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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ashley's Favorite Treats

'Tis the Season for Treats!
For many of us the holidays means shopping and decorating but also great food! During this time of year we throw out our diets until after the new year and partake of the many treats that are such a big part of the holiday tradition. Let us not forget, however, our furry friends. Why shouldn't they also enjoy some treats during the holidays? Also, with budgets so tight recently, many people are looking for inexpensive or even homemade gifts for their friends and family.

For this post I thought I would post some of Ashley's favorite homemade treats. These could make a great addition to a pet lovers gift basket for friends or family who have dogs. I've tried each of these recipes and Ashley loved each treat. I should also tell you that I'm really not much of a cook and Ashley is rather picky about her treats so I they worked for us, they should work for anyone :-) 

Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits
 1 1/2 cup water
 1/2 cup vegetable oil
 2 medium eggs
 1/4 cup natural crunchy peanut butter
 2 tablespoons vanilla
 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
 3/4 cup unbleached flour
 1 cup cornmeal
 3/4 cup rolled oats

 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the water,
 oil, eggs, peanut butter and vanilla. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine
 the dry ingredients. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and beat
 with an electric mixer until smooth. Roll the dough into a ball and place it on a
 sheet of floured wax paper. Roll or pat out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 to
 1/2 inch. Cut the dough with a cookie cutter (preferably one shaped like a dog
 biscuit) and place the biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 20
 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the biscuits in the oven for one hour.

 Makes 1 to 2 dozen biscuits, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Pooch Peanut Butter Swirls
 Dough #1
 4 cups whole wheat flour
 1/2 cup cornmeal
 1 1/3 cups water
 1/3 cup peanut butter
 1 egg

 Dough #2
 4 cups whole wheat flour
 2/3 cup cornmeal
 1/2 cup banana -- mashed
 1 egg
 1 1/4 cups water
 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
 2 tablespoons molasses
 2 tablespoons cinnamon
 Combine all #1 ingredients and mix thoroughly. Knead on a lightly floured surface. Set aside.

 Combine all #2 ingredients and mix thoroughly. Knead on a lightly floured surface.

 Roll each dough separately to a 1/8 inch thickness, into rectangles. Lightly brush a little water over the
 top of the light dough. Place the dark dough on top, then roll up like a jelly roll. Wrap the roll in plastic
 and chill in the freezer for one hour. Cut the roll into 1/4 inch slices. Place them on a cookie sheet
 sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Pumpkin-Patch Biscuits
1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour              1 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon                1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 T. butter flavored shortening         1/2 c. solid pack canned pumpkin
1 egg                                              1/2 c. buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cut in shortening. Beat egg with milk and pumpkin, and combine with flour, mixing well. Stir until soft dough forms. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool and serve. Enjoy.

Holiday Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers
I know that it's easy to get treats from the store but there's really nothing like home cooking. Friends will appreciate the time and effort you put into making these treats for their dog. Consider also, the added health benefit that natural food with no artificial flavors and coloring have for your dog. You could put the treats in holiday plastic treat bags to give or include them as a part of the gift basket.

If you are looking for other holiday gift ideas try my Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers suggestions. Also try Animal Den - this Animal Lovers Gift Shop is highly recommended. Great products, top service, five stars. You can get breed specific gifts here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping Your Pets Safe In Cold Weather

Here in Wisconsin winter is upon us. Soon we will have snow and temperatures will be dropping into below freezing temperatures. Those cold temperatures should be accompanied by caution when it comes to your pets safety. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe in winter.

1. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. It's easy for a dog to lose their scent in snow and ice making it easy for them to get lost. It's unsafe for you to go looking for them. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season.
2. Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when she comes in out of the rain, snow or ice. Check her sensitive paw pads, which may bleed from snow or ice encrusted in them. Also, your dog may have stepped in salt, antifreeze or other chemicals that could hurt your dog if she ingests them while licking her paws. Consider getting boots for your dog. They will get used to wearing them and they will protect your pups feet from the cold and sidewalk salt.

