet out for a short walk to do his or her “business” is not enough. Exercise needs vary based on a dog’s age, breed and size, but in general, dogs should be active between 30 minutes to 2 hours every day. It’s a great opportunity to engage with your pet, introduce some fun new fetch toys and get moving yourself.

Finally, be patient. If you go through these steps you should see results. But remember that healthy weight loss takes time. As long as your dog is continually losing weight – even very small amounts per week – you are on the right track.

Hot trend: The Humanization of Pets

As devoted pet parents, we are unapologetic about treating our pets like members of the family. And more and more, we are putting our money where our hearts are.

This year alone, the pet industry will take in $63 billion, according to the American Pet Product Association. And much of that growth has been on high-end products and services that go far beyond basic health, safety and nutrition. We are indulging our pets in a manner of very well-kept humans. Here are a few examples of new pet products and services that support the “humanization of pets” trend:

  • An on-demand app to book dog walking sessions.
  • Services that match owners with local hosts who are willing to board their dogs; like Airbnb for dogs.
  • A GPS-enabled tracking device to track your pet’s activity level. Pet owners monitor daily activity goals customized to your dog’s age, breed and weight.
  • The proliferation of designer pet apparel and accessories.
  • On-demand doggie glam squad service that offers at-home nail trimming, human quality dog shampoos, sprays & conditioners, teeth cleaning for dogs and spa services far beyond basic hygiene and health needs.
  • Gourmet, human-quality pet food with trendy people-pleasing ingredients like carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
  • Apps that connect nearby owners looking to set up “play dates.”

Social media is playing a big role in the humanization of pets. How better to show off your matching manicures and designer outfits? It is estimated that adult dog owners post a picture or talk about their dog on social media six times per week, and one in six pet owners have created a social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) specifically for their pet in 2016.

Certainly technology is driving this trend, but what other causes are contributing? Social scientists believe it’s a combination of factors: For starters, more Americans live alone — the percentage of single-person households is now at 28% — and millennials are waiting to get married and have children. Meanwhile, retired people are living longer, healthier lives. These multiple trends culminate in a sizeable percentage of people who have the money and time to ensure that their pet is a happy and healthy member or the household.

We suspect that natural pet food families are no different. So we’re asking — where do you fit on the “pets as humans” spectrum? What is the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done for your pet? Where do you draw the line in pet indulgence? We want to hear your stories! We’ll share them in an upcoming blog post.

Keep Pets Safe When You Deck the Halls!

Whatever you celebrate this season – Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa – chances are your home is transformed with decorations. The lights, the ornaments, the garland – just know that all those shiny and new decorations look like toys to your pet. You don’t need to hold back on the festive trimmings, but pet safety is something to consider during the holidays. Here are some tips to keep your pets safe while you deck the halls.

  • Protecting Sparky from Sparks. Keep wires and cords out of paws reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.
  • O Christmas tree. Your cat will think Christmas came early as soon as your Christmas tree is up, so how do you keep them off the impossible-to-resist tree of their dreams? Consider an artificial tree, as cats tend to find them less appealing. Choose a corner location or put the tree in a room your cat rarely visits. Be sure to get a sturdy tree stand and anchor the tree securely so it doesn’t tip and fall, causing injury to your cat. Also, consider getting kitty an early Christmas gift – a new cat condo or scratcher so she will be less tempted.
  • I love my new water bowl. Do not add any chemicals, aspirin or sugar to the water for your tree, which may poison or cause upset stomachs in your pet. Also, keep the water fresh to avoid stagnation and the release of bacteria.
  • All that glitters. Pets love tinsel and shiny, light-catching decorations. They might also decide that they look delicious. Don’t spend Christmas Eve in your vet’s emergency room. Keep a close eye on Fido and make sure he has plenty of new and interesting chew toys. Avoid glass ornaments, and keep any homemade ornaments, particularly those made from salt-dough or other food-based materials, out of pets’ reach.
  • Like paws to a flame. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; consider using flameless candles instead. Pets can easily burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Use appropriate candle holders place on a stable surface.
  • Plant danger. Mistletoe, holly, poinsettias, balsam, pine and cedar are all holiday staples, but they can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by your pet. Also, many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Consider using boughs of just-as-jolly artificial plants.

