Review: Instantly Framed Photo Service

28 May

If you’re anything like me, then the Camera Roll on your phone is filled to the brim with hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of photos of your dog. I can never just take one photo of Topher sleeping. No, I usually take about twenty—playing with the lighting, moving around, searching for that one great shot of that sleepy, squishy face. It’s an addiction. But recently I realized that after two years of owning our dog, we still don’t have any photos of Topher hung up in the house. And that my friends, is a travesty. Have you seen this face lately? Too cute not to be on our wall.

So when Instantly Framed contacted us asking to review their new service for instantly printing and framing your digital photos, we jumped at the chance.

About Instantly Framed

Instantly Framed was founded as a way to help prevent the loss of artwork in an age where all our photos and memories are only stored on our social media accounts. Because there’s no easy way to transfer Instagram and Facebook photos, users have been deterred from printing and framing their photos over time.

Their solution to this problem was Instantly Framed—a smartphone app that provides an easy process for printing, framing, and shipping your photos right from your phone. Whether it’s your Instagram photos, Facebook photos, or simply photos from your Camera Roll, you can upload any photo in no time and have it framed and shipped to your home in three business days.

Archival Quality

Instantly Framed is passionate about using top-of-the-line archival printing materials, and that’s one of the first things that made them stand out to us. Their frame molding is a naturally sourced walnut molding that’s FSC farmed and made in the United States. Their photos are printed with archival inks on professional photo quality paper. All of this serves to elevate your photos from Instagram to timeless pieces of art.

Environmentally Friendly

Another thing I really like about Instantly Framed is their commitment to the environment. They’re using sustainable materials whenever possible, and they’re also committed to using the least amount of materials when shipping frames while making sure they arrive safely. By using the finest materials in an eco-friendly way, they create quality product that lasts, products we can be proud of owning for years to come.

Fast Shipping

When Instantly Framed said they shipped fast, they meant it! From start to finish, all orders arrive and process within four business days. Instantly Framed also ships for free within the continental United States. Ours frame came in just two days! I was amazed by the quickness. I will certainly be buying from them again.

Giveaway!

Want to win your own framed photo from Instantly Framed? Entering is simple! Comment below and/or on our Instagram entry photo and tell us about what photo you’d choose to have framed to hang in your house—what makes it special? One winner will be randomly chosen after the giveaway ends on Friday, June 5th.

This contest is now closed.

*U.S. entries only

Adoption Story: Vanessa & Rufus the Super Mutt

27 May

rufus-super-mutt

Story submitted by Vanessa

I fostered for a few years before I finally started feeling ready to adopt my own pup. I knew I wanted a rescue dog, especially after volunteering at shelters and fostering for several years.

When I moved out on my own in a dog-friendly apartment, I started fostering for One Tail At a Time based out of Chicago. It took me nine wonderful dogs before I fell too deeply in love to say another goodbye. Yes, I am a failed foster mom thanks to one special mutt.

Rufus is a seven year-old super mutt. We’ve heard it all: boxer, hound (beagle? basset? plott hound?), lab, corgi, etc. Rufus is a mutt, but he most likely has quite a bit of hound in him. Hounds are kind of wonderful and perfect for me: adventurous but chill, not too clingy, and yet they give you their whole heart once you win them over. Oh, and an added bonus? Rufus is NOT a super vocal hound, so that’s awesome. Whatever he is, I know one thing to be true: he’s my best friend.

Rufus (previously Brindle Boy by his beloved shelter moms) was found as a stray with no previous history. He then sat in a shelter in southern Illinois for five months before I spotted him in an email sent by One Tail’s intake coordinator, Anna. I was immediately smitten by his beautiful brindle coat and the side tongue he was rockin’ in the attached photos. I then asked Anna if it was ok if I inquired about him with the intent to foster. She gave me the okay, and I started an email relationship with the shelter’s manager.

After a few emails back and forth, transport was set up and we met him in a college parking lot on the night of October 26th, 2010. He was shy, curious, and pretty aloof. Anna’s famous last words: “I can almost guarantee this isn’t your forever dog, but hopefully he’ll be an easy and quick foster and we can find you guys the perfect dog.” Oh goodness.

After fostering him for several months (and one meet-and-greet with potential adopters gone all sorts of wrong), we decided he was a keeper and officially adopted him around the 18th of February, 2011. Best decision ever.

