Category Archives: Other Resources

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Holistic spelled by scrabble tiles and a couple dried flowers all on marble

Northwest Naturals and Traditional Chinese Medicine

What does the Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach Say?

Dating back nearly 23 centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) focuses on balancing the yin (hot) and yang (cold) energetic forces existing in all life.  When these forces are in harmony the resulting state of neutrality produces wellness. According to TCM, we can bring our diets, and our pet’s diets, into a healthy state of equilibrium by using the HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD food classification system they developed and have effectively used for many, many years. These HOT-NEUTRAL-COLD terms are not descriptive of the food’s temperatures themselves but rather the effect the foods have on the consumer’s own body: a cold response or a hot response.

Is your pet a HOT dog or do you have a COOL kitty?

Here are some clues:

HOT pets (too much yin) seek cool places to rest, may be warmer than normal to touch, may be anxious, may be excitable, often have allergies, excessive water consumption but dark urine, may be malodorous, skin rashes are common as are excessive panting, red eyes, dry eyes, and may have dry stools or constipation.

COLD pets (too much yang) love their snug beds and seek heat sources, strongly dislike cold weather, may be finicky eaters or lack appetite, may have cold extremities, dry/brittle hair, colorless urine, typically are quieter or seem depressed and may suffer from loose stools.

Strive Towards Balance

Of course, not all pets will exhibit all of the above symptoms, but TCM strives to bring all creatures toward balance, avoiding extremes that are detrimental to optimum health. If you believe your pet is exhibiting a few signs of imbalance you might try some diet changes to bring him or her back toward center. HOT pets should be given neutral to cold foods while COLD pets should be fed neutral to hot foods. Since dogs and cats are both carnivores, below is a short list of proteins commonly found in pet foods.

  • HOT FOODS: goat, venison, lamb, chicken, shrimp, eggs, goat’s milk
  • NEUTRAL FOODS: beef, pork, turkey, quail, salmon, sardines, tripe
  • COLD FOODS: duck, rabbit, most fish, cheese

How Does Northwest Naturals Fit Into This?

Traditional Chinese Medicine is a very intuitive system and lists of the hot to cold food categories differ slightly according to different practitioners.  Northwest Naturals raw and freeze-dried diets for dogs and cats fit nicely into these basic categories.

Dog recipes:

  • Beef – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Bison – NEUTRAL
  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Chicken and Salmon – HOT to NEUTRAL
  • Lamb – HOT
  • Turkey – NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

Cat recipes:

  • Beef and Trout – NEUTRAL to COLD
  • Chicken – HOT
  • Duck – COLD
  • Rabbit – COLD
  • Turkey –NEUTRAL
  • Whitefish and Salmon – COLD to NEUTRAL

A Holistic Life

Traditional Chinese Medicine uses our everyday diets as therapy toward balanced health. In the Western world we might say, “You are what you eat” to express the same idea. But however you express it, a thoughtful, holistic approach to good nutrition using the best of both Eastern and Western theories will always be beneficial to us and our pets; and with centuries of experience behind it, the wisdom found in Traditional Chinese Medicine has much to offer us today.

By Carol Kendig


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Chocolate lab puppy asking to be let out of crate

How to Crate Train A Puppy

Give your Pup a Feeling of Security

Since dogs are denning animals, meaning they feel safe and comfortable in small, dark spaces, crate training your puppy should be quite easy. However, if introduced to a crate in a negative or harsh manner, your puppy may become crate resistant and fight being in a crate for the rest of its life. Because crates are a useful tool in containing and training your dog, we want to avoid crate resistance from day one.

Choosing the Type of Crate

Before your puppy comes home you will need to get a crate and set it up for your pups’ arrival. Your first decision will be between a hard plastic shell or a wire style. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Plastic crates are easy to assemble and lightweight compared to many wire crates. A hard plastic shell crate makes a cozy den, nice for winter months but often too warm and stuffy in the summer months. The privacy offered in a plastic shell crate may be welcome for some pups while others will find it isolating. Also, you cannot see your puppy easily, and having raised puppies for over 20 years, I know it is always preferable to keep an eye on what your puppy is doing. It’s amazing how creative the little ones can be and not always in a good way!

I prefer wire crates with two doors, one on the front and one on the side, offering more versatility in crate placement. Wire crates are generally heavier than their plastic counterparts and less mobile. Often new puppy parents will buy a wire crate for stationary use in the family room and a plastic crate for the bedroom and trips in the car. With a wire crate you can see your puppy and it can see you because although they do love a small private space of their own, dogs are pack animals and proximity to their family is very important to them. A wire crate will be pleasant in the summer months and a blanket can be draped over the top and sides in the winter months for added warmth. A word about fabric/mesh crates. They are fine for traveling with dogs, but most puppies seem to consider them a great big toy, one that must be chewed on until dead.

What Size Crate is Best?

