Dog Parks: To Go Or Not To Go

by Jennifer Prill, owner of SideKick Dog Training

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on www.sidekick-dogtraining.com]

Dog parks! In a perfect world, they’re such awesome places to take our SideKicks: You can get some great off-leash training practice in; dogs are able to run free and really stretch their legs inside secure fencing (and, sometimes, parks even have agility equipment for your dog to climb around on); and the dog park provides the opportunity to meet new people and other dogs!

 But, there are a few operative words at work there: “In a perfect world.” Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and a wonderful trip to the dog park can turn south very quickly.

 Dog Park 2Going to the dog park involves so many variables – more than we could ever hope to control or account for – and a lot of the concerning variables revolve around untrained, unruly, off-leash dogs and inattentive or inexperienced dog parents. The dynamics of dog play and dog interactions are sensitive and it only takes the introduction of one new dog to completely throw those dynamics into chaos.

 “But, it’s such a great place to socialize your dog!”

 Well…yes and no.

 As I mentioned, the dog park can be a great place to meet new people and dogs, smell new stuff, experience new sights and places – this is exactly what socialization is! However, proper socialization involves slowly introducing your dog to new things and small challenges in a controlled, positive experience. Proper socialization means you’re doing everything you can to ensure your dog leaves that experience feeling successful!

 Proper socialization is not taking your dog some place and plopping them in the middle of a new situation with new dogs and new people. We cannot wave a magic wand with a flourish and shout, “Socialize!” This method of socialization can quickly result in fear of anything and/or everything and definitely doesn’t help your SideKick feel successful tackling new challenges.

 Suggestions

 I’ve had several clients ask about dog parks, asking if they should go or not; and I’ve had several clients who haven’t had the best experiences with them. To be fair, I’ve probably had a number of clients who have had wonderful experiences at the dog park, but they weren’t noteworthy because nothing went awry.

I’ve never told a client to outright avoid dog parks; they have enough benefits that the dog park experience can be very helpful and a useful tool in the dog-rearing toolbox. However, I’ve made several suggestions to each client who asks:

  1. Go to the dog park during non-peak hours – when there are fewer dogs and you have more control over who your dog interacts with. Fewer dogs means fewer variables to account for in your dog’s interactions.

  2. Go to the park when there are dogs you know there. There’s usually a Saturday or Sunday morning crowd, “the regulars,” or people/dogs who you can socialize with regularly and know already that your dog does well with.

  3. Go when your dog can play appropriately; for instance, avoid the park if your dog is cranky from allergies or is already tired out. An irritable dog is less predictable and not as willing to hang out with other dogs.

  4. Go to the park only when you can dedicate your full, undivided attention to your dog – when you can watch your dog and the other dogs, get yours out of a tight spot if needed, or prevent scuffles from happening in the first place. You’re there to monitor and intervene if necessary. (And there is absolutely no shame in needing to intervene!)

  5. When at the park, try to introduce your dog to the others there one-on-one with appropriate dog greetings. If it doesn’t seem like they’ll be suitable playmates, no worries – just keep them separate. If things really won’t work out or there are too many dogs (or especially if you notice your dog getting overwhelmed or stressed out), pack up and leave. You can go back another time or wander around the park together instead!

 Play it by ear and see how things go! And, hey, if you find someone at the park your SideKick gets along really well with, see if the other dog parent is willing to exchange numbers and set up play dates during non-peak hours for the two to romp around safely!

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Prill
Jennifer Prill is the owner of SideKick Dog Training, providing private dog training services to the Southeastern Wisconsin area. Jennifer promotes better training through better relationships, helping dog guardians improve their training and their relationships with the consistency of force free, positive reinforcement training.
 
Additional Links:

Help! My dog keeps getting hot spots!

by Kristin Clark, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Raw Pet Digest

According to the website petinsurance.com, hot spots are one of the most common reasons that people take their dogs to the vet. In fact, hot spots rank fourth in the top 10 reasons to take dogs to the vet! And it’s no wonder—hot spots (or acute moist dermatitis) are irritated, infected, hot, red, moist lesions that are both painful and itchy to your dog. They often grow rapidly, and in many dogs are chronic and cause a lot of discomfort to the dog and stress (and money, in terms of vet bills and treatments) to the owner.

According to conventional wisdom, hot spots can occur whenever something irritates a dog’s skin and leads to scratching or biting of the irritated area. Most people believe that hot spots are the result of allergies, insect bites, lack of grooming, ear or skin infections, or excessive licking and chewing. However, as in so many things, this does not truly get at the heart of what causes hot spots, and certainly doesn’t lend to being able to address them effectively (hence why, in so many instances, they become a seemingly chronic condition).

Conventional approaches to “treating” hot spots

For the majority of people, if their dog starts to lick or chew excessively, or if there is any indication of a hot spot, they take the dog to the vet. Common conventional approaches to dealing with the hot spot usually include shaving the area around the hot spot, prescribing antibiotics and painkillers, applying or administering medication to kill fleas, ticks, and other parasites, adding a dietary supplement to increase essential fatty acids, prescribing corticosteroids or antihistamines to relive itching, and recommending a hypoallergenic food (which is still processed kibble) to address any potential food allergies. Often, people are also advised to get their dog groomed regularly and get them shaved, especially in the summer, and they are also told to maintain a regular flea and tick prevention program using over-the-counter flea and tick preventives. They are also advised to make sure that their dog gets plenty of exercise and isn’t subjected to lots of stress.

I take my dog to the vet…but the hot spots keep coming back!

What most people find—because the hot spots keep coming back—is that these measures fall short in actually dealing with the issue. That’s because conventional treatments don’t get at the root cause of the hot spots—at best, they suppress the symptoms, and at worst, they exacerbate the problem—and so the hot spots keep reappearing, often even worse than before.

