Friday, November 28, 2014

Exercise with your dog

Most people eat a little too much on Thanksgiving, and most Americans gain a few pounds. This is often the start of an eating extravaganza that doesn't end until the new year is here, and many pets are pulled into the eating frenzy too. It just doesn't seem fair to enjoy all these goodies without sharing. 

Take your dog for an extra walk, or go a little further than usual. It might be really exciting for your dog to just go the other direction than you usually do. Regular walks are great both for dogs and people - walking gives a stronger heart, more energy, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk of depression.

If you're more into jogging than walking, consider your dog breed. Some breeds love jogging, others are built for short distance sprints. Do five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down. If you're in a hot area, avoid jogging in the heat of the day, and stop if your dog shows any signs of not keeping up with you.

Dog dancing is another fun thing to try that will give both you and your four-footed friend some exercise. Dog dancing does not mean having your dog standing up on the back legs and slow dancing with you. This sport is also called musical freestyle, and you choreograph and train a dance routine with your dog to music.

Training for dog dancing will build a strong bond between you and your dog - and get you in shape as a bonus. Watch this video to get some ideas.


Swimming is another great workout, particularly good for dogs and people with arthritis. Swimming works many different groups of muscles, improves endurance, and improves both heart and lungs. Not all dogs like to swim, and some breeds aren't good at swimming, so make sure your dog is comfortable.

Do you exercise with your dog? What is your favorite type of exercise?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

The big eating holiday has finally arrived, and around the USA families are stuffing turkeys, baking pumpkin pies, and decorating their homes for family and friends. Almost everyone eats too much, and that includes the pets. Here are some tips on making Thanksgiving safe and happy for everyone.

It's a good idea to set a pet feeding policy. If your guests are allowed to feed your pets, tell them what's okay to give, and to make sure to give small quantities. Pets are more sensitive to overeating than humans.

It's okay to share:

  • Well cooked and boneless turkey
  • Unsalted and unbuttered vegetables such as beans and carrots
  • Mashed potatoes - unless your pet is lactose intolerant
  • Macaroni and cheese - again, unless your pet is lactose intolerant
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Most fruits and berries

Pets should not have:

  • Turkey skin, bones, or undercooked turkey
  • Raw bread dough
  • Xylitol
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Any form of onion
  • Alcohol - not even beer
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Nutmeg
  • Sage
  • Chocolate

Have a great Thanksgiving!

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meatloaf for doggies

If you're preparing for Thanksgiving and want to make something extra for the dog in your life, a dog-friendly meatloaf might hit the spot. 

If your pet can't eat wheat, you can leave out the bread slices and wheat germ. Instead, add oat bran and increase the oatmeal to twelve cups.

You need:

  • 1 pound of ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 container of cottage cheese (24 ounces)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk powder
  • 1/4 cup of wheat germ
  • 8 slices of oatmeal bread (crumbled)
  • 8 cups of cooked oatmeal
  • 4 cups of cooked brown rice

What to do:

Blend the ground beef and the cottage cheese. Add in the eggs, milk powder, and wheat germ. When those ingredients are mixed, add crumbled bread, oatmeal, and the brown rice. Mix well.

You can bake the mixture as one large meatloaf, as meatloaf muffins, or in smaller pans. It should be baked at 350F for an hour.

The meatloaf freezes very well.

Do you cook and bake for your pets? What is your favorite recipe?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Make kitty cookies for Thanksgiving

This week many will spend extra time in the kitchen. If you have a cat, you might want to make an extra Thanksgiving treat for them as well. It's better to have a special treat for kitty than to just hand out food from the dinner table.

These cookies contain a lot of ingredients, but it's worth the effort, because most cats love them.

You need:

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons of wheat germ
  • 1/4 cup of soy flour
  • 1/3 cup of powdered milk
  • 1 tablespoon kelp
  • 1/2 teaspoon bonemeal
  • 1 teaspoon dried and crushed catnip leaves
  • 1 tablespoon molasses (unsulfured)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/3 cup water or catwalk

What to do:

Mix all the dry ingredients. Add molasses, egg, oil, and milk/water. Roll out the dough flat and cut it into narrow strips. Bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 350 F. 

Once baked, you can break the strips into small pieces.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Icelandic Sheepdog

Image from
The Icelandic Sheepdog is a dog that came to Iceland with the Vikings around the year 900, and it is considered one of the oldest breeds in the world. It is related to the Karelian Bear Dog, but the breeds separated very long ago.

These dogs are versatile and lively, and have been used to herd sheep, cattle, and even horses. They have also been used as watch dogs and general working dogs.

