Thursday, April 2, 2015

10 Simple Ways to Save Money for Pet Owners

At the end of the month I am always surprised how much money we spend on our pets. It can be expensive, making sure your pet has the very best.  So I thought it was time I created a strategy for how I could save money without depriving my pets of the things they deserve. Health Care is one of the most financially tasking expenses so I spoke with my Vet and asked how I could cut costs? He said that the best way to cut pet costs is to actively participate in a preventative care plan.

Here were some of his recommendations...

1) Brush your pet’s teeth. Teeth brushing can be as simple as using a cheap toothbrush and water. You can mix bouillon cubes and baking soda for homemade toothpaste as in this easy recipe.

2) Keep your pet’s fur clean!  Bathe your pet once a week and brushing them every day.  Weekly baths give you the chance to spot any problems on your pet’s coat and brushing ensures that your pet doesn’t develop painfully matted fur or hot spots.

3) Help eliminate unwanted germs by making your own doggie wipes.  In a zip bag or glass jar, fold up several paper towels.  Mix a cup of water and a few drops of doggie shampoo in a cup and then pour over the paper towels.  Seal them in a plastic bag and then you have some ready to use wipes for quick clean ups.

4) Eliminate harmful food additives by making your own dog treats!  Rachel Ray has some fun and easy recipes like these Pumpkin Biscuits that I can make up and then freeze so that my pups have some great treats available all the time.

5) Look in your veggie drawer for treats. My dogs love baby carrots, broccoli, and green peppers. Chat with your veterinarian and check a site like Dog Heirs to make sure that the veggies you are sharing aren’t toxic. This will add antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to your pet’s diet, helping ward off free radicals that may do your pet damage.

6) Know what is in your pet food.  Healthy pet food doesn’t have to break the bank, there are nutritious pet foods that are budget friendly.  I used Pet Food Talk to find more about the food I fed and other choices available.  This helps my pet get the nutrition and fuel they need for a healthy system.

7) Concentrate on protein by making your own jerky treats!  Most pet foods are high in carbohydrates and don’t include enough protein to support strong, healthy muscles (remember the heart is a muscle too!).  Purchase an inexpensive cut beef roast and cut it into thin strips. Bake those strips in an oven at 145 degrees for six hours. Store in a cool place sealed in an airtight container.

8) Keep your pet’s mind busy with “work to eat” toys.  They can be as simple as putting treats in a muffin tin and covering them with tennis balls to using a large cardboard box with some scrunched up newsprint or butcher paper.  Inside the box hide pet food, treats, and maybe even a Kong filled with peanut butter.  This will help your pet with some much-needed mental exercise and also provide them with a nutritious treat!

9) Maintain your pet’s exercise routine by creating a dog walking group.  I got together with a couple of my friends and we do a dog walk together three times per week.  Regular exercise will help keep your pet’s weight under control, warding off disease like diabetes and heart disease. If you don’t have time for a daily walk, get the help of a local dog walker to ensure your pet gets out and about!

10) Make sure your pet has companionship.  Lonely pets experience more health related issues then those with a “pet sibling”.  Add to your family by adopting a shelter or rescue pet and make sure your pet has constant companionship!

What is your favorite money saving tip for pet care?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

MUST WATCH: Mufasa — Homeless senior dog rescued from a water treatment facility

Today I watched a video about a senior dog named Mufasa. Mufasa was found at a water treatment plant, alone, dirty, scared and hungry. Luckily, a rescue group named: Hope for Paws, came to Mufasa's rescue. At first the video is truly heartbreaking and then so healing as you watch this dog go from a scraggly throw away to a cuddly and lovable boy.

No one will probably know how he ended up there, however, Mufasa was at the water treatment plant long enough for the staff of the treatment plant to become concerned about him wandering among the chemically treated water in the open tanks. I can imagine that it was a difficult balance to decide how to rescue him while keeping him calm so he didn’t bolt blindly into an open, chemically treated water tank trying to escape his saviors.

When Mufasa maneuvered himself next to a staircase, his rescuers finally had a safe way of capturing him and getting him to safety. Watching the video, I honestly forgot to breathe while I waited for him to be saved!

According to the rescue site, Mufasa is now a happy, beautiful boy that is looking for a home. I only wish I had space for him, he so deserves a happy home for his golden years. This video is a must watch!

Would you adopt a senior dog for your family?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bobo The Cat Loves Vacuum Cleaners (Compilation)

Meet Bobo the cat! As I watch Bobo get vacuumed, I had two thoughts: I wondered if that cat was just too lazy to groom himself by licking himself clean, and I wondered if I could teach my cat to like to be vacuumed (just because it looks kinda fun), without causing him too much anxiety.

On her YouTube channel, Krzysztof Smejlis said that she didn’t teach Bobo to get vacuumed. Kryzysztof said: "When he was a little kitten (about 2-3 months old) he liked to play with the brush. Now getting vacuumed is a ritual for him." She also cautions, “Because it's unusual behavior - please don't try this on your own cat (unless you're sure in 100% that he likes it like Bobo, otherwise, you could hurt him and he could hurt you).”