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To understand why this is, let’s first take a look at the root cause of hot spots. Because when you think about it logically, saying that hot spots are caused by itching or scratching, or exposure to rain or swimming, or the dog not being clipped in the summer, doesn’t make sense. Dogs itch and scratch, and if they are doing so excessively, it means that something is out of balance, and that imbalance is directly related to the hot spot eruption—it’s not the itching and scratching that caused the hot spot, it’s the imbalance. Similarly, the belief that dogs that are exposed to rain or water will develop hot spots doesn’t make sense. Many dogs spend a great deal of time in the water and never have a problem. Many dogs that don’t spend time in the water do have problems. While getting wet may seem to trigger an eruption, a healthy, balanced dog should be able to swim and get wet without any issues. Dogs in moist environments may be more prone to hot spot eruptions, but again, because not every dog in a moist environment suffers from hot spots, that is not the true root cause of the eruption. While we’re looking at some of the common methods of “preventing” hot spots, let’s take a look at the idea that you should shave your dog every summer to help keep hot spots from erupting. Keeping a dog’s fur shaved in the summer actually removes their protection from the sun and UV rays and eliminates the insulation that their fur provides. Remember, dogs don’t cool themselves by sweating like we do; they pant. In fact, dogs can only release sweat through their foot pads, through what are called merocrine glands. While they do have sweat glands (called apocrine glands) all over their body (found with the hair follicles), these glands do not release sweat, they release pheromones, which aid them in communicating with other dogs.

Understanding the root cause of hot spots

So what is actually going on when a dog presents with hot spots? In essence, when you see hot spots erupting on your dog, it means that the dog’s body is being overwhelmed by toxins that are coming in at a faster rate than the liver and kidneys can handle. The skin is the largest eliminative organ, and so the toxins start to “erupt” out of the skin, as part of the body’s frantic effort to rid itself of them. And when you add antibiotics and steroids and flea/tick preventives on top of it, the toxic overload increases while at the same time the body’s ability to stay balanced and handle the toxins, decreases.

Like us, our dogs are designed to detox every single moment of every day. Interestingly, as I was reading the book The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet, I realized that he conveyed this perfectly. Yes, he was talking about people, but the same holds true for our dogs: “[Your dog’s] liver, kidneys, bowels, lymphatic system, and skin all aid in the elimination of toxins and waste”[1]. Furthermore, just like with us, their systems can get “clogged, inflamed, rusty, and slow because we put too much pressure on them and don’t give them the pure fuel they need. What that means is that [their] natural detoxification processes have a much harder time of it because of [their] lifestyle. Chemicals […] in the environment—herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, petrochemicals, paints, cleaning products—all contribute to taxing [their] natural detox systems, not to mention all the prescription drugs [they are given][2].

I frequently discuss antibiotics and steroids, and their overall impact on our pets, when I’m doing consultations with pet parents who want to help their pets thrive. When I’m discussing them with people, they are often shocked at the profound ramifications of giving their pets antibiotics and steroids. Both antibiotics and steroids throw the body into a state of imbalance. Antibiotics wipe out all the bacteria and gut flora, which severely inhibits the ability of the immune system to do its job, while at the same time leading to future problems because the “bad” bacteria tend to grow back more quickly than the “good” bacteria, leading to further imbalance, which often presents as ear infections, yeast infections, and other issues (which, not surprisingly, do lead to dogs itching and scratching excessively…and that excessive, out-of-balance scratching and itching can cause a flare-up of hot spots in a dog with an excess of toxins. And so the roller coaster continues…). And steroids actually suppress the immune system, so the dog’s body has less capability to stay healthy, ward off pathogens and viruses, and keep the dog in tip-top shape. Administering these when the system is already completely out-of-whack just makes it worse.

Furthermore, applying products topically or administering them internally to control parasites also cause a flood of toxins into the dog’s body. These products contain poison intended to kill the parasites. But what that means is that your dog’s body is exposed to poison—often directly on the skin—at the very same time that the skin is trying to shed out toxins! It’s a lose-lose situation for your dog’s immune system, and therefore, a lose-lose situation for your dog.

So what can I do?

So, if the conventional treatments don’t help—and any of you with pets that suffer from hot spots know exactly how difficult and frustrating this can be—what can be done? It’s actually relatively simple, although not necessarily easy or quick, especially if you’ve been following conventional treatments for a long time and your dog has therefore been flooded with toxins. The first step is to make sure that your dog is on a diet appropriate to their species—what we call a species-appropriate raw food, or SARF, diet. This diet is the best thing you can feed your dog, because it ensures that they receive, in a natural, wholesome, raw form, all the food and nutrients they need, in the correct proportions and ratios they need, while eliminating all the stuff that they don’t need. It supports their entire bodies, including their immune systems, digestive systems, organs, and body processes.

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Diet

When you feed a species-appropriate raw food diet, you will be lessening the work that the liver and kidneys have to do, because they won’t have to remove waste at a rate that exceeds what they are designed for. You will reduce the workload of the pancreas, bring the stomach pH to an appropriate level, and flood your dog with the nutrients he or she needs to keep all the body systems in good working order.

Flea, tick, and heartworm preventives

But, to address the toxin issue, you will need to go beyond diet. Flea and tick preventives, such as Frontline and K9 Advantix, are poison, and when you apply them to your dog, the poison goes through their skin and their body must then work to eliminate that poison. Similarly, when you give your dog a heartworm pill every month, you are feeding them a product that contains poison. This may seem shocking, but it is true. As Dr. Karen Becker (who appeared in Pet Fooled) says:

“Heartworm preventives are chemical insecticides with the potential for short- and long-term side effects damaging to your pet’s health. In addition, heartworm “preventives” don’t actually prevent the worms. They poison the larvae at the microfilaria (L1 to L2) stage of development, causing them to die inside your pet’s body.”

