Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature MonitorIf you believe in things like the Law of Attraction, you hear frequently that the Universe puts you right where you need to be at exactly the right time. I used to always think this was a mere coincidence, but in the last few years I have come to be a believer in this.

A few weeks ago I wrote about keeping your dog safe in summer weather even if you do not have air conditioning in your home. In fact, I even wrote:

Invest in a remote monitoring device: There are some inexpensive monitoring devices that will monitor the temperature in your home and send you text alerts or provide information via an app on your phone so you can determine if your home is at a safe temperature for your dog while you are away. I have not tried any of them so do not have recommendations but if I do you can be certain I will blog about it.

Yesterday I shared the story of how my husband and I have been shopping for campers and RVs for the last several months. One of our conversations while we were shopping was about our love for Disney and how my husband would love to stay at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. He mentioned that if we did that, we could take the dogs with us, especially since we always spend as long as a week visiting my father and step-mother and that they have never met their grand-dogs. Plus we would save on a pet sitter, and most importantly, we would not have to be away from them for such a long time.

Of course I brought up the concern that I would not feel comfortable leaving the dogs in a travel trailer in the Florida heat because although we would leave the air conditioning on there was always the possibility that it could fail while we were off exploring the parks. I would rather the dogs stay at home in Illinois than put them at risk in a hot camper.

Love, Laugh, Woof Product Review: The RV Pet Safety Temperature Monitor“There has to be something on the market to monitor the temperature in the RV and send you information via text alerts or an app! It’s 2017, we have an app and monitors for everything, we can see and talk to people through our doorbell anywhere in the world,” I had told him, and we agreed that before we actually took the dogs camping at Disney, or anywhere that we would need to leave them alone for more than five minutes in the camper without us, we would research such a device.

Shortly after I wrote the blog about homes without air conditioning and the hubby and I pondered RV solutions, I attended a pet event and found myself assigned to a booth next to a woman who was sharing information on the RV Pet Safety Device. As I often do when I get excited about something, I am sure I overwhelmed her with my enthusiasm. Let’s face it, there’s a reason I love the Labrador breed so much; they are just like me!

“Oh. My. Gosh! I am so excited, I literally just wrote about devices like this and my husband and I have been shopping for RVs and we were just talking about how we would need something like this,” I exclaimed, “I am so excited to meet you!!”

Throughout the event she and I chatted anytime we had a free moment and we hit it off immediately. Both of us were moms, we had both left the corporate world to pursue careers that allowed us to actually have flexible lives instead of long commutes through suburban Chicago traffic, and we both were super excited about the possibilities of the technology of the product that she represents and its life saving potential.

A few weeks later we met up again and I was excited to borrow a unit that I could test for myself. Although we are not actually camping in an RV yet, I was able to take advantage of the July heat to test it by leaving it in my car on various trips to do errands. It is important to note that my dogs were safe and sound inside our climate controlled home. Only the device was left in the car in the heat while I wandered around various stores.

Here are my findings:

RV Pet Safety Device:

RV Pet Safety Device

The RV Pet Safety monitor is small, compact, and extremely easy to set up. The actual device measures around three inches by three inches and less than an inch thick. It is designed to be able to be moved from home to RV or anywhere your dog or cat stays, and comes with a bracket that you can mount with an adhesive backing to your home or RV. You can also place it on a flat surface like a shelf or counter.

I would suggest mounting the bracket to your RV near an electrical outlet and laying it on a counter top at home. Although they do not sell the bracket separately on their website, I would email the company and ask if you could purchase multiple brackets so you could move it around.

The charger is similar to a mobile phone charger with one end that goes into the device and a USB port at the other. You can plug it into a USB port in a vehicle or laptop to charge it or into the adaptor plug and into a traditional outlet.

RV Pet Safety App:

The RV Pet Safety App is equally easy to use. I set up my test account in just a few minutes, complete with a picture of Jackson and Tinkerbell, my mobile phone information, and custom settings for my desired temperature alerts for the lowest temperature and the warmest temperature that I would want the dogs to experience. It is important to add a buffer in the temperature settings to give you time for the unit to detect the actual temperature and for you to return to the location where your dogs are located in the event of an emergency.

There are also some help options within the app should a user have any problems, including a robust set of FAQs on setting up the app. Here are some screen shots of the easy to navigate pages. Remember, my dogs were happily at home in the air conditioning when I tested this unit in my empty car. 

 

Love, Laugh, Woof Recommendation: Love it! 