A typical Icelandic Sheepdog is hardy, playful, agile, intelligent, friendly, and inquisitive. They're used to working on their own and figuring things out, and they learn very quickly. That means they're easy to train, but also that unsuspecting owners often teach the dogs things they're not supposed to know.

When it comes to temperament, these dogs are energetic when the occasion calls for it, but have the ability to calm down indoors. They are loyal and love being with family. They are also patient with children, and overall they make great family dogs.

The Icelandic Sheepdog can have long or short coat. Many have two dewclaws on each hind leg. They shed the undercoat twice a year and require a lot of brushing at that time, but other than that they're easy to care for.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 21, 2014

Time is running out to enter the PlexiDor contest!

The 2014 PlexiDor contest is open just over one more week - last day to enter is November 30th. One grand prize winner will receive 1,000 pounds of Black Gold dog food, and runners up will get gift cards for Dunkin Donuts.

The food will be delivered to the winner's door - or to a rescue or shelter of their choice. To enter, visit this link, upload a photo of your dog using a dog door, and answer an easy question.

If you don't have a dog door, use your imagination. We love to see creative entries!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pumpkin everything is here!

Fall is the season of pumpkin, and everything comes with pumpkin spice. There is latte, bread, ice cream, yogurt, cereal, beer, and a plethora of other things pumpkin. Many of these products are tempting to dogs, but not all of them should be eaten by our four footed friends.

Pumpkin itself is fine for dogs to eat, in moderate amounts. It contains a lot of fiber, and most dogs love it. The problem is that pumpkin spice products contain a mix of spices - but no pumpkin.

Pumpkin spice normally contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and possibly other spices. When added to food, none of these should cause a problem. Unless your pet gets into your spice cabinet and eats a large amount, of course.

Never give your dog alcoholic drinks, and keep tempting pumpkin-spiced alcoholic drinks out of reach. Alcohol is much more dangerous to dogs than it is to people.

Cookies, cakes, pies, and similar can be too rich for a dog. Be observant for chocolate, raisins, xylitol, and macadamia nuts.

Yogurt and ice cream can be okay for a dog, it depends on the individual. Many dogs are lactose intolerant.

Keep an eye on your pumpkin flavored foods, and if you want to share, a spoonful of canned pure pumpkin is a great choice for the pets.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rescue dog returns favor and saves owner

Image from:
When Todd Kibbey collapsed on the porch of his home because of a heart problem, his ten year old dog Tiger didn't waste any time; the pit bull - boxer mix went to get help.

Tiger ended up with Tami Michalak, who found Mr Kibbey's address and phone number on Tiger's collar. She tried calling, but no one answered, so she put Tiger on a leash and headed in the direction for Tiger's home. The large dog tugged all the way, and was clearly in a hurry to get back.

According to the Toledo Blade, Mr Kibbey remembers nothing from being on the porch of his home to waking up in a hospital.

Tiger was once rescued as a puppy in the Florida Everglade's, and his own act of heroics has not gone unnoticed. He will receive a Heroic Mutt Award from PETA that includes dog treats, a toy, a framed certificate, and a special harness to make walks comfortable. Only a handful of these awards are given out in a year.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Snack on fruits and berries

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and most pet parents have learned by now that dogs can't eat onion or chocolate. A few people still believe that dogs won't eat anything that's bad for them, but that myth is pretty much debunked. 

If you want to share delicacies with your dogs, fruits and berries are great choices. Most fruits and berries are okay for pets to eat, but some can be dangerous.

Apples Yes  The fruit is fine, but pets shouldn't eat the seeds since they can be toxic. Most dogs won't eat the skin, but will be happy to share a peeled slice without seeds.
Bananas Yes  If your dog likes banana, it's fine for them to eat. Peeled, of course.
Blackberries Yes Blackberries are filled with antioxidants and vitamins, and they are good for pets.
Blueberries Yes Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and fine for cats and dogs to eat. You might not want to give them a whole bowl, but a few berries is a good snack.
Cherries No All parts of a cherry plant except the meat in the fruit contain cyanide. The pit is toxic.
Coconut Yes Coconut meat and milk are fine for dogs to eat.
Grapes No Never give a dog grapes or raisins. Many dogs react adversely to them, and we still don't know why some dogs seem able to handle them better than others. If your dog has a bad reaction, they can become very sick and even die. Treat grapes like chocolate, and if your dog eats grapes or raisins, go see your vet.
Mango Yes Dogs can have a piece of mango flesh without the peel and the pit. Make sure your dog doesn't eat the pit.
Oranges Yes Citrus fruits are rich in vitamins and give no adverse reactions. Remove the peel and any seeds.
Peaches No While the meat of a peach theoretically isn't dangerous to a dog, the pit contains cyanide, and this is a deadly poison. Cyanide can seep out from the pit into the meat, and while that isn't enough to harm a human, it can be enough to harm a dog. Avoid peaches. 
Pears Yes The same thing goes for pears as for apples - the meat is fine, but remove the seed and core.
Pineapple Yes Many dogs love pineapple, and it is good for them to eat. (Remove the prickly husk, of course.)
Plums No Plums share the problem of peaches - the pit is dangerous.
Raspberries Yes Many dogs love raspberries, and they are fine for pets to eat.
Strawberries Yes Remove the leaves and stem, and enjoy with your pet.
Watermelon Yes Remove the seeds.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Australian Terrier