And that’s not all: Dr. Will Falconer, a holistic vet, says in his article “How to Stop Poisoning Your Dog in the Name of Prevention“:

 

  • The administration of common monthly heartworm preventatives has been associated with autoimmune disease and even death in dogs
  • The six-month injection for preventing heartworm called Pro-Heart 6 was recalled due to toxic side effects that included fatalities in dogs? (It’s back on the market now. Oh oh.)
  • The drug called Trifexis is all over the internet associated with illness and deaths in dogs taking it. Some after their first dose, some after many doses.
  • The “Monthly Pill” Itself can Kill Your Dog! (emphasis mine)

He goes on to say:

Dr. Jean Dodds [world-renowned expert in hematology and immune diseases…has linked] the two common heartworm preventatives to autoimmune disease and death. Here are just a few examples from her research:

  • German Shepherd, sudden death 2 days after dose
  • Cocker Spaniel, sudden death; seizures and high fever
  • Mini Schnauzer, ataxia, sudden death; another who got ill after 3 years of use
  • Labrador mix, bone marrow failure, reactions after 2nd and 3rd dose
  • Irish Setter, AIHA (autoimmune hemolytic anemia) and death, after first dose

And on the list goes. Many of the cases she reports had no pre-existing illness, and got ill after the first dose to several doses later. Several had recurring sickness in the same week of each month, the very week they got their heartworm preventatives.

 

As you can see, when you give your dog preventives, you are loading his or her system with toxins, and they must work extra hard to rid themselves of the toxins in the preventives. So, another vital step in helping your dog come back to optimal balance, and to reduce the load on the immune system, is to stop flooding your dog’s body, internally and externally, with poisons. Similarly, the adjuvants in vaccines—aluminum and mercury are just a few—enter your dog’s body directly into their bloodstream when you vaccinate them. This is more toxins that the body must frantically work to eject, and if the kidneys and liver are already overloaded because of inappropriate food, parasite preventives, and so on, the skin may have to help remove the toxins, and hot spots may result.

Herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning products

In addition to the things you are putting directly and deliberately into or on your dog, you also have to consider the effects of things like herbicides and pesticides, as well as toxic cleaning products. Our dogs run around outside on the grass and in our yards with no protection between their feet and the ground. They brush up against foliage and sniff everything. This means that they are exposed to everything that you put in your yard, including chemical fertilizers, weed killers, and other herbicides. If your yard or house is sprayed for bugs, they will come into contact with residual pesticides. And because they are closer to the ground and in direct contact with the floors of the house (if you let them inside), they are also exposed to whatever is in what you use to clean your house and floors.

So, take a good look at what you are putting down in your house and yard. If you want to use better cleaners, there are lots of recipes for non-toxic cleaners of every sort on the internet. You can also go to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) website at www.ewg.org, and take a look at their ratings for various cleaning products (go to http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/top_products). The goal is to reduce or remove toxins in the environment as much as possible, so your dog’s kidneys and liver don’t have to deal with them and get overwhelmed.

Natural modalities

You may also want to support your dog with natural modalities when they are going through a hot spot episode. Various essential oils, such as lavender, feel soothing to the skin, and are really good at helping the body and especially the skin to rebalance (and remember, the hot spots are caused by an imbalance, which the skin is trying to assist in relieving). Additionally, colloidal silver may help support your dog’s immune system while providing antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory benefits in a safe and natural way.

The healing response

Keep in mind that it may take some time for the body to flush out all the toxins, and you may see the hot spots get worse as the body goes through a healing response. It’s important to remember the 8th law of health—trust—during this process, and to have patience as the body seeks to heal itself. It took a long time for the imbalance to get to the point where hot spots are seen, and it will take time for everything to rebalance. If you go back to conventional treatments, which suppress the issue without really address the root cause, you may make it more difficult for the body to come back into balance, and you will probably have to start over, with an even more intense case. It can be very difficult, but the natural modalities may provide some relief. If your dog is experiencing hot spots and you want to make sure you are supporting them in every way that you can, you may want to set up a consultation with a certified small animal naturopath (you can find a certified practitioner on the American Council of Animal Naturopathy’s website).

Hot spots can be one of the most frustrating and distressing issues you have to deal with as a dog owner. However, as with most things, when you really get into the root cause of the issue, you will find that you can help support your dog so they can overcome their chronic hot spots in a natural way. By removing toxins and helping to rebalance and strengthen their immune system, you will enable their organs and body systems to function in a normal, natural way, and their bodies will begin to flush out toxins in an effective and normal way. Because there will be significant less toxins going in, their skin will not have to “erupt” in an effort to rid the body of excess toxic material. Your dog will return to a state of balance by healing and rebalance him or herself, just as nature intended.

[1] Cross, Joe. The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet. 2014 Greenleaf Book Group Press, pp 15

[2] Cross, Joe. The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet. 2014 Greenleaf Book Group Press, pp 15-16

How To Keep Your Cat Off The Counter

by Maureen McCarthy,  owner of Love and Kisses Pet Sitting

Having a cat is a great pleasure but how to keep your cat off the counter is not so easy. Most people have pets in their homes. Some of the common pets include dogs, cats, birds and so on. These pets normally provide companionship to their owners. If you have a cat as a pet, you should take good care to make sure it stays off the counters.  You will realize that cats love counters. Some pet owners dislike it when cats prance around the counters. This due to reasons such as hygiene issues and so on. You will realize that cats can carry dirt from outside and can deposit it on your counters. Counter tops can be dangerous for your cat. You cat can get injured by a sharp knife or even touch hot elements. This is the reason why you should keep your cat off the counter. The following are tips on how to keep your cat off the counter:

Make your counter a less enjoyable place for your pet

You can do this in different ways. You can place a double sided tape on your counter. When your cat is walking around up there, he will feel it sticking to his feet. This can be annoying. Your cat will be discouraged and jump back to the floor.

Use Noise

You can actually discourage your pet from jumping on the counter by using noise. You can use a tin can filled with pennies. In order to keep your cat from jumping onto the counter, you have to watch him closely. When it looks like it is ready to pounce, shake that can thus will startle your cat. It is likely to refrain from jumping on the counter.

Vicks

Leave a jar of Vicks Vapor rub on the counter.  The cat will not like the smell of that and hopefully will not want to up there near that smell.

Provide it with something to climb

Cat like naturally like climbing. You should not discourage this behavior. You should instead get him one of those cat towers to play with. You should offer it something to climb. This way, it will stop jumping on your counters.