I found this device super easy to set up and use. Honestly, they could not have made it much more simple, plus they have a lot of help available should you need it, including a pop-up chat box for help on the website. In fact when I met with my new friend to pick up the test unit, I had arrived a few minutes before she did. While I waited I saw that she had sent me login credentials via email so within one to two minutes I had my app set up with my temperature specifications, alerts and contact information. When she said, “here, let me show you how to set up the app,” I said, “Oh, I already did it!” Now, in all fairness, I am one of those people who runs essentially their entire life from their phone, but it was still extremely user-friendly and simple.

The website is also easy to navigate with plenty of information. Check it out at https://rvpetsafety.com.

Love, Laugh, Woof Suggested Uses:

I want to be crystal clear here: this awesome device does not mean that dog owners can now leave their dogs in the car on a summer day when it’s 90 degrees outside and run into the grocery store for milk and bread with the car off and the windows cracked. That is still not safe because cars get too hot too fast. Period.

Home

I love the fact that the RV Pet Safety monitor can be used anywhere, including your home.  If you do not have central air or if you do have central air and leave the house for more than a few hours at a time, if you live somewhere with rolling brownouts during summer, or if you experience a power outage which can of course happen anytime or anywhere. We have had our central air break and our house got very hot very fast. I would have loved to have this when I was in my twenties and had only a window unit for air conditioning and used to obsess over whether or not my Labrador Babe was safe and comfortable at home while I was at work. Imagine the peace of mind if you are at the office an hour away and you can check in to see the temperature of your home!

RV/Campers

Of course, as the name states, the RV Pet Safety Monitor is also perfect for RV or camper owners who camp with their dogs or cats and want to have peace of mind if they want to go somewhere that does not allow their pets, like a restaurant, a bike ride, a local attraction or to a store. I nearly cried with relief when I found out this device existed because of the peace of mind it will give me when we finally do go get to camp at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness Campground and decide to take Jackson and Tinkerbell with us. It means that we could run over to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot for a few hours with the RV hooked up and the air conditioning running and get alerts to ensure that they are nice and cool despite the Florida heat.

Police/SAR Dogs

Police and Search and Rescue (SAR) dogs work under some of the worst conditions of working dogs. Some experts say that crime rates go up in the hottest months of the year, and police dogs are called upon constantly to help sniff out contraband and catch criminals regardless of the weather or conditions. The RV Pet Safety monitor could send alerts to officers or SAR handlers to let them know if the temperature in the car is safe for the dogs while they are waiting to be called into action.

Dog Show Handlers

Some professional dog show handlers transport and show multiple dogs at the same event, and these dogs are often transported in camper like trailers with built-in kennels. Although they should be equipped with air conditioning, the RV Pet Safety monitor would be able to provide additional peace of mind to handlers in case the air conditioning fails or there is a loss of power to the trailer.

Kennel Owners, Bird Hunters, and anywhere dogs are left alone

There are so many opportunities for the RV Pet Safety monitor to help alert owners or handlers to unsafe temperatures in any place that a dog is left alone without a human present at all times. Dog kennels, hunting dog trailers, doggie day care centers, even the long-term care areas of veterinary offices could all have peace of mind from this little device that was created by a company who gained significant expertise in monitoring food and pharmaceutical businesses before they launched their pet safety device.

Pricing

The RV Pet Safety monitor itself is $199 and you can save $50 with the special coupon code LYNN50 during checkout at https://rvpetsafety.com. Because the device operates with the same technology as mobile phones and goes through the Verizon cellular network, you will need a monthly plan for the device to work.

You can choose from one of two plans. With the Occasional Traveler plan, you pay $19.99 a month but you can stop and start it anytime, giving you the ability to only pay for the months that you use it. This is perfect for someone like me who is really worried about the warm summer months or only camps sporadically or during summer.

There is also the NoMads Plan, which is currently reduced to $14.50 a month and is paid annually in a lump sum of $175 a year. This is perfect for people who are living the dream of living in their 5th wheel or Class A motor coach and traveling the country or who want to monitor their home all year-long. If you are planning on using the device more than nine months out of the year, this plan makes more sense financially than paying monthly.

Finally, there is a discount for non-profit and government organizations and a special link on the RV Pet Safety website: https://rvpetsafety.com/k9-dogs or email me at lovelaughwoof@outlook.com and I will put you in contact with my friend at the company.

The special savings code LYNN50 is an affiliate code and I will earn a commission from any purchase with this code. As always, I will never recommend a product that I do not personally use or strongly believe in as being something extremely beneficial for you and your dog. Like I mentioned at the start, I was so excited to learn of the RV Pet Safety monitor that I simply had to learn more about it because of the peace of mind that it can offer to every dog owner like myself who worries about the conditions in which their dog is left alone when I have to go or choose to go to places that they can not go by my side.

