How Do I Cure My Dog’s Allergies?

cure dogs allergiesZoey has been having a terrible time with allergies lately. She wants to bite at her paws non-stop. I tried wrapping them, but we all know how long something like that lasts before Houdini-dog finds a way to remove it. I also tried wiping her paws whenever she came in from outside, but that didn’t seem to give her any relief. Our only choice was to make a visit to the vet to make sure we find a way to cure her itchy skin.

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Why Do Dogs Have Allergies?

Dogs commonly have an allergic reaction to their food, treats, or environment. The vet explained to us that almost every dog in Florida has allergies, unfortunately. And her paws aren’t bothering her because of the direct contact they’re making with anything on the ground like fertilizer, bugs, or any toxins. Instead, dogs’ paws have millions of receptors that serve the same purpose that humans’ noses do. When we have allergies, we are aware of it because of how itchy, scratchy, and bothersome our nose feels to us. The same thing happens to our dogs when they have allergies, except they have those feelings in their paws. 

IMG_1393Zoey’s paws have a reddish pink stain from biting at them. I thought this was possibly blood from breaking the skin, but the vet explained it is the discoloration from the bacteria in her mouth. Similar to the discoloration you see around the mouth of white or light colored dogs’ mouths and eyes. 

Make Sure It’s Not Your Dog’s Food Causing An Allergic Reaction First

Common ingredients in dog food that cause allergic reactions for dogs include:

  • Beef
  • Dairy
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Fish
  • Chicken Eggs
  • Corn
  • Wheat 
  • Soy

I feed Zoey Darwin’s Raw Food and chose to purchase Chicken, Turkey, and Beef so she has a variety of tastes. The vet advised that turkey is the best meat to feed a dog that is experiencing allergies because it is not known to cause any itching. Since dogs have been known to have allergies to beef and chicken, I’m going to strictly feed her the raw turkey/vegetable medley from Darwin’s and see if this naturally eases her allergies without medication. If the itching stops, I know that she’s not allergic to the turkey or vegetables.

IMG_1400At this point you can begin the elimination diet to test your dog’s food allergy. Slowly add one ingredient to her food at a time and observe her behavior to see if she has an allergy to it. This method will help determine which foods she has an allergy to so you can eliminate them from her diet.

If the itching continues no matter what food you feed her, we know that she is possibly having seasonal allergies from her environment.

Does Your Dog Suffer From Seasonal Allergies?

If a change in diet doesn’t help your dog’s allergies, then it is most likely a seasonal allergy from the environment. Like my vet said, almost every dog in Florida has seasonal allergy problems.

IMG_1463My vet recommended a Zyrtec prescription for Zoey if her allergies don’t improve from the change in diet. Zyrtec prescribed by your veterinarian is an acceptable method for improving your dog’s quality of life. While I would love to have Zoey living a medication-free, natural lifestyle… it’s not always practical to avoid medications. If Zyrtec will make her feel better, of course I’m more than happy to give her the relief she so desperately needs. Zyrtec can take a couple weeks to help because it takes awhile to get into your dog’s system. So if immediate relief is important, a steroid can be combined with the Zyrtec to give your dog relief sooner. 

Treats Should Not Be Given Without Careful Consideration 

homemade organic sweet potato dog treatsMy vet explained to me that treats commonly cause allergic reactions, too. He advised that Zoey should only have sweet potato for treats. Luckily, we are used to making our own homemade sweet potato dog treats, so this will be the easy part! Dehydrated sweet potato dog treats are really easy to make. The dogs love them as much or more than any other treats, and I can rest confidently knowing that Zoey won’t have an allergic reaction to them. 

 

Does your dog suffer from allergies? Do you have any tried and true methods for improving them?

Reasons You Should Feed Pumpkin to Your Dog

pumpkin for dogsIs there anything that says “Fall” more than a pumpkin patch? Down here in Florida it’s still in the 80’s and the orange pumpkins stick out like a sore thumb next to the lime green palm trees. But we still try to enjoy the Fall spirit, even though we don’t have a change of seasons. 

My whole life I’ve only associated pumpkins with Halloween and my favorite pie after Thanksgiving dinner. But recently I’ve learned that they are so much more than that! They’re a vegetable that some people will roast in the oven with salt and pepper as a side dish, puree as an ingredient for casseroles, and pumpkins even have multiple health and wellness benefits for dogs. 