The bottom line – be aware of all the new, tempting decorations in your house and keep a sharp eye on your fur babies, and everyone if your house can enjoy a safe, festive holiday!

Obvious but Overlooked – Why Grooming Matters

by Jean Hofve, DVM

You know how good it feels when you get home from a camping trip or other grubby occupation, and how much you savor getting all clean again? Well, pets also appreciate being well-groomed.

And just like any parent, you want your “fur-kids” to look and feel their best. Since there are some grooming chores that–like any kid–your pet can’t take care of by himself, so of course you want to lend a hand.

While grooming “how-to” information is widely available, what seems to be missing is the “why-to.” Shifting the focus from simple grooming techniques to the real value of grooming your pet can help you get and stay motivated to give your pet’s grooming and hygiene needs the attention they deserve. Staying on top of those needs will help pets live happier, longer, healthier lives.

Dental Care

Dental disease is the most common problem seen by veterinarians; about 80% of dogs and cats have some degree of dental problems by the age of three. The infections that bacteria can cause in pets’ (and humans’) mouths are known to cause heart disease, kidney damage, and liver problems, and they can even make inflammatory problems like arthritis worse.

Many myths abound about cats’ and dogs’ need for dental care, and one of the most common is the idea that dry food keeps pets’ teeth clean. This isn’t true, and never was. Many pets, especially cats, swallow dry food whole. Even when they do chew it, the kibbles shatter, so contact between the kibble and the teeth occurs only at the tips of the teeth. This is certainly not enough to make a difference in the formation of tartar and plaque, which most commonly builds up along (and underneath) the gum line at the base of the teeth. This causes the gums to become inflamed (gingivitis). Left untreated, bacteria can erode the connection between bone and teeth, and cause serious decay.

Keeping your cat’s (or dog’s) teeth and gums healthy requires a commitment on your part. Special “tartar control” diets and treats are not enough. Bacteria are always present in the mouth, and within hours of a professional cleaning, they are already hard at work creating plaque, a sticky deposit on the teeth. In 24 hours, the plaque starts to harden into tartar (or more accurately, calculus). Daily tooth brushing and regular veterinary checkups are essential. But don’t use human toothpaste; get a toothbrush and paste designed for pets. Your vet can give you instructions on how to brush, along with tips for getting pets to accept the treatment.

There are also dental products have been developed to help combat plaque build-up in pets’ mouths. However, without daily brushing, your pet will probably need more dental care from your vet. To learn more about Dental health care, please click here.

Coat Care

Regular combing and brushing is a must for many breeds of dogs and cats. Brushing is fine for short-coated animals, but for the overly-furred, only a comb or sturdy metal-toothed slicker brush will get down to the skin and pull out the dead hair. It is especially important to be vigilant about grooming during the spring and fall shedding seasons.

Longhaired cats are more prone to hairballs, and often become matted, especially behind the ears and around the tummy and hind end. Longhaired dogs are also victims of matting. Mats start out as small tangles but can rapidly grow to monumental proportions; and as they do, they tighten up and pull on the skin. This is uncomfortable because it pulls when the animal moves, and can’t feel too good when they lay down. Even worse, mats can eventually tear the skin, causing an open wound that may become infected. In extreme cases, the wound will attract flies, which lay their eggs there, which hatch into maggots.

It’s not a good idea to try removing mats with scissors–it’s very easy to accidentally cut the skin. Serious mats should be removed with grooming clippers, a task best left to professionals like groomers or vet assistants. But preventing mats by regular inspection and combing is really the best way to go!

Shorter haired breeds also benefit from regular brushing (as does our furniture!), and it gives each pet parent the opportunity to keep a good eye on their cat’s or dog’s state of overall health. Many subtle health issues can be caught early by vigilant guardians who groom their pets regularly; such as fleas, ticks, and abnormal lumps or bumps on or under the skin. Good grooming tools will make the job easier!

Pads, Paws, and Claws

Dogs and cats need regular manicures–but don’t worry, it’s a much easier process than it is for us humans! You just have to take a look every week or so, and trim where needed.

