Homemade Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats

RadioFence.com Homemade Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Our dogs love the store bought sweet potato dog treats. But I can’t ignore my realization that we could save a ton of money by making our own homemade dehydrated sweet potatoes for them. Plus, homemade means I can control where the sweet potatoes come from. I can get organic ones from our local farm for less than I spend on the store bought bag of treats!

Organic sweet potatoes make the best dog treats!With all of the controversy recently over treats making dogs sick, I love the fact that homemade treats are free of preservatives, fillers, chemicals, and any other unnecessary additives. I know my dogs will benefit most from the treats that come out of my own kitchen, and these treats are so easy to make with only one ingredient – organic sweet potatoes!

Our RadioFence.com dogs love homemade dog treats!Our dogs are intrigued by anything that they think is “human food.” When I brought the sweet potatoes out, they were immediately zoned in on getting a taste before they even knew what it was.

Our RadioFence.com dogs love homemade sweet potato treats!Before I make any new homemade dog treat recipes for them, I place the ingredients in front of them to see if they approve to spark their curiosity. I barely got the sweet potatoes on the floor before they snatched them up and ran off to devour them!

Jem from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Sweet potatoes are so sweet on their own that they don’t need anything else added for dogs to approve of them as a favorite treat. Our dogs didn’t even require them dehydrated before they were obsessed!

Laci from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Imagine how much they’ll love them once they are cooked!

Step 1: Tools You’ll Need

We have a food dehydrator, but if you don’t own one you can easily dehydrate the sweet potatoes in your oven. I’ll demonstrate how to dehydrate the treats using an oven today so everyone can try these wonderful treats. 

Step 2: Choose The “Perfect Potatoes”

Choose the best sweet potatoes: choose ones that are similar in size so they will cook at the same rate.

Step 3: Wash, Dry, and Cut The Sweet Potatoes

My pups were trying to be thoughtful and figured that “washing” the potatoes meant using their tongues and teeth to scrape the bad parts off the potatoes. Thanks for the help guys! Aren’t they the sweetest?

Jem cleaning the potatoes with her tongue!If you’re going to cut the potatoes into strips by hand, the first step is to cut the top of the potato to create a flat surface to rest on the counter to stabilize it for cutting the strips.

RadioFence.com cut the top off the potatoCut the rest of the potatoes into 1/3″-1/4″ thick slices. You can use a mandolin for easier, more precise cuts and set the measurement to exactly 1/4″ if you’re a perfectionist! 

Cut the potatoes with a mandolin or knifeYou can also use a food processor to cut your strips if you don’t have a mandolin. I decided to make my treats 1.4″ thick using the mandolin so they would be crunchy.

RadioFence.com - Cut the sweet potatoes into strips

Step 4: Bake For 3 Hours

Baking instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  • Place treats on a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 1.5 hours
  • Flip the treats
  • Bake for another 1.5 hours for a total of 3 hours. 

RadioFence.com Bake the sweet potatoes for three hoursBaking the sweet potatoes for 3 hours will create a nice and crunchy treat. If you think your dog would rather have a chewier, softer snack then bake them for less time.

Yummy sweet potato dog treats from RadioFence.comThey may be slightly soft when they first come out of the oven, so let them cool completely before you serve them to your doggies.

Zoey and Jem from RadioFence.com patiently waiting for their sweet potato treat

Step 5: Enjoy!

Our dogs went crazy for the sweet potatoes before they were dehydrated into a yummy crunchy snack… so I expected them to freak out when they finally came out of the oven.

Our dogs from RadioFence.com couldn't wait for the sweet potatoes to be done!Zoey is usually the most reserved of the bunch and patiently waits her turn while the others act frantic, but I was shocked to see her react the craziest over these treats! 

Zoey from RadioFence.com freaks out for sweet potato treats!Jem was patient and let Laci and Zoey get most of the treats, but she wasn’t shy for long and jumped at the chance to try the treats. She was so crazy over them that I couldn’t catch her picture!

Jem from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!The dogs would be so polite and patient for a second as I reached for another treat…

RadioFence dogs patiently waiting for their treatsBut the anticipation was killing them and they couldn’t resist any longer…

Laci and Zoey love sweet potato dog treats!They went NUTS over these treats and couldn’t keep their composure!

Zoey and Laci going crazy for sweet potato treats!Zoey has never been this excited over a treat in her entire life!

