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The Problem with Puppy Mills and How to Avoid Them

The Problem with Puppy Mills and How to Avoid Them

When you decide to get a puppy, one of the next decisions you’ll need to make is where to get your new pet from. While it’s easy to find puppies for sale in pet stores and online, puppies sold through these places typically come from puppy mills. These are dog breeding facilities that emphasize quantity over quality and only regard puppies as a way of making a profit. Knowing more about puppy mills and how to stay away from them is important when you’re deciding where to get your new pet from. 

Conditions at Puppy Mills

Puppy mills generally have a large number of dogs housed in conditions that are highly unhealthy and unsanitary. Dogs in these facilities are usually crowded together, and females are bred as often as possible. This means that they’re typically forced to breed without being given enough time in between litters to recover. Dogs in these facilities also receive minimal care, if any, for health problems. These conditions result in dogs and puppies with a wide range of health issues, including hereditary conditions, heart problems and parasitic infections. They are also at a high risk of suffering from leg or paw injuries from kept in wire cages. Puppies that are born in puppy mills are also prone to behavioral issues, such as anxiety and fear, from being taken away from their mothers too soon. 

Avoiding Puppy Mills

The safest way to avoid getting a puppy from a puppy mill is by refusing to purchase a one at all. There are other options available for getting a new puppy that don’t involve the risk of purchasing one from a puppy mill. You can adopt a puppy from a shelter or rescue group rather than buying one. There are plenty of puppies of all ages and breeds in animal shelters and rescue groups who need good homes. 

If you’re set on buying a puppy rather than adopting or rescuing one, it’s important to find a reputable breeder. Avoid pet stores and online stores or ads that have puppies for sale. When you look for a reputable breeder, keep in mind that these breeders care more about their puppies than making a profit. Reputable breeders will want to meet with you to make sure that their puppy is going to a suitable home, and they should be willing to let you meet your new puppy’s parents so you can make sure they’re in good health. Puppies from these breeders should also be free of serious health issues.

Whether you decide to adopt a puppy or purchase one from a reputable breeder, don’t rush into getting your new pet. Take time to make sure you find the ideal puppy to join your family.

What's in Your Pet's Food?

What's in Your Pet's Food?

Choosing food for your pet involves knowing how to make sense of all the ingredients listed on the label. Some commercial foods include ingredients that are potentially harmful to pets, while other ingredients aren’t ideal for pets with certain food sensitivities or allergies. When you want to make sure that you’re getting healthy pet food, keep the following information in mind. 

How to Read Pet Food Labels

When you’re checking pet food labels, keep in mind that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) requires manufacturers to include certain information, such as percentages of each nutrient and a list of ingredients. These ingredients are listed in order according to the amounts included. Ingredients with the largest amount are listed first.

Ingredients to Avoid

While looking over pet food labels, it’s important to watch for certain ingredients that could be harmful to your pets. These include the following:

  • Corn: This ingredient has a high amount of carbohydrates and is hard for pets to digest. Some pets are also allergic to it.
  • Wheat: Wheat, which is often used as a filler ingredient in pet foods, is also associated with allergies in some pets.
  • Bone meal or meat meal: These ingredients do not specify where the meal comes from, which means it could be from any animal.
  • Soy: This ingredient isn’t needed in pet food and can cause problems with pets’ endocrine systems.
  • Generic anaimal meal: These ingredients that don't specify a specific animal (chicken, turkey, etc) can legally contain road kill, diseased or dying animals and even euthanized pets from shelters.
  • By-products: These ingredients are made from the parts of chicken or other animals that are left over after the meat has been removed, such as beaks or feathers.
  • Ingredients from China.
  • Artificial coloring: This ingredient is unnecessary and could raise the risk of health issues in pets.

Ingredients to Look For

When you’re choosing pet food, look for the following ingredients on the label:

  • Chicken, beef or another specific meat source rather than unspecified meat sources, which can come from any animal or unsanitary sources.
  • Chicken meal, turkey meal or another specific meal source, which provides a high level of protein
  • Vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, peas and green beans. Avoid beet pulp and corn.

Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to purchase pet food. A diet that includes raw food can provide pets with a natural source of nutrients without any artificial ingredients. When you choose pet-safe raw food, you also have more control over the exact ingredients your pets are eating.  There are also a number of raw food options avaialble at local pet supply stores.

The Importance of Dental Care for Pets

The Importance of Dental Care for Pets

Making sure that your pets have healthy teeth and gums is an important part of ensuring that they’re in good health overall. Dental care for pets involves brushing their teeth and bringing them to the vet for regular exams. During these exams, the vet will check their teeth and gums for signs of dental problems and recommend a cleaning if needed. In addition to these checkups, you can also take steps at home to protect your pets’ oral health. 

Importance of Dental Care for Pets

Pets have teeth and gums that are prone to decay, infections and other problems when they’re not cared for, just as humans do. When pets develop dental problems, this can lead to tooth loss, serious infections or other health issues. Tooth loss makes it hard for pets to eat their food, since chewing can be painful. Bacteria from tooth or gum infections can spread to other parts of the body, such as the heart or kidneys, which can become life-threatening without prompt treatment. Pets can also develop behavioral issues when they’re in pain from tooth or gum problems. 

Dental Problems in Pets

Pets can end up having dental problems that range from mild to serious. These include tooth decay, broken teeth, gum disease, tooth infections, tooth abscesses, jaw alignment problems and tumors or cysts in the mouth. Tooth decay doesn’t occur as often in pets as it does in people, but gum disease is common in pets. While your vet will look for early signs of dental problems, keep in mind that you should also watch for signs of tooth or gum problems. These include persistent bad breath, loose teeth, broken teeth, excessive drooling, trouble eating and discolored teeth. 

Dental Care Tips

Pets with plaque or tartar buildup can benefit from natural, anesthesia-free cleanings done by a veterinary dentist. Keep in mind that bringing your pets to the vet is just one part of maintaining good dental health, though. You can also help at home with regular brushing. This involves using a toothbrush made for pets and pet safe toothpaste. Don’t use toothpaste for people, since it can be harmful to pets. While you don’t necessarily need to brush your pets’ teeth every day, you should aim to do so at least a few times a week. This prevents plaque from building up on their teeth and gums in between cleanings, which lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Giving raw bones to dogs is a natural way to protect their dental health. Chewing on these bones clears away food particles and helps stop plaque buildup.

Natural and Pet-Safe Cleaning Products for Your Home

Natural and Pet-Safe Cleaning Products for Your Home

When you have pets in your home, keeping it smelling fresh and looking clean on a regular basis can be a challenge. Whether you’re mainly dealing with pet odor, pet hair all over the place or pet stains, it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible while also making sure that you’re using cleaning products that are pet safe. Instead of relying on store-bought products filled with potentially harmful ingredients, try using the following natural cleaning products that are safe for pets.

Vinegar

Vinegar has a few different uses for household cleaning, and it won’t harm your pets. You can use this natural cleaning product in the following ways:

  • Mix it with two tablespoons of salt to make a carpet cleaner that gets rid of carpet stains.
  • Mix it with warm water for wiping down hardwood floors that pets might have tracked mud on.
  • Mix it with warm water, and use it to clean your dog’s nose prints and other marks off your windows.

Baking Soda

Baking soda provides an effective and pet-friendly way to absorb pet odors from carpets and upholstery. It also has other uses as a cleaning product. You can use baking soda in the following ways:

  • Place small amounts of it on carpets to soak up odors from your pets. You can also sprinkle it on hardwood floors to remove odors.
  • Mix it with salt and hot water to make an abrasive cleaning product for kitchen and bathroom sinks and counter tops. Since this is a mild abrasive, it’s safe to use on stainless steel pet bowls as well in order to keep them clean.

Borax

When you have stubborn pet stains on your carpets, baking soda or vinegar might not be enough to remove them. Borax offers a pet safe and more potent natural ingredient for getting rid of tough stains. You can use it in the following way:

  • Mix it with two tablespoons of salt and a half cup of vinegar, then dampen a cloth with this cleaning solution. Press the cloth on the stains to eliminate them.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice provides an alternative to vinegar if you prefer a more pleasant smell for your cleaning products. It’s also safe for pets. You can use lemon juice in the following ways:

  • Mix it with hot water and baking soda in a spray bottle, then use it as an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down surfaces. Lemon juice helps break down residue while adding a fresh scent.

No matter which of these you use, you’ll have a natural cleaning product that doesn’t pose any risk to your pets. Put these cleaning products to use on a regular basis, and you’ll have a home that looks clean and smells great.

5 Ways You Can Help Save Pets

5 Ways You Can Help Save Pets

If you’re an animal lover, there’s no better feeling than being able to help save the lives of pets in need. From pet adoption to social media posts, there are a number of ways to help animal rescue organizations and support their mission to find good homes for dogs and cats.

Adopt Pets

If you’re willing and able to adopt pets, this is one of the best ways to save lives. Rather than buying pets at a pet store or from a breeder, you’re providing animals in need with a good home when you adopt. Visit your local shelter or get in touch with local rescue groups to find out about adoptable pets in your area.

Foster Pets

Fostering pets is another great way to help save lives. It’s also a good alternative if you’re unable to adopt pets. Non-profit rescue organizations typically rely on volunteers to foster pets who are waiting to be adopted. When you agree to foster dogs or cats taken in by these organizations, you’re doing more than providing a place for these animals to stay temporarily. Fostering is a crucial part of gathering important information about pets, such as their temperament and personality or whether they're good with kids and other pets. This information can help ensure that adoptable pets find suitable homes.

Volunteer Your Time and Skills

If you’re able to donate time to helping animal shelters and non-profit rescue organizations, most depend on volunteers to handle a variety of responsibilities. These range from assisting with running the organization to cleaning kennels and participating in fundraisers. Depending on your skills and the amount of time you’re able to spend helping out, you should be able to find plenty of opportunities to volunteer at local animals shelters and rescue organizations.

Donate Money or Supplies

Most animal rescue organizations depend on financial contributions from supporters to cover the costs of saving pets in need. These costs include veterinary bills for spaying and neutering, medical care, immunizations and checkups, which can add up quickly. Keep in mind that most of these groups are 501(c)3 organizations, which means that you can deduct your donations on your taxes. If you are unable to donate money, check with local animal rescue organizations to see if they are in need of pet supplies, such as blankets, food, treats and toys. If you have extra supplies available, you can donate these items.

Spread the Word

Getting the word out about pets in need is also an important part of saving lives. You can help raise awareness about adoptable pets and upcoming animal rescue fundraisers through social media.

What are Wax Melts and How do I use Them?

What are Wax Melts and How do I use Them?

Many people love using candles that add a warm, welcoming ambiance to any room, especially if they have pets. When people think of fragrances in the home they generally think of candles. However, there are other ways to enjoy fragrances in addition to using a candle. Have you ever tried using wax melts?

What Are Wax Melts?

Wax melts are scented pieces of wax without a wick.  They come in different shapes and sizes. A wax melt can give off a slight scent when cold; however, they are designed to be slowly warmed using a tart or wax warmer.  A wax warmer can be electric while others use a tea light as the heating source.

How Do I Use Wax Melts?

Wax melts are very easy to use. You simply take your wax melt and place one or more in your warmer or melter.  Then light your tea light or turn on your heat warmer if it is electric. When you are finished using them, you just turn off or remove the heat source and the wax will solidify until you are ready to use it again. When you are ready to use it again, just turn the warmer back on or light the tea light (depending on which type of warmer you have).

 When you are ready to dispose of the used wax melts, you just allow the wax to harden, then just allow it to heat for a few minutes to loosen it and it should pop right out.

What Are the Best Wax Melts and Which Ones Should I Avoid?

There are different types of wax melts available. Most wax melts are made with either paraffin wax or soy wax. You should avoid paraffin wax which is a petroleum by-product. Always opt for a 100% natural soy wax melt that is dye-free. They burn cleaner than paraffin and generally last longer.

What Makes Wax Melts Different From Candles?

If you are trying to decide whether to buy candles or wax melts, here is something that might help. Wax melts allow you to get creative. You can easily experiment with them by combining two or more different fragrances to come up with a custom fragrance.  For example, you could combine a piece of a Fresh Citrus wax melt with a piece of a Mandarin Sage wax melt to create your own custom fragrance.  When using wax melts you are not limited to using one fragrance at a time, so get creative, experiment and have some fun mixing wax melts to come up with your own custom fragrances.

Interested in trying wax melts?  Check out Pet House Wax Melts.  Our 100% natural soy wax melts are dye-free, odor neutralizing and infused with our signature blend of essentials oils.  Pet House Wax Melts come in a variety of fragrances.

 

Common Myths about Adoptable Dogs

Common Myths about Adoptable Dogs

When you’re thinking of welcoming a dog to your home, you can find your new pet at a local animal shelter or rescue group. There are many shelter and rescue dogs in need of a good home throughout the country. In fact, roughly 3.9 million dogs end up in shelters each year, according to the ASPCA. Unfortunately, there are certain misconceptions and myths about shelter and rescue dogs that make some people hesitant about adopting them. These are some of the most common myths and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Something must be wrong with a dog if he / she is in a shelter

Some people assume that rescue and shelter dogs have a flaw or problem that caused their previous owners to give them up, such as behavioral issues, health problems or personality problems. However, many shelter and rescue dogs either don’t have any of these problems. Most end up making great pets. It’s also important to note that there are a number of reasons that dogs end up in shelters, such as when an owner moves away and can’t keep them or when an irresponsible owner abandons them.

Myth 2: You can only get a purebred dog from a breeder or pet store

Shelter and rescue dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and many purebred dogs do end up in these situations. While you can find a specific pure bred at your local shelter, keep in mind that many rescue groups specialize in re-homing dogs of a particular breed, such as golden retrievers or Yorkshire terriers. If you have a certain breed in mind, check with local rescue groups that focus on that particular breed.  Breed specific rescue organizations are also knowledgeable about the breed and can help determine if the breed you have in mind is the right fit for you and your family.

Myth 3: You don’t know what you’re getting in terms of health issues.

Some people think that adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue group means that you’re taking a big risk as far as their health, since their background isn’t always known. However, most animal shelters and rescue groups do have dogs checked by a veterinarian and will share medical records and information.

Myth 4: Puppies aren’t available from rescue groups or shelters.

If you have your heart set on getting a puppy, keep in mind that you can find dogs of all ages in animal shelters. Even young puppies end up with rescue groups or in animal shelters for a variety of reasons. Instead of contacting dog breeders about available puppies, please visit your local animal shelter or get in touch with local rescue groups to ask about puppies that are in need of good homes.

Before adding any pet to your family, please do your research and make sure that the pet you have in mind is a good fit for you and your family.  Also, please be certain that you are prepared for the commitment of being a pet parent.

What Thanksgiving Foods Are Safe for My Pets?

What Thanksgiving Foods Are Safe for My Pets?

Thanksgiving offers you and your family members a chance to enjoy a delicious homemade feast, but what about your pets? If you want to include them in the holiday celebration by giving them traditional Thanksgiving foods, it’s important to know which ones are safe for them to have and which ones to avoid.

Foods to Avoid

Certain foods can make pets ill, while others aren’t healthy for them. Avoid giving your pets the following foods, and make sure you let guests know to do the same.

  • Turkey bones: Don’t toss any turkey bones to dogs for them to chew on. These bones can splinter and end up getting stuck in their intestines, leading to an emergency visit to the vet.
  • Gravy: Gravy contains a high level of fat, which can cause dogs to vomit or have diarrhea. Some dogs might also have a higher risk of developing a serious condition called pancreatitis from eating gravy, turkey skin or other fatty foods.
  • Stuffing and mashed potatoes: These traditional Thanksgiving foods typically have high amounts of fat from butter. Keep in mind that certain ingredients, such as onions are toxic to pets.
  • Pies: Common holiday desserts, such as pumpkin pie and apple pie, have a lot of sugar, which isn’t healthy for pets. Avoid anything with chocolate, which is toxic to pets.

Safe and Healthy Holiday Foods

The following foods are typically safe and healthy for pets. Keep in mind that you should talk to your vet if your pets have conditions that require them to follow a special diet or avoid certain foods.

  • Turkey: Pieces of boneless, skinless turkey are alright for most pets, but you should only give them small amounts. If you do give your pets turkey, give them light meat rather than dark meat, which has more fat.
  • Sweet potatoes: Plain sweet potatoes are nutritious for pets. If you plan on making a sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving, set aside some plain pieces for your pets. Don’t give them sweet potatoes covered with sugar or marshmallows.
  • Green beans and corn: These vegetables can be a healthy treat to give pets on Thanksgiving. Make sure they’re plain instead of being covered in butter though.

 Keep these tips in mind, and you and your pets can have a safe Thanksgiving together while enjoying some great holiday food.

Which Natural Supplements Are Good for Pets?

Which Natural Supplements Are Good for Pets?

