Category Archives: General Pet

Parasite/Pest Protection & Treatment–Naturally

dog-poisonCommon parasites and pests found in and on dogs include various intestinal parasites, heartworm, fleas, wood ticks and deer ticks. Pet stores and the Veterinary industry thrive on sales of flea and tick prevention and treatment and heartworm preventative. But you do not need to expose your dog to expensive and toxic chemicals to keep them safe and free from parasites and bugs!

The best natural defense against parasitic infection is a healthy immune system. Humans, animals and even plants are able to fight off all manner of harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites and insects when our body is functioning properly. This is a much easier goal to accomplish for our pets and our plants than it is for ourselves because pets and plants are completely dependent on us for all of their nutrition, water and exercise. Your dog can’t decide to “skip” the exercise in favor of watching tv. They can’t decide to get Twinkies at the store or to polish off a bag of Doritos while they are doing that tv watching. rawfeedingimage

Proper nutrition is a key component in a healthy immune system. And research shows that the best nutrition is one as close to nature as possible. Whole foods, unprocessed, no bleaching, no preservatives, etc. It also means that any supplements needed should be naturally derived, from food sources, instead of put together in a lab. What a natural, whole food diet means for your dog is real meat. Dogs are carnivores in the wild, but slightly omnivorous too, so a small amount of vegetable matter is good for them. The best diet for any dog is a raw diet. There are many commercial prepared raw diets that are fully balanced and easy to feed. The next best thing is any diet, canned or dry that is holistic. Holistic means the food will protect the whole body, nourish it and keep all of its systems healthy. Brands that make holistic food include—but are not limited to: Fromm Family Foods, Wellness, Stella and Chewy’s, Instinct, Canidae and many more.
Raw diets by their nature are holistic and prepared brands include: Stella and Chewy’s, Fresh is Best, JJ Fudds and many others.

Once you are feeding your dog complete nutrition make sure they are getting regular exercise as this is also important for a well-behaved and strong immune system.

Since we live in a world full of toxins, pollutants and irritants, unfortunately, diet alone will not always fully protect our pets from all the bugs and parasites out there. So there are a few natural solutions that have been shown to work as well, or better, than toxic chemicals and medications. Remember, we are trying to HELP the immune system do its work and when we cover our dogs in pesticides and feed them pesticides(ivermectin-HW preventative) we are damaging the immune system, which creates the need for MORE chemicals and pesticides and well, you can see the vicious cycle.

So, if we use essential oils and edible things, we actually protect and strengthen that pesky immune system. So, WHAT are these natural wonders?? The best flea, tick and mosquito(cause of heartworms) repellant I have found is a combination of geranium and lavender essential oils. These are both inexpensive essential oils and you only need a few drops of each PER SEASON! I make a big spray bottle of water and add 4-5 drops of each oil. Shake before application and apply! And you don’t have to cover every inch of your dog—get a good few sprays on—rump, neck, maybe belly and the smell will keep bugs away. (You can use this on yourself too to keep mosquitoes away!) Your dog will smell great and the oils are very good for their coat too and will help keep a bit of shine in the fur.

As far as edible things, apple cider vinegar added to their food or drinking water will keep most bugs away. You don’t need much, maybe a tablespoon per feeding for a large dog and a teaspoon or less for small dogs. This may also helps to keep your grass green as it changes the dog’s urine ph.

You can also add gdog-food-poisoningarlic to your pet’s food, if you don’t mind their garlic breath! This works for humans too—if you eat a lot of garlic you won’t be bothered by mosquitoes or other insects.

And lastly, to treat internal parasites or ear mites you can feed your dog Diatomaceous Earth.  This is a type of edible clay that some humans take to aid digestion but it’s also very effective at eliminating parasites from the intestinal tract.  You can also sprinkle this in your dog’s (or cat’s) ears to kill ear mites safely and without medication–and in my experience it works much quicker than topical medications.  Sprinkle a little on the fur to kill any mites that have crawled out of the ears. Diatomaceous could also be an effective insect/flea repellant, but it’s chalky and dusty and will make your pets fur feel grungy so I would stick with the essential oils and water.