Zoey from RadioFence.com loves sweet potatoes!Jem couldn’t even enjoy her treat in peace without Zoey hot on her tail trying to snag it…

Zoey trying to steal Jem's treat!After seeing how much the dogs loved these treats, they will now be a regular staple in our household for years to come! They’re simple, inexpensive, easy to make, and the dogs couldn’t be happier. Plus they’re so healthy! 

The RadioFence.com clan loves sweet potato treats!Store the dehydrated treats in the refrigerator and discard them after 3 weeks – although there’s no way these yummy treats will last sitting in our refrigerator that long with these hungry hounds! If you want to store them for longer, you can freeze them for up to 4 months.

Why Are Sweet Potatoes So Healthy For Pups?

Sweet Potatoes have the highest amino acid content of any starch which are essential to your dog for maintaining healthy, strong, lean muscles. The high fiber content is great for the digestive system. They also have increase antioxidant activity in your dog’s body which are needed to get rid of free radicals that cause cancer and other diseases. Sweet potatoes also get rid of fatty cells in the liver and help keep other vital organs healthy. Wow! I feel great knowing that this simple homemade treat will have such great lasting health effects on my dogs!

Easy Dehydrated Organic Sweet Potato Dog Treats
One of the purest, healthiest treats you can give your dog - and so easy to make that you'll never buy them from the store again!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 5 min
Ingredients
  1. Organic Sweet Potatoes: choose potatoes that are all similar in size so they will cook at the same rate, and buy as many as you think your dogs can eat!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees
  2. If you cut the potatoes by hand: Cut off one piece of the potato to create a flat surface to rest on the counter and stabilize it for cutting the slices. Cut the pieces into 1/3"-1/4" thick slices.
  3. If you're using a mandolin: You can use a mandolin for easier, more precise cuts and set the measurement to exactly 1/4"
  4. Place the strips on one or more baking sheets
  5. Place in the oven, bake for 1.5 hours
  6. Flip the sweet potatoes and bake for another 1.5 hours for a total of three hours
  7. If you think your dog would rather have a crunchier treat, bake for longer.
  8. Let cool, and enjoy!
Notes
  1. The lower the temperature of your oven, the longer they will need to bake. If you bake them at 175 degrees, they can bake for up to 8 hours.
  2. Store treats in the refrigerator - discard them after 3 weeks
  3. You can freeze them for up to 4 months
Adapted from Dogington Post
Adapted from Dogington Post
RadioFence.com Blog http://blog.radiofence.com/

The Shelter Dog That Changed Our Lives Forever- Who Rescued Who?

Buddy from RadioFence.com They say things in life come full circle. Everything happens for a reason. You don’t choose your fate, it chooses you. And most importantly, never say “never.”

There are times in our lives when surprises, big or small, come our way unannounced with no warning. We make plans and imagine our future only to find it can all change in an instant, and our lives take a different course that we never saw coming. Things we “never” imagined for ourselves turn out to be the blessings in our lives that we’re most thankful for and never knew we needed. 

The surprising “never” of our family’s fate walked into our lives on four legs, covered in fleas and ticks, malnourished, battered and bruised, with a heart of gold and a tail that has never stopped wagging since the moment we met him. 

Buddy from RadioFence.com Pet ProductsI was driving to a doctors appointment one Wednesday afternoon when a dog that reminded me of Jem walked across the road right in front of my car. I quickly pulled over to check if he had an ID tag for me to call his home. When I jumped out to look for him, I couldn’t find him anywhere! I was so worried that I missed my opportunity to reunite him with his family. After no luck finding him, I got back into my car and shut the door. In my rear-view mirror I saw big brown eyes staring back and me and heard the sound of a tail thumping against the seat. I had left my car door open when I was looking for him, and he jumped in!

Buddy from RadioFence.com Pet ProductsHe chose me. I couldn’t believe how fateful it felt that he walked in front of my car and then made his choice to jump on in to join me on whatever road was ahead of us both.

Buddy from RadioFence.com looking forward to a new futureMy first impression of him was “wag more, bark less.” He was such a sweet, quiet, gentle, obedient, and overly happy boy who never stopped wagging his tail. His unwavering positivity was so inspiring because I would expect a dog in his condition to be as emotionally damaged on the inside as he appeared to be on the outside, but he acted like he was the luckiest and most grateful boy in the world just to be alive and in the care of someone who could potentially give him a future. 

