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Living with Pets

What Dry Dog Food is Best?

Pet Health, Living with PetsJanet BreyComment
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Dry Dog Food

What You Need to Know About the FDA Report & DCM

There has been a lot of news about certain grain-free dry dog foods causing cardiac issues in dogs, specifically dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). On June 27, 2019, the FDA released an update on their prior advisories.

I was (and still am) very concerned about what is being reported. The brand of dry dog food that I have been feeding my dogs for years is near the top of the list. Of course, I had done my research and thought I was providing one of the best dry food for my buddies. Well, I am now questioning my choice.

The Whole Dog Journal posted a blog about the update which is worth reading. The key takeaways are:

  • Regardless of what your dog eats, if he/she exhibits low energy, trouble breathing, or coughing, get to your vet. It could be DCM, so do not waste any time.

  • Potential biased reporting - The top dogs affected are the most popular breeds. If Labs are the most numerous purebred dog in the US, is it a surprise that we would see higher representation? This is only 1 example of a bias - there are many others.

  • Grain-free should only be given if there is an intolerance or allergy to grains.

  • Avoid foods that have peas, chickpeas and lentils high up on the ingredient list - before position 6. Switch foods if the food has more than one of these ingredients.

The report is not conclusive. There are many variables that need further research. DCM is a genetic condition in dogs, so it could be a bad gene and not diet related. The most important thing is to be aware of what you are feeding your pet. Do not trust marketing speak and entertaining commercials. Do your research, understand labels, talk to your vet, and stay on top of the news.

How To Feed a Puppy - 5 Do's and Don'ts

Living with PetsJanet BreyComment
Super Cute Puppy PawSheets.jpg

Feeding a puppy

Get your pup started on the path to a happy and healthy life!

You are all excited - you just brought your new puppy home. You have the crate, dog bed, pee pads, the harness, the leash - and the dog food.

As puppies are in a high growth stage, they have different needs than an adult dog. This means that you should feed a puppy food that is designed for puppies. What I found to be very interesting is that puppy food is not only formulated to meet a puppy’s special nutritional needs, but formulated to limit the puppy’s growth rate. According veterinarian, Dr. Gary Richter, a puppy who grows too fast can be at a greater risk for hip dysplasia as he/she gets older.

A great resource on feeding a puppy is The Ultimate Puppy Feeding Guide . It is packed with all kinds of useful information - what kind of food to get, how much and how often to feed, how to tell if your pup is at a good weight, and my favorite: The 5 Puppy Feed Tips (below).

  1. Don't buy too much food at once - best to buy a 1 month supply

  2. Don't give your puppy human food - this can set the stage for trouble in the future

  3. Transition foods gradually - this avoids a shock to their system

  4. Switch over to adult food around one year of age - this can vary a bit by breed

  5. Set a regular feeding schedule - get those good eating habits in early

With the exception of #4, all of these tips also pertain to adult dogs. I admit that I learned the hard way - not to change food or schedules or I end up cleaning up a big mess.

Feel free to share your thoughts on these tips and check out the guide.

Image by Poodles 2 Doodles @ pexels.

3 Simple Ways to Keep a Dog Bed Clean

Pet Health, Living with PetsJanet BreyComment
Bathing your dog regularly helps to keep the dog bed clean. Image by  oritslama  from  Pixabay

Bathing your dog regularly helps to keep the dog bed clean. Image by oritslama from Pixabay

Ask Google how to clean a dog bed and you will see tips, videos and products recommendations. One post offers 15 steps on how to clean a dog bed.

I don’t know about you but I do not have a lot of time to spend cleaning a dog bed. So here are 3 simple ways to keep your dog’s, or dogs’ bed(s) clean.

  1. Keep you dog clean. This means bathing and grooming. Brushing daily and bathing regularly. What does regularly mean? According to Canine Journal®, bathe your dog at least once every three months.

  2. Cover the dog bed with an easy to remove, easy to wash and dry, and easy to put back on dog bed cover. If a dog bed cover is hard to remove and a struggle to put back on, you will avoid doing it.

  3. Change the dog bed cover weekly - or sooner if it looks dirty. It is a good idea to vacuum the dog bed cover daily - if you can.