With her input, I believe I’ll just watch the Bobo videos and not try to vacuum a cat in my house because I believe my kitty would probably hate the noise and the sensation. Besides, if I do something that really upsets my kitty, she might quit bringing me those stellar gifts of dead mice and birds. I don’t know what I’d do without those sweet gifts at the foot of my bed on a cool morning!

Does your cat have some unusual behavior?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Munchkin the Teddy Bear gets her exercise ORIGINAL

Do you suffer from “Cuteness Overload Syndrome?”  Then you don’t want to watch this video! This Shih Tzu mommy took a stuffed teddy bear and made it into a costume for her dog by cutting out the face and fitting it to her Munchkin. She then taught Munchkin to walk on a treadmill.

Beyond the sheer cuteness of this video, I started to wonder how difficult it would be to teach a dog to walk on a treadmill.  I also thought about how convenient it would be to have a dog that would walk on a treadmill.  In fact, Tyler Muto Dogmanship created a video that teaches you just that! The most important things I learned from the video were to introduce the dog to a slow treadmill first, reward them for being interested in the treadmill, raise the speed to their natural gait as soon as possible, and to never leave a dog on a treadmill unattended! There were many other lessons to be learned and I’m eager to get started teaching my dog Buffy to walk on a treadmill.

In the meantime, I have to watch Munchkin again-- it just doesn’t get any cuter!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

On Co-sleeping with Pets

I’m at home sitting in my king sized bed with my dog and kitty cuddled up next to me.  It never fails—our dogs always lay vertically, taking up the whole bed, leaving me squished to the wall or falling off the edge!

It turns out that dogs and people have been co-sleeping for centuries!  Dating back to Pre-Aztec culture, dogs acted as bed warmers and companions to people. In the Australian Outback, the saying: “three-dog night” was related to how many Dingo’s it took to stay warm.

It seems this habit has stood the test of time and has scientists studying both the benefits and disadvantages of co-sleeping with your pet.  Hal Herzog, PHD, conducted a study in an article for Psychology Today.  He studied over 1,000 people that co-slept with their pets and over 1,000 people that didn’t sleep with pets.  He found people who co-slept with their pets may take longer to fall asleep than people who did not co-sleep with pets.  Other than taking longer to fall asleep, there was no difference in the quality of sleep between the two groups.  In measuring the quality of their daily lives, people that co-slept with their pets were equally as productive and awake as people that slept in a pet-empty bed.  The study seems to shatter the myth that sleeping with your pet is problematic for your quality of rest.

I personally would have continued to sleep with my pets even if the study said it was not in my best interest!  But it is reassuring to know that sleeping with a healthy pet is not only fine but may bring psychological benefits to the owner.  A recent study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine confirmed that my pets can lower my heart rate, promote regular breathing and relax my muscles. The study also found that my stress related hormones dropped even more quickly than if I had taken medication to lower them!

I find it exciting that the scientific evidence is clear, there are great benefits to sleeping with my pet, both because I just love snuggles and because it is just plain healthy. But what about the health of my pet?  Is it healthy for my pets to sleep with me? Behaviorist Dr. Marsha Reich of Maryland believes that under normal circumstances, co-sleeping is healthy for the pet as well.  Dr. Reich believes that if your pet exhibits grouchy behavior while in your bed that they may need to get off.  However, as long as they mind their manners, the pet can stay.  More good news for our fur family!

There is nothing better at night than being tucked in bed with all the folks in my home that I love.  I know I would not change that no matter what my research or professionals said.  I am so glad that the research matches my beliefs, being surrounded by the ones you love is just plain healthy for everyone!

Is there ever a reason you would not sleep with your pet?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Brody Brixton at Twelve Weeks

Brody Brixton is tiny little French bulldog that has already learned some big boy manners. He sits, shakes, and he can also ring a bell.  This mini boy stole my heart when I first saw him.

As I watched Brody, I couldn’t believe how well trained he was for such a young puppy. Then I remembered a dog show I attended where a trainer spoke of positive reinforcement training for puppies. The trainer shared how important it is to be consistent when training a puppy.  She emphasized the importance of consistency and that part of training is that the dog be needs to be able to predict the consequences for their behaviors, so it’s imperative that the owner establish consistent rewards for desired actions.  A dog should never be rewarded for a behavior that isn’t desired and remember, that giving attention does serve as a reward.  I remember thinking that I was going to have to be more conscious about what I was doing so that I didn’t encourage behavior I considered negative.

As I was listening to her explain how she taught her dog to do some mind-blowing tricks, I was struck by the patience that is required to work with a dog. She said that you can shape a dog’s behavior in just a few days and it is the owner’s responsibility to pay attention to their dog’s behaviors and then encourage the ones they would like to continue.  For example, if I want my dog to shake, I have to praise and reward him for just moving his paw. That will encourage him to lift his paw and that will encourage him to put his paw in my hand and ultimately to “shake”. I’ll be watching Brody again as he performs his magical little tricks, he is just irresistible.

What is the next trick you are going to teach your dog?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

10 Dogs Who Love Their Cats

This inseparable duo...

This Golden who always wanted a kitten...

This Lab who hopes you don't mind being his furry chin rest...

These beach bums...

This Beagle who likes to show his love with impromptu cleaning sessions...

Flower children Oliver and Arashi

These furever friends...

This Husky that just wants to play!

These lookalikes...

...and last but not least...this patient pup and his kitten!

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