{First Aid Essentials} Normal Vital Signs

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Another installment in my First Aid Essentials series today! You can still read up on parts one, and two if you missed them.Sometimes it’s good to know what the ‘norm’ is for your dog, to help determine if something is wrong with them. Of course, none of this knowledge is a replacement for simply knowing your dog, their routine, and what is typically normal for them. If you’ve noticed some behaviors are off, that’s a clue to look deeper.


Here, as much for your reference as mine, are the normal vital signs of our canine companions:


100.5-102.5 degrees

Resting Pulse:

80-120 beats per minute (can be higher in puppies and small dogs)

Respiratory Rate:

18-24 breaths per minute

Gum Color:



Skin at the nape of neck should snap back into place in 1 second

Have any of you ever taken an animal first aid/CPR course? Did you get as much out of it as I did? I’ve recently been invited to another, thinking of going back again if my schedule allows, just ’cause. We’ll see ;)

Disclaimer: Again, none of this advice is intended to be anything other than helpful guidance. I am not a vet, and you should not be using any information found online in place of taking your pet into a vets office to be seen if they are sick or injured.

{First Aid Essentials} First Aid Kit + Emergency #’s

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We’ve already discussed the tips and tricks to approaching an injured animal, and today it’s time to shift gears and give you a bit of important information that you might want to act on today.


Pet poisonings happen. Often accidentally, and they’re terribly traumatic. When a pet has been poisoned, often treatment must be received immediately in order to save the life of the animal. Having these pet poison hotline #’s somewhere accessible truly could save your pet, or a friends, in an emergency.

Pet Poison Hotline #’s:

ASPCA Poison Control 1-888-426-4435

Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680

Animal Poison Hotline 1-888-232-8870

Perhaps you want to print those out? Or better yet- save them in your cell phone like I did. Call it the former insurance agent in me, but I truly do love feeling prepared! ;)

Keeping a dedicated pet first aid kit is another great way to be prepared, and stay one step ahead of the game. We’ve got our own tips and tricks for creating a Disaster Kit for your pet, and Pretty Fluffy’s guest post on her First Aid Kit was a huge hit on SheSpeaksBark.


A few basic first aid items that are great to keep on hand include:

* Tweezers

*Muzzle/Nylon leash


*Saline Solution

*Roll of gauze or gauze sponges

*Adhesive tape

*Antibiotic ointment

*Latex gloves

*Large towel


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Considering my current part time job entails caring for lots of dogs and the occasional cat, I have at least half of that list rolling around in my car at any given time. Along with 3 pairs of shoes, 7 random socks, scratch paper galore, 12 ballpoint pens, 2 coffee cups, 4 pairs of gloves, and at least a pound of dog hair… ;) Needless to say, I’d do well to round it all up and slap it into a container for easy access, since sifting through all the ‘extras’ would really slow down my ability to find anything useful.

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Put that on my 2014 Goals List ;)

Psst- If making your own first aid kit just isn’t your thing….our friends at Amazon have totally got you covered with a light, medium, and extreme version all ready to go.

World Spay Day

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Today, February 26th, 2013 is ‘World Spay Day‘ which is an annual event hosted by The Humane Society of the United States in conjunction with Humane Society International. To see the list of other sponsors click here.  World Spay Day is dedicated to spreading awareness about the importance of spaying and neutering our pets.


As I’m sure you all know, part of being a responsible pet owner is getting your dog or cat spayed or neutered. Each year 6-8 million dogs and cats enter shelters nationwide. Only half of those animals are ever adopted, which means the other half are being euthanized.  Yet thousands of litters of puppies and kittens are intentionally (and non-intentionally) brought into this world each year.  By doing your part (although it may feel like a small and insignificant act) and getting your pet fixed, you can help make a change in the right direction. Talk to your friends and family about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets, and now you’ve payed it forward just a little bit more.

Most shelters include a spay/neuter surgery with their adoption fee, so adoption can be a great way to get a healthy pet quite affordably.  Many shelters and rescue programs are also able to get you in touch with a low cost spay/neuter program if you simply ask for their help. A ‘free dog’ from the paper isn’t free any longer once you’ve spent hundreds of dollars in supplies, vaccines and other vet care which is one of the reasons that I promote and support adoption whenever anyone is seeking to add a furry companion to their family.

If you’re looking to get involved with World Spay Day, click here for a list of WSD events near you. Or maybe you’re in need of a low cost spay/neuter program for your own pet? Please see the various resources available to you here.

I’d love to know how many of you have your pets spayed or neutered? Both Bear and Scooter have been neutered for years, and we wouldn’t have it any other way! All of my pets growing up were always fixed too, and I thank my parents for instilling good pet ownership in us at a young age. We had two female dogs, three cats, and even Bear who were all dutifully fixed under my parents care.

With a lofty goal of 55,000 spay/neuters there is still a long way to go…please help spread the word!

Winter Wishlist

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I’ve already done one Christmas roundup this year (check our these awesome Etsy finds!) and I still owe you a round up for the dog lovers in your life, but I just had to share this one today.

I was browsing amazon last night when this little gem popped up:

Needless to say, I couldn’t say ‘ohhh I need one of these‘ fast enough! I added it to my amazon wishlist, and also to the SheSpeaksBark’s Amazon store (if any of you are interested in one of your own).