The best way to keep a dog bed clean is to cover it as soon as you buy it. Then, change or wash the cover weekly. Simple, right?

After a bath my dogs feel so happy. They run around and play. How do you feel after a shower?

The same concept applies to a fresh bed. As soon as I change the cover on the bed, my dogs jump right on the bed. Clean feels great. Next time you bathe your dog, give him or her a fresh bed cover. Putting a clean dog on a dirty, smelly bed just does not make sense.

PawSheets make it easy to keep your dog’s bed clean and fresh. Use promo code “3SIMPLE” for 10% off your next order.

Friends Fur-Ever: Tips for First-Time Pet Owners - Jessica Brody

Living with PetsJanet BreyComment
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Friends Fur-Ever

Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

So you’ve said yes to the abundant rewards of pet ownership. Congratulations! There really is nothing like the company of a beloved pet. For first-time pet owners especially, the better prepared you are, the easier it will be on you and your new member of the family. Read on for tips and advice on doing it right from the get-go.

Choosing the right pet for you depends a lot on your personality, what works best for your lifestyle, whether anyone in your family has pet-specific allergies, and what you’re able to afford. You’ll want to consider all the expenses, from food and toys to grooming, routine vet care, and occasional vet emergency care and boarding.

Puppies or Dogs

Before getting a dog, research the best breed for your lifestyle, be it one that’s best for a sedentary senior or one who could be your running companion. Also, consider how much time you’re away from home. Dogs are very social creatures and live to be with their person. They need daily walks and the opportunity to go outside to relieve themselves at least three to five times per day. Veterinarians recommended that dogs go no more than six to eight hours between trips outdoors. And getting a puppy can be even more challenging unless you can take significant time away from work to train, socialize, and spend time with him. But don’t lose hope! There are ways to work around any busy work or school schedule. Automatic dog feeders can be programmed to give your pooch his meals on time, and electronic dog doors can give you the assurance that your dog can go outside whenever he needs. And, of course, you can always hire a reputable pet sitter or dog walker as well.

If you are renting, you’ll need to find out if your landlord or community has any breed restrictions. Whether you own your own home or are renting, part of being a good neighbor is scooping up after your dog, so you’ll want to prepare yourself for that as well. Also, keep in mind that some dog breeds shed more than others. In other words, if your career requires you to wear a white uniform, think twice about bringing home a Bernese Mountain dog! 

Kittens or Cats

If considering a kitten or cat, be prepared to maintain a litter box. Cats also need scratching posts because they scratch to keep their claws clean and mark their territory. They also love to climb, and they’re not the easiest to train, so if the thought of having a cat on your counters, your desk, or even on top of your refrigerator bothers you, listen to your intuition! On a positive note, cats are more independent than dogs and can make the most delightful (and entertaining) companions. Another bonus is that their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years — not as long as grey parrots, who live to be 40-60, but longer than some large dogs who live six to eight years.

All Pets

When you bring a pet home, you are making a commitment to care for that pet for life. The kind of pet you choose will determine how to prepare for his arrival. Choose a veterinarian before getting your pet and add the phone number to your contact list. All pets will need food, bowls, bedding, and a few toys. You may also need to keep the number of a local maid service on hand for those days when fitting house-cleaning duties into your schedule simply isn’t possible. And considering that cleaning your home can rid it of pet hair and dander, it’s important to stay on top of this task. In the Butler, New Jersey, area, you should expect to spend between $115 and $242 on a one-time cleaning from a professional maid service.

For dogs or cats, you’ll need to pet-proof your house and yard as well.

The level of bonding you’ll have with your pet is also dependent upon the type you choose. Puppies usually bond quickly, but it can take longer with older dogs and rescue pets. To establish trust and make your pet feel at home, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with him at first while giving him plenty of praise and treats.

As a pet owner, you’ve got wonderful days ahead of you. As Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Bravo to you for doing your research and joining the world of responsible pet owners.

About the Author

Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet so others could find a place to share stories and photos of their beloved animal companions.

Photo via Unsplash

Protect Your Pet - Tick and Flea Season is Here

Living with Pets, Pet HealthJanet BreyComment

Do you know where fleas and ticks hide in your home? They can be found in a variety of places such as the cracks in hardwood floors; on the couch, bed or chair cushions; in rugs and carpets, and on your dog’s bed and blankets.