Once you have decided on the type of crate or crates you want, you will need to determine the size. Most wire crates come with a wire insert to confine the puppy into one section of a large crate. This is handy because you should buy a crate based on the adult size of your puppy, use the insert to restrict the dog to the front part of the crate and remove it as it grows. When your pup’s crate area is too large, it may use the back of the crate as its potty zone and not bark to alert you that it needs to go outside. This can form a habit of defecating in the crate which you will definitely want to discourage. Confining the dog to a smaller area in the crate and making sure you take it outside for regular potty breaks should stop that problem before it begins.

Choosing a Bed for the Crate

Now you have a large wire crate set up in your family room and perhaps a plastic crate set up next to your bed and you are eager to bring home your new pup. Wait. You are not quite ready yet. Your puppy’s new room needs to be appealing to the dog, not a sterile, blank space. Dog beds are great, but for puppies I always suggest you go to a thrift store to stock up on some inexpensive towels, wash them well, and use those for puppy bedding. Puppies will be teething soon, and they seem to favor the gourmet taste of $80 cushy beds. When it shreds the $2 towels from Goodwill you won’t be as tempted to lose your temper. Save the lovely, spendy beds for adulthood.

Ensuring Enough Water

In my opinion, water should always be available for your puppy. Some people advise no water after 9pm and pick up all water bowls at that time. I cannot imagine the distress of a thirsty puppy on a long night in its crate. A puppy with a small hanging metal water dish with an inch or two of water can certainly survive just fine. Some water-loving breeds might be better off with a hamster-type water lick container to avoid messy water games. I did mention that puppies are creative, didn’t I? Oh yes!

Treats, Toys, & Environment

For the first few months, anytime the puppy goes into the crate, such as bedtime, nap times, or when you need to leave, toss in a small treat or two. And you can also keep a larger chew treat for it to gnaw on and call its own that stays in his crate. An antler, smoked trachea, large puzzle-treat, Kong™ toy with treats inside or other rawhide-free chewy treats will all work well as its own personal snack. Please remember, teething pups find relief through chewing, and the crate will help you control what the pup is wrapping its mouth around; a dehydrated lamb lung treat or your best shoes. It’s a happy world when the lamb treat is in its crate and the shoes are safely in the closet.

A toy or two might also be welcome. Just make sure there are no toys the puppy can break chunks off and swallow, another creative and potentially expensive talent some pups have. No one wants to risk the safety of their pup or pay for a $3000 blockage surgery. But, safe treats and safe toys are fun distractions, making the crate a pleasurable place where it enjoys hanging out.

Through your lifetime you will find that some puppies are easier to crate train than others; even so, creating a welcoming crate environment, being patient and being consistent will greatly aid the process. Just make sure you do not commit the following common mistakes:

  • forcing your pup into the crate,
  • leaving the dog in it for too long a time,
  • locating the crate in a cold/hot/noisy/dangerous location; or,
  • using the crate for punishment.

All of these activities will have negative consequences and may very well make your pup crate resistant.

Training & Behavior Basics

Basically, we want our puppy to be happy and feel safe in its crate, and probably the best way to ensure this is to feed the dog in it. My current 6-month-old puppy rushes to her crate at mealtimes, leaps in, sits quietly at the back waiting for her release signal and then devours her food. That level of compliance didn’t happen immediately. I broke down each phase of behavior I desired and trained in stages. The first phase was learning that good things happen in her crate. Next came “watch me” so she could recognize I am her leader and focusing on me results in interesting things happening. And finally came “sit,” and “stay.” Hurrah, she loves her crate and I have some puppy-free-sanity time when she is in it.

Crates Can Be Life Saving

If the above facts don’t convince you of the benefits of having a crate trained puppy, maybe this will: being crate trained may save its life. In emergency situations such as hurricanes, devastating fires, etc., rescue shelters often will not accept dogs that are not crate trained. Dogs involved in auto accidents that are in a crate have much higher survival rates than dogs riding loose in cars. Puppies are curious creatures and can get into deadly mischief in seconds. When your puppy is in its crate, it is not rummaging through your cupboards getting into poisonous substances or digging under your backyard fence to escape into traffic or getting bitten by a stray dog. If emergency responders need to rescue your dog when you are absent, they can more easily find and transport your dog out of dangerous situations if the pet is crated.

A Place of Their Own

There are still people who feel putting a dog in a crate is cruel. They call them cages or prisons, but these are simply semantic games that show their ignorance of the crate’s function. Call it whatever you want, a comfy crate gives your dog a quiet, private place of its own to relax in, apart from the hustle and bustle of its’ human’s lives. I wonder if Virginia Woolf was thinking of dog crates when she wrote A Room of One’s Own? Well, probably not, but it is a great way to think of your puppy’s new crate.

By Carol Kendig


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Cat eating grass with a crazy look on it's face

A Most Mysterious Habit!

All of our pets have habits, some more baffling than others.  Why, for example, does one of your cats like to lurk on the top of your bookshelves after dinner every evening while the other cuddles on your lap? Why does your dog nudge you for bedtime around 7 PM every night?  I have a friend whose dog only barks when Ben Affleck appears on their television set. Why? Do we have a cat sentry, a sleepy dog with an incredibly accurate internal time clock, and a canine film critic?  All possibilities, but most likely these are simply quirky habits of those individual pets.