Natural supplements can provide pets with additional nutrients that they might be missing in their diet. These supplements also boost the levels of certain nutrients in the body, which can lead to health benefits or help ease digestive problems, skin irritation and other health issues in pets. The following are some common supplements that might benefit your pet. Keep in mind that you should always check with your veterinarian before giving your pet any supplements.  

Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil supplements offer a number of benefits for dogs. These supplements can lower the risk of infection, raise energy levels, make coats shinier and healthier, promote healthy digestion and reduce pet odor. Coconut oil contains healthy fats and triglycerides that provide these benefits. While they’re generally safe to take, pets with allergies to coconut oil or those at risk of pancreatitis shouldn’t take them. 

Turmeric

Turmeric has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries thanks to the health benefits it provides. This herb contains a compound called curcumin, which can help ease joint inflammation in older pets, improve heart health, help the liver digest fat, boost digestive health overall and reduce allergy symptoms. Some research has found that curcumin might have the potential to lower the risk of cancer or treat it. A 2012 study showed that curcumin exhibits anti-cancer effects in animals with head and neck cancer. Keep in mind that if you give your pets turmeric, make sure they have plenty of water to lower the risk of constipation.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin contains high amounts of fiber, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and other important nutrients. Giving pumpkin to your dog helps ensure proper digestion, which can reduce diarrhea or constipation. Pumpkin also has oils that have been linked to improved urinary health. This benefit can help pets that have urinary problems, such as incontinence. 

Ginger

Ginger supplements have several beneficial compounds, including beta-carotene and essential oils. This herb can be used to relieve diarrhea and other digestive issues, support healthy digestion and ease nausea and vomiting. Ginger for pets can also be used for treating coughs and applied to the skin to treat minor burns. This herb can be given to pets before traveling in order to help lower the risk of motion sickness as well. 

Fish Oil

Fish oil contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that offer many benefits for pets. These supplements can reduce inflammation, improve skin quality and make coats healthier. It’s important to talk to your veterinarian before you give pets fish oil, since taking too much can cause health problems. Your veterinarian can also provide you with guidance on choosing safe fish oil supplements for your pets if they need them.

Keeping Pets Safe on Halloween

Keeping Pets Safe on Halloween

Halloween is a fun time for families, but it can be a hazardous one for pets. From candy to costumes, there are a few potential dangers that all pet parents should be aware of. Make sure your fur kids stay safe this Halloween with these safety tips. 

Keep Candy Out of Pet's Reach

Many types of Halloween candy are dangerous for pets, especially dogs. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and can result in seizures, heart problems and fatal reactions. Keep in mind that dark chocolate is worse for dogs than milk chocolate or white chocolate, but all chocolate should be kept out of reach. Chocolate can be dangerous for cats, too, but cats don’t usually eat these sweet treats. Hard candies should also be kept away from pets, since they can be a choking hazard. Candy that contains xylitol, a sugar substitute, can also be fatal to dogs, even in small amounts. Xylitol is sometimes used in peanut butter and sugar-free candies. 

Make Sure Your Pets Have Microchips

Between trick or treaters at the door and family members coming and going, Halloween gives dogs and other pets a good opportunity to get loose. If you can’t block off your door or entryway from pets, make sure they are microchipped. Having a microchip means that you’re more likely to be reunited with lost pets much sooner. If you have cats or dogs that are escape artists, consider keeping them in another room with the door closed if possible.

Watch Nervous Pets Closely

Some pets can easily become scared of certain costumes, such as costumes that feature a mask or ones that make people look bigger. Some might also be startled by costumes that make sudden noises or have flashing lights. If you have pets who are afraid of costumes, try to keep them away from the door while trick or treaters are around. If you have dogs who are nervous and tend to bark at strangers at the door, it’s also a good idea to put them in another part of your home for the evening.

Choose Pet Costumes with Care

If you plan on putting pets in costumes for Halloween, choose ones that are safe for them to wear. Some costumes can be dangerous for pets, such as those with strings or loose parts that can become strangulation hazards. If your pets don’t like wearing costumes, avoid making them do so. This reduces the risk of having them accidentally hurt themselves while trying to get out of their costume. 

With these tips, you can keep your pets safe and out of harm’s way in your home this Halloween. If you’ll be bringing them outside with you while taking the kids trick or treating, don’t forget to keep them on a 6' leash at all times for their safety.

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