Rufus has become my shadow and constant companion. We do everything together: hike, road trips, explore, etc. We have moved in across the country to a place full of dirt trails and mountains and he’s in absolute heaven! The transition has been hard, but having him by my side has made it so much more exciting and enjoyable. He has made such a difference in my life and I am forever grateful that I took a chance on that adorable dog in that photo.

While Rufus will most likely always be fearful and weary of new humans, he has made some great strides when it comes to socializing and gaining comfort in new situations. He really does enjoy being out and about, so we’ve definitely tried to continue his exposure to new people and places as much as possible while respecting his limits.

Vanessa is a midwestern girl living in the Pacific Northwest, and loving every second of it! She’s worked with dogs in some capacity for the last seven years, and loves what she does. She and Rufus love to do a ton of exploring together: long walks, hikes, road trips, etc. You can see more of their adventures at The Rufus Way.

11 Tips To Keep Your Dog Cool In The Heat This Summer

27 May

There’s something about the transition from May to June that makes me consistently nostalgic for summer break. I miss the anticipation of those endless summer days laying by the pool, don’t you? Instead, I’m trying to get my sunshine in when I can, usually during walks. Topher, on the other hand, is up to his usual summer routine: laying on the cool kitchen tiles as much as possible. He’s probably pining for a few frozen treats, too! It’s always important to help our pets transition into the heat of summer—here are a few more tips to keep your dog cool in the heat this year.

1. Make sure they stay hydrated.

When the temperatures begin to climb, it’s a good idea to start carrying water for your dog, especially if you plan on being out for a more extended period of time. Having access to clean, fresh water at all times is very important year round, but is critical in summer months. Dehydration can quickly lead to heat stroke.

2. Exercise in the morning or the evening.

Take the heat and the weather into consideration when going out with your pets for their daily walk. Sticking to the early morning or later evening hours when it’s cooler outside will allow you longer walks than if you go in the middle of the day. In the summer here in Georgia, sometimes we can only last about 15 minutes in the heat! Always adjust the intensity of your walks or time outside to counter the temperature.

3. Make sure your dog has access to shade.

If your dog stays outside, you should make sure they have ample access to shady spots. This is more than just a doghouse, which is not an ideal source of shade—its enclosed nature makes dog houses heat up very quickly in the sun. Tree shade or a tarp strung up is ideal, because neither of these shade options obstruct natural air flow.

4. Watch the humidity, too!

It’s not just about temperature in the summer, the humidity can affect your dog as well! Dogs pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which in turn cools them down. If the humidity is too high, it makes them unable to cool themselves, and their internal temperature can rise very quickly. So keep an eye on the humidity levels—a high humidity in what looks like mild weather can still be dangerous for your pet.

5. Take them for a swim.

Instead of walking, take your pup for a swim! Even walking next to a stream or along a river bed gives your dog the option of stepping in for a quick cooling dip. Don’t have access to a body of water? Make your own in the backyard with a kiddie pool!

6. Cool them down from the inside out with frozen dog treats.

Use your dog’s love of food to your advantage! Feeding treats that are high in water content or frozen are a nice way to keep your dog cool while showing your affection. We rounded up a few great frozen dog treat recipes for you, too!

7. Make sure they’re properly groomed.

Proper grooming is an important step in keeping your dog cool. Clipping double-coated dogs does not help these types of dogs cool down—the top guard hairs act as insulation against the heat and sunburn. Your dog’s undercoat is part of their natural cooling system, and if not properly maintained it can get matted and prevent air flow to the skin. Frequent brushing helps remove extra fur, and keeps your dog’s coat healthy and more comfortable.

8. Prevent sunburns—yes, dogs can get sunburned!

If you have a white or a lighter colored dog, keep in mind that they can get sunburned if outside too long. The tops of their ears and their nose are the most susceptible areas. Choose a sunscreen made for pets and be sure to apply it on your dog if you’re going to be out in the sun for a while.

9. Let your dog decide when it’s time to go indoors.

Most dogs know when they’ve had enough and are ready to call it a day. If your dog is slowing down on a walk, trying to head towards home, or showing any signs of distress, heed that cue and take them inside.

10. Invest in cooling gear.

If outdoor activities are a major part of you and your dog’s summer lifestyle, it may be a good idea to invest in some cooling gear, such as a cooling coat or collar, or a form of cooling bed.

11. Never leave your dog in a hot car!

We’ve said this many many times, but do not ever leave your dog in a car in the heat. This is very dangerous, even for short windows of time. When traveling or running around town with your dog in the car, always plan ahead if you need to make a stop, or simply leave them at home.

How do you keep cool in the summer heat?

Review: Kurgo Wander Hammock Dog Seat Cover

25 May

Archer comes with us almost everywhere we go. From family dinners, to weekend getaways, and random pop-bys with friends and family, Archer’s almost always with us. We also bring her on trail walks (off leash, on one of the conservation trails around our city) where she is bound to come back covered in mud or water or… who-knows-what! So it was important to have a good quality seat cover in each of our cars.

When it comes to a proper dog seat cover, I cannot recommend the hammock style more. For this reason, I think Kurgo’s Wander Hammock Seat Cover hits the nail on the head and highly recommend it.

Style & Safety

The Wander Hammock model from Kurgo comes in a variety of styles to suit almost any car interior. Dark grey, light grey, dark tan, light tan, car interiors usually keep it pretty simple and the Wander Hammock plays right into that, offering the same general colours. It also includes a utility bag for your pup’s accessories, like toys, a leash, or even water and food bowls if you’re traveling far.

Most importantly, let’s talk about the hammock style of car seat cover in general. I cannot recommend this style more. We do a lot of traveling, and the hammock style has not only made loading the car up easily, but it’s made Archer’s ride more comfortable.

Consider two scenarios—the first, is what happens when you really need to load your car up, but also have to bring the dog. This happens mostly when we make longer trips, or decide to spend a weekend camping. Matt and I both drive SUVs, and even then we often find ourselves with way more luggage than ever believed humanly possible for a weekend of camping (ahem, we only take one car. We aren’t filling two SUVs for two days… we’re not that crazy!). With the trunk filled, and more luggage still inexplicably coming (how do we have so much stuff?!) the hammock style seat allows us to still use our backseat for storage, safely beneath the hammock in the foot space, and completely separate from Archer. Usually, we stuff our softer items (personal clothing, sleeping bags, etc.) and it’s out of the way, under the hammock, and stored securely.

The second scenario happens when you suddenly have to stop. I mean slam on the breaks. This is the worst for dogs, because they can’t brace themselves as we might. The hammock stops them from falling off the backseat and into the foot space below, or even flying between the front seats and suddenly moving up to the front. The hammock is almost its own safety feature, and allows your dog to regain his balance by stepping on the side of the hammock hovering over the floor of the car.

It’s these two reasons that I think the only style of car seat cover anyone should ever consider is the hammock. Seriously.

Convenience & Functionality

There are a few features unique to the Kurgo Wander Hammock that I think really sets it above the rest of the competition. Most obviously—to me, at least—is its ability to split down the middle so you can fit a third passenger in the car, in the backseat with your pup, while the hammock remains in tact on the other side of the backseat. This has happened to us a few times with other car seat covers where we have to completely remove the cover to accommodate a third passenger. Not with the Wander Hammock!

It also has hidden velcro inserts to allow for seatbelt access or even a baby seat to be set up on top of the seat cover. The Wander Hammock really considers all possible scenarios and its smart design features certainly show that.

This seat cover measures 55 inches in width, and should fit just about any style of car or SUV.

Durability

Waterproof, washable, and stain resistent, the Wander Hammock is wonderful for active dogs who travel to different locations for hikes and walks. The only thing it doesn’t do is cover the car doors and windows—obviously—which, in our cars, often end up with drool on them. But that’s just the nature of owning a Great Dane.

The material used is seriously heavy-duty, strong stuff. Even the messiest of dogs would have a hard time wreaking havoc on Wander Hammock. Quite frankly, it should easily last the lifetime of your pup, and then some. It’s versatile enough that it should be easily transferred from one car to another, too. The velcro, buckles and zippers used are built to last as well.

If you’re considering a cover to protect your car from all the dirt, mud, water, and drool from your dog, give the Kurtgo Wander Hammock a try. Available directly from Kurgo for $60, or for $42 on Amazon.com at the time this article was published.