A Nearly Universal Quirk

However, there is one habit that is nearly ubiquitous with our canine and feline friends and has puzzled dog and cat owners for years. Why do our pets eat grass? Dogs and cats are both carnivores and should have no need to consume grass nor does either species have the specialized system to digest grass. It simply passes through their systems. Yet most of us have witnessed our pets munching on our lawns at some time or another. So the burning question of the moment is: Why do our dogs and cats eat grass?

Truthful disclaimer: the dogs and cats are not talking so no one really knows, but below are some of the most plausible theories.

Theories to Chew On: Why Do They Eat Grass?

Our Pets are Nutritionists

World-renowned veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter says our dog’s and cat’s kibble/canned food diets are so low in nutritional value that our pets are desperately trying to ingest needed nutrients from an available source, grass, which is high in chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is nutrient rich and can act as a detoxifier for the liver and digestive system and helps fight infections.

Instinct

Which brings us to our second reason for grass eating: your pet may be feeling sick and instinctively realizes the healing and immune boosting properties of grass. Or if your pet is having digestive problems, the fiber in grass can act as a laxative, helping normalize the bowel. Often pets vomit soon after consuming grass, ridding themselves of hairballs or something inedible. Some observers think our pets eat grass as a method of purging internal parasites. All are interesting theories but unproven.

For the Thrill

Maybe your dog simply enjoys eating grass and your kitty likes it, too.  If your pets are eating an all-cooked, dead food diet, the sensation of live food in their mouths may be an instinctive longing. The live enzymes may trigger ancestral sensations that are pleasurable. Some people have suggested that eating grass is an attention-getting ploy that our pets use so that we will notice them and react to them.

Grass Alternatives

If you worry about your pet consuming pesticides along with their grass snack, you might want to add some chlorophyll-rich alternatives to their diet.  A few suggestions would be parsley (high in vitamin A), cabbage (high in vitamin C and immune enhancing), green beans (high in vitamin A) and sugar peas (high in vitamin K). All should be very finely ground and fed intermittently.

Wild dogs and cats have been observed eating grass so the behavior may be perfectly normal though not fully understood at this time. For normal, healthy dogs and cats occasional grass eating is not worrisome. But please, if your cat or dog confides the secret for this curious behavior to you, share it with the rest of us and end the rampant speculation. Then again, maybe they just like to keep us guessing, the little darlings.

By Carol Kendig


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Dog swimming in a pool carrying a toy in the summer

Dog Days of Summer – Protect Your Pet in the Heat

Tips for Pet Pawrents

Heat wave! This summer has been no joke. The temperatures have soared, and it looks like they’re stuck up there. With this increased heat and sun exposure, your pets are likely feeling the effects. But what are we to do?  Dogs need to go outside to do their business, love to sunbathe, and need their exercise. In this post we’ve pulled together some tips and some products that can help you protect your dog from the high temperatures and safely get their vitamin D.

Damage Caused by the Heat

First, before we get into how to protect your pet this summer let’s look at some of the conditions caused by overexposure to heat and sun. It’s helpful after all, to know what you are protecting them from. Knowing these conditions will help you to watch for signs and symptoms so that you can keep them cool and healthy.

Hot Spots:

Either caused by overheating or bacterial infection, hot spots are areas of inflamed skin. These start developing as a small red spot, which can often be mistaken for a bug bite. While they start small, these spots can grow rapidly and eventually turn into a painful lesion.  You can find various over the counter treatments for hot spots but it’s best to consult your vet.

Overheating:

Increased respiration, and heart rate, and panting are the most obvious signs of your dog overheating. Dogs who are suffering from overheating or heat stroke will also appear a bit weak, out of sorts or in a stupor. Your dog may collapse, have a seizure, vomit, or have bloody diarrhea as well.  You can also check for an elevated body temperature.

If you have a flat-faced brachycephalic pet, either cat or dog, they are more susceptible to overheating as they have more difficulty breathing. Since respiration helps regulate body temperatures these pets are heat intolerant and should be monitored carefully in hot weather.

Burned or Blistered Pads/Paws:

If your pet stays on hot pavement or asphalt for too long, the pads of their paws will burn.  Similar to the way our skin burns these can range from red and sore to blistered paws. Before walking your pet on these surfaces check the heat with your hand. You can use pet booties to help keep your pet’s paws safe but avoiding these hot surfaces is the best way to keep them safe.

Dehydration:

Excessive panting is the obvious sign of being hot and getting dehydrated. Watch for bloodshot eyes or pale or light-colored gums are another sign. You can also do a gentle pinch test: take some of your dog’s skin between your fingers and lift it up, when they are dehydrated it takes longer to go back into place.

