Better Dental Care

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February is “Pet Dental Health” month, so I thought it appropriate to discuss the topic of cleaning our dogs teeth.

Bears teeth at 8 years- lookin good for an old man!

Having clean teeth is important for both of our dogs (and yours too!). Because Bear has transitioned into the “senior” category, his dental care is becoming increasingly important to his overall health. Good strong teeth ensure health in more than just the mouth. Dirty and unhealthy teeth can lead to heart disease among other health problems in your dogs older age. For Scooter, and other small breed dogs, extra care must be taken to be sure his small fragile teeth don’t build up tartar and plaque like they are known to do.

You can buy a variety of commercial tooth cleaning products including: toothbrush/toothpaste (must be made for dogs!), teeth wipes, tooth spray, teeth drops (added to water), and teeth cleaning powders like Teddy’s Pride which we reviewed last year. In our household we use the toothbrush/toothpaste method for Bear and teeth wipes for Scooter-it was hard to find a brush in his size!

There are also a variety of teeth cleaning toys, chews, and treats newly available on the market. We mentioned one of our favorites, Greenies, on the 2009 Christmas Gift Giving Guide. Rope bone toys, and nylabones also help keep teeth clean.

Riley chewing a rawhide wrap

The best tooth-friendly treat we give the dogs doesn’t come from a package though. We give them both beef and pork bones left over from cuts of meat we use in our own dinner. The dogs love pulling off the meat scraps and fat before chomping away on the bone itself. The bones are great for cleaning their teeth, and provide calcium and essential vitamins.

In our house we do what works for our lifestyle. That ends up being a combination of the options listed above. I brush the dogs teeth every time they get a bath with their toothbrushes and chicken flavored dog tooth paste. I need to do it more often- like weekly, so I’m going to see how it goes to add this to our schedule and see how well we remember. We also have oral cleaning pads- which I use when I groom the boys. Our two rope toys are rotated along with the other dog toys, so they make their semi-monthly appearance and do their job while the dogs are interested in toying with them. Greenies, Dentastix, and other chewies work their way in at least once a week. I only buy these more expensive type treats when I’ve got a coupon or they’re on sale so sometimes we go without.

So now that you know…..put all this good knowledge to use and get to brushin’! February is almost over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a pledge now for cleaner teeth all year long.

The pedigree perma-smile dog says so!

Pssst- If you haven’t already…be sure to enter our newest giveaway contest! Click here for the details, just leave us a comment on that post and consider yourself entered!

Planet of the Dogs: Review & Giveaway

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*This giveaway is now closed….scroll down to see if you’re the winner!

I teased about it last week when I introduced the Bark Back Book Club. The day is finally here. Our very first book review!! To sweeten the deal, the author has offered a copy of the book to one of our lucky readers…let the contest begin : )

[Book intro]
The Planet of the Dogs series is geared towards children, but has a wonderful quality that allows parents and adults to enjoy the read as well. In the first book of the series dogs are introduced to Earth where they try to teach humans about loyalty and love. The dogs having done their research, first make a connection with human children, and slowly work their way into becoming the invaluable members of society they are today. The illustrations in the book are beautifully done, and a masterpiece in and of themselves. 
[Final Thoughts]
I found myself smiling a lot while reading this book. The author does a wonderful job describing the actions of dogs in a way that you can see in your minds eye. Things we see our own dogs do daily, and it was a great way to bring the story to life for me. My favorite chapters were Chapter 10 when one human realizes the dogs have healing powers for those with illnesses of all varieties, and Chapter 15 where Omeg, the village leader meets the dogs for the very first time.
Other books in the series are: “Castle in the Mist” and “Snow Valley Heroes” 
You can find out further details about the books and author by visiting their website, or blog.
Scooter likes reading, and kids. Maybe therapy reading is in his future?
[Bonus info]
One of the best things about this book series, is that the author has a mission to encourage kids to read. More specifically for children to read to dogs as a form of therapy. And its working!  The dogs help less confident kids calm down, and read aloud to an unbiased audience. Dogs make the best listeners for children learning to read because they aren’t judgmental and express great patience.
Alright, now onto details I know you’re all waiting for:  How to get your chance to win a copy of “Planet of the Dogs
PRIZE : One copy- “Planet of the Dogs” by Robert McCarty
TO ENTER : Leave a comment on this post with the phrase “BOOKIT” and for a bonus tell us your favorite book as a kid
SHIPS TO: Residents in the lower 48 states. (Sorry to anyone this doesn’t include!)
OTHER DETAILS :  The giveaway ends on Thursday February 24th, 2011  at 8PM central time.  Only one entry per person, and we’ll use to choose our winner.

*Please include a valid email address with your comment so I can contact you if you’re the winner

We have a winner!

Congrats to: “Anonymous” Who commented “Love the articles…especially the puppy series. Lots of good tips for dog lovers. My favorite book as a kid? The 3 pigs.”
Be looking out for an email from me shortly with details on claiming your copy of “Planet of the Dogs”

Chicken lickin’ good

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I’ve been watching the stats of the blog closely lately, trying to figure out which types of posts are the most popular, and thus (I’m hoping) most helpful to you guys. If the stats are telling the truth…it seems you guys keep checking back on our recipe and training posts, so I’m going to strive to provide more on these topics. If you’ve got a specific topic or question I’m open to suggestions via email, or by leaving a comment.

