Category Archives: Outdoor Fun

  • -
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!


  • -
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.


  • -
stranger danger and dogs; people safety with dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

How to Help Minimize Frightening Situations for Your Pet.

There’s good news and bad news if your pet is nervous around strangers.  The good news is that the general public is gaining more knowledge about safe ways to interact (or not) with strange dogs and their owners.  More and more people are learning to ask, “is your dog friendly?” or “can I pet him?” before reaching out their hands or telling their kids to “go say hi!”.  The bad news is that there is still a portion of the public that does not have this knowledge.

Whether your dog is a working dog and should not be distracted, gets nervous with strangers or close proximity to them, or is a rescue and growing used to their new environment there are steps that you can take to help reduce their interactions with kids and strangers.  Training, and desensitization, and avoiding situations that can be frightening are the first step, but there are some additional steps you can take to avoid these encounters.  We’ll take a look at some of them in this article.

Yellow Is a No Go

Thanks to the yellow leash project, the significance of yellow leashes and collars is making the rounds.  Yellow has become the color that signifies a dog is nervous, working, or for some other reason should not be pet.

Red Means Stop

In addition to yellow leashes and collars, some pet owners will use a red leash or collar to ward off people and children who might otherwise approach their pet.  Opt for Bright shades of red that will catch people’s attention and hopefully give them pause when approaching.

There are a few downsides with these color choices.  Some people simply like the color or like the way the color looks on their dog.  Other nondog owners might now be aware of the significance of the colors.

Spell It Out

In combination with the yellow or red options, or even on other harnesses, it’s a good idea to also spell out “No Pet” so that people clearly get the message.  These options are available both online and in certain pet stores.  Bandanas are another option for displaying the “I’m nervous” or “do not pet me” message to strangers who might assume otherwise.

Other Alternatives:

Muzzles

While it might seem mean or extreme to muzzle your dog, it can help send the message that children or untrained adults should not approach you.  Muzzles can also help to reduce bites or the perceived threat of a dog bit if the situation does progress too far.

Staying Calm

Dogs take their cues from their humans.  If you’re nervous, anxious, or even fearful of a situation and its potential outcome, your dog is going to pick up on that energy.  When you see a group of people approaching, the best, and first thing you can do for your dog is to take a deep breath and form a plan. In doing so, you now have the ability to reassure your dog that he/she is okay.

Moving to Avoid Confrontation

If you’re out for a walk or taking a hike and see people approaching, you have the time to maneuver your dog to the side or off the trail.  Another helpful move is to place your body between the dog and the source of his/her fear.  This body language can be a signal to other people that your dog is not friendly and should not be approached.

Communication

Whether it’s talking to the approaching people, or your dog, communication can be key in getting through the situation without any altercation or confrontation.  Talking out loud to your dog in a calming and reassuring tone, but loud enough for the people to hear you can be a non-confrontational way of informing the people that your dog is not one for socialization.  Making eye contact and saying hi to the oncoming people, gets their attention.  And if they’re in the middle of telling their kids or approaching your dog themselves, it gives you the ability to simply apologize and explain that your dog doesn’t do well in social situations.

 

For more activities that you and your dog can enjoy click here!


  • -
seniors man and woman walking side by side outdoors with man walking dog

Pets & Senior Citizens

Benefits

Popular culture and media show us that people of all ages benefit from pets. Seniors especially benefit from this type of relationship. Pets not only enhance seniors’ lives but also improve their health. There are many amazing benefits that pets can bring into an elderly person’s life.

Pets provide a comfort system and help to increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in humans and can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and help protect against heart conditions. All great reasons for seniors to have a pet!

Pets & Loneliness

Recent studies have proven that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance their quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications.

If you know an elderly person living alone and struggling to find the motivation to get out, ask them to pet-sit for you. See if they’d be interested in fostering a homeless pet. Or offer to come to visit them with your four-legged companion, especially those with no family near-by.

Pets in Senior Living Communities

Many senior living communities do have Pet Coordinators to help care for the animals to assure they are getting proper activity, food, medication, and love. These pet-friendly communities are thriving as pets have become community mascots and give residents reasons for social calls; all great for seniors’ stimulation.