Dog Life Jacket Roundup

24 May

Whether it’s a safety precaution on a boat ride, or a learning tool to help ease your pup (or grown dog!) into the swimming lifestyle, a dog life jacket can be a valuable addition to your dog’s accessories, though maybe not one always considered necessary for dog owners. If you’re out on a boat, consider a life jacket for your dog as valuable as a seatbelt might be in a car. Should the boat crash or take a turn too tight, your dog may be thrown from the boat—and a life jacket just may save his life.

As we ease into the summer months, begin taking some time off for vacation, or just start enjoying those beautiful sunny weekends (and long weekends!), we thought it was time to roundup our favourite dog life jacket options.

  1. K-9 Float Coat Dog Life Jacket, Ruffwear ($79)
    We think Ruffwear put out some really great products, and this life jacket is no exception. Perhaps the best part of it (for large breed owners) is that there is no price difference between their XXS sizes and the XL sizes. The Float Coat comes in two colours (red and yellow) for easy visibility out on the water, includes a strong low-profile handle to help dogs in and out of the water, and offers a telescoping neck closure that adjusts for a range of dog sizes and is permanently attached and secure. The life jacket, with active dogs in mind, encourages a natural swimming position made possible by strategically-placed closed cell foam panels to allow for easier movement.
  2. Outward Hound Life Jacket, Kygen ($20–$45, depending on size)
    Coming in sizes from XXS all the way to XXL, the Outward Hound Life Jacket is one of the best available dog life jackets on the market today. These life jackets are carefully designed to do everything you need in a life jacket for your pup, and even some things you wouldn’t have thought of at all! They come in bright colours with reflective accents for easy visibility, include fully-adjustable chest and neck flaps, include quick-release buckles, offer an additional float on the chest to help keep the dog’s head above water, and the handles on back (top) are easily grabbed by a hand or boat hook.
  3. Dog Floatation Device (DFD), EzyDog ($42–$65)
    A little more pricey and with fewer size options than the Kygen model, this dog life jacket from EzyDog still comes highly recommended. The DFD is designed with adjustable neoprene straps form an ergonomic and secure fit, includes reflective detailing throughout the design, and has an ergonomic grab-handle to easily grab hold your dog. Unfortunately, it’s XL size caps out at about 90 lbs.
  4. Neoprene Designer Doggy Life Jacket, Paws Aboard ($20–$40)
    At a lower price, the Paws Aboard doesn’t have quite as sharp design as the other options listed, but it’s still a great choice. Including the same quick-release buckles, grab handle, adjustable straps, bright colours, and reflective accents, this is a solid option for your dog’s life jacket.
  5. Surf n’ Turf Dog Lifejacket and Coat, Kurgo ($40–$70)
    Unlike the other options above, the life jacket from Kurgo wasn’t designed just for use on the water. The Surf n’ Turf Dog Lifejacket can be used as a dog life vest or a rain coat, with a removable floatation liner. Includes two transverse handles for quick control and extraction, includes two metal d-rings for leash connections or other accessories, comes in red or “atomic drop” with reflective accents and, best of all, is machine washable.

Have fun out on the water, be safe, and enjoy the summer!

Dog Bite Prevention: 10 Things Dog Owners Can Do

21 May

In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, we wanted to talk a little bit about how we, as dog owners, can make sure we’re doing our very best to prevent dog bites from happening. Many, many dog bites are preventable. However, prevention starts by having a thorough understanding of your dog, their behavior, and an understanding of what situations can lead a dog to bite.

So, how do you avoid getting bit by a dog? Respect the personal space of all dogs! Preventing dog bites is never, ever a dominance game, and usually leads to further injury. Never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one who’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car. Do not disturb a dog while they are sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy, or caring for their puppies. Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume that a dog who doesn’t know you may see you as an intruder or a threat, and do not pet a dog without letting them see you and sniff you first.

With that in mind, here are some other ways that dog owners specifically can do to help prevent dog bites.

Before You Get A Dog

1. Educate yourself. Learn about dog care, raising a puppy, and humane, reward-based training methods. The more you know about caring for your dog, the more you’ll know about interacting with others’ and how to move forward past any challenges in a positive way.

2. Support legitimate rescues and breeders. Avoid purchasing your new dog at a pet store. Most pet store puppies come from puppy mills: large-scale commercial breeding kennels that often house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water, and human companionship or socialization. The dog you end up with may be poorly socialized to people and other animals, which can lead to aggressive behavior.

