There is a big debate in the pet industry about the quality of foods we feed our dogs. For sure, inexpensive kibble can wreak havoc on your dog, weaken their immune systems, and leave them vulnerable to diseases and infections.

Signs of a nutrient-poor diet include:

  • dry skin, dull coat, dandruff, and shedding. This condition invites fleas, mites, ringworm infections and inflammatory allergies
  • behaviors such as irritability, hyperactivity, nervousness and restlessness. When you change their diet, it can take a few weeks on the new regimen before this begins to change
  • Stools – large stools can indicate an inability to digest all of the nutrients. Stools that are anything other than chocolate brown can indicate dyes, bacterial infections, chemicals in the food, or other health problems that are developing.

Unfortunately, vet branded dog foods or high end natural foods can cost a fortune – and in this economy, many of us simply can’t afford to do this.  However, it’s surprisingly easy, quick, and inexpensive to give your dog a healthy, balanced, and tasty diet with a minimum of muss and fuss.  If you’d like read about some quick and affordable recipes, read the article at www.squidoo.com/dogfoodrecipies You’ll find some that take as little as 3 minutes!  And all of them are based on things you probably already have in your home.

If you’ve read this blog, you may know that one of my dogs has bone and joint issues.  Keeping her healthy, happy, and comfortable is a constant challenge because she is a working dog who becomes completely miserable if she can’t play with her toy and run.

For her health and safety, I can’t let her run as much as she wants and have worked hard to find activities that let her fulfill her working drive without hurting herself.  On the days where she overdoes it, it’s hard to watch her hobble up stairs or wobble when she’s standing because she played too hard and is in pain.  Finding the balance of letting her run enough to be happy and yet finding ways to stop her before she hurts herself is a constant activity.

One thing I’ve found that helps immensely is giving her an orthopedic bed.  Now that she has one, she is much less likely to be stiff and sore after a night’s sleep and tends to move much better in the mornings.  For injured dogs, older dogs with arthritis, or puppies that are still forming their spines, orthopedic beds are great!

I recently found a manufacturer of orthopedic beds who makes a wide variety of eco friendly beds.  They’re made by West Paw Designs – a company that uses recycled materials to make some really wonderful pet supplies.

These beds are just cool!  They’re stuffed with recycled soda bottle patented fiber fill that is soft, comfortable and durable.  I love them because they come in fun colors and patterns, wear like iron, and keep bottles out of landfills.  Some of them have organic  cotton covers, while others use a berber and poly-knit backing to reducing shedding and help keep the beds soft.  They have travel mats, barrel beds, and all sorts of different styles.

I recommend them!

If you’d like to see the selection, you can go to The Camping Dog website.  You can also visit by clicking the picture of the orthopedic bed.

Orthopedic Dog Beds

You may know I don’t like flexi-leashes.  I just found a whole new kind of dog leash with the benefits of a flexi-leash and none of the problems.  These are cool!  It lets you walk your dog on a leash up to 6′ in length, but eliminates possibility of tangling up under your dog’s feet or around your legs.  They’re made by a new company called Laughing My Tail Off and they’re really unique.

The leashes are made from a polyurethane coil that automatically coils up to 2′ when your dog is close to you, but stretches out to 6′ when he wanders farther away.  Since they’re not made of elastic, the coils are permanent and won’t give out with use.  The handles are padded so your hands don’t get torn apart, and because the leash has “give” to it, your dog doesn’t hurt himself.  They come in fun styles and colors and are lightweight and easy to shove in a pocket.  They’re well made and so unique that I just had to offer them.

At the moment, they’re recommended for dogs up to 50 pounds.  If you’re looking for a leash that’s easy to carry and won’t get in your way, you might want to take a look at these.  They’re just too much fun for words and very practical.  I’ve included some pictures of the patterns available – you can click on the images to go the page that carries them for more info if you’re interested.

2' leash that uncoils to 6'

Blue Baby Skull Pattern

Camoflauge Pattern

Leopard Print Pattern

This is just too funny not to share.  China, my lab, is completely and totally in love with her giant red horse ball.  It’s her favorite toy in the world.  I finally got a bit of very rough video of her playing  with it.  Watch two things — her tail, which says that she’s the proudest dog in the known universe — and her focus.  Nobody is going to keep her away from her ball!

Here’s the link on YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ANWGgT9tZs

I test products I sell on my own dogs to be sure they’re really good quality.  I’ve been experimenting with raw foods and am thrilled with the results!  I’ve been feeding my two girls a mixture of dehydrated raw food and raw dog food rolls and the results are great!  Their coats shine, they have even more energy (a mixed blessing…), and they have the healthiest smallest “poo” ever.  (Small “poo” is good – it means they are actually digesting the food they’re eating and it isn’t passing right through them.) I although I have decided not to sell them on my site because shipping costs are prohibitive, I very much recommend these two products.  The girls I both love ‘em!