Cats scratch objects to pull off the claws’ dead outer layers and keep the tips sharp. Regular nail-trimming will dull the claws and minimize potential damage to people and furniture. The easiest tools to use are human nail clippers or scissors-type pet trimmers. Cats’ claws are curved, and can actually grow in a circle and back into the paw pad, causing a painful abscess. So check your cats’ paws regularly.

It’s important to provide a suitable scratching surface, such as a horizontal cardboard scratcher or sturdy vertical scratching post. If you don’t, your cat will pick a surface for itself…such as an expensive rug or your favorite chair. Nearly all cats can easily be trained to use the object of your choice. For those who are more persistent in their unwanted behavior, one of the other many alternatives, such as Soft Claws Nail Caps, furniture protection like Sticky Paws, or pet repellent spray will do the trick.

Unfortunately, some people still take the lazy way out by declawing their cats. They don’t understand that “declawing” is actually amputation of 1/3 of the cats’ paws. To prevent nail regrowth, it is necessary to amputate each toe at the last joint because (unlike humans) the claw grows directly from the bone. Declawing is extremely painful, and is considered cruel in most civilized nations. Medical complications are common, and long-term chronic pain affects many cats. In addition, one in three guardians will discover too late that declawing causes even more serious behavior problems, such as aggression and biting, or failing to use the litter box. Common sense, and a little time and effort, will resolve scratching problems and avoid a needless and inhumane surgery.

For dogs, nail trimming is equally important. There’s a common myth that says that dogs naturally wear their claws down, so there’s nothing to worry about. This isn’t true. Even dogs that walk or hike regularly still need to have their toes attended to, because: • Keeping toenails trimmed can protect skin and furniture as it does for cats. • Long nails are apt to split or break, which can lead to infection. • There are many joints in the paws, and long nails puts stress on them, which can cause arthritis. • Long nails may cause the dog’s toes to splay, creating an abnormal and uncomfortable gait.

If you are willing to do the nail clipping yourself, you’ll need a toenail clipper and good instructions on how to clip without hurting your pet. Your vet’s staff should be able to show you how to do this. If you’re not comfortable with the procedure, let a professional take care of this important grooming need at least every 4 weeks.

Removing Potential Toxins

If your cat gets into something yucky, like oil, antifreeze, trash, tree sap, or paint, don’t let her groom it off herself; use a non-toxic pet wipe to prevent her from ingesting potentially dangerous chemicals.

Dogs, of course, can get into similar problems, and are also frequent victims of skunks and porcupines. If you’re in an area known for skunks, you might want to keep a special cleaner on hand, such as SeaYu De-Skunk Coat Cleaner & Odor Eliminator for Dogs.

Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid walking your dog on dirty wet streets or through road salt or other chemical de-icing products on sidewalks and other paved areas. In addition to using grooming wipes for dogs’ paws, using a good paw balm can protect them from ice and help reduce absorption of toxic residue when used before outdoor outings.

Ear Care

Dogs, and in particular the floppy eared breeds, need regular attention. Our pets’ ears provide a natural sanctuary for bacteria and yeast, which thrive in the warm, moist environment of our pets’ ear canals. Dogs that swim or are bathed regularly need a gentle antimicrobial ear wash used after the swim or bath. Regular ear cleaning with this type of product for dogs and cats can help reduce the buildup of wax, which when it accumulates, further enhances the likelihood that a yeast infection may develop.
Cats don’t typically have many ear problems, so always take red or itchy ears seriously. Ear mites are microscopic, but the debris they leave behind can often be seen; it looks something like coffee grounds. Ear mites are common in kittens, strays, and feral cats, so if you adopt or foster, keep resident felines separated until the newbie gets a clean bill of health. We have articles on ear and eye care on our website, so be sure to check out our links below and visit our Holistic Healthcare Library for more details.

One thing to remember: be careful when swabbing the ears. You can go too deep and rupture the ear drum. Have your vet or tech show you how to clean the ears safely and effectively.

