Homemade Dog Treats

photo 5 (5)I like to think that I’m a pretty experienced baker but have never tried making treats for my dogs. I found a couple of good, healthy, and potentially grain free recipes to try out.  So for this trial round I’m going to try a peanut butter sweet potato treat that makes roughly 2 dozen cookies.

Peanut butter sweet POTATO

With this recipe takes about 30-40 minutes to cook and about a 10 min prep time.  The ingredients you are going to need are:

photo 1 (5)3 sweet potatoes (you can use canned if you don’t want to bake some potatoes)

2 eggs

1 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, or gluten free flour

1/2-2/3 cups of peanut butterphoto 2 (6)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then while your oven is preheating take your sweet potatoes and with a fork poke a bunch of holes in them. I microwaved mine for about 1 1/2 mins (basically you want to microwave them till they are soft). While the potatoes are in the microwave, grab a small- medium mixing bowl throw in your flour, eggs, and peanut butter.

Once the potatoes are done, I decided to cut mine in half and scooped out the insides just to make it easier on myself. Then mix in into the bowl with all your other ingredients. Now its time to combine! I just used my hand but if you don’t want to get dirty then you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, spoon, whisk, etc. photo 3 (4)

Put the dough on to a heavily floured surface and roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Then using any cookie cutter shape, cut out the dough and place onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-35 minute and out on a cooling rack. The cookies will come out soft but they do harden as they cool. Please note these cookies will not be your traditional hard cookies, they come out softer.

My boys loved these treats! Plus they were super easy to make. Definitely a great recipe to try if it’s your first time trying your hand at making dog cookies.
photo 4 (5)

Good? Bad? Understanding ingredients in pet food


We here at Fit N Furry are really concerned with what is going into pet food these days. I know we’ve all heard that wheat gluten is bad for your dogs but there are many more ingredients you might want to avoid.

Additives and fillers

Additives are substances added to something in small quantities, typically to improve or preserve it. And fillers are ingredients added to provide dietary fiber, bulk or some other non-nutritive purpose. One ingredient you might not think is bad would be sugar, also known as sucrose, cane sugar, caramel, and corn syrup. Sugars or sweeteners aren’t necessarily a dangerous item to have in food but if not carefully monitored if can cause a multitude of health

The most recent one that has gain the most popularity is Gluten. Whether it be wheat gluten, corn gluten, or soy gluten neither of them are good. Mainly used as a filler or binder in your pets’ food, it really doesn’t serve any nutritional value. Gluten allergies are becoming increasingly more common to find and gluten should be avoided in order to prevent your pet from becoming sick.

Preservatives

 Preservatives are a substance used to preserve food, wood, or other materials against decay. 

Preservatives are a little scarier to find in your pets food. BHA is most the most common preservative to find and is actually banned from human use but is still permitted in the U.S.  Another commonly used preservative is Ethoxyquin, originally created as a stabilizer for rubber it is also used as pesticide for fruit and a color preservative for spices. Fortunately right now there are studies being done to prove whether or not it is safe for consumption but until they complete those studies we recommend avoiding both BHA and Ethoxyquin.

Artificial colorings and dyes

Coloring and dyes are any dye, pigment or substance that imparts color when it is added to food or drink. Do you ever wonder why some of your pets’ food is different colors than the other pieces? Most of us would think that it’s the organic ingredients that make up the color, while the truth is it’s artificial colors and dyes. Artificial colors, which are safe for human consumption, are not for your pets. Colors like Yellow 6 and Red 40 are commonly found and are linked to  multitude of problems.


Meat meals and By-Products

Meat Meals by-products are what’s left of a slaughtered animal after the edible parts have been removed. They include the meat not intended for human consumption. The unfortunate thing with Meat meal is that any kind of animal in any condition can be mixed in, including disabled, diseased, or dying prior to slaughter. The type of animal can vary from horse to goat to rats and can also have pus, rotting tissue, and possibly cancerous tissue. By-Products can contain basically anything from an animal that means parts like bones, heads, feet, etc. 

We here at Fit N Furry hope that understanding the ingredients that make up your pets food will help the decision buying process easier.


Something Fishy for Fido?