Feed your cat often

You will realize that cats explore kitchen countertops for food. This is because most of them are normally hungry. In this case, you should consider feeding it more often. You can feed your cat maybe twice a day. Provide free access to food or a timed feeder.

Those are some of the tips on how to keep your cat off the counter. Your counter might have your food and it and it might get contaminated as a result of your cat jumping on the counter. Your cat might also mess around while on the counter and even pour things such as milk, hot tea and so on. It can also get hurt if you have sharp knives on your counter. This is the reason why you should ensure that it stays away from the counter. Follow the above-mentioned tips and you will enjoy the results.

About the Author:

Maureen McCarthy Love and Kisses Pet Sitting

Maureen McCarthy is the author of this blog and the owner of Love and Kisses Pet Sitting. A Dog Walking and Pet Sitting business serving Union county NC since 2006. A passion for all animals is what drives her in her business and making sure all pets are getting the love and attention when their owners can not be there. 

Links:

Pet Business Insurance – What Pet Owners Need to Know About It

Are Your Paws in Protected Hands?

Pet care business insurance is something very few of us think about but really should. Whether you are a pet owner or pet care professional – making certain you are covered when something goes wrong is paramount.

Pet Care Insurance

Pet business insurance I had the great fortune to have met the leader and pioneer in the pet business insurance industry. David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA is Vice President and Co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas which is a multi-line commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1992. David has headed up Association Liability & Bonding Programs for the largest Pet Sitting and Dog Training Associations in the US, as well as many other national associations for over 20 years. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) Designation and the Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWCA) Designation since 2002.

Among many other sponsorships, Business Insurers of the Carolinas sponsors the Pet Sitter’s InternationalBusiness Insurers of the Carolinas (PSI) Pet Sitter of the Year Program, the industry’s highest award. I met David during my “crowning” as they say back in early 2010 and from that point forward he has always stood out as the go-to man for questions about insurance. What makes David so genuine and unique is you would never know he’s selling insurance. He actually spends most of his time educating pet professionals (trainers, pet sitters, dog walkers, day care owners etc.) about what they can do to avoid accidents, protect themselves, the animals in their care and their client’s property.

David works closely with the pet care educational associations to bring the greatest coverage possible to both pet owners and pet care professionals while also providing resources on how to prevent accidents from occurring.

While I was initially inspired to bring insurance to the forefront of pet first aid awareness I wanted to do so from the pet owner’s perspective. While there is still so much for pet care business owners to know about, my friend and pet business consultant Bella Vasta from Jump Consulting has covered some great topics on this type of insurance that cater to the pet care professional. As a pet owner though, what the heck does pet business insurance and bonding matter to me?

As a Pet Owner Why Does Pet Business Insurance and Bonding Matter to Me?

David and I jumped on a Skype call to discuss this very matter. Even having done research on what questions to ask and thinking I knew many of the answers – I did not. As a pet owner or owner of property in general, I learned some incredibly valuable tips to protecting me, my animals and my property. I certainly know the next time I have to call a roofer or when the water guys show up to work on my well system today – I am asking to see their insurance certificate! A good way to make an extra buck in our litigious society is to have an accident and sue, it’s sad sad fact.

Listen to This Valuable Conversation about Insurance

We covered a lot of topics pet owners and consequently – pet care providers should know about. We even covered pet insurance, not for the business but for the actual pet. It’s not anything David sells but he still recommends it as a tool to assist in coverage on certain things like diseases – which are not covered by general liability.

In our conversation David helps us understand concepts like animal bailee coverage, what being bonded is, the importance of worker’s compensation even if if a company only has 1 employee (the owner) and makes understanding insurance coverage easy. David makes talking about the topic fun – not something you would think possible about insurance!

Scroll down for the recording, you’re so close just a few more paragraphs! 

Be Proactive Instead of Reactive

Education is the best way to prevent having to use insurance – continuing education helps keep people alert, thinking about the what if’s and preventing more accidents which lead to insurance claims. Obviously this is a natural connection to our pet first aid and CPR course but it’s a very valuable set of skills to have as a pet owner or pet care provider. By being proactive and knowing what is safe for your pets and people coming into your home, you will save yourself pain, time and stress on the back end.

Hiring a pet sitter – especially one with liability insurance and bonding obtained through an educational association – will offer you the best and most precise coverage for that pet care provider’s service. 

Bottom line – if we can limit those accidents that are pure accidents we will all save money, insurance rates will go down, bottom lines improve and the pets, the people that care for them and your property stay safer. Its a sigh of relief knowing and understanding that the person caring for your pet(s) is educated and covered by the correct insurance coverage.

For the full conversation between David and I, hit the play button below.

If you experience an issue that you believe should result in filing a claim, first seek medical help for any humans or animals involved, then contact the insurance agency. For any questions for pet owners hiring a pet care professional using Business Insurers of the Carolinas or for pet care professionals looking to make certain they have the correct coverage, contact David at 1-800-962-4611 Ext #214, or via email at DP@Business-Insurers.com. He’s amazingly responsive, unbelievably knowledgable and a fantastic asset to making our pet industry safer.

5 Reasons Your Dog Needs a Chiropractor

by Dr. Alisha Jacobs, Certified Animal Chiropractor

Your dog has a chiropractor? It is not as crazy as it sounds. There are numerous reasons why regular chiropractic care can significantly improve the quality of life for your dog.

Here are the top 5 reasons your dog needs a chiropractor:

1. They have a body.

Bodywork is extremely important for any being whether that is yourself or your dog. Just as you can experience back and neck pain from day to day activities, so can your dog. It is evolutionarily beneficial for them to hide their pain (they wouldn’t want to become a target for predators) so it can be difficult to tell if they are hurting. However, they do have little aches and pains that can go unaddressed for years. If you have ever had a stiff neck, you can relate that although it is not debilitating, it is quite annoying and after an adjustment or massage, you feel significantly better.

2. They are super silly and playful.

If you have ever watched your dog play, you can see how silly and goofy they can be. They tend to run into things at full speed or jump on and off things with extreme exuberance. All that wear and tear will eventually take a toll on their body. It is much easier to address injuries early on than to wait until arthritic changes set in.

