Natural Flea Care for the Green Dog

In the past, flea control has been done pretty much exclusively with chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to nerve damage and even death for some pets. With the number of pet deaths rising from chemical flea controls, we decided to look for safer alternatives.

The first thing you will want to do is clean up your yard, keep your bushes and your shrubs trimmed up. You will also need to rake up any stray leaves that are hiding under the porch areas and around shrubs; these are areas where fleas like to hide. If you have flowerbeds, consider using some cedar mulch, as the cedar is a natural flea repellent. You can also add cedar shavings to your dog’s house and bedding to help repel fleas.

In addition to cleaning up your yard, you can also use plants that help repel fleas in your landscaping. A few plants that help repel fleas are:
•    Lavender
•    Mint
•    Pennyroyal (repels mosquitoes too)
•    Eucalyptus
•    Sage
•    Rosemary
•    Thyme
•    Wormwood
•    Lemongrass (great for mosquitoes!)

Once you have the yard in order, you can add beneficial nematodes that will help control fleas by killing them in the larval and pupal stages in the soil. Nematodes are multi-cellular animals that live in the soil and are commonly called roundworms.

In addition to nematodes, you can also use a natural product called diatomaceous earth, or D-Earth. D-Earth is a powdery substance that is made from the crushed fossils of single-celled plants. It kills fleas by destroying the waxy coating that covers them. It also dries out the flea’s bodily fluids, killing them. It can be sprinkled around the yard and even on your pet’s bedding. Not only does D-Earth repel fleas, it also repels roaches, silverfish, ants, bed bugs, flies, lice, scorpions, crickets and more.

Now that the yard is taken care of, its time to take a look at your dog and preventing and removing fleas on him. You will want to check him periodically for ticks and also for fleas. Make sure you do this outside, you don’t want fleas in the house! Using a flea comb, brush your dog, after each stroke, dunk the comb in soapy water this will kill the fleas. Do this until you have combed the entire dog. If you find a tick, be sure to remove it properly. When you are finished, dump the flea water down the toilet to prevent spreading them back into your yard or home.

Once your dog has been combed, you can also bathe him in a natural shampoo that contains oils that repel fleas, such as Natural Chemisty DeFlea Concentrate Shampoo. These natural shampoos gently cleanse the skin and are pH balanced with pure ingredients and botanical extracts, you can even use it on puppies (unlike chemical flea treatments).

There are also some natural supplements that help prevent fleas in your dog, one is Brewer’s Yeast with Garlic from NaturVet. The yeast will assist in controlling shedding and promote healthy skin while boosting the immune system. The combination of the two seems to be a one-two punch against fleas and many dog owners have had great success using just the supplement.

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Kidney Disease in Dogs & Cats

The kidneys are a bean shaped organ in the lower back that filters the body’s waste and turns it into urine. They help regulate the balance of certain chemicals, blood pressure, metabolism and produce a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production, called erytropoiten.

In the kidneys there are thousands of little tubes call nephrons, these structures filter and reabsorb the fluids that keep the body in balance. They are susceptible to damage from many causes, including poison, aging, infection, trauma, cancer, autoimmune diseases and genetics. If the kidneys are severely damaged, they can function with as little as 25 percent of its original nephrons.

When damage is greater than 25 percent, the remaining nephrons are unable to compensate, causing kidney failure. Kidneys that are failing are unable to clear the blood of toxins, such as urea and creatinine. This can cause the kidneys to produce extremely dilute urine or urine that is high in proteins.

The first signs of kidney disease in dogs and cats is often in increased thirst. Increased toxins and waste in the body signals the brain that it is dehydrated and the dog or cat will drink more water to compensate. This also causes increased urine flow, making your dog or cat have to urinate more often.

This increased intake of water and increased urination causes the urine to become more and more dilute, but the urine is not eliminating toxins from the body because the kidneys are not functioning properly. This can lead to weight loss, inability to perform normal metabolic processes, tissue repair and energy metabolism. Also, because water-soluble vitamins, such as B-Vitamins are washed out with the urine, your dog or cat can also experience hypovitaminosis (or vitamin deficiency).

If your veterinarian suspects your dog or cat might have kidney problems, he will perform a variety of blood and urine tests. Depending on if your pet has acute or chronic kidney failure, your veterinarian will prescribe a course of treatment that usually contains medication and changes in diet. Prescription food for kidney failure is available from Hill’s Prescription Diet and is specially designed to assist the kidneys in processing waste. Dietary changes primarily consist of restricting the amount of protein, phosphorus and sodium in the diet.

Cocoa Mulch & Your Dog

Spring is here! It’s here! Oh wait, its winter again! Spring is back! Ok so we have been having some pretty funky weather around here lately, but we have all got spring fever bad, which means an overwhelming desire to work on the yard and do some planting! Whoo!

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

Photo Credit: Cindy Fong

There are many people that put mulch around their flower beds or in their gardens. Most use a cedar mulch that is good for keeping away fleas. Others use what is known as chocolate (or to die for smelling) mulch that is made from cocoa bean husks. Made from spent cocoa beans used in chocolate production, cocoa bean mulch is organic, deters slugs and snails, and gives a garden an appealing chocolate smell, but it attracts dogs like a magnet!

Cocoa mulch is just as poisonous to dogs as chocolate because it contains caffeine and theobromine. Cocoa mulch contains anywhere from 300-1200 mg of theobromine per ounce, making it the most concentrated chocolate product that a dog can encounter. According to the ASPCA,

Eaten by a 50-pound dog, about 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch may cause gastrointestinal upset; about 4.5 ounces, increased heart rate; about 5.3 ounces, seizures; and over 9 ounces, death. (In contrast, a 50-pound dog can eat up to about 7.5 ounces of milk chocolate without gastrointestinal upset and up to about a pound of milk chocolate without increased heart rate.)

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

Photo Credit: Nutmeg66

If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate or cocoa mulch, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center immediately.

The first signs of chocolate poisoning are vomiting and diarrhea, increased urination, lethargy and depression, and muscle tremors. This can progress to cardiac arrhythmia and seizures that can lead to death.  Though most symptoms will begin to appear within two hours it can take as long as twenty four hours for symptoms to appear and up to three days for recovery.

As theobromine metabolizes slowly in dogs symptoms may be slow in appearing- do NOT be fooled into thinking everything is ok.  Early attention and treatment can make the difference in saving your companion’s life.

If you discover your pet has ingested cocoa mulch DO NOT wait for symptoms to appear but phone your veterinarian-poisoning is an EMERGENCY.

It is up to us to keep our furry companions safe, so in the best interest of your dog, just avoid the stuff and use cedar or rock to landscape your yard.

Product Review: Pledge Fabric Sweeper

pledgeThe Pledge Fabric Sweeper for pet hair is a multi-use disposable sweeper that lifts and collects pet hair from pretty much any surface. According to the Pledge web site, one Pledge™ Fabric Sweeper picks up as much pet hair as 145 sticky roller sheets! Wow! But does it really work?

The answer is YES! We have a hunter green couch and it’s covered in white cat hair from our Calico. Since our vacuum attachment broke, we’ve been trying to find something that works to get all the hair up. Skeptically, we bought the Fabric Sweeper. We took it home and decided to give it a try.

You roll the Fabric Sweeper back and forth across the surface (pulling it tight if its a loose fabric) and the rollers trap the hair and store it in the clear plastic unit. You can see it actually picking up the hair. So furniture, check!

What about clothes? My husband was wearing a black sweatshirt so I promptly retrieved the cat and told her to go to town! Black sweatshirt covered in white cat hair, check! Worked like a charm! Better than sticky tape rolls!

Overall, I’d give it an A- it would be better if you could just take it apart, empty it and start over!

Giardia Overview

Giardia is a parasitic infection that occurs in dogs and cats. It is characterized by diarrhea and loss of weight. Giardia attach to a dog or cat’s intestines, which disrupts the absorption of nutrients causing pale, foul-smelling greasy stools.

Giardia is passed from animal to animal by the ingestion of cysts that are shed in an infected animal’s feces. Giardia is often treated with a dewormer such as Panacur or SafeGuard for 5 days and then repeated again in 10 days.

Proper Use of A Slip Collar (Choke Chain)

Slip collars, often called choke chains, are a useful tool to use when training your dog; if they are used properly. They are not intended to choke your dog and you don’t want to use them if your dog is a strong puller. They are used to give correction while training. The collar, when used for correction, puts pressure on the brachial nerve giving the dog a quick zing, kind of like when you hit your funny bone.

When purchasing a slip collar, you will want to choose one that, when on your dogs neck, leaves around 2 inches free. Measure around your dog’s neck then add 2 inches.

There is only one right way to put a slip collar on. To put it on, stand in front of your dog and hold up the collar. You want it to be in the shape of a “P.” The leash is attached to the ring on the collar that does not have the chain through it. If you have it on properly, from the leash, the collar should run over the top of the dog’s neck and then around to the other ring. When you pull on the leash, the collar should tighten, then loosen when you release the tension.

Incorrect Collar

Incorrect Collar

Correct Collar

Correct Collar

If you put the collar on wrong, the links will come through the ring from under the dog’s neck and the collar will not loosen when you release tension.

Slip collars should ONLY be worn during training. Never, EVER, tie your dog up outside with a choke collar on.

When training, you will want to give a sharp snap of the collar to give correction, then quickly release it. You don’t want to choke him, but bring him back to focus. Pulling too hard could result in injury or even frighten the dog.

Training should be an enjoyable experience for both of you. If you are concerned with properly training your dog, consider the services of a professional trainer.


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