He didn’t have a collar or ID tag, the vet didn’t find a micro chip, and Animal Control and the shelters had no reports of a missing dog that matched his description. He was officially a stray without immediate hope of a family.

Buddy from RadioFence.com on a walkI have seen lots of success stories on Facebook of pets being reunited, so I posted his picture with a description of where I found him and his traits such as gender, size, condition, and the fact that he had not been neutered.

Introducing Buddy To The Pack

I brought him home and hesitantly introduced him to Zoey, Jem, and Laci. They can be cliquey at times and unfriendly to new guests that threaten their pack, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how welcoming they were to him. Laci jumped all over him like they’ve been best friends for years, Zoey wagged her tail as she sniffed him, and Jem only gave a few curious howls. Our dogs welcomed him so easily and accepted him in a way that felt like they knew him all their lives. I had a fateful feeling that was their way of telling us this new dog was always meant to be here with us. 

Buddy Meets The OthersI was also worried how he might react to them since I had no idea what kind of trauma he had been through in the past or if he had dog aggression. I was so impressed with how gentle and kind he was with our little dogs as he towered over them sniffing them curiously and wagging his tail.

Buddy from RadioFence.com sharing dinner with LaciHis tail has never missed a beat since we met him. He could be standing outside all alone and he would be wagging as if to say he was happy and content no matter what he was doing or what the circumstances were.

I was sad for him when I noticed he didn’t seem to know how to interact or play with our dogs or their toys. It was like he had never learned how to be a dog, and maybe he was never given that chance. We would try to play ball, fetch, or tug of war with him and he seemed confused like a new puppy being introduced to a toy for the first time.

Buddy from RadioFence.com didn't know how to play with toysHe was cautious, looked for approval, and aimed to please us. He would look up at us for permission before going inside the house wondering if he was welcome. He was extremely smart and attentive from the start. He even knew the general commands like “sit, stay, come, no, etc.”

Buddy from RadioFence.com Knows "Sit"He loved being in the car more than any other dog I’ve met. We’d take him on as many car rides as we could, and when we got home he didn’t want to get out. He wanted to stay in there for hours by himself just parked in the garage. It was his comfort zone. He could only be coaxed out with a treat, and even then he needed a lot of encouragement before he would give in. We wondered if he felt most comfortable there because he associated it with being rescued. Maybe he figured if he stayed in the car we would have to take him with us if we ever left, and he wouldn’t be abandoned again. 

Buddy from RadioFence.com wouldn't get out of the carHe had such a selfless spirit and gentle soul from the second he walked into our lives. We didn’t know what to call him or if we should name him. Naturally we would say, “come here Bud,” or “hey Buddy, good boy!” His friendly spirit led us to instinctually call him Buddy as a term of endearment, and after a few days the name stuck. 

Buddy’s Past In The Kill Shelter Is Revealed

 The day after finding him, two women came forward on Facebook saying he was their dog and his name was Elvis, but he may not know his name because they had only had him for less than a week. They said he dug out from under their fence while they weren’t home. They had just started a non-profit out of their house with a mission to rescue dogs from kill shelters. They arrived at the kill shelter 30 minutes before the dogs were scheduled to be euthanized and rescued them from that fate.
Buddy's rescue from the kill shelter

Minutes Away From Being Euthanized 

We called the kill shelter that “Elvis” came from, and the woman on the phone couldn’t speak more highly of him. She said he was such an amazing dog that they actually gave him two weeks longer than protocol before they are euthanized hoping that he would be rescued.

Every Creatures Salvation saved him only minutes before he was scheduled to be euthanized. I was speechless and numbed at the thought of how close this remarkable dog was to never walking out of that kill shelter.

Buddy from RadioFence.comBecoming His Foster Family 

The women who rescued him had saved multiple dogs at once and were tight on resources. We asked them if we could foster Buddy at our home. We were attached and didn’t want to see him leave, but mainly we knew it was in his best interest if we funded his journey to adoption. There was a PetSmart adoption event in one week that they originally planned for him to attend, and he needed to be neutered by then to be eligible.

Surprise Of A Lifetime On The Operating Table

 We scheduled Buddy to be neutered with a wonderful veterinarian in town, and we joked that we should get the operation at half price because he only had one testicle. The veterinarian laughed and warned us that it would actually be more expensive because they have to make an incision in his abdomen to go looking for the other testicle that hadn’t dropped.

