Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Create Your Own Pet Food Recall Notifications

It's scary to think that almost every day there's a recall out for one type of pet food or another. The Pet Food Recalls of 2007 were particularly troublesome and brought to light the many brands that offshore their production to facilities in China that have insufficient safety controls.

Since forewarned is forearmed, I wanted to share a quick and easy way that you can stay ahead of game and get notifications as quickly as they occur with Google Alerts. What you get are notifications in your email inbox with the latest pet food recall notifications from across the Internet.

Here's how you get set up:

  1. The first thing you'll need is a Google Mail account. If you have an account, sign-in. If you don't, get one. It's easy and free.
  2. Next, surf on over to Google Alerts
  3. Once there, you'll be able to put in keywords to create an alert. In the example, below you can see that I've used "pet food recall" (without the quotes) in the Search query field to accomplish this.
  4. I adjust the How often setting on some of the alerts I have set up, but I find either Once a day or Once a week, but be more than sufficient. If you change this to As-it-happens, you may find that the amount of email you get to be overwhelming. My own pet food recall alert is set to Once a day.
  5. That's it. The rest of the settings I leave as-is. I always leave the How many field as Only the best results, and that provides all the results I've ever needed.
Here's a screen shot of what mine looked like when it was done. Note that you get to look at what the email will look like on the right hand side of the display:

Simple Pet Food Recall Notifications by Google Alerts
Simple Pet Food Recall Notifications by Google Alerts
The purpose of keeping an eye on the products that are being recalled is not to create a panic, but to have the knowledge to make the best decision for your pet on a timely basis. Like any information, it depends upon individuals and companies reporting recalls, so it's not perfect, but it is a useful tool that you should consider.

These quick pet food recall notifications allow me to put a quick eye on my email alerts in the morning and have piece of mind the rest of the day that the food (and treats) I'm feeding my dog haven't been recalled.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Bark Out Loud and Do a Back Flip

Onyx, our senior water diving dog

I had a nice surprise recently when learning about the two most recent additions to SeniorPooch Adoptions, Onyx (above) and Beignet. In spite of their advanced years, the high energy play sessions used to spotlight these two show that age is only a number as long as you're keeping your canine companions mentally and physically engaged.

Both of these boys are shelter dogs, so my thanks goes out to those shelter volunteers who take the time to play with these guys.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Double-Time At the Vet: When It's Time to Increase Your Dog's Check Ups

The day will come when your dog's muzzle grows more and more grey; when you notice that she is not getting along like she did in their younger days. We already talked about this a while back, but this is both a reminder and an introduction to another benefit of visiting your veterinarian more often: talking with them about the best preventative medicine.

The symptoms of many ailments can be mitigated if you catch them early enough.

Arthirits and hip dysplasia are two issues that I've come up against several times. Getting on a diet and choosing supplements that reduce inflammation helped enormously in my dog's case. We also received tips on walking on inclines and declines, instead of the more severe stairs, in order to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. Muscle loss was one of the related concerns that my vet brought to my attention. As a dog gets older, it's going to lose muscle mass. The goal is to maintain a level of exercise that isn't painful to the dog, but still keeps them active.

Diseases that younger dogs can more easily fight off are a concern as well. Dog's whose immune systems are degrading are more susceptible to more severe forms of common health issues that they would have more easily fought off in their youth. Skin diseases, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria are usually treatable if caught early enough. It may be that you'll need to head to a specialist to address these, however they should be able to give you some tricks on how to mitigate these itchy situations. Domboro Solution, a common poison ivy treatment for people that is available in your drugstore's first aid aisle, was just what the doctor ordered to dry up a rash caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria after the proper drugs were find to fight this illness.

Cancer is another area where early detection can help. More and more people that I'm in contact are having their dogs treated for cancer instead of treating it as a death sentence.

The point is that looking up how to treat illnesses on the web or talking with your friends may give you a little information or even help you commiserate over the situation, but your best bet when it comes to dealing with canine health issues is to have an open line to your vet. This allows you to work together to maintain your dog's quality of life for many years to come.

Don't take my word for it, make an appointment for a check-up and chat with your veterinarian today.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Best of Senior Pooch Adoptions - Part 3 of 3

Lady, a beautiful GSD on death row, was adopted by our friend Larry

Today brings us the final group of dogs available on SeniorPooch Adoptions. If you never thought about adopting a senior dog, you're just like me. I had every reason in the world not to consider adopting an older dog six years ago, but something stirred in me when I met Boo Boo and heard his story that he needed just a little help. I couldn't have imagined then what he went through in the shelter for two months, but in hindsight it's no wonder it took months for him to break out of his shell. I'm glad I took the chance on him and he took the chance on me. It changed me forever.

In his memory, I hope you take a couple of minutes to take a look at the stories of these dogs and consider them as a new roommate or even just share them with a friend:

Senior Chihuahua, Thor, is bringing more hugs than thunder these days, which is fine with us.
Thor is a cuddler. He loves other pets and would be best in any home where he could lounge around and rub up against his people as often as possible. He's blind, but hasn't let that slow him down at all.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Best of Senior Pooch Adoptions - Part 2 of 3

Senior Pekinese Mix, Maxwell, was adopted after being fostered for over a yearHappily, our beagle-friend, Cornelius, was adopted before his ad was ever posted

Without any additional fanfare, let's pick up where we left off yesterday checking out some of the worthy souls who are still available for adoption over on the SeniorPooch Adoptions page.