Keeping your Dog Safe from the Heat

Take Advantage of Cooler Parts of the Day

Generally, the mornings and evenings are cooler as you are avoiding the blazing afternoon sun. You can help protect your pet by taking your walks or playing outside earlier or later in the day. This will allow your pet to get their exercise without the risk of overheating, dehydrating, etc.

Walking or Playing on the Grass

Grass generally stays cooler than concrete or asphalt. These harder surfaces absorb the heat and can get really hot. Even your deck or patio can get overly hot if it’s in direct sunlight for any length of time. Much like our feet, our dogs paw pads can burn or blister on hot surfaces. When we don our tennis shoes for a walk, we can forget how hot these surfaces can get as our feet aren’t directly touching them. Use your hand to feel the sidewalk or street and if it’s too hot, try walking your pet on the grass.

Cool Off in the Shade

Find shady spots to play as they are cooler both in ambient temperature and the ground temperature. Laying on cool grass can help dogs lower their body temperature. Playing in the shade is a bonus.

Consider giving your buddy a break on digging holes. Digging down into the dirt is a dog’s natural way of cooling off. The dirt underneath will be cooler than the grass on top of the ground.

Splash Around

Offering a pool is a great way for your pet to cool off, provides a creative space for your pet to play, and gives your pet a drink whenever they want or need it. Just be careful to empty the water when you are done playing and refill for the next use. This will help to cut down parasites like heart-worms.

Products that Help Your Pet Stay Safe in the Sun

There is a wide range of products available to pet owners that help keep your fur baby safe on hot days. It is important to remember however, that these are not 100% effective or effective for long periods of time. You should always keep an eye on your pets and give them breaks indoors as relief from the sun and the high temperatures.

Cooling Pads or Blankets

If you don’t have shade or want to make a cool spot for your pet to lounge, there are pads and blankets that help create a cool spot. Some of these products simply do not retain heat, while others can actually be placed in the refrigerator to be physically cool to the touch. There’s nothing like a cool place to rest for your pet on a hot day.

Cooling Jackets and Vests

If you have a more active pet and are worried about them playing at the park or in your yard, you can find jackets or vests that help reflect the sun and/or keep your pet cool. These are similar to the cooling pads you lay on the ground, only these are fitted to your dog.

Booties

While we typically think of booties as winter boots or rain boots for our pets, you can find variants that are designed for higher temperatures in the summer sun. Follow the sizing guides to get the appropriate fit which will enable your dog to maintain their footing on walks and in the park.

Salves and Ointments

From hot spots, to burned pads, to dry skin and noses, there are now many products both natural and medicated, to treat your pup’s skin. Consult your veterinarian for trusted brands or recommended products.

Sunscreen for Pups

Similar to the products designed for humans, there is now spray sunscreen available for pets. Follow the directions on the packaging for a bit of safe sun. This is great for pets with short hair, bald spots, scars, etc.

Hot Weather Eating Tips

Some dogs develop a picky appetite when it gets hot. Freeze bone broth in an ice cube tray and add a cube or two to their meals. Summer is definitely the season for feeding frozen raw bones. Dogs love holding the cold bone in their mouths until it warms enough for them to begin serious gnawing. If you are giving your pets raw frozen dog food or cat food and normally letting it thaw before feeding, try feeding it straight from the freezer. A quarter section of a NWN dinner bar fed frozen may perk up a languid appetite. And sometimes smaller more frequent meals help break up the monotony of those dog days of summer.

Things to Absolutely  Avoid

Do Not Shave Your Pet

If your pet has long hair, they can most certainly go for a trim. But pets should not be shaved down. While we might think that this will help keep them cool, their fur actually helps regulate their body temperature and protect them from sunburn. Instead, consider brushing your pet more frequently. This will help to excrete and spread their fur’s natural oils which can help to hydrate skin and protect it from heat and sun exposure.

Do Not Leave Your Dog in the Car

We’ve heard the warnings, but the consequences are dire. Left in a hot car, your pet can go from fine to in danger or dead quickly. It’s best to leave your companion home on hot days, even if you are just running a quick errand.  This has become such a problem that now in some states it is legal for strangers to break the windows of a car to rescue an overheating pet. Other states have made it legal for law enforcement or first responders to break the windows of a vehicle. If you see a dog that is suffering in a vehicle, first call and report the incident. Find more information on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

 

Be smart, be safe and sound, and have a wonderful Summer!


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Bulldog laying down on kitchen rug looking mopey

Make a Happy Home for Your Pets – Returning to Work

Adjusting to Life on Their Own at Home – After COVID

After months of being at home all day every day with your best friend, your pet’s state of bliss may be about to come to an end. Sheltering in place might have been frustrating for us humans, but our pets thought it was just about a dream come true. Yes, for many dogs it meant less trips to the park, but that was made up for with all the walks they could handle. We’re fairly certain that most dogs think that they finally convinced us to quit our jobs and stay home with them…however the jury is still out on whether cats enjoyed their serfs being in their presence for hours and days at a time. Who knows what birds, reptiles, and other pets thought?