3. Save yourself some money!

The old adage is true: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!” Preventive care is extremely important in saving yourself some money, time, and heartache and saving your pet from extra pain and injuries. When you calculate the cost of preventive care (chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, physical therapy) versus the cost of surgery, you end up saving yourself a ton of money.

4. Improved quality of life.

Chiropractic care can help your pet to be more comfortable and pain free by improving motion in their spine, shoulders and hips. By improving joint motion, you can improve overall joint health and reduce muscle tightness and nerve tension. Chiropractic care also stimulates circulation which helps improve organ and immune system function. The goal of care is to improve overall body health which allows your pet to be as happy and healthy as possible for as long as possible.

5. More adventures…

There are so many things that you want to do with your dog whether that is camping and hiking or evening strolls and cuddling on the couch. Unfortunately, once injuries take place, these activities can come to an abrupt halt. By making sure your pet is as healthy as possible, you will ensure many more years of fun and adventures together.

***

About the Author:

dr-alicia-jacobsDr. Alisha Jacobs received her bachelors degree in zoology at Colorado State University and her Chiropractic Doctorate degree from the University of Western States in Portland, Oregon. She then attended the rigorous and well known animal chiropractic program at Parker University in Dallas, Texas. The curriculum centered around identification of common veterinary conditions, canine and equine anatomy, and chiropractic condition identification and proper treatment. Dr. Alisha is certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA). The AVCA is the premier national accredited animal chiropractic association, where members are held to the highest standards in knowledge and care. 

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Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine

by Melissa Eisenschenk, DVM, DACVD, Veterinary Dermatologist

It is always a good idea to get a second opinion when it really matters.  Just like for humans, there are medical specialists for dogs and cats too.  Specialists are board-certified veterinarians with years of advanced training in specific areas like Dermatology, Anesthesia, or Neurology that know the best cutting edge treatments for pets with special medical conditions.  Does your dog or cat have a medical condition like recurrent ear infections, itchiness, or epilepsy that you would love a veterinary specialist’s opinion on, but you live too far away or don’t want to drive to the city to visit a specialty clinic?

If you would like the best and safest anesthetic to be used when your older pet desperately needs a dental cleaning, there are specialists that can help!  Your family veterinarian can pay a fee to send blood work, biopsies, photos, or videos of your pet to a specialist and get answers about the best and safest treatments rapidly.   In addition, your primary vet can send updates to the specialist over time so medications can be tweaked based on how the patient is doing.   If you would like a second opinion for your pet, but traveling to a referral veterinary clinic is not an option, ask your veterinarian about Veterinary Specialty Telemedicine.

vet telemedicine photo 2
A Veterinary Dermatologist examines a sample to see what bacteria are causing a recurrent ear infection

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About the Author:

Melissa Eisenschenk Veterinary DermatologistDr. Melissa Eisenschenk is a board-certified veterinary dermatologist.  She completed her Bachelor of Science with minors in Animal Science and Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls and attended veterinary school at the University of Minnesota.  After vet school, she was in private practice for 4 years in Rochester and Minneapolis, and then returned in 2006 to the University of Minnesota for a dermatology residency (3 year program) and Master’s degree. She passed dermatology board exams in 2009.  Dr. Eisenschenk worked out of the Oakdale Animal Emergency and Referral Center as a Veterinary Dermatologist for 3.5 years before starting Pet Dermatology Clinic.  She has a bunch of city chickens, a husband, and 2 daughters, Mae and Bea. 

Additional Links:

 

 

 

Grandma the Chicken: Recollections of a Farm Girl

by Homestead Deb of RentTheChicken.com

When I grew up… lets just say “a few years down the road” I never heard of chicken factory farms or antibiotics given to chickens. All I remember is running to the grainery after school to see if the baby chicks arrived!! They came in cardboard boxes with little round holes and made a lot of cheeping noises! We had a big metal looking
“roof” that had big lights in it and it hung from a rafter in the ceiling down to about 15 inches above the floor and that kept them warm.

I always stood there mesmerized watching them scurry around looking for food and when they were getting too cold they huddled under the lighted roof. Of course being the farm girl that I was, I always had to try to make friends with them. As a matter of fact, I did have one particular dark Brahma that just decided to follow me around the farm. I didn’t even bribe her with food! It didn’t take this girl long to begin carrying her around under my arm and enjoying time together in the summer sun. Everyone would chuckle when they came over and witnessed the little blonde girl with glasses and her hen running around the farm behind her. This hen wasn’t your standard Leghorn which it seems we usually had to raise for eggs and meat. That breed of chicken is so flighty and will run away if you look at them crossways! No, this hen was different! She was gray and had feathers on her legs. My Grandmother informed me that “those feathers were her stockings and she looked like an old Grandma”. That is how my sweet little hen lovingly received her name “Grandma”. Yes it was her “stockings” that had me convinced to name her that but also I loved my Grandma very much so the name was given in her honor as well.

Grandma the chicken and Queenie
Grandma the Chicken and Queenie

My Grandmother and I would always feed, water and yes… butcher the chickens for our dinner table. We also collected the eggs together until I was old enough to do it on my own. I still have the same metal little oblong pail to this day. I use it to collect my eggs now. My hope is that when I have grandchildren we can carry that same pail to collect the eggs together.

I believe because of that wonderful woman and our special bond for 37 years, is a huge reason why I am partial to a lot of the old fashioned days and ways and especially my love of chickens.

I feel very lucky to have been born in an age where maybe some things were tougher like working outside, but things were also much simpler. I was very adamant about handing down some of the lessons I learned back then to my kids and yes that included chicken keeping. It also included collecting the eggs in the same metal pail.

Now days unfortunately there are less and less farms and kids that are able to learn about and care for farm animals. People are really missing out.

Gram and Trixie
Gram and Trixie

Oh I know that some people think there is a lot to chicken keeping but there really isn’t much at all. Maybe they feel that they can’t keep them over winter or that you need a rooster for eggs and they don’t want to listen to a noisy rooster. To get eggs from a hen you do not need to have a rooster hanging around waking you and the neighbors up at 5:00 in the morning! Those sweet hens don’t need the aggravation of a big loudmouth rooster to lay eggs.

When you think about the pros versus the cons you may think differently about taking up chicken keeping.

I work at a high school and my chickens can not produce enough eggs for all the people that want to buy them at $2.00 a dozen. I was always thinking in my head, “good grief your kids won’t like these once they find out they didn’t come from a store.” Was I ever wrong!! Now the kids are asking their parents who work with me to buy fresh eggs! They absolutely love the taste…and some of these “kids” are teenage girls!! So a very big resounding PRO is the taste! I don’t tell them how good the eggs are for them, but if they knew that there are more Omega fatty acids that are essential to our body to prevent diseases in a farm fresh egg because the chickens eat bugs, worms, grass, corn and the list goes on, maybe they wouldn’t eat them…or maybe they would eat more?

Pail with eggs

Fresh eggs are also a valuable source of vitamin D. Yes all eggs do have cholesterol. I can not say for sure if fresh eggs have more of the good cholesterol, but I can tell you that they certainly are not injected with any growth hormones which is another huge PRO!

I for one am absolutely sickened when I read how “commercial” chickens are treated. The chickens are in a tiny cage that they can barely turn around in. Their bodies must be in pain being cramped up in there as they are not allowed to do what chickens are put on this earth to do and that is to run around eating grass, bugs, scratching in the dirt and laying eggs.

The public needs to be careful of the “cage free” label as well. Yes these birds are cage free…. living in a huge pole building with hundreds of other birds with them. Picture it….not enough room, little if any natural light, while some are sick and dying and others already dead laying there for who knows how long being walked over and around.

USDA Certified Organic I believe to be legit. I believe the chickens see the light of day and are treated humanely. Chickens need to be chickens to get the correct egg production. My chickens run around outside trying to spot the elusive bug or eating grass and then lounging around in the sun taking a well deserved dust bath….hence the reason I have a few “pot holes” in the chicken yard. That is a small price to pay for healthy happy chickens. Dust baths are also a must for chickens. It keeps mites away which in turn keeps them healthy. In the end all we really need are happy healthy chickens for healthy tasty eggs we can serve to our families.

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Homestead Deb and family are serving the Greater Wausau Area. Deb with her husband Wayne, son Duston, and daughter Nikki help with the chicken business. Currently they have 22 chickens, two Welsh Harlequin ducks, an outside cat that sleeps with the chickens and ducks, and 3 dogs. Deb is an avid flower and vegetable gardener. Deb’s other hobbies include canning, crafts, crocheting, playing a little banjo, and racing in the mud bogs with her family and friends. www.RentTheChicken.com

Additional links:
Rent The Chicken on Petmasters

An introduction to iridology

Iridology is a great supplemental natural modality that can be used with dogs, cats, people, horses, and so on to help analyze various organs and systems in the body to see which are potentially weak and which potentially strong. You can then use this information to lend additional support to those systems that may need a bit of extra help. Because iridology is an analytical tool, it is best when used in conjunction with another natural modalities, such as essential oils, homeopathy, chiropractic, and so on. It is not intended to be a stand-alone tool.

Iridology as we know it today was first developed by Dr. Ignatz von Peczely and Reverend Nils Liljequist in the late 1800s. The two men worked independently, but came up with charts and “iris maps” that were actually quite similar. According to the book Visions of Health, iridology is the “art and science of analyzing the color and structure of the iris of the eye to gain valuable health information.”  Originally, it was developed for people, but more recently Dr. Mercedes Colburn mapped the equine, feline, and canine irises. Her maps allow pet owners and veterinarians alike to glean valuable information from studying a particular animal’s irises.

The iris—the colored portion of the eye—of every single eye is different. No two animals have the same iris, and even in the same animal, the left and right iris can be very different. These differences are all used by iridologists to gain an understanding of the body’s systems and how well they are functioning. For example, if the fibers in the iris are tight, or close together, the body is generally strong and therefore more resistant to disease (in other words, it has a strong terrain). Loose fibers, or ones that aren’t close together, generally indicate a body that is weaker and more susceptible to disease. But iridologists can go deeper than that. Using the iris maps, they can gain insight into which organs and systems may be weaker or out of balance. Describing the entire iris map is beyond the scope of this article, but we will touch on the highlights of what the irises indicate. If you are interested in learning more or seeing what iridology can reveal about your pet, go to Dr. Colburn’s website, www.throughtheeyeinternational.com, or set up an appointment with a qualified animal iridologist.

Psora and drug deposits

Often, iridologists observe colored spots of varying densities in the iris. These spots can be either psora or drug deposits. Psora are heavy, dark patches that typically indicate inherited chemicals. Drug or other chemical deposits show up in the iris as bright yellow, red, or orange spots. Usually, they are smaller than the psora and are scattered around the iris.

colored spots in iris
Example of psora and drug deposits.

Weakened constitutions

The presence of lesions, either lacunae (closed lesions), crypts (small, closed, very dark lesions), or “open” (lesions that are open on one side and closed on the other), indicate inherited or acquired weaknesses in the body. Based on their location, the iridologist can determine which areas of the body are weaker and therefore need to be strengthened.

lesion in iris
Examples of lesions in the iris.

Toxic, slow-moving bowels

When a bowel is full of toxins and moving sluggishly, the iris shows lines called radii solaris. These long, dark lines branch out (seemingly from the pupil) like bicycle spokes. The darker and denser the “spoke,” the more intense the toxic condition. Generally speaking, the presence of radii solaris indicate a need to detoxify the bowls and body. They may also indicate parasitic infection.

radii solaris iris
Radii solaris resemble spokes on a bicycle wheel.

Excessive nerve tension

Nerve rings, which are formed by the iris fibers buckling and appear as concentric circles or partial arcs in the iris, indicate excessive nerve tension. They can indicate that the individual is under stress, which can present as indigestion, muscle tenseness, headache, etc. If the nerve rings are heavy, it suggests that the subject needs to relax and reduce stress.

nerve rings iris
Nerve rings in the iris.