These Two Guys have no names and just need a chance to be adopted.
More than a few dogs that cross my path here on SeniorPooch Adoptions have no name, just like These Two Guys. It would appear to me that dogs without names are less likely to have people connect to them. Since, a shelter number is no name for a dog, what would you name them if you could?

Philippe is a 15 year old senior small breed mix that just needs to be spoiled.
Philippe, is 15 now. This gentle old soul just needs a little space to rest his head and lots of spoiling in his golden years. Even a temporary foster situation would do to help give his foster mom a break from time to time. He gets along with other pets.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Best of Senior Pooch Adoptions - Part 1 of 3

Our goofy Girl, a senior GSDThe regal Bear, a senior German Shepherd Dog was adopted in San Diego
There's no better feeling than helping to get a very worthy dog adopted. None.

Unfortunately senior dogs take a lot longer to get adopted than most, some waiting a year or more to find the person who will make the commitment to love them forever. Sadly many die in shelters and more than a few live out their days in foster homes, the latter being no different than their forever home for the dog (and foster) in many cases.

In honor of all of you who adopt and foster older dogs I wanted to highlight some of the longest tenured pooches up on the SeniorPooch Adoptions page.

If you're reading this, maybe you know someone who is looking for one of these beauties:

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bark Out Loud Because Happy Wagging Tails Are for Furever

Tinkerbell, a senior mastiff mixed breed dog found her forever home

James Bond might tell you Diamonds are Forever, but not my friend Tinkerbell, who found her forever (dare I say, furever) home just a few weeks ago. Happily she gets to spend her days hang out with her new family on a sizable piece of property.

For Charlie, the fourth time is a charm. Adopted and loving it.Just because their whiskers are grey doesn't mean they don't have a lot of love to give. Check out other mature dogs looking for their own Happily Ever After on the SeniorPooch Adoptions site.

Speaking of happy endings, our friend Charlie has at long last found his forever home. After a few false starts and an extended stay in a kennel, Charlie met his new foster dad who decided after three days that Charlie needed to be his forever. Charlie gave me a big hug the last time I saw him to help finalize his adoption paperwork, but was perfectly content to remain lounging around when I left. He's more comfortable and secure than he's ever been in his life and is even making strides in socializing with big dogs. I'm so very happy that Charlie finally found someone who recognized how much love he has to give and who knows how to give it back to him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's In that Dog - Using Wisdom Panel to Identify Your Dog's Breed Makeup

Wisdom Panel helps you identify the ancestry of your dog
I frequently get asked what breed of dog I have. I don't really know since Rusty was a refugee from a shelter when he came to live with me two years ago.

I had been sticking with calling him a Shepherd/Akita mix based upon his looks and temperament, however the more research that I do on dogs and breed specific health issues, the more I wanted to know if I should be concerned.

Enter the Wisdom Panel.

The Wisdom Panel is is a simple DNA test that you can administer at home and send into a lab to analyze. The kit comes with a couple of swabs to rub on the inside of your dog's mouth and a pre-paid mailer. Two to three weeks after the lab's receipt of receiving the package you are emailed with a link to get the Insight report, along with the option to upload a picture.

According to their literature, the Wisdom Panel uses 300 DNA markers which are analyzed against some 11 million calculations to give an overview of your dog's background going back to their great grandparents.

I went with the Mixed Breed version of the test to determine "What makes up a Rusty Dog?" and found that on one side of his family he has German Shepherd and English Springer Spaniel (the latter being a surprise), while on the other side he has some Chow Chow. I also received a list of breeds that might be included as well, but weren't as prevalent. Overall, given the high indicators of mixed breed parents throughout his history, Rusty is probably less susceptible to breed specific issues caused by breeders over breeding within the same family to get particular traits.

It doesn't matter to me what kind of dog Rusty turned out to be, but it was an interesting exercise. I'd recommend it to people interested in their dog's background or want to confirm breed specific traits and potential ailments that come with them.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Having the Strength to Do the Right Thing: The Emotional Side of Putting Your Dog to Sleep

Boo Boo, my senior dog, resting on the porch
Boo Boo resting on the porch

Eventually all good things must come to an end.

Old muscles are too tired. Joints are worn.

We've reached the limit of the total number of heartbeats that we've been allotted in this life.

It's as much that way for us as it is four our four-legged companions.

As owners of older dogs we need to be considerate of our our four-legged friends. Sometimes this means being ready to do the right thing by helping them along on their final journey by having them put to sleep. Ask your veterinarian about what euthanasia options you have so that you're ready when the time comes.

This is an emotionally difficult time, so get in front of this scenario and understand that prolonging your dog's suffering because you're not ready to let go is not the way to go. Consider that after all is said and done, no one wants to think that they caused their beloved pet one extra hour of pain and misery if they could have prevented it.

Take heart and know that memories of walks, snuggling, and wet sloppy kisses at inappropriate times will always be with you.

The Rainbow Bridge (below) is a poem written by an unknown writer in the second half of the 20th century which paints a picture of how one day we'll be reunited with all of those furry companions that have given us so many years of love and faithfulness:

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...