 

 

Camping World

What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to Attend

What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to Attend

What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to Attend

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to AttendOne of my favorite parts of my job as a writer, dog blogger and educator of humans who live with dogs is to attend pet expos and multi-vendor adoption events. Because writing is such an isolated job and I have no co-workers or employees or a brick and mortar store, I love to get out in public and meet and talk to fellow dog owners, their dogs,  and other pet professionals face to face. Sure, the stereotype of a writer is that they are introverts who like to be alone, typing away at their masterpiece in a dark room fueled by gallons of coffee, but I really like sunshine, the outdoors and people, at least the ones who are kind to animals.

Most pet expos and adoption events that are open to the public are meant to raise funds for one or more rescue organizations. The organizers charge for-profit vendors like myself a fee to participate and then donate the fees to one or more rescue groups or shelters. Sometimes the events are organized by the shelter or rescue group themselves in order to raise funds to be able to save more animals. Vendors also typically donate raffle items and baskets so that the event organizers can sell raffle tickets and raise additional funds.

These events are win-win-win-win: a win for the rescues and shelters that never have enough funds to save as many animals as they would like, a win for the businesses and pet professionals who get to meet new clients, catch up with existing ones, and sell products and services, a win for the pet owners who get to try out new services and products for their beloved dogs, and finally a win for the dogs who are in need of help from the rescue organizations and shelters. Plus they are fun and a good place to take your own dog out in public on a mini-adventure.

What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to AttendI have met some great pet business owners at events, including people who make and sell collars, toys, pet beds, organic treats, topical skin treatments, antlers, pet food, and other products. I have met fellow authors, dog trainers, canine massage therapists, poop scooping services and all sorts of other service providers whose businesses I may want to patronize now or in the future depending on what is going on with my dog and in my life.

I love to support other pet business owners from my very own community. The more support and revenue you can give to vendors and businesses at pet expos, the more likely they are to return the following year and pay the event fee to the rescue or shelter that is being helped by the proceeds that are raised. Plus you have access to some really great products that you might not have heard of. As much as we love petting all of the dogs and talking to people, pet professionals also need to earn a living in order to keep helping dogs and serving the needs of our clients.

Sometimes there are entertaining or educational demonstrations on topics like yoga for dogs and owners, dock diving, herding, agility, rally obedience and a variety of fun things to do or watch. I have also been to events with free microchips for dogs, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, fabulous raffles and giveaways, free samples of products, free nail trims, free canine massage, and a variety of other freebies.

If you are looking to adopt another dog, some events have a variety of rescue organizations who attend. You can meet actual dogs for adoption or take the rescue group’s information so you can watch for the right dog when you are ready. You can also support rescue organizations by purchasing products that they sell. For example a local Dachshund rescue group sells special root beer and orange soda as part of their fundraising efforts and we always make sure we purchase a six-pack to take home with us. I also always buy t-shirts and apparel when the Save-A-Vet group is attending an event as my whole family loves their mission and products.

Many pet expos and adoption events are pet friendly for you to bring your own dogs, and they are a fun way to get your dog out into the world and help socialize them or just let them have some fun by meeting plenty of people, being around other dogs, and doing something new for the day. If you have a puppy who has had enough of their puppy shots to go safely into the world, these events can be great for socializing your puppy, just make sure you watch him or her around older dogs and provide plenty of positive reinforcement at appropriate times.

Because I usually have a booth at most of our local events, or it is simply too hot outside, I don’t get to take my own dogs to as many events as I would like. Last summer there was a dock diving expo in town and the normally steamy summer temperatures were unseasonably cool. I jumped on the opportunity and took Tinkerbell with me, and loved seeing her in that environment. I was so proud of how good she was on the leash in a big crowd, so sweet and calm when checking out the various vendors, chilled out around the other dogs and people, and just generally a really good companion for the day. She was also exhausted within the hour from so much mental stimulation and I thought I might have to carry her back to the car.

You can find dog events on Facebook (search “dog events” and click on the Events link), EventBrite, Bring Fido, Dog Vacay, Dog Friendly and just a regular Google search. Also search Pet Finder’s events page for a list of rescue groups who will be set up at local businesses, something that is different from a pet expo but still a great way to look for your next dog. If you are a runner, check out Active.com for their pet friendly page. There are also some larger nationwide expos like those organized by Amazing Pet Expos.

I always share events that I am sponsoring or attending on my Facebook page, so if you are not following me already, I invite you to do so now: https://www.facebook.com/lovelaughwoof. Make sure you say hello if you stop by my table, and I hope you have a fun summer of pet expos and adoption events.