Image from
The Australian Terrier is a small and confident dog developed to help families in the harsh Australian Outback. The dogs worked side by side with settlers to control snakes and vermin, warn for intruders, and help care for cattle. 

The breed has been developed since the early 19th century, and stems from dogs brought to Australia from Great Britain. It was recognized as its own breed in 1868, and is the first breed native to Australia.

A typical Australian Terrier is courageous, alert, cheerful, and friendly to humans, but they tend to be bossy to other dogs. These dogs are bred to like humans and to be good companions, and they are happiest when together with their families - this isn't a dog that will be content alone in the back yard. They are known for being particularly fond of children and the elderly.

Australian Terriers are great jumpers, and their hunting instinct is deeply rooted, so the dog is very likely to chase squirrels, rabbits, cats, or other animals with the right size and speed. They are also natural watch dogs, and will tell you if a stranger approaches the house.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pets are for life, please prepare accordingly

As we get closer to the holidays, many consider giving pets as gifts, and all too many of these pets find themselves homeless just after Christmas. Pets should not be a surprise. Talk through decisions like this with the whole family and make sure that everyone shares the idea of what should happen and how.

Deciding to get a pet is fun, but also a big responsibility. When picking a type of pet you should naturally try to find something that fits with your lifestyle and expectations, but it is also wise to consider its expected life span. Many older pets end up in shelters because their owners were unprepared for the pet's old age.

Good questions to consider include:

  • Are there expected changes in your life that will make it impossible for you to care for the pet?
  • Will you be able to carry the cost of food, vet bills, vaccination, toys, and so on?
  • As the pet ages, costs for veterinary care and special food can increase. Will you be able to handle that?
  • Will someone be there to care for the pet through all of its life? 
  • If something happens that makes it impossible for you to keep your pet, do you have someone else that can step in?

Indoor cats normally live between 12 and 18 years, but many get much older. The world's oldest known cat lived to be 38 years old. When it comes to dogs, the size and breed makes a big difference in expected life span. Smaller breeds generally live longer than larger breeds. The world's oldest dog was a sheepdog from Australia, and he lived for over 29 years.

Other types of pets can also have long and rich lives. You might not associate goldfish with longevity, but Tish the goldfish was recorded as the oldest goldfish in captivity 43 years after he was won as a prize. Normal life expectancy for goldfish is between 10 and 20 years.

Rabbits have an average life expectancy of 5-8 years, but they can become much older. The oldest known rabbit lived for 16 years.

The Chinchilla is another popular pet. They normally live around 15 years in captivity, but some make it well into their 20s.

Many avoid getting cats and dogs because their lifespans are so much shorter than ours. We're often closer to our pets than to other people, and the demise of a loved pet is difficult to bear. On the other hand, it's not so good if the pet outlives its human, and this is definitely something to take into account if you're looking at a bird or a tortoise. Parrots are known to get very attached to their owners - and they can live well over 80 years. Some types of tortoises live more than 150 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Feeding an older cat

Indoor cats generally live to be somewhere between 12 and 18 years old. Many live well into their 20s, and the world's oldest cat reached the venerable age of 38. Naturally you want to keep your kitty for as long as possible, and here are some tips on feeding a senior cat to keep him or her as healthy as possible.

Cats show visible changes related to age somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12. Their bodies change as they age just like ours do. Common health issues with older cats include loss of muscle mass, obesity, deterioration of skin and coat, intestinal problems, arthritis, dental problems, and a decreased immune system. 

Some changes are unavoidable, but many can be managed through the diet.

Start your cat on a senior diet around the age of seven. The main idea with the senior diet is to help kitty stay healthy and keep an optimal weight, while also preventing chronic disease.

