Tag Archives: treats

Tips for a successful dog birthday party

On Saturday, we celebrated Izzy’s 8th birthday with a walk at the beach and an afternoon tea at The Beach Cafe on Waimairi Beach.  It was a gathering of our closest friends – all who have dogs in their families.

Here are my tips for holding a successful dog birthday party:

  • Know your guests – if your friends have a dog that is aggressive or anxious, then maybe these dogs are best left at home.
  • Go for a walk first.  Our party started with a group dog walk at the beach; everyone was tired and happy when it came time to sit down for food.
  • Keep the number of guests manageable.  I suggest no more than 15 people and 10 dogs
  • Book the party in advance with the cafe so they can set aside an appropriate table location for you.  In our case, I asked specifically for a table in the corner (away from the main entrance to the cafe) and where we had some shade and would be sheltered from the wind.  Some cafes may want to limit the number of dogs they have on their premises – so they’ll be prepared for the arrival of your party.
  • Serve dog-and human-appropriate fare – and keep them separate.  No one wants to have an upset tummy after a party.  I booked a set menu of sandwiches, savouries and cake for the humans.  The dogs were given party bags of treats and I also baked the dog birthday cake which had layers of liver and salmon.  I brought my own paper plates for the dogs to eat their cake – so there were no risks or concerns about hygiene.
  • Casual dress only – dog parties are no place to become a fashionista.  Tidy and casual dress is recommended.  One of our guests was wearing leggings (a good choice) which came in handy when she was slobbered on by a Bernese Mountain Dog.

    Finally, relax and have fun.  If you are stressed out about arrangements, neither you or your dog will find the event enjoyable.

I’m happy to report a good time was had by all.  Happy birthday, Izzy!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Choosing dog chews

Celebrated veterinarian Dr Marty Becker has a good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing chews for your dog:  whack your knee with it and, if it hurts, then the chew is too hard.

knee

So a pig’s ear is okay.pigs-ear

But a deer antler isn’t. deer-antler

Beef tendons – okay. beef-tendon

knuckle-bone Knuckle bones – not so much.

And add to the rule, never – EVER, rawhide.  These treats often come from dubious sources with a risk of poisoning on top of the very real risk associated with intestinal blockages and choking.

rawhide

Many of these recommendations contradict long-standing traditions in terms of dog chews.  Knuckle bones and rawhide were regularly given to my dogs when I was growing up.

We now have a greater body of evidence about dental health care in our dogs.  Fractured and rotting teeth often result from chewing on items that are excessively hard and unforgiving.

With all treats, it pays to read the label for country of origin labeling and ensure you are buying from a trustworthy source.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Halloween and your dog

halloween+dog

Halloween is only a couple of nights away.  Time to start putting your dog inside at dusk (if he/she isn’t already).

Halloween can be a very scary time for dogs.  Lots of people out on the street and ringing the doorbell.  It’s a lot to cope with.

Then there’s the individually wrapped candies that aren’t good for your dog.  Put them out of reach and monitor your dog carefully on the night to ensure he/she doesn’t sneak a bite when you’re not looking…

Decide which area of your house is your dog’s quiet place and make the area comfortable with a bed, toys and suitable dog treats.

Personally speaking, I don’t like costumes for dogs.  Keep your dog happy by not dressing them up and humiliating them.

With a few precautions, you all can make it through Halloween safe and happy.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Some insights into Chinese-sourced dog treats

Concerns about chicken treats sourced from China continue and I’ve come across this comment from Steven E Crane, who was the Manager of Competitive Intelligence for Hill’s (now retired).

In that role, Mr Crane would source competitor’s products and have them tested.  He has commented that treats were rarely tested because they were not sold as ‘complete and balanced dog foods’ and that he tested approximately 300 pet food products each year.

In discussing the apparent toxicity issues associated with chicken jerky treats, Mr Crane says, “This problem has been a problem for over ten years. To my knowledge nobody has ever been able to determine exactly what the chemistry involved is that is causing the problem. Much like the melamine and cyanuric acid tainted wheat and rice gluten from 2007. Considering the horrendous toxic contamination issues with both human and pet related food materials from China going back for more than 15 years, I would NEVER use or buy any food materials from China nor permit their use in any food product.

I can remember twenty years ago the rawhide products coming from China that tested hot for arsenic and had sodium concentrations through the roof. If you think about the process it’s no surprise. Most of the hides were baled raw in South America, shipped by slow boat to China, made into rawhide treats and then shipped to the US for sale.   Keeping that rotting mess from disintegrating during shipping incurred some inventive ways to treat them – addition of arsenic for example.”

Are you feeding any treats Made in China and does this make you think twice?

Weight gain and obesity are not only human conditions

We live in modern times, and in western societies such as ours, obesity and weight gain are consistent problems.  And not just for people.

36 million pets in the United States are obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.  In dog population terms, that’s 55% of the dog population.  The Association does a pet obesity survey each year, timed with National Pet Obesity Prevention Day (in October), where it asks pet owners to fill out a survey about their pet’s size, breed and eating habits.

Veterinarian Ernie Ward is a co-founder of the Association and he says that the focus on reward-based training has helped to contribute to the obesity problem.  Simply put, owners are not adjusting their dog’s daily intake of food at mealtime to compensate for treats being given as a reward.

And once a dog is fully trained, the rewards seem to keep coming for sometimes very basic tasks.  Like pooping, for example.

(Ask yourself:  once your child is potty-trained, do you keep praising him/her each time they use the toilet? – even into their teenage and adult years?)

And I’ve found that delivering the news to a client that their dog could lose some weight can often be a reason for not being asked to return for another massage treatment.  According to a recent article in The Boston Globe, I’m not alone.  Vets that deliver the news that a pet is overweight may find that the owner becomes defensive or, worse, takes their business elsewhere!

However, when I am dealing with a dog with arthritis or other mobility disorder, I am looking for ways to relieve their pain.  If they are carrying around extra weight, their sore joints and muscles are pulling double-duty.  I remember a client with a Pug, for example, who was easily twice its normal body weight.  Sure, the dog had arthritis, but it was so fat that it didn’t want to exercise and so weight loss was going to be a challenge and something the owner had to a) recognise and b) act on.

The Globe article also discusses the wide range of calorie content amongst commercial dog foods.    People may change their dog’s food, but continue feeding the same number of cups per day.  Weight gain is insidious and many people don’t recognise that their dog has put on weight until a vet or someone else points it out to them.

I do nutritional assessments for this reason.  I ask questions about the dog’s lifestyle, exercise habits and eating.  And I can run caloric calculations based on the dog food label to give advice on how much to feed.

There are many health professionals including your vet that have your dog’s best interest at heart.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they think your dog is overweight and be humble enough to make changes.

P.S.  When I take Daisy to her acupuncture treatments, my vet asks me to weigh her prior to each consultation.  This keeps me very disciplined to ensure that Daisy remains in her ideal weight range.

Some full-service pet shops and veterinary practices are happy for you to drop in to use their scales.  Why not make it a habit of walking your dog to these places for a weigh-in?  It’s a new routine that will keep you focused on your dog’s weight in a more positive way.

The ultimate dog tease

This video was sent to me by a customer.  I think it is great and something that so many dog owners can relate to.

Enjoy!