Many states across the country are preparing to re-open, which means a return to work for many pet parents. Dogs, some cats, and other pets who have grown used to our company will be once again left on their own for a large portion of the day. Simply returning to work after weeks if not months of being at home can cause some major anxiety and depression for pets. If you are getting ready to go back to work, take the time to prepare your pet as well. In this post, we’ll look at some tips and suggestions from the experts on how to smoothly adjust your dog, cat, or other pets to being alone for hours at a time.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for Hours of Alone Time?

Get Back to a Routine

Meals, walks, treats, and play time might have shifted or become more frequent during our social distancing and self-quarantine. The first step in preparing to go back to work for humans and pets alike, is to get back into a routine. The closer you can get to your actual work routine the better. Pets thrive on schedules. Have you ever noticed how accurate their body clocks are? They can sense mealtime down to the minute! Routine becomes an important part of their mental health. It gives them upsides to look forward to and prepares them for the downsides, like when you leave for work.

Start by waking up or getting your pet up at the same time every day and feeding them at the same time. If you typically walk them before leaving for work, re-institute this morning walk rather than your more random COVID-19 rambles.

Create a Safe and Comfortable Space for Them

Creating a space either in their favorite room or by making their crate cozy can help to mitigate the stress of you returning to your pre-quarantine routine. Leave an item that smells like you such as a t-shirt you’ve worn or a blanket that you both snuggle. Put a few of their toys here as well. This will give them some additional comfort when you do start to leave them.

Start to Leave Them on Their Own Incrementally

Reestablishing their routine may take a bit of time. Throwing them back into their previous routine all at once can be like ripping off a band aide: at best it’s uncomfortable and at worst it’s downright painful. So before you go back to work it’s a good idea to start leaving your pet for short lengths of time and then increasing the amount of time that you are away little by little. Your pets will start to pick up on signals that you are getting ready to leave the house – noticing a change in clothing, you showering at a certain time of the day. These cues plus leaving them for lengthening periods of time will help get them back onto your “normal schedule”.

It can be tempting to bring them along for car rides while you run errands, or if you’re eating out on a restaurant’s patio, but try to resist those sad begging eyes. This second step is truly important.

Provide Distractions

Keeping pet safety in mind, you may want to find toys that stimulate and engage your pet while you are gone. Some pet parents find that puzzle toys are a great way to break up the boredom. Other pets love when their parents leave the TV on for them. Just be cognizant of the dangers that some potential toys may have. Soft toys that can be eaten should be left for supervised play.

What If Your Return to Work is Sudden?

Not everyone will have the luxury of a planned return to the office or place of employment. Some of us will only receive a few days’ notice to report for work. If this is the case, try not to panic. Most pets are resilient and while yours might experience some anxiety, they will quickly adjust to the new routine.

If you have a friend or family member who can check on your pet, having them do so is a great idea. Hiring a dog walker is another means of breaking up the long day away from you. For your dog who might be used to potty breaks on demand, this can help prevent accidents as you re-train their bladder. In terms of socialization it can help break up the monotony or boredom until you return home from work. You could even start with two visits per day and slowly taper them off.

How to Spot Stress:

Despite our best intentions and efforts our pets might still become stressed out. With dogs, excessive barking can be a sign of stress. Couple this with pawing at doors or windows (as if trying to remove the thing that is separating them from you) and you have other good indicators of stress. If this is typical behavior when you leave the house, try to gauge whether this behavior now is prolonged or exacerbated.

Being destructive is another potential sign of stress, especially in dogs. Now we know that some dogs just play rough and like to tear apart their toys, but when it comes to stress they’ll typically turn this destructive habit on things that they don’t typically destroy: Chewing doors, furniture, cabinets, shoes, etc. This can also be a sign of boredom, so if your pet starts to exhibit this behavior try playing with them to wear them out before leaving the house. If the behavior persists it is likely stress.

Pay Attention to Your Own Emotions

Pets are really in tune with our emotions. They can pick up on our stress and anxiety often better than we can ourselves. When you get ready to leave for work in the morning try to remain calm. Refrain from raising your voice or rushing. These behaviors can increase our pet’s anxiety.

How to Reduce Stress:

Exercise and playtime are great ways to help mitigate stress and prevent it. Build time to interact with your pet into your morning routine and take time to do so again when you return home from work.

If your pet is still exhibiting stress there are aids that can help alleviate some of this stress, such as snug fitting vests or shirts. The downside to using these items is that you will potentially be leaving your pet in this clothing all day so consider your schedule with using these items.

And don’t forget about Animal Behaviorists. These skillful workers are trained observers and can have insightful suggestions about preventing problems when you return to work or solving problems later. An in-home consultation with an Animal Behaviorist is usually an enlightening and highly rewarding experience for both you and your pet. However, if the mental and/or physical problems persist, you may ultimately have to consult with your vet.

Following the hints mentioned in this article will definitely help normal pet anxiety about changes to their routines. As we begin returning to the 9 to 5 world let’s be extra aware of the needs of our furry and feathery best friends and do whatever we can to make the transition a happy one!