3. Consider getting a warm coat or sweater for your dog if you have a short-haired breed. Look for one with a high collar or turtleneck that covers your dog from the base of her tail on top and to the belly underneath. It's important to keep their vital organs warm to prevent hypothermia. While this may seem like a luxury, it is a necessity for many dogs.

4.  Never leave your dog alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold. Your dog could freeze to death.
5. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only for a bathroom break.
6. If your dog spends a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep his fur thick and healthy. Dogs who must be kept outdoors should have an insulated shelter off the ground and out of the wind. During extreme cold they should be brought into the house. Check their water supply frequently to make sure it isn't frozen.

7. Antifreeze, even in very tiny doses, is a poison for dogs. Because of its sweet taste, animals are attracted to it. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle. To prevent accidental poisonings, more and more people are using animal-friendly products that contain propylene glycol rather than the traditional products containing ethylene glycol. Call your veterinarian or The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/NAPCC) if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.

8. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter. Leave the coat in a longer style, which provides more warmth. Remember that such a style will require more frequent brushing due to dry winter air and static electricity. When you bathe your dog, make sure she is completely dry before you take her out for a walk.

9. Make sure your dog has a warm place to sleep far away from all drafts and off the floor, such as in a dog bed or basket with a warm blanket or pillow in it.

Remember, if it's too cold for you, it's probably too cold for your pet. Although most are covered with a thick coat of fur there are still parts of their bodies that are exposed and susceptible to frostbite. A dog's nose, ears, and feet, depending on the breed, are often not as fur covered leaving them exposed to the cold. Be sure to contact your veterinarian any time your dog is acting strangely or is showing signs of hypothermia. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cleaning Dogs Teeth Is Critical For Their Good Health

The topic of cleaning dogs teeth is sometimes met with laughter and funny looks but the fact is that there is nothing funny about a dog with bad teeth.  Just like humans, dogs need to practice good oral hygiene as having bad teeth can lead to a lot of health problems, the least of which is bad breath.

Just like in people, bacteria can build up in your dogs mouth.  If his teeth are not brushed regularly this can cause a hard, calcified build up that literally needs to be scraped off with a tool.  If left this way, your dogs teeth will rot and the bacteria will work it’s way into your dogs system damaging important organs and shortening your dogs life span.

One thing you should do to insure this does not happen is make sure your dog has regular Vet appointments that include a dental checkup. Don’t be surprised if your dog has to go in for a “scaling” where the calcified tarter is scraped away from the teeth - especially if his dental care has been neglected for some time.  Don’t worry, though, this procedure is quite harmless although your dog will be anesthetized so he might be groggy (and have sore teeth) for a day or two afterwards.

In order to limit these scaling procedures to a minimum, cleaning dogs teeth on a regular basis is critical.   This may be easier said than done, especially if you have never cleaned your dogs teeth before but patience and perseverance will pay off.

You can, and should, brush your dogs teeth just like you do your own.  There are two types of toothbrushes available for this - one is a rubber tube that fits over your finger and has rubber “bristles” on the end and the other is a toothbrush that looks very similar to a “human” toothbrush but angled a bit differently.  You’ll have to experiment with your dog to see which one works best for you.

The next thing you need is toothpaste.  They actually make special toothpaste for dogs and you don’t want to use “people” toothpaste as this won’t be good for your pet.  The “dog” toothpaste has enticing flavors like poultry and beef which sounds pretty gross to me, but my dog seems to love it!  More importantly than the flavor though is the enzymes that the toothpaste contains - they are specifically for battling the bacteria that builds up in a dogs mouth so you don’t want to skip using the toothpaste when you brush your pets teeth.

When cleaning dogs teeth, you need to be sure to get each and every tooth - even the ones way in the back - as well as around the gums.  Your dog probably isn’t going to like this at first but after a while he will get used to it and you really do need to be persistent and brush his teeth every day.  Doing so will help keep your pet healthy and those doggy kisses smelling sweet and fresh!

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