Tag Archives: Dog Health

Holiday Food Hazards for Dawgs

Here’s a timely re-post about Holiday food hazards for dogs!

dog dinner partyEach year we try to outline some of the holiday-related toxins that dawgs should stay away from. It’s tempting to give our pets lots of treats (especially when we’re getting so many!), but the fact is, certain people foods (and other holiday items) can be hazardous to their health!

The usual dog-toxin suspects we list each year include:

  • Bones (no Turkey bones, Ham bones, Chicken bones etc.)  They can lacerate or obstruct your pets insides–use them for making stock, not as a treat for your pet. (The bones that come in certain dog foods have been really softened up by soaking for a long time.)
  • Animal Fat (undigestable); plus too many fatty, rich or new types of food can give your pet pancreatitis or gastroenteritis; two medical conditions that can be painful and even life threatening.
  • Gravy / Butter / Dairy (a little turkey broth is OK!)
  • Chocolate / Nuts
  •  Garbage / Tin Foil / Plastic Bags (always tasty but toxic)–they can also cause a bowel obstruction.
  • Poinsettas, Holly, Mistletoe, Cedar (trees) – all toxic
  • Alcohol / Coffee
  • Onions/Onion Powder (often found in stuffings, can destroy red blood cells and cause anemia.)
  • Raisins / Grapes contain a toxin that can cause kidney problems in both cats and dogs.
  • Also make sure your pet has a quiet retreat during the hectic festivities that may be overwhelming–give him/her a break if they appear stressed. Mental health is important for pets, too!

More detailed info can be found online:





Diatomaceous Earth / Pest Control

At Dawg House, we work hard to keep our playroom, boarding kennels, lobby, and parking lot all very clean and pest-free. Every chemical cleaner we use is specifically manufactured for use in dog daycare and boarding areas. But when it comes to pests like ticks, fleas, flies, mosquitoes, and other no-see-ums, there are not that many effective control products, and even fewer that can be used with safety and confidence in rooms where dogs play and sleep.


This year was particularly bad for ticks. Though we use vet-recommended products on our own dogs, we’re still seeing the occasional tick trying to find a good place on them for lunch. Ticks are also occasionally hitching a ride inside the playroom on our furry guests, even though we know our clients are vigilant about keeping their dogs up to date on Frontline and other tick (and flea) control products.

A pile of D.E.

We did some research on safe alternatives and ended up using Diatomaceous Earth. Here’s a description from Wikipedia:

Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite or kieselgur, is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Diatomite is also used as an insecticide, due to its physico-sorptive properties. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency. It is most commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and eventually eliminate cockroach and flea infestations.”

There are two types of the DE as well.  We utilized the food grade, which means, if ingested, it is perfectly safe.  Many people actually consume about a teaspoon of the product per day, along with sprinkling that much on their dogs food, to kill any internal parasites and also to make dogs’ waste less palatable to other dogs.

The common ways people use DE to control pet-pests is to sprinkle it along the base of walls, inside dog crates, on dog beds, and sometimes rubbing it into their fur (though rubbing it on their fur can dry their skin out a little). DE commonly needs about 2 weeks to get rid of all pests, but it’s a great alternative to “bombing” or “spraying” chemicals around pet areas or your entire house. We have had terrific results here at Dawg House!

So, if you happen to notice a white substance around the base of the walls in the playroom, inside the crates, or on the bottom of your dogs feet—you know what it is! We’re not horrible housekeepers—we put it there on purpose :).

We purchased a 5 pound bag of human-grade (edible) DE here in Tucson at OK Feed for about $6 bucks.

  • If you have asthma or some other lung ailment, either wear a mask or be very careful when using food grade diatomaceous earth.

  • Do NOT get diatomaceous earth in the eyes. DE is drying to the eyes, so do NOT put it out when you or your pets are down wind of it. DE is drying to your skin, hands, and feet, just as it can be to your pets.

  • Do NOT give to very small pregnant animals such as cats, guinea pigs, etc. and do NOT feed continually to babies or small animals such as cats, hamsters, etc. DE can be fed on a continuous basis to larger animals and livestock for continuous parasite control and mineralization.

  • Do NOT use heavily in carpet. Some advise too much DE causes vacuum problems.

  • NEVER use pool filter grade DE around animals. It can poison or kill them.

  • Some people experience a healing crisis (detox reaction) when beginning DE consumption. If this occurs, reduce the dose, till your body is cleansed, and then increase to the RDA.

  • Remember, DE will kill beneficial insects as well, so use accordingly.





Ice Cream Recipe for Dogs!

Sammy’s mom brought us a recipe for Dog Ice Cream based on Frosty Paws, and since the we’re in the middle of summer, it’s a good time to share! Thanks to Sammy’s mom!

Dogs are not supposed to eat dairy products (yogurt is OK), so you’ll notice this isn’t a real ice cream recipe, but a nice substitute that you keep in the freezer and serve up cold as a treat. You can use ice cube trays, Dixie cups, a muffin or cupcake tray, or popsicle molds…

Yogurt contains much less lactates than regular milk, and the live cultures are great for dogs’ digestive systems (in fact, we put a spoonful of yogurt in our dogs’ food every morning and it keeps their tummies nice).

Ingredients: 32 oz plain yogurt, 1 mashed banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of honey (local honey is preferred) .

Instructions: Mix everything together in a blender and dump into your mold. (You can also pour and freeze inside a Kong toy!). Freeze.