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Dogs Whac-a-Mole

Boredom Setting In?

Are You So Bored Your Pets Are Too?

Life is a bit different these days. While we hope it will revert to normal soon, for now we can enjoy the extra time at home with our pets. You might feel “stuck at home” verses “safe at home”, or that you have “nothing to do” versus “time to do new things.” It turns out you’re not alone, your pet might be feeling the exact same way!

Many people and their pets are starting to feel the boredom setting in. By now, there’s a good chance that walks aren’t as exciting, you’ve run out of things to binge watch on your TV and the wet spring weather might be keeping you indoors. We’re here to help with creative ways to entertain your pets indoors.

Fun and Affordable Activities Keep the Boredom From Setting In

Whack a Mole:

This fun game is taking the internet by storm and it’s not hard to see why.  This Whack a Mole can be played with cats and dogs alike. Just like the addicting arcade game, you will have loads of fun playing this game with your fur babies. Grab a cardboard box and either a treat or toy for your pet. Cut a series of holes in the top of the box and a large hole in the side for your arm. Then you’re ready to play! Challenge your pet’s mental and physical reflexes for hours!

Link to article: https://www.rover.com/blog/dogs-whac-a-mole/

Hide and Go Seek

There are two different versions. Option 1 requires your pet’s favorite toy or treat. Hide this item in different locations around the house and watch them seek it out.  Or if your pet prefers to seek you out you have all you need to play! For option two, get your pet to sit and stay while you hide somewhere in the house. Watching them run around and try to find you is a great laugh and they’ll love the challenge!

Learn a New Trick

Why not use this extra time to learn a new trick. This will challenge both you and your pet as you try to learn from each other. Teaching your fur-baby a new trick will bring you closer together as you bond with positive reinforcement and rewards. There are loads of ideas for tricks from rolling over to fetching a new item, playing dead to giving hugs! Our treats have proven to be a very motivating reward for training.

Scavenger Hunt or Obstacle Course

Transform your living room into an exciting place that will both exercise your pet physically and mentally. Using household items, toys, and some healthy treats, you can create a series of courses to train and stimulate your pet.

Freeze Their Assets

If you have an outdoor space or garage that’s shielded from the rain, this one could be a great option for you. Take your pet’s favorite treat or toy and place it in a s sturdy bowl or Tupperware™ container.  Fill the bowl or container with water, or water and soup stock, and then place it in the freezer overnight. When the water has fully frozen, give it to your pet for hours of entertainment.

Do it Yourself!

Try making a new toy for your pet out of items you have in your house. Find a bit of rope (or upcycle some from a destroyed toy), use a t-shirt or towel, etc. Get creative and your pet will love having a new toy that smells like you!  Just be sure to supervise your pet whenever they play with this toy in case pieces break off.

We’d love to hear some of your ideas. Go to our Facebook page and send us a message. Maybe we’ll add your idea into another article in the future!

Stay safe and well!

~The Staff at Northwest Naturals


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Woman reading a book and lounging on the beach

How to Find a Reputable Boarding Facility for Your Dog

Finding the Right Place to Care for Your Dog Means Truly Relaxing on Your Vacation

Leave your beloved four-legged friend with in the wrong hands and the only trip you’re headed on is a guilt trip. Our dogs are our family. We choose the best foods, buy only the right toys, and we don’t just trust anyone to care for them. So why would you settle for a boarding facility that is anything less than the best?

With the pet industry booming, there are a lot of options when it comes to pet care, so choosing the right one can seem like a second job. That’s where we come in. Northwest Naturals is more than just your go to for premium nutrition, we’re also your friendly pet enthusiast who has been in your shoes.

Here Are Some Tips to Help You Find the Right Humans to Care for Your Dog During Your Next Trip:

Quality:

Step number one is to do a geographic search for dog kennels and boarding facilities near you. This creates a quick list of options to review. Next you’ll want to look at the various facilities. You obviously want to find ones that look clean and professional. If that doesn’t help to weed any out, take a moment to read their website, and their Google Reviews. This will help to narrow down the list by a good couple options.

Once you have your short list in place, it’s time to make a few phone calls or chat with the staff. There are some questions that you definitely want to ask before moving any further. The first question to ask if for a full tour of the facilities. If the business won’t let you see a certain part of their building, there is a good chance there’s a reason they don’t want people to see it.

Safety:

Ask if there is a staff member on site at night. Some facilities actually close down and leave dogs in their cages, unattended overnight. This usually isn’t a problem, but just in case, you want someone to be there to handle a situation if it arises.

In the same vein, you’ll want to ask if they have a veterinarian on staff or on call in case a potential issue arises, or will they contact your vet? If your dog is on any medication, you’ll want to ask if they are equipped to handle that, if it costs more to administer the medication, etc. Also, it’s a good idea to ask if their staff is trained in dog CPR. Not all will go this extra step.