Now that Spring 2019 has arrived, it is important to be tick aware - for your dog’s and family’s safety. The best way to help you deal with ticks in your home is to prevent them from entering. What can you do?

  • Put a fence up to reduce the number of tick carrying animals strolling through your yard

  • Keep your lawn mowed and remove dead leaves/piles of brush

  • If you take a walk in the woods, check yourself and your dog before you enter your house

    • Put your walking clothes in the wash immediately so ticks do not have a chance to move into your home

    • Vacuum your car if you drove it right after your walk

Keeping your house clean helps too. Vacuuming removes up to 30% of flea larvae and up to 60% of flea eggs from rugs, carpets and bedding. Using a quality HEPA vacuum will reduce ticks and

  • Vacuum regularly (Using a robotic vacuum helps - see the post on How to Solve the Pet Hair Problem)

  • Check your pet using a flea comb

  • Treat your pet with flea and tick treatments

  • Keep you dog’s bed clean - vacuum daily and wash weekly


Check you dog carefully for ticks. Vacuum daily and wash your dog week once a week.

Check you dog carefully for ticks. Vacuum daily and wash your dog week once a week.

How to Check Your Dog for Ticks

Use the picture to the left to find out the spots on your dog where ticks like to attach. Ticks like the warm areas, such as the ears and under legs. I have removed ticks off my dog’s nose as well as every spot on the picture.

Using a sharp tick removal tweezer, grabbing at the mouth of the tick and pulling gently works the best for me. Some ticks really hang on so it may take a minute or two. Always give a reward as I give my dog and myself a treat after it is all over!

PawSheets Can Help

Changing your dog’s bed cover weekly can be a pain. So why not use a fitted sheet that can easily changed every week? That’s what inspired PawSheets. PawSheet customers send me emails telling me they use PawSheets on chair or couch cushions. It ‘s a great idea.

Thanks for reading this post. If you would like to try PawSheets, use promo code SPRING2019 for 10% off one PawSheet. If you buy two PawSheets, you get 10% off with GET2PAWS.

How To Help Keep A Dog Bed Clean and Odor Free

Living with Pets, Pet HealthJanet Brey3 Comments

According to a recent survey conducted by PawSheets, the top challenge of dog owners is keeping their dog’s bed clean and odor free. 

PawSheet Customer Survey - What is Your Biggest Challenge With Caring for Your Dog?

PawSheet Customer Survey - What is Your Biggest Challenge With Caring for Your Dog?

This is no surprise. There are more styles for dog beds than ever before. Even for not-so-big dogs, extra large dog beds, bolster dog beds and couch type beds are becoming very popular. 

According to International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH), a dog bed should be washed once a week.  Germs and other nasty stuff can live on a dog bed for up to 12 months! The large and extra large dog beds present more of a challenge.  Removing a stinky, hairy cover is not fun, and refitting the washable cover is no easy task.

If you are like me, washing a couple large dog beds (or even the covers) every week is a bit more than I can handle. I find that there are several reasons for this:

  • My dog beds are too big for the washing machine – so need to go the laundromat.
  • What if the dog bed cover shrinks at a high temperature making putting it back on next to impossible?
  • What if the dog bed cover zipper wears out?

I don’t know about you but washing the dog bed cover ends up at the bottom of my weekend ‘to do” list – right after cleaning the garbage cans.

Tips to Help Keep The Dog Bed Clean

Keep in mind the longer you wait to wash the dog bed, the harder it will be to get it clean. So here are a few tips to help keep a dog bed clean and odor free:

  • Buy beds with a removable, washable cover and a good zipper.
  • If you dog tends to have wetting issues, trying enclosing the mattress in a large plastic bag and then put the cover over the bag.
  • Vacuum the bed daily. Use a pet hair sticky roller to remove the stubborn hair.
  • Make a deodorizer spray with some baking soda, essential oil (lavender, lemongrass) and water. Spray the bed daily.
  • Some people spray the dog bed with Febreze®. If you do, I would suggest spraying the underside of the dog bed in case of a sensitivity.
  • Do not let it get too stinky. If it does, it may be time for a new bed.
  • Try using a durable dog bed sheet – or two. PawSheets are made with plenty of fabric and big enough to use two at once.
    • I use two PawSheets and wash the top one weekly. Then if the underneath one is still fresh, I use it on top of a fresh PawSheet.