The same is true of backyard breeders. Avoid purchasing dogs through classified ads in newspapers, or through the internet. Many puppy mills and backyard breeders sell their dogs through these kinds of ads. A backyard breeder is an unlicensed pet owner who breeds the dogs they own, or who allows dogs to mate on their own. Backyard breeders usually have little to no knowledge about breed standards, genetics, or proper puppy-rearing, and socialization.

Instead, adopt a dog from a well-managed animal shelter or rescue group whose staff and volunteers can fill you in on the dog’s background, their personality, and their behavior in the shelter. Or, if you’re looking for a specific breed, find a small-scale, reputable breeder who sells only one breed, and allows you to visit his or her home and kennel. The breeder should show you the mother and relatives of the puppy and provide a clean, loving home environment for them, including lots of handling, play, and interaction with different people of all ages.

3. Make sure a dog is the right fit for your family. If you have young children, consider waiting until they are older. Many more dog bites happen to young children than any other age group, so waiting until they are at least ten years old is recommended. Regardless of age, before introducing a dog into the home, all children need to be taught how to treat the dog gently and with respect, giving them their own space, and plenty of opportunities to rest.

After Getting A Dog

4. Spay or neuter your dogs. A spayed or neutered dog is typically more laid back then intact dogs, and may be less likely to lash out or display territorial aggression.

5. Make sure your dog is well socialized. An ounce of prevention in the form of puppy socialization is worth a pound of cure—trying to fix behavior problems in adulthood can be extremely difficult. An under-socialized dog is a risk to their owners and to others because they can be easily frightened by everyday things.

Fearful dogs are more likely to aggress or bite. They tend to fight with other dogs. They have trouble adapting to new situations, and routine outings (like to the vet’s office) become difficult for them and everyone involved. Socializing is the opposite of isolating. It means to let puppies meet, greet, and enjoy a variety of people, animals, places and things. Done properly, socializing helps puppies feel comfortable and friendly in many situations and around all kinds of people and animals. The main rule for effective socializing is to let your dog progress at her own pace and never force her to be around someone or something when she’s clearly fearful or uncomfortable.

6. Invest in proper training. Take your dog to humane, reward-based training classes—the earlier the better. Early training opens a window of communication between you and your dog that will help you consistently and effectively teach them what you expect of them.

More importantly: don’t wait for a serious accident to happen. The first time your dog shows aggressive behavior toward anybody, even if no injury occurs, seek professional services and work to correct the behavior early. Err on the safe side.

7. Don’t isolate your dog. Your dog is a part of the family. Don’t chain or tie them outside, and don’t leave them unsupervised for long blocks of time—even in a fenced yard. A tied-out dog can quickly become frustrated, or feel defenseless in an open yard tied to the end of a lead, and they’re nearly three times more likely to bite than dogs that aren’t restrained this way.

8. Know your dog’s triggers. Be aware of the most common triggers of aggression: pain, injury or sickness, the approach of strangers or strange dogs, the approach of people in uniforms, costumes or unusual attire, unexpected touching, unfamiliar places, crowds, and loud noises like thunder, wind, construction, fireworks and appliances.

If possible, avoid exposing your dog to these triggers in an uncontrollable environment until you know they’re properly able to cope with more stressful situations. If they are stressed or panicked in crowds, leave them at home when you go to the market. If they overreacts to visitors or delivery personnel, keep them in another room when they come to your house. Work with a qualified behavior and training professional to help your dog become more comfortable with these situations.

9. Care for your dog. This sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how many dog owners can’t seem to follow even this simple rule. You should always be fulfilling all basic animal-care responsibilities. License your dog as required by the laws in your area, and provide regular veterinary care, including rabies vaccinations.

10. Make sure your dog is properly supervised. This is one of my biggest pet peeves: do not allow your dog to roam alone—it can pose a major danger to both you and your dog. You have no idea what triggers your dog may encounter while outside unsupervised, and even the most well trained dog may find cause to bite if they feel significantly threatened.

Always supervise children and dogs, as well. Never leave a baby or child younger than ten years old alone with a dog. It’s important to teach your children how to treat dogs well, but your supervision acts as a fallback—an adult who knows the dog will always be more observant of a dog’s behavior than a child.