 

 

 

Pet ID Week Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

Pet ID Week: Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

Pet ID Week: Understanding Microchips and Pet Trackers

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Pet ID Week Understanding Microchips and Pet TrackersHere in our neighborhood we have so many dogs  found by residents that I have joked several times that we should purchase our own microchip reader, particularly since some people are reluctant to take found dogs to the local shelter. Unfortunately that belief stems from worries that the dog will be put to sleep instead of reunited with their owner. Microchips need to be read with a scanner, though, so in order for the microchip to do its job it needs to be taken to a shelter, veterinary clinic or somewhere else who owns the appropriate equipment.

Microchips

Microchips are tiny computer chips a bit larger than a grain of rice that are inserted with a needle into the skin usually between the shoulders in the same way that a vaccination is given. These chips use RFID technology so they do not need a battery and only emit information when they are activated by a scanner.

It is extremely important for pet owners to register their chip and keep the information up to date if their address or phone number changes. Most chip registries ask for a secondary contact, which I suggest be your emergency contact should something happen to you while you are out with your dog. That is morbid, I know, but then again so is most emergency planning. My secondary contact is my friend/breeder and I will make sure that she always has my contact information for the life of my dogs.

Here are some common misconceptions surrounding microchips:

My dog does not need a collar. FALSE

Microchips are a backup to a collar and identification tag. There is not a universal type of tag that is used by all shelters, breeders and veterinarians, which means that there is not a universal scanner. It is possible for your lost dog to be scanned by a shelter with the wrong type of scanner and their chip missed.

A microchip works like a GPS unit to tell me my dog’s location.  FALSE

The technology in microchips only provides information when the chip is activated by a scanner. Unless a scanner is used the chip is idle in your dog’s body.

A microchip stores all of the information needed to get my dog back to me.  FALSE

The only information provided when a microchip is scanned is an identification number. The person who scans the dog must look up the identification number on one or more database to find the dog owner’s contact information. Like any database, the data in it must be maintained to remain accurate.

Once the chip is implanted in my dog I never need to think about it again.  FALSE

Whether you choose to do so on Check the Chip Day in August or at your individual dog’s annual examination with your veterinarian, all dog owners should ask for their dog’s chip to be scanned to ensure that it is still working correctly. Also use this day to check with your chip registry company to make sure all of your contact information is up to date.

The AVMA has a great FAQ list about dog microchips on this page: AVMA Microchipping of Animals

Pet Trackers

More and more pet trackers are entering the market each year. It is important to understand the different options and how they work. Although all of them offer some way of locating your pet’s location, no technology will ever be as good as taking comprehensive preventative measures to keep your dog from getting lost in the first place. A pet tracker can tell you where your dog is but cannot magically teach him or her who to trust or how to avoid cars, predatory animals and other dangerous situations. There is also battery life of one to multiple days to contend with if your dog becomes lost while wearing one. Finally, since they are attached to your dog they are not helpful if your dog’s collar comes off.

Some pet trackers like the TrackR Bravo rely on Bluetooth technology with a range of 100 feet. Once your dog is outside your Bluetooth range, your tracker relies on a network of other TrackR users. While these trackers are fantastic for people who chronically lose their keys or their phones in their own homes, this has some limitations when tracking pets. Unless you have other users of this platform in the area in which your dog is located, you cannot see any information about their whereabouts. At $29.99 this type of tracker is definitely a low-cost option and minimally would fall into the “better than nothing” category. You can get a single TrackR at Amazon for around $24 using your Prime membership.

Other options like the Whistle Pet Tracker use WiFi, Cellular and GPS technology to track where your pet is at all times. These trackers can also act as activity trackers which I suppose could be helpful to see how active an uncrated dog is while you are away. Otherwise my opinion is that if your dog is being active, you should be right there with her.

Jax and Tink both have a Whistle tracker from their initial product launch and looking at their website it appears that they have made several design improvements since that version, including a redesign of the actual unit and the way that it attaches to your dog’s collar. This type of tracker usually requires a monthly service charge. There are other products like the Nuzzle GPS Pet Tracker, the Paw Tracker, and many others. A Google search will yield many results for pet owners who are interested.

At the end of the day, collars, tags, microchips and pet trackers are all emergency resources to help you if your pet is lost. Nothing is as effective as working proactively and tirelessly to prevent your dog from becoming lost. Click here to read 17 Spring Safety Tips to Prevent Lost Dogs and Pet Theft Awareness: Seven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe from the Love, Laugh, Woof blog archives.

Tomorrow we will discuss what to do if you find a dog as we continue Pet ID Week.

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 

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Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Pet ID Week: The Importance of Dog Collars and Identification Tags As a diehard Disney lover and a lifelong dog person, one of my favorite animated movies is Lady and the Tramp. When I sat down to write about Pet ID Week I remembered a scene from that movie, in which Lady shows off her new collar and tag to her neighborhood friends Jock and Trusty. As they admire her new collar and tag, Trusty the Bloodhound tells her, “It is the greatest honor man an bestow,” with Jock the Schnauzer adding, “A badge of faith and respectability.”

Of course there are many parts of that movie that make me cringe, like letting the dogs run up and down the street on their own, but then again humanizing animals is part of the fun of those movies, and something that all good dog owners know not to do. I mean, if my dogs could speak English and watch for cars and navigate the human world, I might consider letting them do that, but that is a whole other blog all on its own.

The Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association shares the following data about lost and stolen dogs:

  • 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen each year.
  • 22% of lost dogs entering shelters are returned to their families.
  • 52% of microchipped pets are reunited with their owners.
  • Among dogs who were microchipped, 35% of the ones whose owners could not be found was due to phone numbers that no longer worked or were accurate.

Ensuring that your pet has up to date identification in the form of both a collar/ID tag and a microchip is the most reliable way to be reunited with a lost dog or cat. 

The most low-tech form of identification for your dog is a simple collar and tag. Unlike the fictional Lady, all dogs should have a collar and ID tag from the first day that they arrive at their home as puppies or as adopted adult dogs.

ID Tags: I strongly recommend purchasing a good quality engraved tag that is less likely to scratch and dull over time like cheaper options. The price difference between a cheap tag and a good quality one is not that substantial and it is worth the difference. The last thing you want is for a good Samaritan to catch your dog, try to contact you, and be unable to read the tag. I really like the Red Dingo tags that you can purchase at Dog Tuff, which are guaranteed to be readable for the life of the tag and come in some super cute designs for the humans to enjoy and match to the dog’s collars. I do not personally care for the tags that offer only a scannable code because of the chance that your dog is saved by someone without a smart phone or a phone at all.

Rabies Tags & Microchip Tags: Your dog’s rabies tag is dual purpose; not only does it show that your dog has received his or her rabies vaccine, but each one is numbered and assigned to your particular dog, giving potential rescuers another way to find out who owns the dog. I suggest attaching it with a separate connector so that if one tag gets snagged and falls off your dog’s collar there is a backup that might help your dog find his or her way home. This is the same with the microchip tag that you should have received when your dog was microchipped. My dogs each have at least three tags on their collars: name/address tag, rabies tag and microchip tag. We will discuss microchips at length in tomorrow’s blog.

Collars: A good quality dog collar with a strong, reliable buckle is also important. I will personally only use collars with a quick release buckle versus a closure like a belt buckle. I also recommend the type that can be embroidered with the dog’s name and your phone number in case your dog’s ID tag falls off but his or her collar remains on their neck. I like these from Orvis, particularly because you can choose the color of thread as well as the collar color and you can get 2 for $30.00.

Lupine Eco series from Cherrybrook

I also love Lupine brand collars, which is what Jackson is wearing right now. They have a great line of Eco collars made from recycled water bottles and can be found along with matching leashes at Cherrybrook; they are so super cute I may have to order one for Tinkerbell in purple. I love this brand because they are made in New Hampshire and are guaranteed even if you dog chews it.

If you crate your dog you should not crate them with their collar for safety reasons. I remove each dog’s collar before putting them in their crates and lay each collar on the floor a few inches in front of the corresponding crate so that I can put it back on each dog immediately upon returning home and they are near the dogs in the event of an emergency.

Some dogs who have narrow heads or who are escape artists wear martingale collars, and I personally suggest that you find one that also has an emergency buckle release as well as the martingale feature.

The Wander Tag Holder from Kurgo

Tag Clips/Connectors: I really like the Wander Clip from Kurgo because it allows you to move your dog’s tags easily from collar to collar but more importantly because they say that it breaks away after 45 pounds of pressure are applied to it to prevent choking. I’ve shared the story of Tinkerbell and the Dishwasher before so I can tell you that the chance of your dog’s tags getting stuck on everyday things in the house is real and not some overly paranoid dog mom thing.

Tag Silencers: After forty plus years of having dogs in my life, I do not even notice the jingle of my dogs’ tags anymore. Sometimes we remove their collars to give their necks a good scratching or when they are rough-housing and let them wander around the house without them for a bit in “naked dog” mode. I also refer to this as “stealth mode” because although I do not notice the jingle of the tags, I notice the silent way that they move around the house when “naked” of their collars. For dog owners who do notice the jingle of metal tags against each other and find that noise distracting, there are a variety of types of tag silencers from the type that go over the tags to rubber rings that go around them.

Tomorrow watch for an all new blog about Pet ID Week and Microchips.

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend.

I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration. 

