Saturday, February 28, 2015

Choosing Dental Treats and Rawhide Chews

When you walk into a pet store, the treat and bone selection can be overwhelming. There are so many brands and flavors it's hard to choose which one to buy. Dental treats, rawhide chews and rubber chews are options that will improve oral health and satisfy a dog's need to chew. Dogs that chew on bones and rawhides have stronger teeth and less tartar build-up.

Dental Treats

Dental treats can be given daily to kill harmful bacteria in a dog's mouth and freshen their breath. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

February is dog dental month. To end the month off right, I decided to focus this week's posts on how to keep your dog's teeth pearly white.

There are several ways to care for your dog's teeth. The best way is to brush their teeth. As an alternative, many owners give their dogs dental and rawhide chews.

While chomping on dental and rawhide chews can strengthen teeth and scrape away at soft tartar, brushing helps remove plaque and harder tartar. Owners should complement brushing with dental and rawhide chews.

You can get brushing kits and toothpaste at your local pet store or veterinary clinic.

Here is a brushing kit I saw at Petco for $15.
I typically buy toothpaste from my vet. A tube costs $8. Avoid using human toothpaste on dogs because it will upset their stomach.

Getting your dog used to you brushing their teeth can be a process. Your dog may give you resistance at first but they will adjust to it. Start by opening their mouth and touching their teeth. Once they are comfortable with that, try putting some dog toothpaste on a soft bristled toothbrush and begin brushing.

Here is how I brush my dog Brody's teeth step by step:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Comparing Mainstream and Specialty Dog Foods

Feeding your dog a healthy and balanced diet is important. It may be more convenient to take a stroll down the pet food aisle at the local grocery store and buy whatever is on sale but that's not the healthiest option. Grocery stores don't carry specialty brand dog foods that offer natural ingredients.

Most mainstream brand dog foods you find at Tops or Walmart contain cheap by-products and fillers. Meat is rarely the first ingredient on the label. 

Meats and vegetables are always the main ingredient in specialty brands. Dogs need a food filled with wholesome products for a good source of protein and carbohydrates.

In addition, dogs should be consuming a diet that tailors to their specific needs. As a dog ages, they require more supplements and vitamins. Mainstream brands don't add these extras in their foods. They typically don't offer grain free options for dogs with allergies either.

However, specialty brands come in a variety of options for dogs accommodating all different life stages. For example, my 10-year-old pug, Otis, eats a holistic food made for small breed senior dogs. On the other hand, my 2-year-old pit bull, Brody, eats a grain free food made for large breed adult dogs. 

To compare ingredients in mainstream brands with specialty brands, I decided to take a trip to Walmart and Petco. I found one brand of dog food from each store and compared the ingredients listed on their labels. I chose to focus on the brands Gravy Train and Blue Buffalo.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Giving Your Dog Table Scraps

Jacob, my boyfriend's golden retriever, loves table scraps. I mean it's pretty safe to say most dogs love human food but Jake's love goes much deeper.

Every time my boyfriend's family sits down at the table for dinner, Jake comes right over. His preferred spot is next to my boyfriend's dad, Kevin, or me. Jake knows the odds of getting a morsel are the best with one of us. 

I know you can't resist my puppy dog face.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Treating Canine Diabetes

Feeding a proper diet and monitoring blood glucose levels are vital to keeping your diabetic dog healthy. In most cases, your vet will recommend you feed your dog a prescription diet and instruct you to give insulin injections.

Diabetic Dog Foods

Prescription foods are made specially for diabetic dogs and are high in fiber. With soluble fiber, the digestive system absorbs glucose slower and prevents a spike in glucose levels. 

Two common food brands that vets carry include Hills w/d Glucose Management diet and Royal Canin's Diabetic formula. Both brands come in canned and dry foods.

I fed Dudley Hills w/d for three years and he barely got a reading below 200mg/dL. However, I did notice more of a blood glucose reduction when my vet stopped carrying it and switched to Royal Canin. After eating the new food, his lowest blood glucose reading with 11 units of insulin twice a day was in the range of 180mg/dL to 190mg/dL. Compared to a level of 600mg/dL when he was first diagnosed, that is a decent reading.

Mandy, my grandma's 10 year old diabetic pit bull, also saw an improvement after eating Royal Canin. In October, she was diagnosed with diabetes and had a glucose level of 400mg/dL. With 27 units of insulin twice a day, she now maintains a level between 160mg/dL to 180mg/dL.

Here is what the bag looks like. You can only purchase it at your vet or online with a prescription.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Growing Up With Dudley

I wasn't planning on starting out my blog by telling the story of my first dog Dudley. I was hoping to tell our journey together though various posts. However, his health took a turn for the worst Monday morning and I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life, putting him down.

Dudley was a part of my family for almost 12 years. The responsibility of caring for him throughout my childhood has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I wouldn't know the tips and tricks of raising a dog if it wasn't for him. He is the reason I am so passionate about dogs.

I remember the day my dad and I brought him home like it was yesterday. It was a sunny July afternoon and my eight year old self was bursting with excitement. I wanted a puppy so bad. The minute I saw his wrinkly puggle face, my heart melted. I paid the breeder with my allowance money I had saved up and off we went.

I spent the rest of the summer potty training him and teaching him basic manners. We were inseparable from here on out.

Dudley slept beside me every night.