Buddy from RadioFence.com after surgeryWhen we picked Buddy up, the veterinarian said it was a miracle that he happened to make the incision in the location that he did, because as soon as he opened Buddy up he saw a large bubble on his bladder that was moments away from bursting. The vet said his bladder could have ruptured just from playing or rough housing with him and couldn’t believe it was still in tact. He said an injury like that is only consistent with being kicked in the stomach or hit by a car. Both scenarios were tough to stomach thinking about him in either of those dreadful situations. We began to feel like we should be calling him Lucky rather than Buddy!

Is Buddy A Boy Or A Girl?

The surprises didn’t stop there, when looking for his other testicle, the vet instead found a uterus and an ovary. Buddy was a boy on the outside but a girl on the inside! The poor thing went in for a routine neutering surgery and came out with a bladder repair, full hysterectomy, and neutering. We slept with him on the living room floor throughout the night to care for him after this extensive operation. 

Buddy from RadioFence.com recovering from surgeryAdoption Event Cancelled

Buddy’s recovery time doubled once these surprises showed up in the operating room, and the plan to have him ready for the adoption event that weekend was no longer an option. We were going to be caring for him through his recovery for another week or two.

Buddy from RadioFence.com recovering after surgeryWe had all been getting more attached and emotionally invested in him at this point, and on Valentine’s Day Buddy suffered from a seizure in the front yard which scared us half to death. We rushed him to the vet, and once we got there he acted like nothing had happened. The vet said he could just be epileptic, and this may not be the last time he has one. He took a long nap that day because he was so tired from the seizure.  Buddy from RadioFence.com taking a nap

A Change of Heart – Or Was It?

It’s hard to pin point the exact moment when we realized we could never give Buddy up for adoption to another family, or if we somehow knew it all along. But after everything he went through at the kill shelter, getting rescued moments before being euthanized only to find himself on the streets again within days, his surgery, seizure, and how positive he still remained, my dad was the first person to utter the words that we were all thinking -“maybe we should just keep him.”

He had already been through so much and reshaped our family’s structure to include his resilient spirit. I don’t think we could have felt whole again with his absence, and we couldn’t imagine putting him through another huge life change of being re-homed. He is finally home, he has a forever family, and he isn’t going anywhere unless it’s in the backseat with us. 

Buddy and Laci going for a car rideBuddy’s Transformation 

There was a noticeable change in Buddy once we established that he was a permanent member of our family. When we were fostering him, it felt like he didn’t want to play with the toys and join in with the other dogs because maybe he was worried it was just temporary and didn’t want to get his hopes up or get too used to it. After we adopted him, we could notice him letting his guard down. I will never forget the night he opened himself up and learned to play with Laci and the toys in the living room.

Buddy and Laci PlayingHe and Laci have been inseparable and obsessed with each other ever since.

They sleep together…

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com Sleep Together Cuddle…

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com CuddleWatch TV…

Buddy and Laci watching TV!Laugh together…

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com Swapping JokesNap…

napKeep each other company…

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com Hanging OutAnd comfort each other

Buddy and Laci from RadioFence.com Have A Strong BondThey have such a great bond and fun adventures. 

He has finally been given the chance to learn how to be a dog, and he’s probably the purest-hearted one we’ve ever known. He still loves going for car rides, but he trusts that he can go inside with us afterwards until the next ride without worrying he that will get left behind.

Buddy from RadioFence.com Loves The CarWith all of the improvements he has made, our favorite thing about Buddy hasn’t changed since the moment he came into our lives – he still wags his tail constantly without fail. And now he goes to bed every night with a smile on his face.

smileThere are few people or animals in this life that are so wonderful they make you feel indebted to them. It’s like they have done you a favor just by giving you the honor of knowing them. That is how Buddy has made our family feel – blessed, gifted, indebted, uplifted, inspired, thankful. We didn’t choose our fate, he chose us.

Buddy from RadioFence.com's Cheesy Smile

DIY Toy For Dogs That Tear Up Stuffed Animals

DIY Toy For Dogs That Tear Up Stuffed Animals

Zoey was my first furbaby, and I was so excited to welcome her into our family three years ago. I ran out to the store to purchase a ton of new and adorable toys for her. My favorite was the little skunk that resembled Zoey’s black and white fluffy fur. Zoey loved to play with her toys, and they lasted her entire puppyhood into adulthood. I’ll admit I grew sentimental of the toys when I would think about how little she was when she started playing with them and the story behind each toy. I would even get her a stuffed animal souvenir from any vacation I took that she couldn’t accompany me on. 