In case you don’t know, there is much research to support the idea that a raw food diet is the best diet you can feed your dog for many reasons

  • Their digestive systems cannot completely process cooked or prepared foods – which is why their “poo” can be so big
  • Raw food diets don’t contain the preservatives and other chemical additives found in prepared kibble or canned foods
  • Raw food diets contain more of the micro-nutrients dogs need
  • and much, much more

There are two challenges with a raw food diet:

  • It can be very time consuming to prepare
  • Being sure you’ve got the right nutritional balance can take a lot of time, effort, and care

For this reason, I started carrying two different brands of pre-packaged raw food:  The Honest Kitchen dehydrated foods and Red Barn rolled foods.  I chose them because they both can be stored safely for long periods of time at room temperature, use no chemicals, are nutritionally balanced, they’re easy to prepare, and dogs just love ‘em.

I was feeding the girls The Honest Kitchen mixed with kibble to help keep the costs down, but recently switched them to a mixture of the RedBarn rolled food (which is like a dense, thick, chewy sausage) and the dehydrated Honest Kitchen food.  The difference in them since moving them completely off of kibble onto a pure raw diet is impressive. I like the mixture because chewing on the roll helps their teeth, and the dehydrated food is moist.  The other nice thing is that I can feed them much, much less and they’re perfectly content.

If you’ve been thinking about switching out your dog’s food, do consider moving them to a raw diet.  It can be done without breaking your wallet and the results can easily be a much healthier and happier dog.

However, do be careful when switching them over to a raw diet!  You want to do it very gradually.  Raw food diets are so pure that you want to make sure you give your pups time to adjust.

I’m amazed more people don’t use leashes that help their dog be better behaved when they’re walking on leash.  Maybe it’s because many don’t realize there are leashes out there that let you walk your dog(s) hands free and are also very, very versatile.  So I decided to write this article about dog leashes.  After all, dogs are perfectly happy to be well-behaved if they understand what “well behaved” means.  A good well-designed leash helps them learn that walking next to you is a good way to go for a nice long walk.

I am not a fan of flexi-leashes.  It seems that, because dogs are so smart, they figure out early that the way to get a longer leash is to pull on it – so they do. I’ve chuckled more than once watching a 15-pound terrier dragging its hapless owner behind it from 15 feet away.  From that distance, of course, the dog has so much momentum that it’s hard to use your body weight to stop them.

Personally, as the caretaker of two strong and active dogs, my preference is for any leash that doesn’t involve having my shoulder wrenched out of its socket when the girls see a squirrel and forget their manners for a moment.  They’re generally well behaved, but when there’s a cat running, all bets are off for a minute or two.  And I really hate having my hands full of leashes when we’re on a walk.  I want to stroll along with my hands in my pockets, or snapping pictures, or anything more interesting than holding leashes.

Euro Leash

The most versatile leash available!

My favorite kind of leash is the euro-leash.  They’re great because you can use them as a 6′ leash, a 4′ leash, an across-the-shoulders leash, a 2-dog leash or a tie-out – all with the click of a snap.  Typically, I walk my dogs with one on each side and their leashes across my shoulder.  If they do see that tempting running squirrel and decide to take off, my body weight keeps them from going anywhere and I have time to grab the leashes and hold them back without having my shoulders wrenched.  And when it’s time to give them a little more room to do “business” or sniff around, it’s a quick conversion to the 6′ leash.

I can really see the difference in Chelsea’s behavior, in particular.  When she’s next to me on her leash and it’s across my shoulders, she’s very well behaved. In fact, at times I have to glance down to make sure she’s still there!  But the instant I let her move in front of me with a longer leash, she thinks she’s in charge and all bets on good behavior are off.  (She’s definitely still a work in progress — it’s her cuteness that saves her at times….)

If you’ve ever checked out my CampingDogSupplies site and wondered why I carry so many kinds of euro-leashes – now you know!  If you want to check ‘em out, click on the photo here and you’ll go straight to the page.  At the very least, though, you might want to ask yourself if you’re using a type of leash that HELPS your dog know how to walk nicely.

Thanks for listening!

I try not to “sell,” but these are too cool not to plug! Dog topiary or wire frame art – what a gift for someone you love! Many breeds are available.  These are just lovely topiaries and wireframe art and I’m pleased to offer them.

Check ‘em out! I love ‘em!

Click on the Basset Hound topiary to see all of the breeds available.  or click on the Cocker Spaniel to see all of the wire frame art styles you can get.  These are just too cool for words.

Basset Hound Topiar

http://www.campingdogsupplies.com/page/gifts

Sizes range from 16″-35″ high depending on the breed.

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