Fruits and Veggies for Dogs: Jackson & Tinkerbell's Top 7 Produce Picks

Fruits and Veggies for Dogs: Jackson & Tinkerbell’s Top 7 Produce Picks

Fruits and Veggies for Dogs: Jackson & Tinkerbell’s Top 7 Produce Picks

By Lynn Stacy-Smith

Fruits and Veggies for Dogs: Jackson & Tinkerbell's Top 7 Produce PicksYesterday was National Biscuit Day and I shared my favorite and trusted brands of dog treats, so today is a perfect time to share some of Jackson and Tinkerbell’s favorite fruits and veggies for dogs. My teenagers joke that our dogs are “nerds” of the dog world because they beg for things like kale and cucumber slices but don’t even wake from their slumber if we cook a nice juicy steak or burgers on the grill.

It doesn’t help that I do not allow the dogs to eat wheat, corn, soy, white potatoes, chicken, any other poultry products, beef, or any of the more “mainstream” brands of food or treats that you might find at a big box retailer. By-products and anything with the word “animal” is a huge no-no in this house and I have not shopped at big box stores for pet products for over six years. Part of this list of things they cannot have is due to food sensitivities in one or the other dog, and part is simply because I am extremely cautious with what they are allowed to ingest. Losing two dogs in a row to cancer will do that to a dog owner.

Here are the produce department items that send Jax and Tink racing into the kitchen waiting for their portion to be handed to them or for something to drop onto the floor. These are Jackson & Tinkerbell’s Top 7 Produce Picks:

1. Kale, spinach & green leaf lettuce: I make my salads with my own mix of kale, spinach and green leaf lettuce and both dogs come running into the kitchen the moment they smell the greens coming out of the fridge. They stand patiently, one dog on each side of me, eyes firmly on the counter top, and I had them small bunches of leaves that they wolf down happily. Sometimes I will put a handful into their bowls like their very own salad. I try not to do this when any other humans are around; they already think I’m a bit dog crazy so the last thing I need them to catch me doing is making the dogs a salad.

2. Cucumber slices: I can eat just plain slices of cucumbers as a yummy snack and so can the dogs. They were particularly happy the summers we grew our own in our veggie garden. According to Modern Dog Magazine, cucumbers are good sources of calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene.

dog eating carrot
photo credit: Canopener Sally Carrots, oh yum. via photopin (license)

3. Carrots: Carrots are legendary as dog treats, and according to the American Kennel Club, they provide some dental benefits with their crunchy texture and contain vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Jax and Tink know the word “carrot” very well, to the point that it is almost a reliable recall word. Carrots make an easy to purchase treat when running to the local healthy pet store is not convenient as you can pick up a bag of organic mini carrots at most stores.

4. Bell peppers: Red, yellow and orange bell peppers are right up there with cucumbers as veggies that I love to just eat plain. They are one of my favorite nearly zero calorie treats for me, and the dogs love them too. Just don’t give your dogs any hot peppers, only sweet bell peppers are ok.

5. Bananas: I have officially given up any hope of eating an entire banana on my own, and that’s just fine because there’s nobody I’d rather share it with than Jax and Tink. In fact, on those days when they are so interested in the smells of the yard that they come down with the “selective hearing” that Labradors are prone to get, all I have to say is “Who wants to share a banana with me?” and they will run as fast as they can to the kitchen door while I hope that nobody ate that last banana that was on the counter earlier.

6. Watermelon: We eat a lot of watermelon in this house. Every last one of us loves it and the dogs are no different. We will cut a huge melon into chunks and put it into a massive Tupperware bowl. It usually lasts two days and you end up with two dogs sitting in front of you with drool streaming out of their mouths while you eat it. Pavlov’s dogs had nothing on these two! Just make sure you take the seeds out before giving any to your dog.

7. Celery with peanut butter: Ants on a log are a holiday tradition in our house. Jax and Tink are obsessed with peanut butter so we’ve started making them their own ant-less (aka raisin free) version on Thanksgiving and other holidays. I limit them to one or two small pieces each, though. And always make sure your peanut butter does not contain the potentially deadly fake sweetener xylitol!

Jax and Tink have enjoyed strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe, broccoli, cooked sweet potatoes and green beans from time to time, although not enough to recognize them by smell like the seven items listed above. Tinkerbell is hilarious with blueberries and an odd cherry tomato here and there because of the shape and texture. She spits it out, rolls it around, tries again, looks at Jackson as if to say, “really, I’m supposed to eat this?” before finally consuming the fruit.

Remember that all dogs are different and some will love fruits and veggies as snacks and others will not. Always research whether a dog can safely consume an item before giving it to them as not all fruits and veggies are safe for canine consumption. Here is a nice list from Trupanion so you can make your dogs part of the club of canines who enjoy dog friendly produce.