ImageThere are so many wonderful benefits from taking vitamins. It strengthens our joints, makes our hair soft and smooth, and gives us additional energy. So why wouldn’t we give it to little Fido or Fluffy?

Fish Oil in particular is really a one stop shop kind of a vitamin! Constant use of Fish Oil helps with certain allergies towards our doggies itchy, dry skin by making it nice and smooth, like Fluffy just walked right out of the Groomer!

Is absolutely wonderful for strengthening of the joints for dogs diagnosed with arthritis, and even kidney disease! It may also be somewhat preventative. Well known canine published author and veterinarian, Nancy Kay, mentions that “Studies have documented that dogs suffering from heart failure who were treated with fish oil along with other standard medications showed decreased vulnerability to development of heart rhythm abnormalities, weight loss, and heart muscle damage.”Image

Natural food stores or even online pet websites all sell Fish Oil. They typically come in pill or liquid form and can usually sneak it in to your pups breakfast or dinner.

Just like starting any new vitamin or diet, please consult your veterinarian to see if the benefits of fish oil would be safe for your pooch!

New Year’s Resolutions for Fido

At the beginning of every year, we make a pact with ourselves to make the next year better than the last. We pick a resolution and vow to stick to it in order to make a positive change in our life – but, what about your furry companions? Believe it or not, your pup probably has a very similar list of things that they would like to change about their lives (even if they don’t know it!), so when making your New Year’s Resolution for 2012, be sure to include one for your dog as well. By helping your pet improve their life, you may also be completing your goal as well!

Resolution #1: Learn a new skill

Dogs crave mental stimulation, and what better way to give their brain some exercise than to teach them some new commands? Is your pup pulling on leash? Jumping all over your guests? Peeing in the house? Then you will be getting a two-for-one special when you teach your dog a fun “trick” (because that is what all dog training commands basically are!) that will not only give him a way to release some mental energy, but also improve your relationship. A good mannered dog means less stress not only for you, but for Fido as well.

Resolution #2: Spend more time with friends & family

Dogs are social animals that crave companionship not only with people, but with their fellow dogs as well. Making sure that Fido has regular play dates with his doggie pals will not only tire him out, but also give him to opportunity to be a “real” dog. Keeping dogs socialized, especially from a young age, lessens the likelihood of dog-to-dog issues. Also, studies have shown that having a dog lengthens your life, so grab Fido’s favorite toy and have a ball!

Resolution #3: Get healthy

Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise to stay in the best shape possible and live a happy life. Take a look at the ingredients in your dog’s food and make sure that the first thing on the list is an actual protein (“byproducts” don’t count!), and cut out all but the occasional table scrap. Daily walks, runs, or fetch sessions will keep your pup in tip-top shape, give them more energy, and let them live longer lives. Keeping a healthy pet requires a little more time on your part, but your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to make quarterly visits to the vet!

Resolution #4: Help others

It is always rewarding to give back to those that are less fortunate than ourselves, and dogs feel the same way! Don’t keep those big brown eyes and sweet personality all to yourself – sign Fido up to visit your local hospital, special needs school, or assisted living facility to brighten someone’s day. Having a doggie companion while undergoing or recovering from a procedure  can serve as a distraction and make pain more bearable, or help a shy child feel confident enough to read out-loud. To your dog, giving is just as fun as receiving!

Resolution #5: Lose weight

Obesity is a growing and serious problem among dogs, just as it is with people. Overweight dogs have shorter lives, less energy, and are more prone to arthritis. Losing weight is the number one resolution among humans, so take Fido with you on your morning walk or jog and you’ll be fulfilling not one, but two goals! Getting back into shape is always easier with a partner to keep you company and occasionally drag you out of bed on those cold mornings! Getting fit with your dog will not only help your figure, but strengthen your relationship with Fido as well.

Whichever New Year’s resolution (or resolutions!) you choose, we wish you the best success! Even if your resolution isn’t on this list, we hope that your positive change in Fido’s life lasts beyond the upcoming twelve months and transforms into a healthy and happy habit. Make 2012 the year that you and Fido work not only on yourselves, but also on your bond with each other as well. Happy New Year!