5 Frozen Dog Treats To Make For Memorial Day Weekend

21 May

Happy Memorial Day weekend! Yes, Friday may not technically count as part of the holiday weekend, but that doesn’t mean we’re not all dreaming of 5pm already. We don’t have any grand plans like hiking or camping, but like most people I intend to spend as much of the weekend outside as possible. Memorial Day has always felt like the start of summer to me, my favorite season.

Summer holidays are a great time to make special treats for your dog; specifically, the frozen kind! We made some great frozen treats over the summer last year, and now is a perfect time to make some of them. Here are five of our favorite frozen dog treats you can make this weekend.

1. Classic Homemade Frosty Paws
There’s a reason this treat is so classic—dogs love it! Most Frosty Paw recipes call for an entire tub of yogurt, which is a lot if you’re making treats for just one pup. This scaled back recipe is great for weekend treats that won’t sit in your freezer for weeks on end.

2. Banana Raspberry Dog Treats
Let’s talk about frozen treats that are great for your dog, and great for you. These banana raspberry frozen dog treats would make amazing popsicles for a weekend backyard party. Just leave an extra for the pups to enjoy!

3. Apple Mint Frosty Breath Blast
Why not kill two birds with one stone? Beat the heat, and take care of some dog breath too! Plus, take out the parsley and I bet these would make fancy and delicious party ice cubes.

4. Dairy Free Sweet Potato Frozen Treats
Looking for a frozen treat with no dairy? This frozen sweet potato treat is a great option, and packs a ton of health benefits for your dog, so you don’t feel bad about giving them an extra treat or two on the weekend. Or five.

4. Rocky Road Frosty Paws
This treat is just too much of a fun concept to pass up. This is a variation on your typical frosty paws dog treat, because why not give your dog more variations of puppy ice cream? Treat yo’ dog.

Adoption Story: Kayla & Loki, A Dachshund Mix

20 May

Story submitted by Kayla

I grew up with family dogs and wanted one of my own for as long as I can remember. When my boyfriend and I moved to San Luis Obispo, we saw that it was a very dog-friendly town. We wanted a dog to adventure with on the nearby trails and at the local beaches. Plus, after I started working as an independent designer, I wanted a companion to hang with me in my studio during the day. I’m also passionate about adopting, rather than buying from breeders. I couldn’t wait to give a homeless dog a loving family.

Loki is a rescue mutt, and we think he is part Dachshund…maybe with some Pomeranian, maybe with some other breeds. We weren’t really particular about the breed as much as the size: we have a small house, so we wanted a smaller dog that would still be able to be fairly active, like we are (Loki’s grown to be sixteen pounds). We also wanted a dog with a friendly temperament, and friends of ours have a very good-natured Pomeranian. Though like I said, we’re not 100% sure of the breed, and we’d actually never met Loki before the day we picked him up—so he was a bit of a gamble!

We adopted Loki in June of 2014, when he was three months old, from Stonecliffe Animal Rescue in central California. He and his litter mates were left in a box outside the county shelter, then taken in by Stonecliffe, as they often do to relieve the shelters from the massive amount of dogs they must care for. Loki was a “birthday present” from my boyfriend to me, though getting a dog was a mutual decision and a long time coming. We’d wanted to get a dog for years, and last spring we finally moved into a home with a backyard, where we’d be allowed to have one. We spent a few weeks browsing Petfinder, and when we saw Loki’s picture we knew he was “the one.”

He looked just like a little fox (still does) and it really was that love-at-first-sight feeling. The rescue organization was planning to bring him to a big adoption event that weekend, but we weren’t able to make the two hour drive to get him until Monday, so we paid a portion of the adoption fee as a deposit to put him on “hold” for us. (Prior to all this we did fill out a questionnaire about our history with dogs, living situation, plan for raising the dog, etc.) When we told people we’d put down a deposit on a dog that we hadn’t met yet, they were a little shocked at how blindly we’d made the commitment. But we never second-guessed ourselves! Luckily, we were totally right to trust our instincts. Even as a young puppy, Loki was calm, quiet, and a total love-bug. We couldn’t wait to shower him with love (and toys) and make this puppy who was once left unwanted in a box feel like he was in heaven.