 

 

Photo credit, Carrots oh yum, photo credit: Canopener Sally Carrots, oh yum. via photopin (license)

 

National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day: Jax and Tink’s Five Favorite Brands

National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day: Jax and Tink’s Five Favorite Brands

By Lynn Stacy-Smith

National Dog Biscuit Appreciation DayToday is National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day! If it seems like I’ve had a lot of “national (fill in the blank) day” posts, you are correct. February is chock full of them. Some are for extremely important educational topics and some, like this one, are just plain fun!

Dog treats do serve a function when used for training. In addition to training and getting your dog’s attention, most dogs just love to have a little treat here and there. Since chewing crunchy food can help keep dogs’ teeth clean you might get a few dental benefits out of larger biscuits.

On the downside, treat calories do add up, so make sure you incorporate those calories into your dog’s day and adjust their amount of food accordingly. Treat ingredients matter and it is important to avoid allergens in treats just like you do in your dog’s food, reading labels carefully and thoroughly. And just like food, the quality of treats varies wildly across brands, so make sure you are looking for companies with a good reputation and quality ingredients, made in the United States.

“Did you say fish cookies??”

Jackson and Tinkerbell, typical Labradors who love, love, love to eat, are dog biscuit connoisseurs. They love to train for treats, they get treats when they come inside, when they go into their crates, and before bed. (I told you I’m an expert dog owner, I never said I wasn’t a pushover!) We even have a little series of tricks that they do at bedtime, both sitting side by side on our human bed and showing us Shake Hands, High Five, Speak, and Touch, in which they reach up and touch our hand with their noses.

Here are some of our favorite trusted brands that Jackson and Tinkerbell give four paws up and a wagging tail and get my approval as a careful dog mom:

Dogs Love Kale: My dogs love kale. My teenagers joke with me that our dogs are nerdy dogs because they don’t beg for meat or normal things, but the moment I start to make a salad they come running into the kitchen, at which point I give them dog friendly veggies, including kale. When I found this brand I did a happy dance and promptly ordered one of every flavor! You can purchase from Amazon in a single package in a variety of flavors, including quite a few that are made without chicken or poultry.

Fruitables: I switched to Fruitables for Jax and Tink when Zukes sold out to Purina. I use the Skinny Mini variety for training because they are tiny and have a strong smell. I buy the small crunchy treats for everyday treats. They also offer dental chews and meat jerky strips. Jax and Tink love the salmon strips! I purchase either from my local independent pet food store or through Petflow.


Fruitables Chewy Skinny Minis Pumpkin Mango Flavor Dog Treats – $8.99

from: PetFlow.com


Fruitables Crunchy Pumpkin and Apple Dog Treats – $5.99

from: PetFlow.com


Fruitables BioActive Fresh Mouth Grain Free Dental Chews for Dogs – $15.99

from: PetFlow.com


Fruitables Whole Jerky Alaskan Salmon Dog Treats – $10.99

from: PetFlow.com

Cloud Star: Cloud Star makes a grain free line and I like the Peanut Butter option for Jax and Tink. The Buddy Biscuits are larger than Dogs Love Kale or Fruitables and are more of a traditional biscuit size. These I feed less frequently but I like them because they give a little more crunchy chewing than the small options.

Canine Caviar: I feed Canine Caviar food and so I also trust their treats with my dogs. I prefer the Paddywacks which are a part of the buffalo “other” than the bully stick or pizzle. Sure, the dogs love bully sticks, but the thought of what they are is kinda a turn off for a lot of humans. I’d rather they chew on “other” parts.

You can get a huge box of them from PetFlow with free shipping!

Canine Caviar Buffalo 12-Inch Paddywack Dog Treats

from: PetFlow.com

Earthborn Holistics: I purchase the peanut butter treats and what we call the “fishy cookies” in our house. The fish variety has a very strong odor but the dogs get very excited for them so I can’t deny them their fishy cookies!


Earthborn Holistic EarthBites Peanut Flavor Dog Treats – $5.99

from: PetFlow.com


Earthborn Holistic Grain Free Oven Baked Biscuits Whitefish Meal Recipe Dog Treats – $9.99

from: PetFlow.com

 

 

 

 

 

Isle of Dogs: This is the newest brand that I’ve tried after stopping in to a more mainstream store to see what they had. After a very long time browsing the treat aisle and not finding anything I would consider giving them, I found these. So far I’ve been happy with several varieties like this blueberry option and the “Breath” formula even though neither of my dogs has a breath issue because of good nutrition and overall good health.

 

 

Winter Gear For Dog Owners

Yesterday I went to take the dogs on individual walks and decided to throw on my snow pants before leaving the house. I did not check the wind chill but since the actual temperature was twenty and I had on my beloved LulaRoe leggings (the unofficial uniform of bloggers and work at home women) I knew we were going to be in for a brisk walk.