Serve up cold! Try not to let them eat too fast or your dogs will get a brain freeze!


Uli Donates To the Blood Bank!

Uli’s mom reminded us about a great story KVOA did on her recent donation to the Southern Arizona Veterinary Blood Bank! Here’s the article, with a link to a great TV segment starring Uli and her mom!

Sometimes pets need blood in a crisis and that blood comes from other pets. That’s right, pets can donate blood, and there’s a blood drive for them right here in Tucson.

Uli does it, she’s a Rottweiler mix, and she’s helping save her own kind by donating her blood. Christine Warren is a blood bank coordinator at Southern Arizona Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Center and says right now Tucson receives blood from about 45 dog donors and 12 cat donors.

Warren said, “Tucson Arizona has one of the largest volunteer veterinary blood banks in the country, and it may not seem like a lot but with those animals, we save lives nearly everyday.”

Carrie Fairchild says she brings in her dog Uli about once every 3 months. Uli is about 3 years old and all dogs and cats can donate blood in between the ages of 1 and 8 years old. Fairchild said, “It feels great that she’s helping other animals and she likes coming here.”

The blood from a dog or a cat today will save the life of another pet in the future. Fairchild said, “I know how I feel about Uli and if I can help somebody else keep their dog in their life, that’s wonderful.”

Link to the Story and Video.

Link to the Southern AZ Blood Bank.

Keep up the good work Uli, and everyone else who donates to the veterinary blood bank!


Erica’s Weekly Woof ~ Pet Insurance

Many of you may already be members of an insurance plan for your dogs, but others may not really know anything about it.  There are currently 12 different plans to choose from in the United States, which can be daunting when first starting out.

Typically, pet insurance plans work a little differently than their human counterparts.  The cost incurred at the vets office is paid out of pocket by you, and then you are reimbursed a percentage, depending on your plan.

More similarly to human insurance, there are a range of plans and levels of coverage.  The most basic covering only catastrophic illness or injury, all the way to full coverage that even includes yearly exam and vaccinations.

The nice part about the different plans is that you can get a free quote on most of their websites.  The most popular plans (and best reviewed) are:  ASPCA (www.aspcapetinsurance.com), VPI (www.petinsurance.com) and Petfirst Healthcare (www.petfirsthealthcare.com). There is also a website/blog that allows clients of all ten pet insurance providers to post their experiences (www.petinsurancereview.com).

Prior to signing up,  make sure to read fine print and exclusions.  Most of the insurance plans require a physical exam first, and will exclude pre-existing conditions.

I would love for a discussion of your experiences (good and bad) with pet insurance to ensue right here.  Please feel free to add any comments you would like—there’s nothing like personal experience shared among pet lovers to really steer others in the right direction.


Erica’s Weekly Woof! ~ Dog Food Ratings

Choosing a food for your dog can be an incredibly daunting task. So many of our canine companions have some level of food allergy or intolerance as well.  The main culprits that cause these allergies are the fillers: corn, wheat and soy.  In addition, food fillers are the third largest cause of allergies in dogs. Atopy (inhaled) and flea bites are the only allergies that occur more often than food allergies.

So many of the low level kibbles contain these ingredients, and the reactions within the dog can really run the gamut.  Anything from severe itching, hair loss or thinning, scaly skin all the way to behavioral problems.  It’s amazing what a proper, well balanced diet can do for your dog.  It often times includes a simple protein and a single carbohydrate, free of by-products and fillers.

All major dog food brands make so many claims about their health benefits that it’s hard to wade through all the information.  Especially when you’re watching t.v. and one of those great commercials comes on with the happiest, healthiest looking dog in the world!  I don’t know about you, but it always grabs my attention.

The website www.dogfoodscoop.com is a completely independent information source that rates dog foods and their ingredients.  Check it out to see where your food falls, and  see if you need to make a change or improvement for the health of your best friend.


Canine Bordetella / Kennel Cough

Here at Dawg House, we require that all dawgs be vaccinated for Bordetella. Bordetella, also known as Kennel Cough, is much like the human common cold.

Being vaccinated does not guarantee that your dawg will be completely immune – there are new strains developing all the time – but keeping up to date with vaccinations is the best preventative measure.

Because Bordetella is an airborne virus, it is easily passed between dawgs that are playing together in parks or at daycare. Just like kids at school, they tend to share these things.

When a member of our pack picks up Bordatella, we ask for that dawg to stay home until the symptoms have cleared up and the vet has given the all-clear for socialization. If your dawg is exhibiting Bordetella-like symptoms, the best thing to do is to keep them from daycare until they can get checked out at the Vet.

That said, it should be understood that Bordetella is highly treatable and not too scary at all, so long as we are good owners and pay attention to our dawgs’ health and keep their vaccinations up to date.

Here’s a good description from www.petmd.com :

Kennel cough, the common name that is given to infectious canine tracheobronchitis is a very highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. As the name of the disease suggests, it is typified by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. This disease is found throughout the world and is known to infect a very high percentage of dogs at least once during their lifetime. It is also medically referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella.

Common symptoms include:

  • Dry hacking cough that sounds like honking or gagging
  • Retching
  • Watery nasal discharge

Kennel Cough is NOT the same as Canine Influenza. Once you realize that your dawg is developing a dry, hacking cough, you should take them to the Vet right away to determine which they may have contracted. You should also keep them out of daycare and away from other dawgs until a diagnosis and treatment is provided by your vet.

Here are some additional references: