Feeding your pet the right amount of food is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Do you feed a “handful” or a “scoop” of dry food?
Not all pet emergencies are life-threatening. Some are simply inconveniences that always seem to happen at 5 p.m. on a Friday when your vet is going home for the weekend.
One of the most significant steps we can take to reduce stress and make travel more comfortable for our cats is to acclimate them to their carrier. Many cats associate their carrier with a trip to the vet or a move to a new home, which can cause them to fear or dislike it. By helping them feel more comfortable and relaxed in their carrier, we can make the travel experience less daunting for our feline companions.
Adding veggies to your dog’s diet can be a challenge, especially if your pet is a picky eater. But the benefits of greens are undeniable and it’s worth trying to incorporate them into their meals, even if it’s just occasionally. Here are some tips and tricks to encourage your dog to eat their greens:
As everyone is going back into the office or back to school, our dogs will soon be home alone and left to…
I love spoiling my dog with new toys. I bring home new ones for him all the time but he gets bored of them so quickly. Nothing really holds his interest for longer than a couple of days. What can I do to keep his interest?
Drowning in Dog Toys
Giving toys to your dog is a great way to encourage play, enhance mental stimulation, and increase bonding. However, like with everything good in life, moderation is key.
NorthPoint Pet Tips
- Lump your dog toys into groups. Each group should have at least one toy for each type of play: tug, fetch, puzzle, and chew. You can customize these categories for your dog’s favorite activities like outdoor play, swimming, etc. You can determine how many toys is appropriate, but 4-5 should be plenty. Put each group of toys into their own basket or storage container. One toy group may include: Mammoth rope toy for tug, a Kong tennis ball for fetch, a West Paw Toppl for mental enrichment, and a Benebone for chewing.
- Put away all but one collection of toys. Each week, swap the “old” toys for a new group of toys. At any given time, your dog should have access to just one of those collections of 4-5 toys. When you dig out those new toys, offer them with as much excitement as you would if you brought home a brand-new toy.
Pro Tip: When exchanging toy collections, inspect them for damage that may be hazardous to your dog. If the toy can easily become a choking hazard, discard the toy immediately.
This is also the perfect time to give those toys a good cleaning! Some rubber and plastic toys are dishwasher safe, but most can safely be cleaned with mild dish soap and warm water. Most plush toys are machine washable.
Why It Works:
Having a huge assortment of toys can actually have an adverse effect on your dog. He can easily become overwhelmed and overstimulated, resulting in a lack of excitement around playtime. By removing the “old” toys and replacing them with some that he hasn’t seen in a few weeks, you’re refreshing his play drive with a brand-new variety for him to engage with.
Pet Parents are spending a great deal of time and money to ensure they are serving the healthiest foods to their pets. However, when it comes time to select a bowl or feeder, most Pet Parents report that they choose the cheapest bowl or one that matches the décor of their home. However, did you ever consider if your pet’s food bowl is actually safe? Have you checked to see where your food bowl was manufactured or what materials it is made of? Can you trust the labels on the package that sometimes provide this information? Think about it…these food bowls are in constant contact with your dog’s mouth and tongue multiple times each day.
Let’s start out with the country where your pet’s food bowl is being manufactured. Why should this matter? Because you want to be sure that it is in a country that follows “GMP” or Good Manufacturing Processes. The most important assurance of GMP is to provide quality control and safety. Simply put, the manufacturing people are properly trained; working in a properly cared for facility; following a standardized process; producing consistent products, and guided by procedures that guarantee quality and safety. Pet products made in the United States are most likely to be manufactured within these guidelines whereas those manufactured in China are least likely. Pet Parents should especially be concerned about pet bowls, feeders, and lick mats made in China because there are no guarantees that the materials or manufacturing process are safe and free of harmful toxins. Of course, it is more expensive to manufacture under GMP because of the additional time and cost involved in the manufacturing process.
It is worth noting that just because a food bowl is manufactured in the U.S., it doesn’t mean that the materials were also sourced in the U.S. The cost of quality materials can compel manufacturers to find cheaper materials sourced from other countries and have them imported. So, you have to look at both where your pet’s food bowl is manufactured as well as where the material is sourced from.
Petfood Bowl Materials and Factors to Consider
The next factor to consider is the material of your pet’s food bowl. Typically, pet food bowls and feeders are made of either stainless steel, plastic or silicone but not all of these materials are created equal. Let’s consider each of them:
- Most Pet Parents automatically think that stainless steel food bowls are a ‘safe choice’ because they associate it with medical tools used in the health and dental fields. However, these are not the sterilized tools used in the biomedical field which mandates a different manufacturing process. Instead, all stainless steel requires the use of ‘cutting fluids’ which shape metal and are extremely difficult to get off of the surface. Cutting fluids are highly toxic and continue to leach out over time. There is a variety of cutting fluids and their safety is probably dependent on where the food bowl is made. In order to reduce the chance of leaching, caustic cleaners and high temperatures (repeated dishwashing) must be used.
- Most Pet Parents are confused about how to think of plastics. The single most important factor to consider is whether the plastic is recycled or not. Recycled plastics are extremely problematic because of raw material contamination. Recycled plastics can come from either used consumer products or used industrial products. Post-consumer recyclates are improperly cleaned and can cause cross-contamination. (China was previously the biggest importer of plastic waste which created landfills and destroyed communities making them uninhabitable.) Likewise, some post-industrial recyclates can contain industrial chemicals and cleaners which can be carcinogenic. Unfortunately, except for some industrial recyclates, there is no way to trace their source to assess their toxic composition. As such, many of these recycled plastics represent potentially serious health hazards to your pet.
- Silicone is a relatively new but popular material because it can easily be made into any shape and is fairly durable. However, because it is a more expensive material, many silicone products contain chemical fillers to reduce material costs—especially those made it China. These unknown chemical fillers could cause adverse side effects on your pet’s health. Additionally, silicone products cannot be recycled and end up in landfills because they are in their final form—not particularly friendly to the wellbeing of our planet. Finally, since silicone is a young material, there are few studies on the safety and long term health effects especially with daily use and contact with the material. Use care and caution in assessing the quality of your silicone feeders.
Why should we care?
The reason we should care about the food bowl we choose for our pets is the dramatic incident of cancer. I want to be forthright in saying there is no mandatory reporting to a universal database that allows the scientific tracking of this disease. However, the Animal Cancer Foundation has recently provided estimates that roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in both dogs and cats each year in the United States (out of a 65 million dog and 32 million cat population).
Always check labels and ask questions
What can Pet Parents do to check on the quality and safety of their pet’s feeding devices? First, check the label to see the country where it is made, where the material was sourced and the type of material used. Beware of products that do not state where it is manufactured as well as those that say ‘globally sourced materials’—there is no way to ascertain if it is a safe or reliable feeder. Also, if it says, “Designed and tested in the U.S.”, dig deeper to find out where it was manufactured and where the materials were sourced—this statement has nothing to do with the quality or safety of the feeder. Also, as a last resort, contact the manufacturer and ask them to provide this information! You have the right as a Pet Parent to work around the ‘disinformation’ to ensure the health and wellbeing of your pet.
So, the next time you are purchasing a pet food bowl or feeder, invest the same time and money you would in choosing their food. It is the one item in the household that your pet interacts with multiple times each day. And now you can rest assured that you are truly serving them a safe and healthy meal.
About the Author: Carol Smeja, Ph.D
Carol Smeja’s career has focused in the area of psychology and sociology which led to her earning a Ph.D. She applied these roots in understanding the psychological and social dynamics of eating while working in marketing/research with the U.S. and global food companies and improving health & diet with U.S. government agencies. More recently, she has applied her extensive research and diagnostic training in understanding the eating behaviors of our dogs & cats by studying the natural and instinctive behaviors of their ancestral roots. She has conducted comprehensive ancestral reviews and integrated information from wildlife specialists and professional research/observational programs. She volunteers at zoos to continue to gain knowledge on our pet’s dietary needs and feeding habits in addition to improving conservation efforts. Lecturing at both professional events and pet organizations, Carol seeks to educate Pet Parents on the importance of how you feed your pet to improve their health & wellbeing. She is also the co-creator of the Original Mine Pet Platter. Made with an innovative and sustainable material naturally sourced from plant life that is safe and non-toxic. 100% designed, sourced, and manufactured in the USA, the mine Pet Platter is food and dishwasher-safe, BPA-free, eco-friendly and recyclable. The Mine Pet Platter is safe for pets and the planet.
Have you ever wanted to trim your pet’s nails at home but were scared that you would damage the blood vessels inside the nail?
While trimming your dog’s or cat’s nails is pretty straightforward, there are some important details to remember so you can safely, and confidently, trim your pet’s nails on your own.
Your Pet’s Nail Anatomy
The first step of trimming your pet’s nails is understanding the anatomy of the nail. Start by looking at the top of your pet’s paw where the nail grows out and forward from the toe. This part of the nail is made of a tough, protective protein called keratin, the same protein found in animal hooves and human fingers and toenails.
Inside the keratin, from the tip of the toe to the middle of the nail, is a pulp filled with highly sensitive nerves and blood vessels called the quick. And right after the quick ends (towards the tip of the nail), you will see a bit more keratin. That extra keratin is what we want to focus on for trimming.
Choosing the Right Nail Trimmer
After you are comfortable with assessing your pet’s foot altogether, you will then move on to which trimmers would be the best fit for you and your pet. To purchase the right tool, it is best to understand each tool that is available.
- Scissor Clippers
This product is designed to function similarly to a normal pair of scissors. When you squeeze these to trim the nail the blades will come together and slice that part of the toenail off. This product is best used for medium to large breed pets. Scissor clippers are great for quick nail trimming and for first-time users. Some have a safety feature that helps you know when to stop before the quick.
- Guillotine Clippers
This product has a ring where you would insert your pet’s nail. Once you put your pet’s nail into this ring (taking caution not to include the quick) you will then squeeze the handles together and a blade will slide up and slice the tip of the nail off. Guillotine clippers are best used in small breed pets but aren’t recommended if you’re new to nail trimming or if your pet is uncomfortable with trims. Guillotine clippers may cause damage to the quick if the pet pulls away.
- Nail Grinder/Dremel
This product is best used in pets who struggle to cooperate with nail trimming sessions. A nail grinder is a powered nail file that spins at a high speed and will slowly file your pet’s nail down. This product is great as it can reduce the chances of hitting your pet’s quick in the nail. Pets tend to alert you when you may be too close to the quick when using a grinder. Another great reason to use a grinder is the fact that it does not leave the nail sharp. This product rounds out the nail to leave a smooth edge.
Expert Tip: We recommend keeping styptic powder nearby when trimming your pet’s nails. This powder will clot any bleeding that may happen if the quick is accidentally cut.
Once you can determine which product is best for both you and your pet, you then can start the trimming process.
Acclimating your Pet to Nail Trimming
If your pet has never had their nails trimmed before, it can seem like a scary event for them, and it’s important not to add additional stress. It may be helpful to work on desensitizing them to the process through several training sessions.
Ideally, we recommend introducing the nail trimming process at a very young age with your pet to get them comfortable with it being an easy, rewardable task. Stay calm and relaxed and start with touching and rubbing your pet’s toes, nails, and paw to get them comfortable with the process. Reward your pet – with training treats or verbal commands – after they stay calm and happy. Then try with one nail at a time and gradually work your way to doing more at a time. Eventually, you will be able to do all nails in one session and have an even stronger bond with them!
How often should I trim my pet’s nails?
This may vary depending on your pet. The average recommendation is anywhere between every 2-4 weeks. Dog’s nails are known to file down when walking on asphalt or hard surfaces and cats are known for sharpening their front nails on scratching posts and/or trees. But these processes do not always keep your pet’s nails at a safe length which is why nail trimming is always recommended.
Why are routine nail trims important?
When a pet’s nails are left to grow too long, there are multiple health issues that can arise. Long nails may overgrow back into paw pads which is very painful and can lead to infections in your pet’s paw pads. Overgrown nails can also lead to issues with their gait (the way they walk) as it can cause the feet to lay flatter than usual (imagine trying to keep weight off your toes when walking) and causes pressure on the bones in the ankle and leg, making it very uncomfortable for them to walk.
Randall, Samantha. “How to Choose the Right Dog Nail Clippers.” Top Dog Tips, 16 Nov. 2021, https://topdogtips.com/how-to-choose-the-right-dog-nail-clippers/.
Staff, AKC. “Nail Neglect Can Lead to Health Problems for Your Dog.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 23 Jan. 2018, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/nail-neglect-can-lead-to-health-problems-for-your-dog/.
Palika, Liz. “Nail Anatomy 101: Keep Trims Safe, Not Scary.” Fear Free Happy Homes, 31 Mar. 2021, https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/nail-anatomy-101-keep-trims-safe-not-scary/.
Gauntt. “The Importance of a Pedicure.” VMBS News, 11 Mar. 2022, https://vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk/the-importance-of-a-peticure/.
Lick mats are an effective tool to help pets that struggle with anxiety. At NorthPoint, we’re frequently asked about lick mat fillers. Here are our top suggestions for lick mat fillers!
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