Keep a daily routine and take your cat to the vet to assess health and any chronic diseases. 

Older cats are more sensitive to stress and changes in routine than younger cats so try to avoid stressful situations and implement changes in a gradual manner.

Do you have an older kitty? Do you have any tips to share on how to keep them healthy?

~ Maria Sadowski 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Three good dog training tips

A well trained and well behaved dog is nothing short of impressive. If you've been in a situation where your own dog pretends to be deaf and looks like the worst trained pooch on the block while the neighbors' dogs sit calmly next to their owners, watching the spectacle, you know what I mean.

What do these dog owners know that others don't?

Training is the basis of how your dog will behave both at home in your own yard and amongst other people and distractions. Here are three things easy to overlook that can make a real difference when training.

1. Practice in different environments

Dogs don't generalize well. If you learn something you know that the same thing is true no matter where you go. A dog might not make the same connection, and if you teach your dog a certain command in your living room she might not necessarily understand it in the kitchen.

If you want your dog to react the same way to the same commands everywhere, you have to practice in different locations. Practice in your house, in your yard, at Pet Smart, at the park, on your walk, and everywhere else you go.

2. It's okay to back up a few steps

Work on one part of a skill at a time. For instance, if you want your dog to sit pretty with the front paws up in the air she first needs to know how to sit. If you want your dog to sit and stay you first have to train sitting, then sitting until you say it's okay to move, sitting while you move away, and finally sitting while you move away and there are distractions around her.

If you're practicing something new and feel that you're not making progress, you might need to back up a bit. Or, if you and your dog hasn't done a certain thing for some time, you might need to go back and practice. Refresh your dog's memory by going back to a step you know he or she can perform and do that for a little bit. This will help keep your training sessions fun and positive too.

3. Use good rewards

If you're training at home in your kitchen, dry kibble might be enough to keep your dog's attention. In the park with other people and dogs around, you might need something more interesting. Dogs like smelly, stinky things, and gooey treats, cheese, or a piece of chicken might do the trick.

Is your dog good at listening to you? What is your best training tip?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dogs and language

Dogs naturally communicate with body language, but they're quite able to learn and understand language spoken by humans. Just remember that whatever language you speak is your dog's second language.

Any dog can learn the meaning of specific words and commands, for example sit, lie down, walk, and shake. Some dogs get confused when the familiar words are buried in sentences, and some get confused when we use different words for the same thing. Set your dog up for success by choosing one word or phrase for an action and make sure everyone in the family uses it.

The average dog can understand somewhere between 150 and 200 words. That's a decent vocabulary, and if you keep yourself consistent you can get a long way with that amount.

Some dog breeds are more attuned to human language than others. Many working dogs understand spoken commands, gestures, and sounds.

What type of language will dogs understand the best?

Words pertaining to objects or behaviors are the easiest for dogs to understand. That is, your dog can relate very well to words like sit, ball, car, and treat.

How many words can the smartest dogs understand?

Swedish Border Collie Turbo filmed in several countries and understood Swedish, English, and German - in complete spoken sentences. The dog scientifically tested on largest vocabulary is called Chaser. She is also a Border Collie and knows over 1,000 words and understands grammar.

Regardless of breed, every dog is an individual and will learn at their own pace. Many think older dogs can't learn new words or tricks, but they can learn just as well as puppies. It can take longer for an older dog, but with patience, consistency, and rewards, any dog can learn.

Do your dogs understand many spoken words? Have you actively taught them, or did they just get it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 10, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Brazilian Terrier

The Brazilian Terrier is a three colored dog related to the Jack Russell Terrier, and one of a handful of dog breeds native to Brazil. The breed stems back to the 1800s when Jack Russell Terriers were imported from Europe and bred with Miniature Pinschers and Chihuahuas.

Brazilian Terriers are known for being perky, intelligent, and alert. They love to play, dig, bark, and romp around. They also have a strong hunting instinct and like to chase small animals.

Being an intelligent and active breed, Brazilian Terriers need both physical and mental activity. They do best with experienced owners that can keep them occupied, and they need room to move. This is a great companion for a family who likes to hike, run, or power walk. Even with exercise, the dog is likely to be the first in the family to get up in the morning, and the last to fall asleep.

This is a fairly common dog in its homeland, and rare outside of Brazil. Owners often keep a Brazilian Terrier to alert for intruders, and a Fila Brasileiro to take care of the intruders.