Of course at first we had the typical struggles with a young puppy—we did need to house-train him. But overall, training with Loki was a steady upward slope, and he’s always had a much calmer temperament than we were expecting from a dog so young. The book Decoding Your Dog was my main source of training inspiration. Our goal was to learn how to communicate with Loki, and we’re definitely in favor of positive enforcement over punishment. Some things, like where Loki sleeps, have changed over time. We started off crate training him, and that was successful, but now we all sleep in our bed. However, I’m still glad we crate trained. Even if that’s not his nightly sleeping spot, he enjoys taking naps in his crate (by his own free will) and if we put him in there when we’re traveling, he’s totally comfortable. It’s his little home away from home.

One semi-struggle we have is that Loki asks for his breakfast earlier than we’d like to get up. (This is more a struggle for my boyfriend than for me…Loki knows I feed the dinner and boyfriend feeds the breakfast). For the most part we’ve accepted early rising as part of our new routine, though there are definitely days when, after giving Loki breakfast, we go back to sleep!

Preventing Heat Stroke in Dogs

19 May

We love spending beautiful sunny days enjoying a trail walk, a hike, or just lounging on a patio—and we love enjoying that time with our dogs alongside us. But every year, dogs succumb to heatstroke despite the fact that it’s completely preventable. As an owner, it is our duty to provide a safe, healthy environment for our dogs, and that means being aware of weather changes and temperature, and planning accordingly.

Heatstroke occurs when the body cannot keep its internal temperature within a safe range, and thus overheats. Heatstroke can occur in both humans and their pets, however humans are better equipped to manage heat through sweating, whereas dogs can only sweat through their paws and by panting to regular their body temperature, which is often not enough.

Signs of Heatstroke

Symptoms of heat stroke can be mild to severe. Watching for the initial signs of heatstroke (below) can help prevent permanent damage if caught early. If you suspect your dog may have heatstroke, or is in the processes of it, bring them to a cool place out of the sun and offer water and a place to rest.

  • Excessive or loud panting
  • Extreme thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Bright red tongue and pale gums
  • Skin around muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
  • Thick saliva
  • Increased heart rate

If more serious signs begin to develop, contact your veterinarian immediately. More serious signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gums that turn bright red, then blue or purple
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation
  • Collapse or coma

Understand that age, weight, and breed can all play a part in how your dog adjusts to any heat exposure. Puppies and senior dogs will begin feeling the affects of the heat much quicker than healthy adult dogs. Overweight dogs and even brachycephalic dogs (dogs with short, broad snouts like Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Chow Chows, etc.) will have trouble regulating their body temperature effectively through panting alone. A dog’s coat will also play a role—whether it is long or shorthaired, type of coat, etc. Consider this when planning your day, and provide the necessary arrangements, and keep in mind that even the healthiest pets can be affected by the heat.

Preventing Heatstroke in Dogs

Prevention is key. Be aware of the temperature, and be aware of how long your dog has been exposed to the sun. Always provide a safe, quiet, cool place for your dog to rest and always offer lots of water.

  • Always provide access to fresh water.
  • Provide access to shade.
  • If possible, wet down your dog or provide access to swimming water to cool down and regulate their body temperature.
  • Avoid open areas like the beach where there is little/no access to shade.
  • Avoid asphalt or other hot surfaces.
  • Restrict exercise on hot days—physical activity in hot weather can be dangerous.
  • Do not muzzle your dog. A muzzle may prevent them from accessing their water, panting, etc. It’s important to purchase an appropriate muzzle that does not limit your dog’s abilities to drink or pant.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a car.

Roundup: Dental Care Products for Dogs

18 May

A few months ago we asked you: Do Your Brush Your Dog’s Teeth? I’ll be honest, at the time of that posting, neither Lucy or myself gave much thought to brushing Archer or Topher’s teeth. A good chew can go a long way toward maintaining good canine dental care—but, apparently, not quite enough.

Last month, with Archer’s yearly checkup, the vet commented that she saw a little tartar buildup. If the vet thinks it’s worth mentioning, it’s usually something I should keep an eye on. So, off we went to pick up some supplies for brushing dogs teeth. What we ended up finding was a huge variety of products I had never even considered trying! We went for the standard toothpaste + toothbrush, but I’ll be honest… I want to try out all the products listed below, and see which on Archer prefers.