There are probably other natural remedies and preventions out there so feel free to research on your own too.

*Did you know that a dog with a healthy immune system can “get” heartworm, but shed them before they cause any damage or develop into adult worms? The same goes for intestinal parasites.

*Did you know that heartworm treatment (for a dog with a full blown case of adult worms) kills many dogs? The treatment is so toxic that many dogs don’t live through it. And many, many dogs have been successfully treated for heartworm infection using natural methods—look it up!

*Did you know that the “bio-spot” flea preventatives are powerful pesticides(toxic) that permeate your dogs entire body in order to keep a few fleas off? Did you further know that if your dog is healthy, they might get bitten by fleas, but won’t become hosts to them?

*Did you know that flea prevention and heartworm prevention are a multi-billion dollar business?

Be informed, be aware and ask questions!

The Dog

I have written about many different dog breeds and the characteristics of that individual breed.  W1192936_f260hat I want to do know, is make sure everyone knows that dogs are “dogs” first and THEN they are their breed and THEN their individual identity ie/”Fluffy”, “Fido” etc.

I admit that when I was younger and even sometimes more recently, I have been “doggist”.  I have had a tendency to dislike certain dog breeds due to their tendency towards aggression, dominance and/or “stupidity”.  I will go farther and admit that I have had a chip on my shoulder against Akitas, Chows, Chihuahua’s and German Shepherds, to name a few.

What I always understood is that the “breed” problems in most dog breeds are the fault of the humans who bred them.   What I now understand more fully is that actually, some dog breeds have remained rather “pure” and true to the breed’s origin–which in a lot of cases was for use in hunting dangerous game or as protection and guardians.  Therefore, we cannot expect a dog whose direct ancestors for thousands of years were guardians, to not ACT like guardians.  Of course, in our modern society, this manifest itself as aggression, dominance or other bad behavior.

article-2179887-143E5F17000005DC-525_634x529 thumbWhat I now know, is that while there is breed tendency, such as the “powerful” breeds like Rottweilers, pit bulls, Akitas, ANY dog can be made safe and friendly.  On the other hand, ANY dog can also be turned into an unbalanced, unsafe nightmare.  So Labs, Goldens and Schnauzers under the right (or wrong) circumstances, can become monsters.

It is VITAL that people choose appropriate dogs for their energy level, lifestyle and dog training ability.  If you are a very demure, quiet, sweet person–don’t get a Rottweiler unless you know you have the inner “power” to take the lead and provide the dog with good leadership and training.   On the other hand, if you are, for instance, a very dominant personality and you tend to be loud and gruff, don’t get a timid dog–of any breed.  Timid dogs need leadership, but gently and quietly.

So, not ALL Rottweilers for instance, will be dominant, aggressive and strong minded.  But if you want one that isn’t, you may have to keep looking for awhile.

Realize that all dogs, regardless of breed, need proper leadership.  This is not a “breed” issue, but a dog issue.  The type of leadership can differ by breed and then by individual.   All dogs need exercise, the type, length and intensity will differ by breed and then by individual.   Understand dogs, understand your breed, and then understand your individual.

Exotic “Pets”

One of Michael Jackson's "pet" tigers, abandoned at a small, struggling start up refuge in TX.  Even celebrities can't make exotic pets work.

One of Michael Jackson’s “pet” tigers, abandoned at a small, struggling start up refuge in TX. Even celebrities can’t make exotic pets work.

Many of us are familiar with exotic pets in the form of reptiles, chinchillas, sugar gliders and even tropical fish.   For the most part, these animals have all been kept as pets for decades and they are relatively safe and easy to keep.  But there is another class of exotic “pet”–the wild animal raised in captivity.   It seems unbelievable to me that a bearded dragon(lizard) and a Siberian tiger share the same title of  “exotic”.

