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5 Tax Breaks Your Dog is Giving You

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

5 tax breaks your dog is giving you this yearDog lovers, it’s April – and you know what that means. Yes, showers for those May flowers but also… taxes. Now just breathe. We know taxes are a big, scary, ugly word for many of us, but there is at least one bright spot this year if you fostered a dog in the last year or were otherwise involved in the dog rescue world. Eligible deductions! Funny to think about, but fostering a dog actually does come with benefits for your tax purposes, and being in-the-know about what exactly you can do to get those write offs is a bonus this time of year. While you can’t claim your pups as dependents (no matter how much money and stress they may cause), there are other ways to get them in on your paperwork.

In 2009, a Michigan senator introduced a bill that would give pet owners up to $3,500 a year in tax refunds for “qualified pet care” costs. It was an ambitious, heavily inclusive piece of lawmaking that would’ve saved pet owners a chunk of money; unfortunately, the HAPPY Act (short for Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years) didn’t pass on Capitol Hill, despite a decent showing of public support. In spite of the HAPPY Act’s demise, there are some examples of tax-deductible pet care for our four-legged friends. We’ve outlined the biggies below:

Fostering: Maybe you and your family want to open up your hearts and become a foster pet parent. If you work with a qualified 501(c)(3) organization, you may be able to deduct your expenses as a charitable contribution. That means that your veterinarian visits, pet supplies, food, and other related expenses could qualify. Don’t forget to keep track of your mileage (provided the trip is for the organization). As always, make sure you keep careful records and receipts of your expenses. If your expenses are over $250, request an acknowledgement from the charitable organization. If you use TurboTax, TurboTax ItsDeductible will value and track your donations so you have them all together when it comes time to file your taxes. As a result of Van Dusen v. Commissioner, animal rescuers nationwide that are fostering dogs and/or cats for approved charities may claim the expenses during tax time. Even a portion of your utilities can be considered expenses as long as a specific area of your home is only used for the care of the animals and nothing else.

Service Animals: Another situation where you may be able to deduct expenses is if your furry friend is a service animal. You must register your pet with a legitimate agency to prove that it is a service animal and not just a pet. Additionally, if you have a guard dog to protect your business you may be able to claim some of the costs as a business expense. You can deduct expenses such as training and veterinarian care, but like service dogs, you need an agency to declare the four legged protector a guard dog.

Moved? According to Kiplinger, If you moved during the tax year, it might be possible to deduct your moving expenses – including those specifically related to moving your dog. For example, if moving your dog requires special expenses, those expenses are treated no differently (in the federal government’s eyes) than any of your personal effects. Making special arrangements to get Fido from your old home to your new one? Save the receipts!

Rescue and Shelter Donations: It would be easy to assume that the costs of adopting a dog from a registered non-profit, 501(c), would be deductible – the assumption would be wrong. The cost to adopt a dog is not deductible. However, any donations made in excess of regular adoption fees most certainly are. According to the law, only those donations made where no goods or services are received in exchange (i.e., your new dog) can be deducted. Should you choose to make donations to your favorite 501c dog charity, make sure to ask for a letter of receipt that states no goods or services were received. Donations of both goods and services to an approved charity are tax deductible. When donating goods or services to an approved charity, ask for a donation receipt – you’ll need it if the value of your donations exceeds $250. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A. It may seem small, but every little bit helps! Local animal shelters need your newspaper, old towels, sheets, pet beds, sweaters, crates and blankets. They may also be looking for items such as digital cameras, video recorders, printers, fans, heaters, cleaning supplies, office equipment, printer paper, carpeting, and furniture. You can also purchase and donate new items including food, toys, new litter boxes, dog beds, and cat trees. Even if your donation isn’t useful to the shelter itself, they might be able to use it to raise funds. The value of items donated can be a tax deduction! Again, assuming they are a qualified organization, you can deduct the fair market value of the property at the time of the contribution, so keep track of what you give and when, and be sure to save the receipts of those newly purchased items. Any cash donation you make to a qualified charitable organization is tax deductible for those who itemize deductions. Don’t know if your favorite rescue fits the bill? Check out IRS Publication 78 for more information on qualifying organizations. While you typically cannot deduct the value of your time, you can deduct mileage traveling to and from the shelter or rescue. The IRS allows a deduction of 14 cents per mile driven in service of a charitable organization. Keep a notebook in your car to track mileage, or use an iPhone or Android app such as Mileage Pad.

Walkers and Trainers: If you own and operate a business with dogs, of course your dog-related business expenses are deductible. If you’re a trainer, you may be able to deduct mileage or transportation costs for visiting clients and their dogs. If you’re a dog walker and need to purchase business related items like leashes and poop bags, those expenses can be itemized. As with any job-related expense, just make sure to keep all receipts and be able to prove the items were for job duties, not for your personal pet.  

Fellow dog lovers, what advice do you have for fellow dog owners on what expenses to claim on their taxes? Do you know any key ones we’re missing? Be sure to share and lets tough out this tax season together!

Essential Items for your Dog’s First Aid Kit

by DOG for DOG Team 1 Comment

Essential Items for your Dog's First Aid Kit

April is Pet First Aid Awareness month and while we understand it can be exhausting learning or hearing about a new awareness month/day or week (unless it’s like national pizza or cupcake awareness day), this is an important one for pet owners to pay attention to. Of course, odds are in your favor that you won’t ever need a first aid kit and that your pup will go through their life without any major disasters. But as you well know, it never hurts to be prepared, because the reality is your dog could choke on a toy, get hit by a car, suffer a near drowning accident, or ingest one of the countless pet toxins found in the average home—from grapes to azaleas to acetaminophen to anything sweetened with xylitol. We definitely don’t want to scare anyone, but animals are surrounded by hazards, and these hazards sometimes lead to serious accidents. Being just a little prepared – both with information and with a tangible first aid kit – can help tremendously in the rare case that something does happen. To help out, we created a list of essentials to put in a first aid kit for your dog.

 

“What you do (or don’t do) in the first moments following an accident can often be the difference between life and death,” says Melanie Monteiro, a pet first aid instructor, dog safety consultant, and author of The Safe Dog Handbook: A Complete Guide to Protecting Your Pooch, Indoors and Out. “One such example is with choking. If your pet’s airway is completely obstructed by an object, there will be no time to go to the veterinarian for help—you need to take immediate action.” You can watch some of her amazing video instructions here. She also recommends signing up for a training course in your area. Check with your local Red Cross, humane organizations, or private companies such as PetTech. Lastly, buy a guide on pet first aid emergencies (most training courses include a guide). Her favorites are the Red Cross’ Dog First Aid and Cat First Aid and Pets America’s Pet First Aid & Disaster Response Guide.

 

A simple yet important place to start is by programming useful contacts into your mobile phone, to ensure that emergency numbers are at your fingertips and you don’t waste valuable time searching for them when needed. Program the phone numbers and addresses of your veterinarian and a 24-hour emergency animal hospital into your phone. If possible, save the addresses in your car’s GPS. You also always want to watch out for commonly found items that can be poisonous to canine companions. Human medications topped the list of pet toxins in 2010 as accidentally dropped or misplaced pills can seem like treats to our furry friends. Household toxins or cleaners, insecticides/rodenticides, and plants are also common toxins for dogs. Being aware of these toxins and exercising prevention can help keep your animals safe. The ASPCA Poison Control Center 24-hour hotline (1-888-426-4435) is another valuable resource to have in your address book.

 

Now for the first aid kit essentials! The first thing to do in the event of an accident or injury is to consult a veterinarian. Many of the items found in a first aid kit should only be administered under the vet’s guidance, but having them readily available allows for quicker treatment and can minimize pain or discomfort that your animal may be experiencing. Since you never know when an accident will happen, keeping a pet emergency kit at your home is a good idea. A smaller kit could be used in the car. You can put a first aid kit together yourself and buy the items separately, or buy one ready-made (just one example, there are tons of varieties in all shapes and sizes available for purchase online and at local pet supply stores). If you make one yourself, use a small plastic tub with a tight fitting lid and keep one at home and make one to have in the car for when you’re on the go.