A year later, we welcomed a floppy-eared, clumsy, howling hound dog sister for Zoey – our Beagle Jem. She quickly established her authority over toys within the first few days. She reasoned that toys were meant to be destroyed upon contact with the quickest speed possible. It wasn’t long before all of Zoey’s sentimental toys were a pile of fluff and fur scraps all across the floor. I doubt Zoey was as sad to see them go as I was, but I soon realized that it was going to be a challenge to find a toy that Jem couldn’t destroy in under one minute. 

Jem's First Night Home

Jem’s First Night Home

Jem is over two years old now, and we still struggle to find her a toy that will last long enough to warrant buying it for her. There just doesn’t seem to be any “durable, indestructible, or long-lasting” toy on the market that she can’t beat. The other dogs learned from example within weeks of Jem joining our family, and they took after her soon enough.

13Now they all destroy toys proudly, but Jem is still the undefeated champ of demolishing them with record speed. Six minutes. That’s all it took for Jem to investigate the new stuffed animal I bought her today and accomplish her goal of de-stuffing it. 

Jem Stuffed Animal ChampionOur living room looks like a teddy bear graveyard on a nightly basis, and we’ve finally resorted to having the dogs play with the miscellaneous legs, arms, and other body parts of their toys that they’ve ruined rather than continuing to buy them hundreds of dollars worth of pretty animals with their heads firmly attached.

Stuffed Animal Graveyard - RadioFence.com Pet ProductsWhenever I watch them destroy their stuffed animals, it seems like the act of pulling the stuffing out of the toy is what has them so hooked. Once the toy is thoroughly plucked, shredded, and flattened, they grow bored and move on to something else.

12What if there was a toy that could satisfy their need to pull the stuffing out, but they could do it again and again without purchasing a brand new toy? That would be perfect for our pups!

Step 1: Purchase Felt and a “Tug & Treat Ball”

1I bought the large pack of felt at Jo Ann Fabric for $5.00 rather than buying each piece separate for $0.50, but I found that it only took 1-3 sheets of felt for the smaller sized ball, so if you’re only making one small toy you don’t need as much felt as I thought. 

Step 2: Cut Strips of Felt

2I wanted the strips to be fairly easy for the dogs to pull out of the holes, but you can judge what size strips you want depending on how big the holes are, how easily you want them to be pulled out, etc. 

Step 3: Stuff Strips Into The Ball

3I made sure I left strips hanging out of the holes so the dogs understood what the toy was made to do. That way they easily pulled one or more strips as soon as they interacted with it which taught them the toy’s purpose. If your dog doesn’t seem to understand the point of the new toy right away like mine did, it works great to stuff small pieces of treats into the toy to entice her to play. 

Step 4: Enjoy!

After the quick 5-10 minute creation of this toy, your dogs are ready to play! Laci went absolutely nuts over the ball as soon as I finished making it, and she had the felt furiously pulled out in under a minute! I loved how quick and easy it was to put the felt strips back into the toy for round two of fun. 

4The stuffed animals in the room quickly became old news, and all of the dogs lost interest in them. This new toy was the latest obsession!

5I was so excited to see Jem love the toy as much as Laci. Our stuffing addict was quickly converted to a felt ball lover!

6It wasn’t long before Jem and Laci had a stand-off over which felt ball was the best, and the competition was fierce.

7Laci felt confident in her choice of the red ball, but you know how dogs are… the grass is always greener when it comes to toys and food. Naturally, Jem thought Laci’s ball was better and wanted to steal it.

8Zoey had the best tactics of them all. While Jem and Laci were busy battling over one ball, Zoey stealthily kept to herself with her own ball and focused on enjoying the new fun!

9Within minutes of making this simple and easy toy, I could already tell it was the new favorite with all three dogs. Success! I was confident that at least one of them would love it, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that all of them were thrilled by it. This toy was so easy to make, so simple to re-stuff, and so much cheaper than any stuffed animal I could buy for them. Best of all, it’s a sustainable toy that can be used over and over again while still satisfying their love for plucking “stuffing” out of toys.