Skin issues

When there is a darkened rim at the periphery of the iris (called a scurf rim), it indicates that the skin is underactive and isn’t eliminating properly. This further suggests that toxins and waste materials may be accumulating faster than the skin can eliminate them. The scurf rim can vary greatly—it may be thin, thick, dark, or light, but in all cases, it means that toxins are not being eliminated fast enough. In this case, a reduction in the toxins coming in may be of great benefit.

scurf rim iris
The darkened rim is known as a scurf rim.

Slow lymph system

A slow, sluggish, and underperforming lymph system appears in the iris as small, cloud-like spots. Generally, the spots are found towards the outside of the iris, but they can move closer to the interior in some instances. These spots, which are called lymphatic rosary, look like a string of pearls or the beads of a rosary, which is where they got their name. The fact that the spots are white indicates inflammation. If the spots are yellow or light brown, it indicates that the condition has existed for a while. When you see this, it may indicate that there is not a proper amount of exercise (remember, the lymph is moved through exercise).

Chemical imbalances

When there is a chemical imbalance in the body, a solid white ring circling the iris at the periphery appears. This is known as a sodium ring, and it is a deposit in the corneal tissues.

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all the other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

sodium ring iris
The solid white ring circling the iris is known as a sodium ring.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the things that iridology can help you see. To fully understand iridology, see a trained iridologist or review the equine, feline, and/or canine iris maps that Dr. Colburn developed. As with all other modalities, iridology is meant to help support you in making sure your pet’s body is balanced and strong. It is a great analytical tool that you can use to help guide you in seeing which parts of your pet’s body may need extra support so that they can be strengthened, revitalized, and brought back into harmony with the body’s other systems.

Barkley cropped

KristenKristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

Easy Wellness Assessment You Can Do Yourself

By Kristin Clark, Founder and President, Canine Health Promotion

As good pet parents, we continually do everything we can to make sure our beloved pets are happy and thriving. However, how do we really know whether our animals are healthy? Sadly, it’s become true that people often think their dogs and cats are in a state of health when really they aren’t. However, because the signs that their bodies are not operating at an optimal level—indicators like skin allergies; a dry or dull coat; bad breath; tooth decay; smelly, soft, and excessive poop; and obesity; to name just a few—are so common, we don’t even blink anymore when our pets experience them. Further, when our pets are young, they may seem to be healthy, but there is a breaking point (which is different for each animal) that they experience where their bodies can no longer handle the toxins that are being flooded into their systems, and they present with disease, illness, and/or chronic pain. In this post, we explore this topic by going over some of the ways you can do a wellness assessment on your dog or cat, to ensure that they are in optimal health. This is a helpful exercise to get in the habit of doing on a regular basis, and to do no matter how you feed your pets or whether you choose to apply traditional preventives (such as flea and tick treatments or heartworm medication) or not. My point is that every single animal should exhibit wellness in all of the following areas, and if they don’t, you need to adjust something to help them rebalance and come back to a state where they can thrive.

Remember, our animals are not machines. Their bodies are continually working to maintain homeostasis, or balance. That balance is affected by every single thing that goes into their bodies—the food they eat, the pesticides on the grass they run through, the preventives that they receive—as well as things like their quality of sleep, the amount of exercise they get, their owner’s mood, and so on. What this means is that you must continually attend to the clues your dog or cat is giving you to determine whether they are thriving or if something needs to be tweaked. It doesn’t have to be a daunting task, either. Once you are in the habit of regularly looking at them, noticing their energy level, and paying attention to what they feel like when you pet them, you will find that you are doing these mini “Wellness assessments” every day. In fact, it will become so second nature that you won’t even notice you’re doing it, but you will notice if something is a bit “off” and you need to help your dog or cat rebalance.

So, what should you start training yourself to look for and notice? Remember that you know your pet better than anyone else, and pay attention to your intuition if something just doesn’t seem right. Beyond that, though, there are some good indicators to be able to tell if your pet is thriving. These are especially useful if you are new to thinking this way, and maybe have a pet that has some of the common issues we frequently see crop up in our companion animals. If that’s the case, you may be so used to these issues that your brain doesn’t notice them anymore, so when you start looking at your pet to really assess their wellness, step back a bit and practice looking at them objectively.

Coat

A dog or cat that is thriving should have a shiny, soft coat. When you pet them, you shouldn’t come away with an excess of oily residue on your hands.

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While they will still shed according to the dictates of their species and breed, the shedding is usually reduced. The skin will be supple and in good condition, and it will be free from hot spots, allergies, and excessive itchiness.

Eyes

When a dog or cat is in optimal health, its eyes are clear and bright. No matter what breed your dog or cat is, and whether they are a purebred or a mix of many breeds, their eyes should not be weepy or runny.

Parasites

A dog or cat with a strong, balanced immune system doesn’t suffer from flea and tick infestations, even when you don’t use conventional flea and tick preventives (such as Frontline). While they may pick up a flea or tick every once in a while, particularly in areas where those insects abound, it never gets out of balance.

Body Condition/Weight

A dog or cat that is at the peak of health is lean and muscular. When you look down at them from above, you should be able to see a narrowing in their waist. When you touch them, you should be able to easily feel their ribs. Additionally, they don’t have excess fat on their chest or back.

Oral Health

A healthy, vital dog or cat’s teeth are sparkling white and clean, and they don’t have bad breath. The gums are not excessively red or inflamed, and there isn’t a buildup of plaque or tartar.

Odor

A dog or cat that is balanced and thriving doesn’t have a strong odor—in fact, they don’t have much, if any, smell at all!

Stool and Anal Glands

A thriving dog or cat has small, dense, compact stools, and they move their bowels less frequently than an animal that isn’t thriving. Because they have to strain a bit to defecate, their anal glands are kept clean, clear, and in good working order—without frequent trips to the vet or groomer to have their anal glands cleared.

Behavior

Dogs and cats that are truly healthy are neither lethargic nor hyperactive, but instead have an appropriate amount of energy for their species, breed, age, and individual character.