Yes, people (try to)  keep tigers and other big cats as pets, as well as a host of other wild animals, large and small.   The only semi-successful exotic pets in my opinion are birds.  Parrots are not domesticated animals like cats or dogs and if humans do a good job of raising, caring for and training their parrots, the birds can be delightful and happy pets.  (I will write more about keeping parrots in a separate blog).

But when people try to keep raccoons,  bobcats, monkeys and large animals like bears or lions as pets there usually is no happy ending–but there is always an end.  These animals were never meant to live in houses as companions to humans.  All exotic mammals (and birds) have the capability to destroy your home and yard, injure, maim or kill children or adults and cause a lot of heartache.  Almost all of these animals reach maturity relatively quickly and when that happens, these animals most often find themselves being wrenched from the only home they have ever known and being put into either a worse situation, put in a cage in a zoo, or even being euthanized because they had the audacity to grow up!

Now, for people who just have that burning desire to be close to exotic and wild animals there are many other options for fulfilling that desire.   Across the country, many sanctuaries, zoos and other exotic animal facilities offer internships for people to learn about and sometimes even interact with these animals.  This will be done safely, with proper training and knowledge of the animals and with professional staff on-hand for guidance.

I should mention that good exotic pet owners DO exist, even in the case of big cats.  Typically these are people with plenty of money who have spent time researching the needs of the animal they have and learning how to handle them properly and keep them safely.  Unfortunately, these people are few and far between.  The vast majority of people who bring an exotic animal into their home, especially a dangerous one, either get rid of the animal before it’s a year old, or have terrifying incidents involving their own children or neighbors.

For more information about exotic pets, animal encounters and internships:

http://www.tigercreek.org/

http://www.elephantsanctuary.org/experience/

http://www.bigcat.org/education/pages/intern_program

There are many places that offer animal encounters, some reputable, some not, but all are a better option than keeping one of these animals as a pet.  Many zoos have volunteer education programs where, after training, you will be able to handle and take different species of animals out for educational programs.  In these programs I have seen volunteers handle birds of prey, small mammals like hedgehogs or even raccoons, large reptiles, parrots, penguins, wallaby, etc.

Please think twice or three times, before deciding to bring hom an exotic pet.  Do your research, talk to professionals, talk to your state licensing organizations and talk to the local police about the law.

 

Raising a puppy to be a service dog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently found that I have a few followers and I have to apologize for not posting anything recently.  Two months ago I adopted a 7 month old, female black Lab and she has been taking ALL of my attention.  If you’ve read my post about Labrador Retrievers you will know this is an energetic breed and mine lived the first 6 months of her life in an outdoor kennel with no training and not much socialization, other than her siblings.  The fact that she stayed with her 2 siblings for all that time actually helped a lot as she is excellent with other dogs.

Even for someone with my background, Velvet has been a challenge.  But challenge is good! Raising Velvet gives me a chance to flex my training muscles–and my actual muscles too!  I’m down here in the trenches with my clients now–trying to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog without losing my mind!

Raising a service dog puppy requires little more than raising a regular puppy.  The big difference is you can’t slack off much on training and you can’t get sloppy and just say “oh, she’s doing that good enough”.  Due diligence requires you to make sure this dog is super well-behaved and under control at all times.  She must always walk nicely at my side, she must always obey commands the first time I say them, she must never chase small animals, she must never jump on people, she must never grab inappropriate items from store shelves! This can be a problem in pet or toy stores.

Velvet teaches me something almost every day.  I always strive to stay flexible with my dog training methods.  If one way isn’t working, I try another.  I read lots of training articles by other professionals and animal behaviorists.  I am always honing my craft and Velvet is helping me sharpen my skills to a fine point!velvet3-1

The last three months have been stressful, exhausting, demanding and wonderful! I can think of no greater reward than seeing my “wild child” transform into a mannerly companion.   The moment when she finally figures something out, I can almost see the light bulb going off in her head! It makes all the agonizing repetition and hours of training worth it!

Look for more puppy training blogs in the future!