Your dogs will love you more than they already do when you make this felt ball for them, and I would love to see pictures and hear about your experience with it! Email me your story and/or pictures to kelsey@radiofence.com :)

The Essential Vet Exams for Your Dog

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 4.55.43 PMHave you ever left the vet feeling like you spent all of your budget but aren’t sure if your dog really got your money’s worth out of it? Sometimes the open communication between ourselves and our veterinarian can be rushed or lacking, and we are left feeling like we’re in the dark about our dog’s wellness regimen. Its better for our wallets, peace of mind, and our dog’s health if we understand exactly what the essential vet exams are, and which treatments are unnecessary and excessive. 

Denise Petryk, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services at Trupanion and our friends at The I Love Dogs Site gave us all the answers about what healthcare is essential for your dog.

What Exams Are Essential?

Your dog needs routine wellness exams in the same way that we need routine physicals. If your dog doesn’t have a wellness exam between the ages of two and six, that’s like you not seeing a doctor between the ages or 24 and 40! If you can imagine how many changes and risks there are to your health in those years then you can imagine the same for your dog. A year is a long time in a dog’s life. If he lives through his early teens to be 13, yearly exams will only equate to 13 exams in his whole life which isn’t a lot when you think of it that way!

Routine Wellness Exams

Wellness visits are essential for maintaining a relationship with your veterinarian and establishing the best preventative care so you can address health concerns early on. We all know that preventing disease and catching it early is so much better than treating it once it has progressed to a severe stage. Preventative health care on a regular basis saves you and your dog from needless suffering and a greater financial strain.

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Zoey and Laci Waiting to See The Vet

Wellness exams play a crucial part in prolonging your dog’s life and keeping her healthy long term. Puppies should have wellness visits 2-3 times per year at the beginning of their lives, and adult dogs should go at least once per year and twice per year if your budget allows it. Laci goes to the vet more often than Zoey and Jem because she’s a seven month old puppy. Zoey and Jem see the vet twice per year for preventative care and wellness exams. We love to see how comfortable they are at the vet from going regularly. Jem even fell asleep on the floor of the exam room! Now that’s relaxation.

Senior dogs should begin having wellness exams twice per year minimum and sometimes three times per year. This is when things can change most rapidly with your dog’s health. You want to catch any diseases or concerns as early as you can for the best chance of curing it. These visits are important for:

  • Understanding age-related changes and degenerative conditions
  • Exercise and diet
  • Comfort support
  • Routine lab tests to detect disease early

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.33.42 AMWellness Exams Check List:

  • Share any concerns with your vet
    • Have questions addressed, answered, and documented for future reference
  • Diagnose any health problems in the early stages
  • Update vaccines
  • Test for/control intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, and mites, heart worm
    • Refill prescriptions for preventatives
  • Nutrition
  • Dental health
    • Care you can administer at home, observe any odors, pain, or signs of disease and establish a course of treatment  
  • Exercise
    • Note how much exercise your dog is getting including how often, what kind, and any changes in your dog’s ability or enthusiasm to exercise
  • Ears and Eyes
    • Note any discharge, redness, irritation, itching, or smell and treat for infection
  • Stomach and intestines
  • Breathing
    • Report any coughing, shortness of breath, sneezing, or nasal discharge
  • Behavior
    • Share with your vet any changes in mood, happiness, behavior problems, or changes in temperament
  • Urinary
    • Note any abnormal accidents and an increase in the frequency of urination for signs of infection
  • Feet and legs
    • Report any limping, weakness, lameness, or toenail concerns
  • Coat and skin
    • Any hair loss, pigment changes, lumps, itchy spots, shedding, mats, or anal gland problems
  • Blood tests
    • Especially for geriatric dogs, dogs with medical problems, and those receiving medications
  • Preventative care options
Zoey's Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

Zoey’s Weight Is Still Slim and Trim Since Last Time!

The American Heartworm Society firmly recommends your dog be tested for heartworm every year at her wellness visits, even if you are religiously following a heartworm prevention regimen. There have been numerous cases where dogs were on heartworm prevention and still contracted the disease. The AHS strongly suggests getting tested every year so if your dog contacts the disease you have a better idea of the time frame it was contracted than if you haven’t had him tested in 3 years or more. Annual testing and uninterrupted routine heartworm prevention can make the difference between life and death of your furry best friend. You’ll never wish you had used prevention more than when it becomes too late! Never take that unnecessary risk.

Jem Tested "Negative" For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!

Jem Tested “Negative” For Heartworm! That Preventative Really Works!