Weight Management

Does this collar make my neck look fat?

Does this collar make my neck look fat?

There are so many dogs that are overweight. It’s so bad for their health, quality of life, mobility, and shortens their life span. Pumpkin is high in fiber and low in fat, so it’s a great treat for your dog. If your pup likes some flavor added to her dry kibble, try a little spoonful of pumpkin instead of wet food.

Digestive Health

I can tell Zoey has a full, happy belly  when she lays tummy-up!

I can tell Zoey has a full, happy belly when she lays tummy-up!

Is your dog prone to diarrhea or constipation? The fiber in pumpkin is both soluble and insoluble meaning it helps with both types of digestive problems. 

Urinary Health

Jem wasn't sure how she felt about being photographed during private time...

Jem wasn’t sure how she felt about being photographed during private time…

Pumpkin has Vitamin A, potassium, iron, and beta-carotene which support urinary health. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more potassium and fewer calories than a whole banana! 

Immune System Support

The beta-carotene and antioxidants promote a healthy immune system for dogs of all ages.  

Allergy Friendly

Some people might not even realize that their dogs have allergies. They can be brought on by all kinds of food – especially corn, soy, or wheat ingredients. If you dog is itchy, has red skin, or bites at herself, she may have allergies. Pumpkin is great because it isn’t a common allergen. It’s a great substitute ingredient to use as a replacement for ingredients your dog is allergic to. 

It Tickles Dogs’ Taste Buds

Jem LOVES pumpkin! Whether its pureed, cooked, or raw!

Jem LOVES pumpkin! Whether its pureed, cooked, or raw!

Do you have a picky eater? Pumpkin has a wonderful flavor that dogs love. Add it to dry kibble to get her to eat her food. The smooth and creamy texture mixes great with dog food. You can even hide your dog’s medication in a dollop of pumpkin, or show your pup what a good girl she is with yummy homemade pumpkin treats.

When I set up a few pumpkins for Zoey and Jem, I never expected Jem to nab one of the small pumpkins…

IMG_0863Carry it onto the carpeting…

IMG_0638And proceed to gnaw on it like a bone or the best treat she’s ever tasted!

IMG_0692Zoey wasn’t so sure what all the fuss was about… and I couldn’t stop laughing!

IMG_0746As soon as I would take it away from her and put it back in the pile, she would spring up and run over to snatch another one…

IMG_0863She would have eaten them all until they were gone if I let her! 

IMG_0966Was it the flavor?

IMG_1162Or the texture?

IMG_1001Zoey and I will never know…

IMG_1184I had to take them from her before the overdosed. She missed them so much, she figured she would see what the corn was all about…

IMG_1202This really perplexed Zoey and I…

IMG_0942And when that plan failed, she tried her luck at the large pumpkins! They were just a little out of her league…

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Who would have thought that she would love raw pumpkin so much? I thought I could get a couple cute pictures of them posing in front of the pumpkins, but I hadn’t set them down for 2 seconds before my little pumpkin thief swooped in!

Does your dog love pumpkin as much as Jem? Or is she more like Zoey and prefers it cooked into a treat or mixed in with her food? Has pumpkin improved your dogs health in any way?

Dirtiest Place In Your Home: Your Pet’s Water Bowl!

Clean water for your pet - pet fountains from radiofence.comA clean water bowl is more vital to your pet’s health than you could imagine. A study conducted in 2011 by NSF International tested for the dirtiest places in our homes and found that our pets’ water bowl is the 4th dirtiest place in our homes! When you compare that to places like the toilet, doorknobs, shower drains, and garbage disposals, that really puts it into perspective just how dirty our pets’ water bowls are! Who would have thought?

What Kinds of Germs Are In My Pet’s Water Bowl?

The most common bacteria found in dog and cat bowls is Serratia Marcescens which has a peach/pink color to it. It commonly causes infection and pneumonia. Even if you don’t see a pink-ish color in the bowl, there’s a good chance the bacteria is there. 

IMG_2993You will also find yeast, mold, and coliform bacteria (salmonella and E. coli) in your pet’s water bowl. The fat in your pet’s food is the ideal fuel for germs like these, so food bowls are three times as filthy as the water bowls – so always disinfect with hot water and antibacterial soap between meals or in the dishwasher! Don’t forget to use that soap… according to a study published in a Canadian Veterinarian Journal, rinsing the bowls with hot water is so ineffective that it’s as if you’re doing nothing at all. You absolutely need antibacterial soap to kill the germs – and NO your pet won’t taste the soap just as you don’t taste the soap on the dishes you eat from. 

The NSF states:

Pet dishes should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. If hand washing, place the dishes in a 1:50 bleach rinse (one cap of bleach in one gallon of water) and soak for about 10 minutes once per week. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.

Rule of thumb: don’t expect your dog to eat or drink from something that would give you the ‘heebie-jeebies’ if you had to use it yourself. 

What Material Should My Pet’s Bowl Be Made Out Of?

IMG_2924Did you know that some materials are better than others at fighting the growth of bacteria and germs? You really want to stick to stainless steel or ceramic for your pet’s water (and food) bowls. These are the cleanest and safest – no plastic! Plastic is extremely porous and scratches easily which makes it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, algae, and mold.

Solution To The Dirty Dog Bowl Dilemma:

Get a pet fountain! They constantly filter the water so even the messiest drinkers will find a clean bowl of water the next time they go in for a drink. I’ve seen dogs that come inside with a face full of sand, bugs, mud, or whatever else they find outside. Then there’s those messy eaters that can’t keep their food out of the water bowl. And I wondered why the dog bowl was the 4th dirtiest place in the home because…? A pet fountain eliminates all of these bacteria causing particles. 

A pet fountain should be a necessity in every pet’s home… it’s just good hygiene! But there’s plenty of other reasons why your dog prefers a fountain over a typical water bowl.

Your Pet Wants A “Fresh Glass Of Water” Too!

Do you love to drink from a glass of stagnant water that’s been sitting out all day? Of course not! And neither does your dog or cat.

IMG_2911It wasn’t until the pet fountains were invented that I sat back and realized –  ‘Wow, I’m expecting my dogs to drink from a bowl of water that’s been sitting out all day (or a couple days) …but I wouldn’t drink from that!”

If I have a glass of water that I didn’t finish after a few hours, I dump it in the sink and grab a fresh glass and refill. So it’s funny that we are so accustomed to our dogs drinking in this way. Now after having that “a-ha” moment, it just feels like common sense to provide my dogs with the same “luxury” I’m accustomed to. Would you drink from the same glass for your entire life without washing it every day? 

Fountains Encourage Dogs and Cats To Drink More Water Which Improves Health

Research shows that one of the best ways to improve your dog or cat’s health is to get her to drink more water. Whenever I take the dogs to the vet for their check-ups, I share my concerns with him that I don’t see Zoey drinking enough water. Jem is obsessed with ice cubes and regularly takes big gulps from the water bowl, so I know she’s getting the hydration she needs. But Zoey seems so uninterested in drinking water, and she doesn’t like ice cubes, so I worry.

IMG_3039On those rare occasions when I see her drinking from the water bowl I’ll tense up, stop whatever I’m doing, and try not to make a sound for fear that I’ll spook her and scare her away from it! It’s that bad… So I was relieved to learn that fountains are clinically proven to encourage dogs to drink more water than they do with a conventional dog bowl. This is great news for a finicky drinker like Zoey!

IMG_3057Does your dog drink from a fountain? If not, do you think he or she would love one as much and Jem and Zoey do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

As a thank you for being a loyal reader of the RadioFence.com blog and educating yourself on your pet’s health, we’re giving you 5% off any fountain of your choice. Your dog deserves clean, healthy water every day! Use coupon code “FOUNTAIN” at check out. 

 

See Our Favorite Porcelain Fountains In Action:

 

Have you ever seen how dogs really drink water?

 

BarkPost uses our pet fountains to explain how dogs drink water:

Brain Foods That Will Extend Your Dog’s Lifespan

Brain Foods That Will Extend Your Dog's LIfe SpanEating healthy is about more than looking slim and trim on the outside. Most importantly, it keeps our bodies healthy on the inside – especially our minds! And our dogs are no different. Their overall health – mind, body, and soul – is greatly affected by what foods they eat every day. 

Watching our dogs age can seem like the quickest and most gut-wrenching process of life. We want them by our sides forever, and seeing their muzzles getting grayer or their energy slowly getting weaker can make us feel hopeless. 

The nutrients in your dog’s food help support her muscles, joints, and skin. But they also affect your dog’s healthy brain function, and the right nutrients can vastly improve her lifespan. Dogs are just like humans when it comes to experiencing degradation in brain function with age. Senior dogs can develop dementia and other forms of brain deterioration that diminishes their quality of life. 

The best way to support your dog’s healthy brain function and improve his quality of life is to make sure his diet consists of the proper nutrients.

healthy foods to improve your dogs life

Omega 3 fatty acids

A very common issue for aging dogs is canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) which is extremely similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. Dogs will begin to forget how to do things they could do before, become disoriented, forgetful, and have accidents in the house.

Flax is a great brain food for dogs!

Flax is a great brain food for dogs!

Omega 3 fatty acids are linked to reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and have been used to treat mood disorders. Good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids for dogs include salmon or other fatty fish, flax, and krill.  

Vitamins C & E

Just like humans, dogs will experience changes in their brains such as beta-amyloid accumulation and oxidative damage causing cognitive dysfunction. Older dogs that are fed a diet high in antioxidants have shown improved learning and spatial attention within only two short weeks of the diet starting. The improvement was even greater when this was combined with mental stimulation through walks, housing with another dog, and training exercises. 

The antioxidants in vitamins C & E protect the brain from free radical damage. Diets that are high in antioxidants are believed to help delay cognitive decline. In a study conducted to test dogs’ spatial memory and ability to choose between two different objects, recognize items, and adapt to new situations, dogs on diets that were high in antioxidants tested far better than dogs that were fed a normal diet.

Berries, Kale, and Carrots are great sources of antioxidants.

Berries, Kale, and Carrots are great sources of antioxidants.

Dogs can find antioxidants in berries such as blueberries and raspberries, carrots, and leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli. 

B vitamins

B-6 helps form neurotransmitters to help with healthy brain development. B-12 is an essential vitamin for brain and nerve function. It also helps form red blood cells and DNA.

We always have spinach in the house - and the dogs love it!

We always have spinach in the house – and the dogs love it!

Studies have also shown that consuming B-6 and B-12 has positive effects on memory. Dogs will ingest B vitamins from food when they consume:  most meats, sea food, chickpeas, and spinach. 

Luteolin    

This is a plant compound that tames inflammation in the brain which restores memory. It is found in celery, carrots, peppers, and rosemary. 

Celery gives your dog's food a yummy (healthy!) crunch.

Celery gives your dog’s food a yummy (healthy!) crunch.

 Introducing Brain Foods Into To Your Dog’s Diet

As with anything in life, prevention is always better than treatment. This means that you should start as early as birth with preventing cognitive disorders through a healthy supplemented diet. Your dog will live longer and experience a more enriched life if these brain disorders are prevented rather than treated once they are developed later on in life. 

Jem and Zoey Love Brain Foods!

Jem and Zoey Love Brain Foods!

A healthy lifestyle balanced with physical activity, socialization, cognitive-enhancing activities, and an adequate intake of dietary antioxidants will vastly improve your dog’s overall health, quality of life, and increase her lifespan. 

Remember! Always consult your veterinarian or pet nutritionist before making any drastic diet changes to your dog’s routine. Some pet foods already contain high levels of vitamins and antioxidants, so you don’t want to overdo it and cause damage. If you do make the decision to supplement your dog’s food after consulting with your veterinarian, introduce the change slowly so as not to upset his stomach. Most importantly when introducing human foods to your dog: familiarize yourself with which foods are poisonous to dogs! 

Learn more about brain stimulating tricks for your dog at Modern Dog Magazine!

Help Your Dog Love Bath Time in 3 Easy Steps!

Train Dog To Like BathsSome dogs love the water whether it’s jumping after a stick into the lake on a hot day, jumping in the waves at the beach, or leaping into the pool to swim with the family. Other dogs are not so thrilled at the idea of getting soaking wet, feeling the pressure and hearing the noise of rushing water, or fearing that they’re trapped inside a big tub with no escape. Our dog Jem is one of those dogs that absolutely freaks out at the sign of water, so bath time has always been a chore to say the least. 

If your dog is one of those that absolutely hates bath time, fights and scratches to avoid it, and thrashes water all over the house in protest, don’t worry – there’s hope! Every dog wants to hear those two magic words: “good dog!” They love to be obedient, feel comfortable, and make their parents proud. It just takes a little bit of training on our end to get them to that point. 