Finding the Right Pet-Friendly Community

It’s important to do your research when choosing a pet friendly community as some communities offer dog grooming and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds, while others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish or rabbits. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So, make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their pet policy.

Caring for an animal stimulates physical activity and gives many people a feeling of purpose. This is very important for seniors to incorporate into their everyday lives. Pets need exercise too! This companionship often promotes the purpose and healthy living, the relationship is not one-sided; the benefits are reciprocal to both parties.

Many times, the best prescription for healthier living comes with four legs and fur. If laughter is the best medicine, then pets must be the best cure!


  • -
black and white border collie playing with toy on grass. - pet care

Daily Activity for Dogs

How Much Activity Does My Dog Need?

This is a complicated question. The amount of daily activity for dogs will differ depending on the breed, age, and health of your dog. In this post, we’ll dive into some recommendations. Ultimately, this is a great topic to discuss with your veterinarian, since you both have an understanding of your pet’s total well-being. Dogs need two different types of activity: exercise and mental stimulation.

When dogs lack either of these, they tend to get into trouble, acting out behaviorally and destroying items they shouldn’t. Proper nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation can be achieved in a variety of different ways and can be great fun for both you and your dog. Pet health experts recommend that depending on the size of the breed, the age of the dog, and the dog’s overall health, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of activity is recommended per day.

Toy or Small Dog Breeds

The smaller the breed the less exercise will be required and the exercise should be appropriate for the build of the breed. This means we wouldn’t take a French bulldog for a three-mile trail run. Chasing a toy, indoors or outdoors, or frolicking around the yard, can achieve the 30 minutes of healthy activity in a smaller breed needs. More than this may cause respiratory problems or other injuries. Be sure to consult with an expert about your specific breed and dog.

Terrier or Medium Sized Dog Breeds

These breeds are built to work and will require more exercise and mental stimulation than their smaller, more delicate cousins. Terriers were bred to hunt or chase down a certain type of prey, from foxes to rats, and as such have more energy and durability. This results in the need for a higher amount of exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy and out of trouble. Depending on your breed you could be looking at closer to an hour or two of activity per day.

Retrievers and Large Breed Dogs

These are dogs that mature to weigh between 45 and 99 pounds. Like Terriers, Labradors, Retrievers, Huskies, Shepherds and Poodles were bred to work as well as to be companion animals. These dogs are smart and have a high level of energy, requiring between 60 to 90 minutes (sometimes more) of exercise per day. As these dogs start to age, their level of physical activity will diminish and pet owners should watch for signs of hip injuries or conditions like dysplasia. Talk to your vet about your specific breed and which types of exercise and stimulation are best for your dog.

Extra Large Dog Breeds

Extra large dogs are breeds that weigh in excess of 100 pounds at maturity. These dogs will typically require between 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on their age, weight and health.  Your Mastiffs, Great Danes and other large breed dogs will have a lower energy level than their large dog breed cousins. You should talk to your vet regarding your specific breed and dog to avoid injury and ensure the best quality of life for your XL fur baby.

Exercise

From fetch, to tug, and wrestling to playing with other dogs, there are a number of different ways to exercise your dog. If you live by a local dog park, off-leash play provides both exercise and  socialization (which is a form of mental stimulation that we’ll talk about later).

Fetch

While your Fido might love to chase a good stick, there are a few dangers when using objects that can break. We prefer to a good ball, rubber disk, stick alternative, or even a partially deflated soccer ball.

Walking or Hiking

Get outside and enjoy some quality time with your pet by walking or hiking. Take in the views while your pup takes in the scents, and raise your heart rate together.  Depending on the area and ownership of the land, you may be required to keep your dog on a leash or lead. If your dog tends to be nervous or should not be approached, visit our post about how to communicate this to others here.

Jogging

When both you and your dog can use a bit of exercise, running is a great option. Running can also help keep your pets nails trimmed, but be sure to keep an eye on the pads and nails to avoid injury. Pavement can heat up in the sun causing burns in the summer, and salt from winter road maintenance can burn as well. When jogging or running with your pet, we recommend a comfortable and snug fitting harness, with a non-extendable, durable leash.