Bath Time

Cats rarely need baths, but dogs more often do. If a bath is needed, never use human products on pets. There are important differences between our skin and that of our pets (different glands, to name just one) Many products that are safe for human skin can be quite irritating to our pets. Many quality natural bath products for pets like shampoos, conditioners, grooming sprays and wipes are available, so be sure you get one that’s just made for pets if you bathe or use clean-up products on your pet at home. Be sure to rinse thoroughly; any residue can be irritating. As well, chlorine and other processing chemicals in tap water may be drying, especially when pets are exposed more often than necessary. In general, cats don’t need bathing, and dogs don’t need it more than every 1-2 months. However, they may be bathed more frequently if fleas, certain skin conditions, or allergies are a problem. Your vet can advise you on products and timing.

Think About Using a Pro

Don’t overlook the benefits of a professional groomer. Some breeds have skin and coat requirements that are better handled by a qualified groomer. A groomer who sees your pet regularly may be the first to notice a cyst, lump, or other potential problem. Even though a groomer’s services cost more, the savings in time and stress may be well worth it!

If you’re looking for more great information on pet health care topics touched upon in this article, please use the links below to explore these topics in more detail through these articles from our Holistic Healthcare Library.
If you’re looking for more great information on pet health care topics touched upon in this article, please use the links below to explore these topics in more detail through these articles from our Holistic Healthcare Library.

See all Dental Care Articles like “Dental Care for Pets
See all Allergy Articles like “Alleviating Your Pet’s Itchy Skin
See all Urinary Issues Articles

Click links below to check out other articles that may be of interest:

Chronic Ear Infections
Ask the Vet: Fungal Infection on Paws
Treating Eye & Ear Disorders Holistically
Ask the Vet: Chronic Anal Gland Problems
When Is It Time to See the Vet?
Ask the Vet: Food Allergies & Diarrhea
Bath Anxiety in Dogs

Article Highlight : “The Natural Approach to Flea Control” [continued : Killing Fleas in the Home]

This week we have highlighted some of the great flea information from our Holistic Health Care Library, today we’ll share highlights from the article on how to protect your home and environment.

“The Natural Approach to Flea Control” [continued : Killing Fleas in the Home]

Stage 2 – The Household Environment

You cannot rid your companion of fleas by treating him or her alone, unless you are willing to resort to toxic pesticides. Most of the population lives and develops in your house and yard, not on your pet. Treating the environment is essential if you want to win this war.

Carpets, Flooring & Furniture
Vacuuming and washing the hard floors often – daily during the height of flea season – is the least toxic way to control fleas. This will remove most of the adults, and some eggs and larvae. Keep in mind the larvae don’t like light, so vacuum under furniture and around baseboards anywhere near your pet’s favorite places to hang out. Remember to either vacuum some Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy or an herbal flea powder into the vacuum bag to kill any fleas in the bag, or remove the bag and discard it in a sealed plastic bag after use.

Some infestations, however, are just too much to be controlled by vacuuming alone, and not everyone has the time to clean all the floors daily. That’s when we recommend using one or more of the natural “powders” available for ridding your home of fleas. The least toxic substances available for this are diatomaceous earth and boric acid products. [Read more about treating your home for fleas]

Bedding

Don’t forget the sleeping quarters! Wash your pet’s bedding in hot, soapy water at least weekly. You can even add some essential oils or Bite This! To the water for extra flea-zapping power. Sprinkle a little Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy onto DRY bedding and work it in to help kill the little pests while your companion sleeps.

Stage 3 – Securing the Perimeter (Your Yard)
Last, but certainly not least, treat the yard. This can include simple strategies like raking, using Only Natural Pet All-in-One Flea Remedy or the more interesting possibility of using Beneficial Nematodes. [Read More about protecting your yard from fleas]

The Pre-emptive Strike
One last point to make: don’t wait until you see fleas on your companion to treat your environment! If you live in an area with a predictable flea season, begin the treatment a month before it starts. If you live in the Southern US where flea season is every season, start now and plan to treat your home regularly. Using natural methods takes a bit more work than dropping a spot of pesticides on your cat’s or dog’s back, but in the long run your companion and your environment will be healthier for your efforts.

[Read the whole article]

Also, remember that all of our flea products are on sale through April 30th, 2010!

Day 1 – About Fleas
Day 2 – Killing Fleas on your pets
Day 3 – Controlling Fleas in your environment
Coming up later this month! – Top 10 Common Myths about Fleas

View our Flea Care Kits for dogs and cats.