Luckily there are tried and true methods for training your dog to love bath time and feel comfortable. It only takes a few 3-5 minute training sessions!

Step 1: Practice Being In The Tub

For some dogs, the act of standing in the tub is intimidating enough, nevermind having the water rushing out of the faucet and getting soaking wet.. The slippery texture and surrounding walls are unfamiliar and scary for some. If you practice having your dog just hang out in the tub to start with, this will give her a chance to get used to the environment. 

"Peanut Butter Kong?! Count Me In!"

“Peanut Butter Kong?! Count Me In!”

Putting down an inexpensive bath mat can make all of the difference in the world for your dog. This will make it so the tub isn’t slippery and gives your pup a stable place to stand. Sometimes the slipperiness is one of the most intimidating parts of bath time and can be resolved easily with this simple trick. 

I bought a bath mat for $5.00 that didn’t have too much texture. I didn’t want any of the “massaging” ones that would feel weird on her sensitive paws. 

Step 2: Associate The Tub With A Tasty Treat

The fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. The same is true for your dog! If your dog associates being in the bath tub with having his favorite treat, then he is sure to look forward to bath time! It’s best to choose a treat that will last awhile and require your dog to do some work.

Peanut butter solves everything!

Peanut butter solves everything!

A bone or peanut butter-stuffed Kong works great! I let Jem sniff her Kong before introducing her to the bath time to catch her attention. I placed the Kong in the tub, and she practically jumped in by herself to get to it. I placed her in t he tub, and once Jem got busy working on her Kong her anxiety about being in the tub slipped away within a few minutes. While your dog relaxes and works on the treat, gently and calmly brush her so she associates getting cleaned/groomed as a positive experience. 

A peanut butter Kong and a back massage?! Heavenly!

A peanut butter Kong and a back massage?! Heavenly!

 Repeat this process until she becomes calm, relaxed, and comfortable with the experience of being in the bath tub. Her anxiety will subside as long as you take things slow and practice this process on several separate occasions until she shows signs that she is comfortable.

Time to search the house for more peanut butter Kongs!

Time to search the house for more peanut butter Kong’s!

Jem became comfortable being in the tub and wanted to stay in during this part of the training until her Kong was out of peanut butter, and then she was on to the next adventure! She jumped out of the tub which I was happy about. If I can get her used to jumping in and out by herself, then she can feel like she’s more in control and relaxed. She did so great after only her first session! I was thrilled that such a simple trick made all of the difference in the world for her. And on our first try!

Step 3: Gradually Introduce Water

Rather than turning the faucet on and drenching your pup from the get-go, which can be intimidating, have a container of warm water ready to gently and slowly pour onto the floor of the tub. And before you have your dog get in the tub, wet the bottom of the tub so she can get used to the floor being wet and a little more slick. 

Pouring water indirectly onto the bottom of the tub is non-threatening

Pouring water indirectly onto the bottom of the tub is non-threatening

 Introducing the water slowly will make your dog feel like she is still in control of her emotions without shocking her with too much too fast. I poured a little bit of water next to Jem slowly and pulled back when she showed signs of fear. When she looked like she wanted to jump out of the tub, I would pause and let her step back into the comfort zone of chewing her Kong. She slowly felt comfortable with me pouring more and more water close to her. She even let me pour it on her foot and the Kong!

Jem quickly became comfortable with more water poured next to her

Jem quickly became comfortable with more water poured next to her

A running faucet can bother some dogs because the sound affects their ears. Repeat this process of introducing water and increase the length of time spent in the tub until your pup feels comfortable having the water poured onto her side, back, or feet. You can gradually introduce more water until you’ve moved on to having a full bath from start to finish. 

Jem went from a skittish, and scared pup to a dog that loves baths!

Jem went from a skittish, and scared pup to a dog that loves baths!

I was honestly surprised at how well these training techniques worked with Jem. She’s by far our most skittish, nervous, and fearful dog when it comes to water. The trick was to take the training slowly and trust her to show me how quickly she wanted to progress through the training steps. It required me to be patient and confident that she would learn to love bath time at her own pace. I remained calm and positive while giving her positive reinforcement and words of encouragement every step of the way. If Jem the “scaredy-cat” can learn to love bath time, I believe any dog can!

Does your dog love or hate bath time? And do you know any tricks to make the process more enjoyable for both pups and pup-parents?

These training techniques were adapted from PetFinder.com