Wrestling

Whether it’s in your backyard, at daycare or the local dog park, romping and wrestling with other dogs is a total body workout for your fur baby. Dogs jump, run, and get a myriad of exercise when playing with other dogs. And, you get to stand by and enjoy their happy antics! Remember it’s a good idea to engage with other dog owners before allowing your dog to play, and staying engaged to make sure play doesn’t get too rough.

Mental Stimulation

Dogs are intelligent and sentient creatures, and just like humans, they can get bored. As they look for means to entertain themselves, it is helpful to have a variety of toys on hand so that your dog opts for something of their own rather than your shoe.

Toys

Terriers and hunting dogs have an inherent prey drive. They were bred to hunt.  Now that many of us don’t hunt they need another way to occupy their time. Toys, especially ones that make noise are a great option. You can find an array of different priced options in various sizes.

Puzzles

A number of different retailers now offer puzzles for your pet. You load them with treats and give to your pet for mental stimulation. The puzzles make the dog work to find the treats, providing an entertaining and rewarding challenge. There are also some great ways to make your own dog puzzles on sites like Pinterest.

Hide and Go Seek

Not all stimulation requires you to shell out cash. Some dogs can learn and love to play hide and go seek. The downside is that you are the one that always ends up hiding. This provides a bit of exercise as well, as they run around trying to find their favorite human who has magically disappeared.

Classes

Check in your area for canine classes – The sport of dogs has grown in the last few years. Along with Obedience classes, there are Nose work classes, Fit paws – Fun and Fitness Classes for your K-9 friend, Agility, Rally, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen. All of these will stimulate your pet and you to be active, spend time together, and grow.

Activity is a great way to bond with your dog and create a beautiful, lifelong friendship. Your dog will be more healthy, content, and less mischievous, and so will you! 😊


  • -
Dog hanging out the window of a car with its tongue out

Camping with Your Dog

Tips and Tricks for a Stress Free Getaway with Your Furry Companion

Thinking about taking a camping trip with your dog?  Worried that it might be a bit stressful? With a little bit of preparation, you can bring your canine companion along on your next camping trip for a relaxing getaway.  We’ve pulled together some helpful tips and tricks to help you get started.

Stay… Hydrated

There’s no air conditioning in nature, so staying hydrated is important.  A collapsible bowl is a lightweight and portable tool that helps you make sure your dog is getting enough water.   Allow these bowls to dry before collapsing them to help keep them free from anything unsanitary.

northwest naturals raw dog food - camping with your dog

Meals

Northwest Naturals Freeze Dried Diets makes feeding your pets while hiking and camping with your pets easy. Lightweight and convenient to feed, the NWN Recipes are complete and balanced for your canine companion. Just pour in a bowl and add water.

The Freeze-dried nuggets can be fed during the day to keep the energy level and nutritional requirements stable while hiking. For weekend camping trips, you can pack your raw frozen diets that have been frozen into convenient portions. Smaller portions stay fresh longer and can be frozen to maintain freshness (and act as ice packs).

northwest naturals raw dog food - camping with your dog

Don’t forget the Treats!

Packing an easy to transport treat option like freeze dried treats makes rewarding, and spoiling your pet safer, healthier, and easier.  Freeze dried treats won’t spoil and don’t need to be refrigerated.  They’re wholesome and healthy options for which your pets will go bananas.

Pet First Aid Kit

While bandages and wraps might work on both pets and humans alike, when it comes to scrapes and sores, pet first aid is very different.  Pain pills and anti-inflammatory drugs that are made for us can be poisonous to them.  It’s also a good idea to have a salve or poultice that will stop a scrape from bleeding if you are going to be hiking any rugged terrain.

Flashing Lights

Often overlooked, a small light that can clip to your pets collar or harness is a great way to keep them safe at night.  Keep an eye on your pet as it gets dark, while you sit around the campfire and after the lights go out, make nighttime potty breaks a breeze.

Preparation is the key to a great outdoor experience with your dog.  Now it’s time to hit the trail and enjoy some fresh air and nature!