With all the foster dogs I’ve been hauling around, this has become practically a necessity in my life. I’ve got the seats protected, and this handy blocker would help ensure the dogs actually stay on the seats they’re supposed to be on. Both Bear and Maverick try to jump in the front seat to wait for me if I leave them in the car for a moment. (annoying!)

I was ‘sold’ on this seat block in particular because its more affordable than other options I’ve seen, and it comes with storage pockets that I could stuff treats, leashes and poop bags in.

What do you use to keep your dogs ‘under control’ in the car?

Scootie’s Car Seat

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Haha! Isn’t my little babycakes TOO CUTE in that car seat? Ahh those teeny paws….

This little car-seat has been a great improvement in Scooter’s car riding experience as of late. Not only is he up off the seat (and can’t be stepped on or squashed by big brother Bear) but he’s finally got somewhat of a view out the windows. Wahoo!

He’s also a heckofalot safer when he’s all strapped in here safely. Scooter doesn’t ride in the car seat continuously on long car rides because we do like to give him a chance to move about and stretch some too, but it’s a great place for him to tuck away for a nap for a few hours. This is our Travel Tip # 2.

With our new seat cover and now Scootie car seat we’re ridin’ in style! Bring on the roadtrip/vacation- we’re ready!!

A Natural Flea Treatment for Pets

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Ahhh, ‘Herbal Highlights’ are one of my favorite posts to put together! Lately, I’ve been working hard to come up with a natural solution to repel fleas and ticks. You see, ever since I placed my last ($100!) order for flea and tick meds my minds been spinning. After hitting ‘submit order‘ for four months worth of flea meds for the boys, instant regret sunk in. I’d stumbled onto some research suggesting some pretty nasty negative side effects. I’ve been grossed out by these chemically additions to the boys’ monthly routine for long enough and just couldn’t stand it anymore.

[I talked to hubby about going ‘au natural’ with the boys insect repellent  The flea meds package came in the mail. We hemmed. We hawed. The package went back through the mail. My credit card got refunded. Extensive research began. I finally decided on a two-part method that we could (probably) live with]

 The kicker in all this came when we found four, FOUR, ticks on Bear in a single week WHILE HE HAD K9-ADVANTIX ON!!! I was appalled. And disgusted. Why pay all this money to put chemicals all over my poor dogs when they aren’t even doing what they’re supposed to anyway! Grrr. That was the end of the line for me. I was done.

My two-part method to natural flea and tick prevention goes a little like this:

#1 Protect from the inside-out.

#2 And protect from the outside.

Maybe/possibly confusing, allow me to explain….

I’m going to use a bug repellent tonic that can be given to the dogs in their food (protect from inside-out), coupled with a natural bug repellent that can be spritzed onto the dogs coats (protects from the outside).  I’m not promising this will work. But. I think it will! I AM promising that I’ll share the full details of how this works out. No matter what. Oh, and I did promise hubby we’d go back to the commercial flea and tick repellent if my awesome natural methods turn out not-so-awesome. Disclaimer over. Let’s move on.

For the past month I have been giving the boys apple cider vinegar in their water (they drink it up just fine, about 2 TBS per bowl) and garlic powder in their food. Both are known bug repellents that slightly change the pH of your dogs skin to make it less appealing to nasty little critters. This new tonic recipe is an easy way for me to accomplish both of those feats in one. The dandelion in this recipe packs additional anti-bug punch which should make this more effective (I hope!).

I started out by finding the best dandelion in our yard (hah, so odd to be saying that). This one had tons of leaves, and even a few flowers still. I used a trowel and dug down to get as much root as I could (I didn’t do a great job…).  Next I brought the dandelion inside and rinsed it thoroughly.

The supplies are simple:  a clean jar, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), minced garlic, dandelion root, flower, and leaves.

Step One: Add garlic to the jar

Step Two: Add dandelion bits & pieces

Step Three: Fill jar to the top with Apple Cider Vinegar

Step Four: Replace lid, shake, let sit in warm place for 1-2 months. You can begin using the mixture after it has steeped for a few days.

The recipe recommends scooping straight from your jar and adding to your dogs food or water. (We add ours to their food)

The recipe also advises 1 teaspoon per 20 lbs body weight. I’ve been adding this to the boys’ food (and discontinuing the garlic powder we feed of course) so that I can accurately control the amount each of them is getting. If they were closer to the same weight, I might add this to their water instead but that’s just not an option for our family.

Just like with all our other herbal supplements, I don’t use this on a daily basis. I believe in taking three days off a week for any given supplement to ensure a toxic build-up doesn’t occur. Our dogs also receive a lot of meat and vegetables in their diet which provide their own variety of vitamins and minerals. Aside from the “Bugs be Gone” tonic, we’re also supplementing with cinnamon, and Nupro.

Since I’ve already been using ACV and garlic with pretty great results, I’m not too worried about the effectiveness of this little tonic. If we see things aren’t working as we’d expected though, we’ll be sure to share! Any of you out there use any natural flea/tick methods of your own? Please share in the comments! Who’s ready to whip up a batch of their own??

Be sure to speak with your vet before changing your dogs diet. Garlic has been controversial in dogs, so it is best to run this by your vet before giving to your dog to avoid any sort of negative reaction. We are not veterinarians and this is not intended to be nutritional or medical advise.

This natural flea treatment will keep your pet free of pesky critters without the use of nasty chemicals! I’ll be back next week with the second way we’re tacking nasty fleas and ticks this year!

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!