How to Take Care of Your New Puppy: Part 1

He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he’s driving you crazy! Your new puppy Fido piddles all over the house,  chews up your favorite pair of shoes, and his sharp puppy teeth scratch you whenever you play with him. Bringing home a new pup requires a major adjustment, but with the correct information and preparation you can make this adjustment period much smoother not only for you, but for your new addition as well.

The Basics – What to Buy

Make sure to purchase these must-have items in preparation for bringing your pup home.

  1. Crate – One sized to fit Fido when he’s full grown (he should have enough room to stand up and turn around in it). If you buy a smaller crate for his smaller puppy size you’ll end up having to purchase multiples to accommodate him as he grows. Also, a crate that has a divider would be preferable for potty training.
  2. Identification tags – This will be one of the most important things you purchase for you puppy; ensure that he is always able to find his way home in the event that he becomes lost. Micro-chipping Fido is also recommended in the event that his tags should be lost along with him.
  3. Collar, harness, and a leash.
  4. Bowls – One set for food and water inside the house, as well as a water bowl for outside.
  5. Dog bed
  6. Dog food – Talk with your veterinarian about Fido’s dietary needs in order to choose the most nutritionally balanced food for your pup.
  7. Pooper scooper and/or poop bags – Self explanatory.
  8. Toys – The more durable the better, dogs of all ages love to de-stuff plush toys.
  9. Grooming tools – Nail clippers and a brush are the necessities, but if you plan on grooming Fido yourself you will also need a shampoo and conditioner.
  10. A completely enclosed yard – If you have one.

You will most likely find that you will need additional supplies as you get to know your puppy and their habits, but this basic list of supplies will hold you over till you get to know each other better.

Potty Training

To ensure that your home stays relatively stain and odor free, potty training should be undertaken from the moment you bring Fido home; this is where your crate will come into play.

Puppies will not be able to control their eliminations until they are about 4 months old so you will need to be vigilant as well as patient when it comes to potty training Fido. There are two important steps to take when undertaking this task: establishing a routine and supervision.

Establishing a Routine

The number one rule of puppy potty training is simple: take Fido out as often as possible to eliminate. Generally puppies should be taken out every 1.5 to 2 hours to a designated spot of your choosing. He should also be taken out upon awakening, after eating or drinking, and after playing. While Fido is doing his business, introduce a phrase that he can learn to associate with eliminating, such as “go potty” or “do your business”.

Puppies will need to eat three meals a day and keeping them fed at consistent times each day will also keep their eliminations on a predictable schedule, making house training much easier on both of you. Also, Fido should not have continued access to water starting about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before his bedtime; this will lessen the chances that he will need to potty during the night. Put him into his crate at his bedtime and shut the door; getting Fido used to being locked in his crate might take some time getting used to but dogs are naturally den animals and his crate will eventually become a safe and comfortable place in his mind. Also, because dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep this will also lessen the chances that he will have an accident. In the event that your pup does need to do their business during the night, calmly escort him to the designated area, give the command, and calmly escort him back to his bed. Don’t allow him to get excited or try to play otherwise he wont go back to sleep.

Supervision

Your new puppy will need to be supervised not only for safety reasons, but so that you decrease the chances that he will go potty in your home. Either keep your puppy confined to one room or area with the use of baby gates, or tied to you with a 6 foot leash. The more area you give Fido access to, the more likely it is that he will explore outside of your sight range and have an accident. There are certain signs to look for to indicate to you that Fido needs to be taken outside: barking, scratching at the door, circling, squatting, or sniffing around excessively. When you notice these behaviors immediately take your pup outside.

When Fido does have an accident inside the house (and he will!), interrupt him in the act with a startling noise and immediately take him outside, give him your chosen command, praise him, and bring him back inside. If you happen to find a puddle but were unable to catch your pup in the act it is too late to give a correction. Scolding your puppy after the undesired action has already taken place will have no effect and could actually do more harm than good. Simply clean up the area thoroughly to ensure that Fido wont eliminate in that spot again.

Remember, your new puppy is a baby, therefore he will need consistent and constant attention to ensure that he will mature into a well-rounded part of your family. The first few months will require a lot of work on both your parts, but the end result will be well worth it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “How to take care of your new puppy” with information on chewing and play biting management as well as the importance of training and early socialization!