All dog kennels and boarding facilities of repute will have a list of mandatory vaccinations and/or tests. Some will ask to have a vet verify that your pet is free from worms or other communicable issues. Ask what these requirements are before you think about booking your pet’s stay.

Staff and Training

Additionally, you’ll want to ask a few questions about your dog’s potential stay: will your pet be able to interact with other dogs during their stay and how is this handled? If your pet misbehaves how is staff trained to handle this? Does their staff receive additional training, and if so, how frequently?

Comfort:

Lastly, you’ll want to ask about making your dog feel comfortable during his or her stay. Ask questions like, can I bring my dog’s own food? Can I bring a bed, my clothing, or toys for his or her stay?

Is your dog active? You might want to inquire about whether they will or could walk your dog? If so, will they do so multiple times per day and is there an additional charge for this?

Let Your Dog Be the Judge

Take your dog to the location before you book their stay. Let them sniff around and explore the facility. If they offer day care, maybe try it out for a day and see what your dog’s reaction is. You’ll know right away whether they liked it or felt uncomfortable there.

This step goes a long way in making your dog feel comfortable when you do book their stay. The boarding facility won’t be a strange new place but one they recognize. They may even get to know the staff and feel more at ease with being there without you.

We hope these steps have helped you narrow down the list and find a reputable kennel or boarding facility for your next trip. Leaving your pet is hard enough, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether your dog is enjoying their stay or missing you terribly.


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Dog in harness

When Good Intentions Go Bad

Service Dogs and Their Owners Are Increasingly Encountering Untrained Pets

We all love our dogs and most of us wish we could take them with us wherever we go.  It might evoke a tinge of jealousy when we see service dogs and their handlers or tempt us to grab a harness and bring our dog along in tow.  But, as more and more people try to pass their pets off as service animals, or bring them into public places where pets are not allowed, the working dogs (and their owners) are the ones who suffer most.

It seems innocent enough.  The harnesses, collars, etc. are available to the public.  All we have to do is buy one and we could easily take our dogs anywhere, right?

We wish it was just that simple.  There are two negative outcomes that have arisen from this situation.  The first is dangerous: Service dogs are either distracted or engaged and miss warning signs that put their owners in serious danger.  The second, is unfortunate discrimination, when these individuals and their working dogs try to gain access to an establishment that has had a negative encounter with fake therapy, service, or working dogs.

Stranger Danger:

Working dogs are highly trained.  From sniffing out potential dangers, to detecting changes in their handler’s health, these dogs are on alert when they’re out and about.  Now, interject a dog who isn’t trained, who innocently enough wants to play.  This playful pup distracts the working dog or lunges to play with it. If it’s a seeing eye dog, any sudden movements could knock their human off balance and cause them injury.  If this dog is a therapy dog, it could miss out on the signs it’s designed to detect in their owner at the risk of their owner’s health and well-being. Whatever the outcome, it creates a stressful situation for the person who needs the assistance of a service dog.

Discrimination that Goes Beyond Breed:

Any discrimination against pets, let alone our beloved dogs, is not cool.  It flies in the face of everything positive about our pets.  But for a moment, place yourself in the shoes of someone with a service dog.  Bringing their dog into establishments goes far beyond accessibility.  Their life very well may depend upon having their service dog with them.  Today, we are seeing reports of service animals (wrongly) being denied entry to certain businesses or locations.  While this is illegal, it’s also very harmful.  It’s furthering a culture of us against them, isolating the people who depend on their dogs, and inhibiting them from living a life as full as the rest of us.

What Should We Do About It:

Rather than try to pass our pets off as working dogs, we should try to frequent more businesses that allow pets.  We can happily spend time with our loved ones, and people with service animals know ahead of entering these places of our presence there.  This allows them to take precautions such as bringing another friend or family member along in case of an event.  These places love your pets, their employees get the highlight of hanging out with your awesome dog for a bit, and you both get out of the house on a safe, enjoyable errand, dinner, beverage, etc.

Shops like Lowes, TJ Maxx, and Homegoods are pet friendly.  More and more bars and restaurants are either dog friendly or have dog friendly tables.  Parks and other outdoor spaces are becoming meetups for pet parents that allow both to socialize, get out of the house, and get some fresh air.

Tip: If you’re not sure about a local establishment, say because you’ve never seen a pet there, or you just don’t want to cause a scene, pick up the phone and speak with a manager.  Most will tell you their policy, which is either a yes or a no. There are sometimes clauses such as, if you’re dog breaks something or makes a mess you are responsible for the replacement of the item and/or cleaning up the mess.

We all love our pets, and we don’t necessarily think of the ramifications that our actions can have on the people who need service animals. As a society, we all benefit when we look out for each other.


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dog in winter coat in snow

Winter Nutrition and Your Pets Coat

How to Make Sure Your Cat or Dog is Healthy and Happy All Winter Long

Whether you have a dog that loves to romp and roll in the snow, or an indoor cat, winter can wreak havoc on your fur baby’s nose, skin, and coat. Northwest Naturals is your go-to source for the nutritional needs for your pet. In this post, we’ll take a look at healthy ways to care for your pet during the colder months.