Vaccinations

According to an article from PetEducation.com, experts agree that the core vaccines necessary for all dogs are:

The non-core vaccines that vets will give dogs include:

There have been controversies recently about vaccines for dogs and cats. Some researches believe that we don’t need to vaccinate every year for most of the diseases. However, they haven’t determined exactly how often we should vaccinate for each disease because they actually don’t know how long the protection from the vaccine lasts. Surprised? Me too! I always assumed it was a pretty exact science and trusted that yearly vaccinations were the necessary standard. They say that one vaccine may last 5 years, another for 3 years, and a different one for only 2 years. 

Almost all researchers still believe that we need to give puppies at least three combination vaccines that must be repeated when they turn one year old. Rabies must continue to be given within the guidelines of local ordinances. 

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

Zoey Was Due For Her Vaccines and Took It Like a Champ!

There is new research from the veterinary schools at the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and University of Wisconsin that suggests a new approach to vaccines where we alternate which vaccines we give our dog from year to year. Instead of vaccinating against more than one disease at once, your dog would receive the distemper vaccine one year, canine adenovirus-2 the next year, and parvovirus the third year repeated. However, other researchers still believe we don’t know enough about these vaccines yet to recommend only vaccinating every three years. It is up to each individual dog parent to discuss vaccines with your vet to determine the best course of prevention for your dog. 

Controlling Intestinal Parasites 

Fecal exams and deworming is as controversial as vaccines when it comes to how often your dog should be tested. Testing and deworming decisions should be based on:

  • The age of your dog
  • Likelihood your dog is exposed to feces from other animals
  • If your dog is on a heartworm preventative that controls intestinal parasites
  • If your dog has been infected before
  • If there are children who play with your dog

The American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and The Companion Animal Parasite Council all suggest testing for parasites and deworming at your yearly wellness visit. If your dog follows a strict heartworm/intestinal parasite preventative regimen year-round, they still suggest having a fecal test done. If your dog is not on a heartworm/intestinal parasite prevention (have your dog tested immediately and started on a preventative), then he needs a fecal test 2-4 times per year and to be treated accordingly. 

Senior Dogs

Older dogs are at risk for conditions that younger dogs are not. If your dog is reaching his senior years, you may want to have him tested for:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Hormonal diseases

Identifying these conditions before severe or irreversible damage is done is vital for treating the condition early. A normal, healthy result is extremely helpful so future test results can be compared. If your dog is on medication, blood work and screening is important to see how the medication is affecting his body. 

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Twice A Year!

Jem and Zoey Love Seeing the Vet Regularly!

Annual wellness exams, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and parasite control combined with recommended blood tests will play a critical role in keeping your dog healthy and help him live longer! Jem and Zoey are used to having a calm and stress-free exam at the vet, so they don’t dread the visits or get nervous and scared. They are very calm and content at their regular wellness exams.

The responsibility of keeping your dog in tip-top shape isn’t only up to your veterinarian. You should always keep a close eye on your dog’s health at home year round and report back to your vet regarding her personality, activity level, eating habits, etc. Check for lumps, bumps, flakes, scabs, irritation, redness, and itching. Pay close attention to eating and drinking habits because changes can be signs of serious problems. We all wish our dogs could just tell us what is bothering them, hurting, or when they feel sick. Unfortunately, we have to rely on our gut instincts, observations, and subtle signs our dogs show us. If you can remember to pay attention to changes in your dog from home and stick to a routine vet exam regimen, then your four legged furball will be in great shape!

Is Canned or Dry Dog Food Healthier?

Canned or Dry Dog Food? Which One Is Healthier?

We are always researching what the healthiest and best diet options are for our three dogs Zoey, Jem, and Laci. Zoey eats only canned wet food because of her frequent urinary tract infections (the water in the wet food helps prevent her UTI’s). Jem eats dry kibble with a scoop of Zoey’s wet food because she sees Zoey’s food and is envious of the flavor. Laci is just a puppy and indulges in her dry kibble without complaint, but she never misses an opportunity to sprint over to Zoey and Jem’s bowls after they’ve finished to lick them dry! 

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According to an article from DogFoodAdvisor.com, canned food may be a better option for dogs than the dry kibble – and no this article was not written by a dog who wants to convince his human to buy canned food just for the flavor of it! 

Why Can Canned Be Better Than Dry Kibble?