Today I’ve got another kong-stuffer recipe to share, this time with chicken instead of fish. I like to pick up a rotisserie style chicken occasionally when the store offers a special on them. We can usually get two good dinners out of a single chicken, and still find there are scraps leftover that the dogs would love. That’s how this recipe came to fruition.

You’ll need:
1 cup cooked chicken, finely diced (good source of protein)
1/2 cup cooked rice, potato, or sweet potato, roughly chopped

1 carrot, cooked or raw, finely diced (good for eyes/vision)

1 handful of broccoli florets, finely diced (good digestion)

1 egg (protein, good for skin & coat)

If you don’t have a kong treat toy for your dog, or wish to use this recipe in another way it also makes a great “mix in” to kibble dog food which is always how I give it to my dogs when I’m feeling too lazy to stuff and freeze their kongs.

[I apologize for no “finished” photo. Dogs were too excited for ’em and camera was nowhere to be found….better photos next recipe post-I promise!]

Find strength in numbers

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Going to the dentist or doctors office is something that most of us humans dread. Its just not usually a pleasant experience. And I think its safe to assume that most of our dogs feel the same way. Getting poked, prodded, and picked at in an unfamiliar place can be unnerving to say the least. Do you have to fight with your dog to get them through the vets front door? (Yep, I’ve really seen that happen) Then these pointers are for you!

Help your dog learn to walk confidently into the vets next time

For the scaredy-dog:

  • Take your dog for a ride in the car somewhere fun, like a dog park or open field. That way she won’t assume each car ride is leading to that same dreaded destination and will enjoy going places with you more.
  • Make it a positive experience. Have the vets staff give her treats and gentle praise when you arrive to help ease nerves.
  • Visit the vet sometime when you don’t have an appointment to just drop in and say a quick hello- that should help her realize even the vets office isn’t always a scary experience. 

If you’re a multi-dog household there are a few other options to try out. Always take your dogs to the vet together because they will find comfort in having pack members near them. Don’t have the dogs seen by the vet on the same day though.

For instance, if Bear needed an update on his rabies shot, I would take both him and Scooter even though Scooter didn’t need to be seen. Bear would get poked, prodded the whole works, while Scooter was able to just soak up the experience. When we leave, Scooter is left with the impression that the vets office is just a fun place to hang out and won’t stress about it next time we need to visit.

High five to no stress!

Bark back book club

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Before Christmas I was contacted by Robert McCarty, the author of a book called “Planet of the Dogs”. He’d been doing his blogging research and stumbled across SheSpeaksBark somewhere out there in blog-land. I’m excited to announce that we’ve teamed up for our very first book review- a review I should mention, that of course involves a giveaway for all you great readers out there! (Stay tuned for details on entering)

This book is the first in a series geared towards children, but unlike some kids books this one will keep mom and dad’s attention too. The book describes dogs’ journey to Earth to teach humans kindness and unconditional love. Besides the good feeling storyline, the book is chock full of amazing illustrations, done by the authors wife that will keep even the youngest kiddos engaged.

I’ll of course read/review my personal copy of the book and post my results here on the blog. Then we’ll open the contest for entries so you all can enter to try to win a copy for yourselves.

A”sneak peak” of some of the beautiful artwork inside

If you’re interested in reading the rave reviews, or checking out the rest of the books in the series please just click here. If you want to be sure you don’t miss our announcement about the giveaway I’ve got a few suggestions:

  • subscribe to our feed
  • become a follower of the blog
  • like us on facebook
  • follow us on twitter
  • and check back often!

Dog DNA Testing

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I see on dog forums all the time….new dog owners are posting pictures of their pooch and begging the dog world to guess “What kind of dog do you think he is?”. And I can relate to that need to know. As a lover of mutts, it’s easy to understand why an owner wants to know just what breeds were combined to create their own loveable pooch. Knowing your dogs breed history can do a lot more than satisfy your curiosity though. It can help you understand their particular behaviors and motivations and lead to a better communication platform for you and your dog. 

“Mystery” breed Bear
 Each breed has its own quirks, tendencies, and behaviors that are common characteristics. Knowing the breeds that make up your mixed breed dog will help you:
·        Understand exercise requirements
·        Provide proper nutrition
·        Targeted training techniques
·        Behavior interpretation
·        Be aware of breed-specific health concerns
Did you know that thanks to science and technology its now possible to get a little insight (rather than just opinion) into what breeds make up a mutt? Dog DNA testing has been around for years, but has only been available to the general public in recent times. I’m wondering if it’s something many dog owners even know much about. Dog DNA testing works off of the same premise as human DNA testing, but at a more basic level. Instead of using the sample to find a match with a single individual, the sample is tested for  “markers” found in certain breeds.
Currently there are three major companies who offer DNA testing for dogs. Their testing methods and prices vary- as does their feedback from customers.
·        Canine Heritage
o   $80, cheek swab, 4 week turnaround, 100 breeds
·        Wisdom Panel
o   $80, Cheek swab, 2-3 week turnaround, 185 breeds
·        BioPet
o   $60-70, Cheek swab, 2 week turnaround, 65 breeds
List of breeds from Wisdom Panel

The results come back with your dogs primary and secondary breeds listed on a certificate. You also get a print out of the “other breeds found in the mix”. I’ve always wanted to do this with Bear because he’s got such a unique look, but have never taken the leap and just ordered the kit. Of course I have my guesses as to his heritage, but until I get him tested I feel like I’ll never know.

So how ‘bout you guys? Anyone out there heard of this? Tried it?