Mental Ability

Healthy, thriving dogs and cats have incredible mental capabilities. Their brains can function at their optimal level, right along with their bodies and their spirits, which means they are extraordinarily perceptive and able to focus.

Endurance

IMG_8847-minWhen dogs and cats are properly supported, they have lots of endurance within the parameters of their individual and breed characteristics. This is especially nice for performance animals, such as dogs that are used for agility, showing, and hunting.

Aging

Dogs and cats that are flourishing do so even when they’re what society terms “senior”—9, 10, 11, or 12 for dogs (and in fact, well beyond those ages), and 14, 15, or 16 (or more!) for cats! They still have energy, are mentally sharp, and exhibit all the other qualities of a thriving animal.

Take some time to really assess your pet each day, until it becomes habit. Remember, you know them best, and there are lots of ways to check to make sure that they are thriving. These are some of the biggest ones, and once your pet is thriving, you will notice big changes in all of these areas, no matter what age, breed, species, or gender they are.

***

KristenKristin Clark started Canine Health Promotion so she could help dogs thrive.  Serving clients whose dogs range from top performance dogs to beloved family pets, Kristin is passionate about helping all dogs live their best lives. She truly understands this journey, because she walks it herself every single day. With four dogs of her own, she knows just how hard it can be to find help for health issues using conventional means.  Kristin is board certified by the American Council of Animal Naturopathy as a Carnivore Nutrition Consultant and a Small Animal Naturopath, and devotes a great deal of time to researching how best to help dogs live their optimal lives. Kristin also writes for, edits, and publishes Raw Pet Digest, an international online magazine devoted to helping dogs and cats live and thrive naturally.

Options to Euthanasia

by Lisa G. Murray, Marketing & Public Relations Director of Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com

Making the decision about whether to put an aging pet down is always difficult, perhaps especially so if the pet is struggling with mobility issues, but is otherwise full of life. It can also be heart wrenching to have a puppy that becomes disabled, whether due to disease or injury, and be faced with whether its quality of life is such that an end-of-life decision ought to be considered.

The good news is that there have been tremendous advances in the kind of mobility assistance devices that are readily available, giving pet lovers real alternatives to euthanasia.

Dog Wheelchairs Have Become Easy Options

Although dog wheelchairs have been around for decades, they were not in the mainstream. The carts were expensive and required dog owners to take many precise measurements. After that, dog caretakers had to wait weeks while custom carts were built. It is easy to understand why pet owners might have decided that their pets’ time had come, instead of giving their dogs a chance to try a set of wheels.

walkin-pets-2
German Shepherd plays in wheelchair

Then in 2008, HandicappedPets.com developed the Walkin’ Wheels wheelchair, an adjustable cart that required only one measurement, could ship the same day, and was affordable. With the advent of that wheelchair, pet owners had a clear option to euthanasia when a pet got injured, stricken with a disease, or was simply slowing down due to old age.

Rescue Organizations Often Help Those in the Greatest Need

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Courtney Dunning walks her dog, Lucy, in the park

Sometimes dogs with the greatest physical needs wind up in the care of pet rescue organizations. Nine years ago, New Hampshire resident Courtney Dunning adopted a one-year-old disabled dog, Lucy, from a Puerto Rican rescue. The rescue had picked up Lucy after she was hit by a car, resulting in rear limb paralysis.

Lucy adapted extremely well to her dog wheelchair, and Courtney takes popping her in and out of it in stride. “It wound up being no harder than caring for any other dog,” says Courtney. “Lucy doesn’t know she’s different from other dogs. She’s just being a dog and loving life.”

Canine Mobility Challenges

German Shepherds, notorious for developing Degenerative Myelopathy, and Dachshunds, that have an estimated 25% incidence of intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), are among the breeds that are well loved but that suffer from a high rate of mobility challenges. But they are not alone; disease and injuries spare no breed, with resulting mobility impairments afflicting dogs of all ages.

walkin-pets-4
One of Carole Rowlette’s 13 Dachshunds

Carole Rowlette cares for 13 Dachshunds in her home in Wyoming. Three or four at a time are usually in dog wheelchairs. She advocates for the use of dog wheelchairs for rehab and strengthening, so leg muscles do not atrophy.

“If the dog is injured and gets laser therapy and acupuncture in time, they can often walk again, because you take the pressure off the legs,” says Carole.

More Widespread Use of Dog Wheelchairs Changing Views Worldwide

Greater accessibility to dog wheelchairs has resulted in a broadening awareness of this option, not only in the United States, but globally. Dog wheelchairs are no longer looked at as an oddity or luxury in many countries, but as a viable solution to help a pet stay mobile.

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Tessa enjoys playing in the water in her wheelchair

Hong Kong dog owners Nigel and Sandra Snell summarized this well in an article about their dog, Tessa, in the South China Morning Post:

“She [Tessa] still has this passion to be outdoors, so we decided it was up to us to make her mobile again.”

As dogs are increasingly viewed as family members in many cultures, as they are in the United States, pet owners are happy to discover available resources to extend their lives while preserving a high quality of life.

Types of Dog Wheelchairs

The most common dog wheelchairs are for pets with impairment in their rear legs. Typically, these carts have two wheels in the rear, with a frame that secures to the dog with a front harness.

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Chihuahua amputee in wheelchair

Quad wheelchairs, also known as 4-wheel carts, help pets with weakness in their front legs, as well as in their rear legs. The assistance of a quad wheelchair enables them to stay mobile and continue to engage their muscles.

Other wheelchairs are made for pets that only have front leg challenges, but these are much less common.

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A dog wheelchair has become a practical and easy alternative to watching a pet become increasingly immobile and ultimately needing to make a decision about its quality of life. With mobility assistance, a dog can continue to enjoy running, playing, hiking, walking – essentially all the things it has always enjoyed doing.

***

Lisa-Murray

 

Lisa G. Murray is a freelance writer and the Marketing & Public Relations Director of Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com, an online pet product company serving the needs of aging, disabled, and injured pets and their caretakers.

Additional links:
Walkin’ Pets on Petmasters