The Best Tip to Solve Dog Bed Odor

Extra large, XXL and fancy dog beds look great when they are new. The best tip is to think about how easy or difficult it will be to keep the bed clean and fresh – before you buy.

Have any other ideas for keeping you dog’s bed fresh? Please share with us.

Great Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers - Top Dog Gifts Holiday 2017 - by Cindy Aldridge

Pet Health, Living with Pets, Dog giftsJanet Brey1 Comment
Great Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

Great Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

People who love dogs also love to spoil their canine companions. Do you baby your dog? Does it make you deliriously happy to shower your pup with gifts? Well, during this Christmas season, you may want to add these gift ideas to your wish list. Who knows? You just may find some of these items tucked beneath the tree.

Electric Fencing

Do you worry about your pet escaping from the yard? After all, if your dog escapes from your property, he runs the risk of getting lost or hit by a car. So why not add electric fencing to your Christmas list? Electric fencing keeps your dog safe and close to home. The cost to install an electric fence is $962-$1434. If you and your dog have really been good this year, maybe someone will pay for the installation as your Christmas gift. So go ahead! Add it to your wish list.

Keep Your Pooch Warm

If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter, you know that temperatures during this season can be brutal. So while you pile on the layers of clothing to keep yourself warm and toasty, don’t forget about your dog. He gets cold too! Ask Santa to give your pup some warm sweaters to keep him protected from the frigid air. Dog sweaters come in a variety of colors and styles. All of them are designed to keep your dog comfy and warm. He’ll also look impossibly adorable as he struts outside in his new sweater.

Dog Bed

Speaking of keeping your dog comfortable and warm, your pup will definitely appreciate a new dog bed. A bed will help your pet sleep better and can be especially beneficial for older or overweight animals.

If you already have a dog bed, consider treating your dog to a clean bed by getting him a new sheet specially designed to fit pet beds. This sheet can be changed weekly to reduce hair, dander, and odors. Many of us do not even realize how dirty our pet’s bed gets. No one likes dirty sheets, including your pooch.

Dog Toys

Dogs love to play with toys that are soft and squeaky. So add dog toys to your Christmas list. Today’s dog toy options are practically endless. Chew toys, soft toys, noise-making toys, and balls are all perfect gifts for your dog. And you can’t go wrong with an interactive toy that requires your dog to do a bit of thinking to remove a treat or dollop of peanut butter from the toy. Toys that make dogs problem-solve keep them busy while you’re away so they won’t suffer from separation anxiety and chew up your favorite house slippers.

Dog Stroller

Perfect for those walks around the neighborhood, dog strollers provide your pint-sized pup the chance to rest his little legs. Similar to a traditional baby carriage, dog strollers allow you to place your small dog inside it for a relaxing stroll. Made with stylish fabrics and modern designs, your precious pup will feel special and pampered as he rides inside it.

GPS Collar and Pet Tracker

Worried about your dog getting lost? Ask Santa for a GPS dog collar or pet tracker so you know where your dog is located at all times. These collars monitor your pup’s whereabouts so even if he escapes from the house, you can still track him down. Far from frivolous, these gifts can recover a lost dog and even save his life!

Dog Monitor

You hate being separated from your canine companion, but you have to work. How else will you pay for his kibble and expensive dog toys? Fortunately, you can still monitor your dog in real time as you go about your work day. Just ask Santa to buy you a dog monitor. Dog monitors are cameras that let you spy on your dog all day long. They use the internet to function, so you and your dog can be separated by thousands of miles, but you can still see what he’s up to while you’re away. 

Admit it. You want your dog to enjoy the season by receiving gifts he’ll literally slobber over. As an important member of the family, he deserves to be showered with love and presents. So if you want to make your pup’s Christmas merry and bright, add some dog-friendly gifts to your Christmas list. Your dog will thank you !

Thank you Cindy Aldridge for contributing this post!

Photo via Pixabay