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.

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.

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.