The winter cold and wind can be biting but running the furnace indoors can also dry out sensitive skin like your pet’s nose. And then there are the hazards like rock salt. In this post we’ll talk through a few different ways you can make sure that your pet is healthy and warm this winter.

Nutrition:

Good health always starts with balanced and wholesome nutrition. A well-balanced diet is key to preventing or solving just about any problem that your dog or cat could face. A raw diet from Northwest Naturals offers your pet everything they need to maintain a healthy weight, healthy skin and fur, strong nails, etc.

In the winter months, it can be beneficial to look at introducing supplements for their skin and fur coat. Fish oil is highly nutritious and is a powerful way to boost the moisture and shine in your dog or cat’s fur coat, while also reducing dander.

Salves and Conditioners:

From the tips of their nose right down to their toes, your dog and cat’s skin can suffer due to the falling temperatures. Whether they spend a lot of time outdoors or not, sensitive skin can dry and crack. Noses and the pads of their paws are especially susceptible to becoming dry and cracked during the winter.

There are a range of natural salves and conditioners that can help soothe this sore skin. You can find them just about anywhere – from your veterinarian, your local pet supply shop, and directly from the internet. Or, you can make your own. Coconut oil is especially helpful for cats and dogs, boosting the hydration in their skin. It can also be easily mixed with other beneficial ingredients.

To make your own salve, melt coconut oil and mix in a few drops of your favorite dog safe essential oil and pour the mixture into a container for storage. Geranium is great for clearing up fungal infections. Ginger is great for soothing sprains and strains. Helichrysum heals wounds and soothes sores. Lavender soothes itches, stimulates healing, and is also relaxing.

Coats, Sweaters and Booties:

Another way to help either sooth existing conditions or to stave off the effects of winter, is to dress your pets for the weather. Coats and sweaters are great for keeping skin from drying out and protecting your pet’s fur coat. Booties help protect paws and pads both from the cold, but also from drying out. If your pet’s paws are already dry, they’re a great way to help speed and aid healing.

Dangers to Avoid:

A big danger to watch out for during the winter is rock salt. If your pet walks outside, anywhere other than your property, they might encounter rock salt. The small pellets or pieces can get be abrasive at best, and at worst they can get stuck between their pads. If this happens and it goes unnoticed, it can cause chemical burns.

Another potential danger for your pet is overexposure. Sometimes our pets have fun outside playing in the colder weather and even the snow. We can forget that the cold affects them as much as it does us with their warm fur coats. Prolonged exposure to cold weather can sap moisture from sensitive skin, cause respiratory issues, and more. Be sure to monitor the amount of time your pet stays out of doors this winter.


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Blue eyed cat

What is Catnip?

And why do our feline friends fancy it?

Nepita cataria has gone by many names including the popular catnip, but also catsword and catmint.  It has become so common for cats and their humans that it’s just about everywhere.  And with good reason, cats love it, their antics provide us with amusement, plus it’s both natural and safe!  But have you stopped to wonder what it is or where it came from?  If you did, you might be surprised.

What is Catnip?

Catnip actually comes from the mint family of plants.  That’s right!  And it contains what’s called nepetalacatone, which is what makes cats love it so much.  Cats detect this volatile through a scent organ in the roof of their mouth rather than in their noses.  In fact, domestic and wild cats are both attracted certain plants within this genus, including leopards, cougars, servals, and lynxes.  The plant is native to southern and eastern parts of Europe, as well as the Middle East, Central Asia, China, New Zealand, and even North America.  Some believe however that it was the ancient Egyptians that were the first to cultivate the plant our felines love so much today.

When the leaves or stems of this plant are bruised, cats can sense the nepetalacatone.  What follows next is usually a cat like ballet of pawing, scratching, rolling, licking and a myriad of other moves.

Consuming the plant can cause cats to drool, become drowsy or sleepy, induce anxiety, cause bouts of frenetic activity such as leaping about, or purring.  If you or another human is holding the catnip, cats have been known to growl or meow, scratch and/or bite that hand.

If you’ve wondered why these ballets commonly last between five and 15 minutes, this is due to olfactory fatigue, also known as nose blindness.  After a certain length of time, cats lose their ability to detect the nepetalacatone and will generally lose interest until the next time.

Is your cat not affected by or interested in catnip? He or she isn’t alone.  It’s estimated that one out of three cats does not react to this popular family of plants.  Scientists have shown this to be due to genetics.

Catnip and Humans

Cats aren’t the only ones to have found a love for this family of plants.  Cat Nip has been used by humans throughout history.  Commonly it was used to make teas or tinctures to treat ailments.  Catnip is also great for getting rid of unwanted bugs, so much so that many use it today in the form of its essential oil.  And many find it a great ornamental plant to include in their gardens.  And why not? It’s drought tolerant, deer resistant, and can ward off destructive bugs like aphids.  Rumor has it that some have even smoked the plant.