Mushrooms: A Dangerous Uprising

Spring is in the air! The sun warms the soul after its slumber behind the clouds, the birds and crickets are chirping, the kids can finally be let outside to play and flowers of all varieties are blooming in all colors of the rainbow. But something else is taking the season’s cue to raise its deathly stem above the Earth; mushrooms. A lovely decoration with the backyard gnomes, however, mushrooms, as we all know, can be deadly for humans. But what about our beloved animal friends?

Here at Fit’n’Furry, we make sure to share all information we find that is beneficial for the health and well being of your furry family members. We recently discovered a post by Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking For Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life”, who shares the story of her friend Diana who had recently lost her 6 month old Bernese Mountain Dog, Donato, to the ingestion of a mushroom from her backyard; a tragic loss due to an unforeseen danger.

While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. The top three deadly mushrooms to dogs, as well as cats, are: Amanita phalloides, pale yellow and greenish tops, Amanita muscaria, the classic red cap with white spots, and Amanita pantherina, chocolate brown caps with white spots. Amanita phallodies, the “Death Cap”, is the most common of the poisonous species in Northern California and Southern Oregon and grows yearly in soil surrounding oak trees. Visit www.aspca.org/toxicplants for a list of poisonous mushrooms and plants.

The result of eating a mushroom is liver failure. The symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, delayed blood clotting and neurological abnormalities. Other signs include dilated pupils, salivation, seizures, and/or shock. If you discover that Fido has even nibbled on a possibly deadly fungus, take him to an Emergency Veterinary Clinic as soon as possible. Remember to bring a portion of the suspect with you in a paper bag so that it can be analyzed for faster and accurate treatment. You may also call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435for advice on what to do.

As with most poisonings, the best method of controlling mushroom consumption is preventing exposure. Remove all mushrooms you may have growing in your yard as well as being aware of your surroundings when walking your dog especially if you have a young one or a “not-so-picky” eater.

Everyone wants the best for their pet’s health. Our furry, family members bring us joy and fulfillment and it is so important to keep in tune with what is around their environment whether it be at home, at their favorite park or even on a camping trip. It is common knowledge that foods like chocolate and grapes can cause adverse reactions in our pets; it’s time to spread the word about these toxic pests.

1 – North American Mycological Association; http://www.namyco.org/toxicology/pet_poisonings.html
2 – Kay, Nancy. “Speaking For Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life”; http://speakingforspot.com/blog/?p=2340

Fit ‘n’ Furry Warns: Beware of Chicken Jerky Treats!

Are these jerky treats your dog’s favorite bedtime snack or good behavior reward? Most dogs would gobble up the hand that offered these along with the treats themselves as they are such a hit with pets. However, recent information from multiple veterinary associations as well as the FDA now warn pet owners against purchasing and feeding these types of chicken jerky treats to pets as there have been a large number of complaints of dogs becoming sick after consuming them. The treats in question are the jerky variety including chicken strips and chicken tenders that are supplied by manufacturers in China, including companies such as Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Shanghai Bestro Trading. Testing has been done by the Food and Drug Administration and other veterinary diagnostic labs but a contaminant has yet to be discovered and it does not appear that the perpetrator is melamine, the same contaminant that was found in the massive pet food recall in 2007.

Complaints of pets having decreased appetites and activity level, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and urination, and lethargy have been associated with dogs ingesting these types of treats. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure in some pets and urine tests may show Fanconi syndrome in others; most pets were reported to have recovered from their illness, but the FDA has received some reports of dogs passing away after continued consumption. The FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) have all received complaints and are conducting testing to determine the cause, monitoring the situation and posting any updates on their respective websites.

If your precious pooch has consumed any of these types of treats and has displayed any of the symptoms shown above discontinue use and have your veterinarian examine them for a suspected cause for their illness. If the treats seem to be the cause notify the FDA in your region by visiting this website. The FDA has not issued a recall on these products nor have they identified which companies may be involved but are cautioning pet parents to use their best judgement when purchasing treats for their dogs.  Updated information on this issue can also be found at the AVMA’s website here.