Good dog dental hygiene will be achieved in this house if it means both myself and Archer won’t become frustrated by the process. Sound familiar? Check out these products we’ve rounded up, and do your pup a favour with a commitment to good oral hygiene so that adorable doggy smile will last a lifetime. Oh, and ensure you won’t have to spend an egregious amount of money on teeth cleaning with your vet, or worse: dental surgery.

Hands-On Dental Care Products

If your dog trusts you, and has a generally calm personality, they may take to teeth brushing fairly well. The toothpaste is meant to be ingested, so it’s just a matter of getting it on your dog’s teeth with a gentle scrub of a toothbrush. No rinsing required! It’s also designed to have an appealing taste to dogs, which is a bonus. Teeth brushing shouldn’t be chaotic—if you suddenly realize you look like a crazy person trying to hogtie an animal desperate to escape, then manual teeth brushing probably isn’t for you and your pup.

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dental Kit, Nylabone (10.99)

This is the kit we purchased when we first started cleaning Archer’s teeth. We liked it because it came with two brushes, and we didn’t know which she would feel more comfortable with so it was nice to have a choice. It also has some great reviews from testers on Amazon, which was a bonus in our selection process.

Petrodex Dog Dental Kit, Petrodex ($12)

Similar to Nylabone’s kit, this one from Petrodex has two types of toothbrushes and a toothpaste included. If you’re committed to getting down and dirty with your dog’s teeth, this is equally as good an option.

CET Poultry Toothpaste, Virbac ($9.99)

Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a toothpaste for chickens. It’s chicken flavoured. It’s also one of the highest rated toothpastes for dogs available. The only caveat? It doesn’t come with a brush. But that’s an easy fix—most customers seemed to like to pair this toothpaste with the Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Dog Finger Brush ($5).

8 in 1 D.D.S. Dental Wipes, Excel ($9.99)

These are probably as minimally invasive as it comes with dog dental hygiene. Hold the wipe (it’s like a thick wetnap) in your hand, however you feel comfortably to get it around your dog’s teeth (typically, wrapped around your index finger) and that’s it! The only worry with this product is that it can become a choking hazard. Be careful not to let your dog take it away (some dogs really, really like the taste!) to chew or swallow, and always keep a firm grip on the wipe when you work on your dog’s teeth.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Multicare Dental Gel, Burt’s Bees ($22)

Wait, maybe this is the least invasive. If you’re a fan of Burt’s Bees products (we are—Lucy loves their dog shampoo for Topher!), you should absolutely give this one a shot. It’s a gel that you simply apply to your dog’s teeth and gums, and that’s it! I mean, I guess you could rub it in if you wanted, but it’s not necessary. Let the product do the work!

Tropiclean Fresh Breath Plaque Remover Pet Clean Teeth Gel, Tropiclean ($17)

Like Burt’s Bees’ Dental Gel, this product from Tropiclean is all-natural and reduces plaque and tartar buildup without the hassle of brushing. Simply apply the gel to your dog’s teeth and gums, and you’re done! You can use your finger, or a brush to get a more thorough application (and hey, they have a kit for that!), but it’s not necessary.

Hands-Free Dental Care Products

Not keen on wrestling with your dog to try and brush his teeth effectively? Well, don’t worry! You have options.

Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Liquid Tartar Remover, Nylabone ($13.99)

Combine 1 tbsp of the solution to your dog’s water (32 oz.) and mix! This had some great reviews, but a word of caution to change their water regularly. If the water sits for more than a day, it will develop a film on top as the liquid separates from the water. See if your dog likes it, but also offer an alternative water source. This makes their water a little minty (most dogs love it!), and after about a month or so, should show great results. If your dog has a lot of tartar or stinky breath, it’s worth a try.

Proden PlaqueOff Dental Care For Dogs and Cats, Proden ($22)

This one is… interesting. It’s 100% dried seaweed meal, and it gets added to your dog’s food, rather than hidden in the water. The bonuses? It’s 100% natural, made in the USA (er… the seaweed is harvested north of Scandinavia, but packaged in the USA), and it has amazing reviews. The company suggests waiting 3–8 weeks to really see results.

Something I’ve noticed on most of these products—they’ve been very careful with their packaging to boast a “Made in USA” mark. Which, honestly, does provide a great deal of relief to see a product made in the USA rather than China.