 

Here are some essential items:

  • Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
  • A pet carrier
  • Muzzle or strip of fabric to prevent biting (in cases of severe pain during treatment but only when there is no injury to the throat or neck, vomiting, or difficulty breathing)
  • Leash
  • Blanket (foil emergency blanket)
  • Pediatric digital rectal thermometer plus water-based lubricant
  • Oral syringe
  • Tweezers
  • Saline eye wash
  • Ear cleaning solution
  • Expired credit card or sample credit card (from direct-mail credit-card offers) to scrape away insect stingers
  • Glucose paste or corn syrup (for diabetic dogs or those with low blood sugar)
  • Nail clippers
  • Non-prescription antibiotic ointment
  • Penlight or flashlight
  • Plastic eyedropper or syringe
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) to clean the thermometer
  • Splints and tongue depressors
  • Styptic powder or pencil (sold at veterinary hospitals, pet-supply stores, and your local pharmacy)
  • Temporary identification tag (to put your local contact information on your pet’s collar when you travel)
  • Towels
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Epsom salts
  • Rubber gloves
  • Mild soap
  • Cut- and wound-care items, such as: hand sanitizer, antiseptic (povidone-iodine) solution such as Betadine, elastic or ace bandage (best case: self-cling bandage – bandage that stretches and sticks to itself but not to fur – which is available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs), stretchable gauze, gauze pads, non-stick bandages, non-scented sanitary pads (for heavily bleeding wounds), first aid adhesive tape, blunt scissors
  • Hydrogen peroxide #3% USP (to induce vomiting)
  • Toxiban or other vet-approved activated charcoal (for use in certain poisoning emergencies)
  • Diphenhydramine antihistamine, or Benadryl (to counter allergic reactions)

Of course, each list of recommendations has their unique take on what all is needed in a kit. We think this more than covers the essentials, but you can find many more suggestions from the sites below. It’s always a good idea to check with your vet to see if they think you’re missing anything from whatever list you decide to go with, and to think about your own pet’s specific needs that might come up in an emergency scenario.

The Red Cross, AVMA checklist, Modern Dog, Cesar’s Way and Pet Education

Want to know more quick tips? Our founder Rocky Kanaka has simple tips that you can follow today!

We hope you find this guide helpful and that it encourages you to learn about pet safety and ways to prevent accidents and prepare for the unexpected. In the comments below, please share any of your own tips to keep in mind for Pet First Aid Awareness!

10 Activities to Occupy your Puppy While You’re at Work

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10 Activities to Occupy your Puppy While You're at Work

Last week, we celebrated an especially fun “holiday,”  National Puppy Day with a list of adoptable puppies from our donation partners. Whether you’ve recently adopted a new puppy or are thinking about bringing a new addition home, we thought it would be fun to celebrate even more because everyday should be national puppy day with a post on ten things that will occupy your puppy while you’re at work. Because no matter how much time you’re able to devote to your new pal, you’ll likely have to at least leave them alone from time-to-time. Toys for puppies and other activities geared towards puppies are plentiful, and we’ve tracked down some good options for keeping those little critters occupied in your time away. We know it’s easy to feel worried or guilty about living your little guy or girl at home alone, but with a little research and imagination, there are ways to keep even their time alone fun and stimulating.