Right now Jax and Tink are getting individual walks because Jax is recovering from a partially torn cruciate ligament. Not only does this make his walk shorter,  but Tink is bored out of her mind not being able to play zoomies and all of their other rough and tumble games with him. Plus sometimes I just enjoy one-on-one time with each dog every now and then.

Knowing that I would be outside for at least forty-five minutes to an hour, I threw on my snow pants, my ski jacket and my old skiing neck warmer that I’ve had since at least 1986. Add on a hat, gloves and my dog walking cross body (that perfectly holds a slew of empty poop scooping bags) and my phone, and I was ready.

“Are you taking them through the neighborhood or up Everest?” my husband asked.

“Haha, you’re very funny,” I said, “But I guarantee you I will be the only one out walking and I’ll be nice and comfy and warm!”

Living here in the Chicago suburbs, I find myself the only one of my neighbors who will throw on snow pants and boots and literally run around the back yard throwing snow balls to the dogs and enjoying winter with them. For one thing, Labradors live for winter. They are bred to sit in duck blinds on cold fall mornings; mine spend summer laying on top of the AC vents. Sure, when it dips below zero I make them stay inside because it’s dangerous and their paws freeze quickly, but twenty degree weather is their favorite weather when they are the most active.

Jackson surveying his world

The key to having an active dog who loves the winter is to have the right gear. I grew up skiing, sledding, ice skating and ice fishing all winter every year of my life growing up in very rural northwest New Jersey and then northwest Indiana, so winter gear has always been a part of my life. How else are you going to do fun things all winter without freezing your rear off? My wool pea coat is fine for going to the car and back to go to dinner or an event when I have on a cute outfit, and my tall leather boots are a staple of my social wardrobe, but I won’t last more than ten minutes outside playing with my dogs in that outfit!

My favorite brand for outdoor gear is Columbia Sportswear, and this is the time of year to pick up winter gear at a discount to use the rest of this season and for years from now because practically their entire website is on sale!

Here are my favorites that let me spend the most time outside with Jax and Tink at a time of year that they love and that I love just as much as long as I’m dressed right:

Head: You’ve heard that a lot of heat escapes through your head, but there are also your poor ears to consider! Honestly, I look stupid in most hats, I’m the first to admit that, but I’ve found this super cute Peruvian hat. Just be careful with puppies, they like those little balls of yarn at the end. You can ask Miss Tinkerbell how I know about that…

Neck: I love scarves, but when I’m being outdoorsy and active I don’t like something that can catch or get caught. Like I mentioned, I’m using my beloved neck warmer that is circa 1986 because it’s still functional and I have awesome memories of ski trips with my family and shenanigans on the slopes with my brothers, but this is a cute option from Amazon

Hands: Those thin little 99 cent Wal-Mart gloves are not going to last throwing a ball to your dog for a half hour, plus they get soaking wet the first snowball you make. And what type of snow day is it without tossing snowballs for your pup to fetch or eat? I like the Thermarator Gloves for leashed walks because they are not as bulky and you can hold onto the leash. For actual playing in the snow I like the Bugaboo gloves

Torso: There are plenty of great ski/winter jackets out there, but right now I am in love with my Kaleidaslope jacket. It’s warm without being bulky or making me look like the Michelin man and it’s cute with jeans when I’m out and about.  Plus it’s got their Omni heat lining. I do find myself adding a fleece underneath when the temperature goes below zero, but when it’s that cold the dogs and I are all going into hibernation anyway.

Bottom: For just playing outside with the dogs or going on walks, I am happy with regular snow pants. If I was going to start skiing again I would probably go with a bib to prevent snow and wind from riding up my back, but I’m a fan of the Bugaboo pants like these: 

 

Feet: I am gradually making a nice collection of Columbia boots over the years since they started adding styles that are as cute as they are functional! I find they give good support to your feet and look good with skinny jeans and leggings when I’m out running errands or operating the teen taxi. Since I work from home I have pretty casual attire, but they’re also going to be so cute going in and out of the office so you don’t bust your rear in the office parking lot. Not that I did that in my corporate life…

I am a Columbia affiliate, meaning that if you shop from my Columbia link I will receive a small commission from them. I sought them out and joined their program because I truly love all of their products and have been a loyal shopper for years. If you shop my link, I will be extremely grateful, however you have tons of options in terms of gear and brands and personal preference. No matter what you wear, as long as you view time outside with your dog as a winter sport and dress yourself accordingly, you will be able to share much more quality time with them than if you are freezing and counting down the minutes until you can go back inside.

Of course if you do not have a robust outdoorsy breed who thrives on cooler temperatures, you’ll be better off with a blanket and a warm cup of tea snuggled up safely indoors, and that’s just fine too.  After all, spending time with them is the whole reason we have them in our lives, no matter where the fun takes place.