Canned foods typically have more meat protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry kibble. Because of the cans’ air-tight packaging, they usually don’t have synthetic preservatives, flavors, and colors. This means the fats and oils in the food won’t become rancid. 

Why Does My Dog Go Crazy Over Canned Food?

Has your dog ever had a taste of canned food? If she has I bet she went crazy over it! Our girls can’t seem to get enough. The smell lures them in and the taste gets them hooked. Laci fiends for Zoey’s wet food so bad that we have to put Zoey in a separate room to eat. Jem has become so spoiled by the scoop of wet food that we add to her kibble that if we don’t add it she looks up at us like we’re crazy and refuses to eat!

DSC02359One reason dogs go so nuts for canned food is because the meats are closer to their natural state. This makes canned foods tastier and more appetizing than the dry kibble. 

The Moisture Content Helps With Overall Health and Health Issues

PetMd explains that not all dogs drink as much water as they should and wet food can be a great source of hydration. This is one of the main reasons we feed Zoey wet food – she seems to be indifferent to drinking water. Moisture in a pet’s diet becomes increasingly important as the dog ages, whenever the dog is ill, or if the dog lives in a hot climate.

For our Zoey, the canned food is a must. The high moisture content is perfect for preventing her frequent UTI’s. If you have a dog with urinary issues, the water in the canned food helps significantly more than dry kibble. DSC02472Is your dog overweight? It’s much easier for an obese dog to loose weight by eating wet food because it makes him feel fuller quickly. Your dog can eat more canned food than dry food and still loose weight because the moisture in the canned food takes up volume that won’t contribute to weight gain. 

Canned food is great for elderly dogs or dogs with dental issues. Chewing dry kibble can be very painful and difficult for these dogs which may cause them to eat less which will contribute to poor health overall. You may have heard that dry kibble can be good for your dog’s teeth, but many believe that this is an old rumor.  

Advantages and Disadvantages To Both

DogFoodAdvisor.com broke it down nicely for us to compare the advantages and disadvantages to both dry and canned dog foods:

Glancing at this comparison, you can quickly see that dry kibble is more convenient for the humans because of its lower cost, and it does’t take up room in the refrigerator. If canned food is believed to be better for your dog’s overall health, I know the convenience factor becomes an afterthought, because our dogs deserve the best!

Dogs can’t tell us what they want or need, as much as I wish they could, but our dogs make it as obvious as they possibly can that they prefer canned food. It’s impossible for us to ignore their not so subtle hints… so canned food it is! 

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When Is Kibble The Better Choice?

When it comes to convenience and cost, nothing beats kibble. So if you’re on a tight budget (and who isn’t these days?!) then a quality kibble is the way to go, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

You can leave kibble in your dog’s bowl for an extended period of time. If your dog is used to grazing rather than eating full meals in one sitting, then you need to stick with the kibble. Because she’s a puppy, Laci eats multiple times throughout the day, so for these reasons dry kibble is the best option for her at this stage.

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You should never leave canned food in your dog’s bowl for longer than an hour or two at the most. When wet food is exposed to the environment it easily grows bacteria and quickly becomes contaminated. Dogs with a predisposition to dental problems like excessive plaque and bacteria may need more dental attention when eating a wet food than a dry kibble. 

Kibble can be stored for much longer periods of time. Once you open that bag of kibble, you know it will last until your dog eats the last bit. Unlike kibble, canned food has a short shelf life once it is opened. It must be placed in the refrigerator right after it is opened, and should not be stored opened for longer than two to three days before its time to discard it. 

We Love Kibble and Canned Food!

I don’t want you to think we’re pro-canned and anti-kibble, because we are a huge fan of both. We believe in “listening” to our dogs and watching their behavior closely to determine what each individual pup specifically needs because no two dogs are alike. Like I said, we determined canned food was the best option for Zoey, Laci does great on dry puppy kibble, and our indestructible, healthy Jem still has a perfect bill of health eating mainly kibble with a spoonful of canned to satisfy her flavor cravings. 

Whatever type of food you believe is best for your dog’s health and lifestyle is the right choice for your family. If your budget can’t find room for canned dog food and it’s too much hassle for your lifestyle, the “Jem Method” works great – just add a little bit of canned food to the kibble to have the best of both worlds! PetMd explains that either canned or kibble will satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs as long as the food is well-balanced and you make sure it is made with quality ingredients. And always remember what foods are healthy, and what foods are toxic to your dogs!

Laci loves any kind of food!