When it comes to health, Brazilian Terriers have few hereditary problems and many live up to 15 years. They are easy to train, albeit very high energy dogs, and they don't require much grooming.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dog of the Month: Chocolate Labrador

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular breed of dog registered in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. This Canadian breed is also the most popular choice for assistant dogs in a number of countries.

Labradors are typically athletic and love to swim; they even have webbed paws. They enjoy playing catch-and-retrieve games, and they're generally good with children. Many labradors work as guide dogs for the blind, and as police dogs.

The breed originated in Newfoundland, where the dogs helped fishermen pull in nets and catch fish. Since then they've been crossed with Spaniels, Setters, and other Retrievers, and the Labrador has become a perfect family dog.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Easy dog cookies

At this time a year, holidays line up, and many of them celebrate food. Most of the delicacies we humans eat aren't good for dogs, but there's no reason not to make some cookies for the furry friends too. 

This recipe is super-easy and quick, and you can delight your dog within minutes.

What you need:
  • 2 cups wheat germ
  • 3 jars chicken baby food - make sure you get one with no onions
  • 1 tablespoon water

What to do:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F
  • Strain the baby food
  • Mix wheat germ, baby food, and water
  • If needed, add some more water, so you can form a dough
  • Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet
  • Flatten balls - they look good if you press them down with a fork dipped in water and make a cross pattern
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes
~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Teach your pet to use the pet door

Most pets are eager to explore the outside, and once they realize they have the option to go in and out as they please, they will jump at the opportunity. Teaching the pet to use a pet door generally takes somewhere between five seconds and five days.

Using the PlexiDor comes naturally to most dogs and cats, even if they are reluctant to use a traditional rubber flap door. They can see the outside through the clear panel, and the panel swings open easily.

If the pet doesn’t take to the door, try propping one of the panels open and coaxing the pet through with a treat. When it comes to cats, it generally works well to put something they want on the other side of the door.

Use something stinky and gross that they really want. Praise your pet every time they come through.

For the electronic door, it usually works well to put a treat on the bottom lip of the pet door. The dog or cat approaches to get the treat, and the collar key triggers the door to open. It doesn’t take long for the pets to figure out that the door will open when they come close.

Some pets need longer than others. It is important to stay patient and calm, and give praise once they do come through. When the get the hang of it, they’ll be happy to run in and out without having to wait for a human to get the door.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Man's best friend gets owner busted

Image from
Alabama dog Bo might be a bit more enthusiastic to see his owner than the owner would have wanted - Edward Henderson was hiding from the police, and Bo's fervently wagging tail revealed him.
The story starts when local police came to Henderson's house with a drug search warrant. The press release says, "As officers were pulling up to the residence, the suspect Edward Melvin Henderson fled on foot towards the rear of the residence. At the rear of his residence was about a 25-foot ravine. Henderson jumped off the ravine and continued running."
This is when Bo entered the picture. The  husky/pit bull mix came up to the investigators, who pointed at Henderson and told the dog to "go get him." Bo was happy to comply, and eventually found his master hiding in tall grass.
Henderson is now taken into custody on several charges, and Bo is staying with relatives. The police department has communicated through their Facebook page that Bo is being well cared for. 
They write, "It is our understanding that the Autauga County Animal Control Officer was contacted and went to check on Bo. Family members were taking care of him. Through several Facebook posts, the family member assures other readers that the dog is well loved and will not be harmed. We are requesting that the Autauga County Animal Control Officer keep a periodic check on Bo. Thanks for all your concerns."
If that doesn't work out for him, I bet he has a future in search-and-rescue!
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Belgian Sheepdog

The Belgian Sheepdog, also known as the Groenendael or Chien de Berger Belge, is an elegant, strong, and proud dog breed from Belgium that stems back to the 1800s. 

In the past, the dogs were herders, companions, and watchdogs. It didn't take long until their intelligence and trainability made them known outside of Belgium, and in the early 20th century many served as police dogs in France and even New York City. They also worked for the Belgian Customs and did an outstanding job at catching smugglers.

While many other breeds suffered during WWI, the Belgian Sheepdog thrived. They served on the battlefields and did everything from carrying messages to pulling machine guns, and in WWII they guarded military installations.

Today, the versatile breed is popular in search and rescue, as therapy dogs, and as guide dogs.

As you can imagine, this is an energetic working breed, and the dogs are happiest when they have a lot to do and get ample exercise. But, in contrast to many other working breeds these dogs have an "off" button and make wonderful, gentle, and devoted companions. They go well with (gentle) children

The dogs are intelligent and easy to train, and generally go well with (gentle) children. For those interested in dog sports, these dogs often excel in obedience and tracking.

~ Maria Sadowski ~