  1. Create a safe space. Pick one area in the house where you think your dog will feel safest and most comfortable while you’re away. It could be a corner in the living room or a separate room, closed off from the rest of the house. Make sure they know that this is their designated area by inviting your new dog to sniff around. Give him treats so he can associate positive feelings with it, and leave some of his toys and his favorite blanket around. If you’ve decided to crate your pup while you’re away, this is the perfect space to put it. Make it cozy and attractive so that they’ll want to take ownership of it and feel safe there.
  2. Pick a super awesome bed. Whether it’s going in the crate or pin or just sectioned off in a certain area of the house, be sure to provide your pup with an awesome bed they can spend some serious time snoozing in. A majority of the time you are working, your dog is probably asleep. On average, dogs can sleep between 14 to 18 hours a day. For this reason, you should provide your dog with the most comfortable, cushiony bed while you’re away. If you notice that your dog is a sprawler, try and get a bed that is slightly larger so it can fit his entire body. If your dog likes to rest his head on something, find a doughnut bed. If your dog likes his sleeping area super soft, get him a cushiony pillow bed. You have your preferred sleeping style, and so does your pup! See what fits their snoozing style and purchase accordingly.
  3. Provide your dog with fresh water throughout the day. H20 isn’t just vastly important for humans, it’s also essential for animals. Not only should there always be a steady flow of water for them at all times, but it should also always be clean and fresh. Consider purchasing a self-filling pet water bowl so you don’t have to worry about your pup going thirsty while you’re gone. Of course, in the training stages you also have to worry about accidents, so do your research and know your pup before setting up their water station.
  4. Try out treat-dispensing toys. While you’re away, one of the greatest gifts you can give your pup is an interactive toy to play with that will engage their mind and get them working for an awesome reward. Many dogs are food motivated, and treat-dispensing toys are in high-demand for people who spend time away from home. This is a fantastic way to distract your canine while you’re gone! While some owners opt to scatter kibble across their house, you can also purchase a handy food-dispensing toy that will keep your house tidier and will also last longer for dogs who are quick foragers. Find a fun toy you can hide food in, like the Buster Food Cube. These kinds of toys will keep your furry friends engaged and challenged. In addition, most food-dispensing toys give you the option to adjust the degree of difficulty so that it can keep things exciting for your dog. There are so many good options out there, so do your research and try out a few with your pup. You’ll figure out the best fit for them in no time.
  5. Leave them with indestructible toys that will keep them busy for hours. Some pets have a harder time being left alone than others and all animals have a range of separation anxiety that they experience. Your dog’s ability to chew through a toy or bone will also vary, as some pups are more gentle than others. Either way, leaving them with ample chew toys or bones will help ensure that they chew on something other than your sofa! You can discourage this bad behavior by providing them with strong and safe chew toys that also won’t end up being a choking hazard. Giving them indestructible chew toys, like the Monkey Fist Bar Rope Dog Toy, will provide hours of entertainment while keeping your dog’s gums and teeth healthy. Bonus points!
  6. Another great option? Puzzle toys. Sturdy bones and treat-dispensing toys are old-school winners, but they aren’t the only game in town. On the rise in popularity are puzzle toys, offering another way to keep your dog entertained during the day. These brain-teasing toys keep your dog stimulated, especially if he is left alone for multiple hours of the day. Keeping your dog sharp can extend his life by fighting canine cognitive dysfunction. Brain teasers give dogs the opportunity to problem solve and use some of the functions that they don’t ordinarily use in their brains. Check out a few here.
  7. Play them some tunes. Studies have shown that classical music can calm and soothe a dog’s nerves, so consider providing your canine with a soundtrack while you’re away by creating a Spotify playlist of relaxing classical symphonies, or consider getting “Through a Dog’s Ear,” a CD set of psycho-acoustically designed piano music that has been tested in dog shelters, clinics and homes.
  8. Leave the TV on. Some people just leave it on a random channel, but if you think your dog could use a little visual stimulation, there is a channel just for him. DirectTV teamed up with DogTV, a channel that provides 24/7 programming aimed at stimulating, entertaining, relaxing and habituating dogs with shows that are filled with different sounds, objects and movements, all seen from a dog’s point of view. Hey, it couldn’t hurt!
  9. Stuff a toy with all-natural DOGSBUTTER. This is a classic dog-stimulating choice for a reason! Most dogs love the smell and taste of peanut butter and can take hours finding every last dollop in a Kong® in puppy size or similar hollow toy. To provide an extra challenge, freeze the toys after stuffing them overnight before you hand them over in the morning.
  10. Consider hiring a dog walker. It is cheaper and easier than ever to secure a reliable dog walker, and for some dogs it’s an essential and important way to offer them a little mid-day relief, especially if you’re going to be gone for long stretches of time. A dog walker not only provides them with an extra pee break, but yields them all-important human interaction, gives them a break from their crate or small space (if you’re using such) and gets them a little extra exercise (which is great for their health, both physically and mentally). It will also tire them out and make the time waiting for you to get home breeze by. Dog walkers vary in their services, with some providing brisk, 30-minute walks for those dogs that don’t need a whole lot of exercise, and others offering hour-long hikes for those canines bursting with energy. The most important thing to remember is to find a reliable, trustworthy walker that both you and your dog get along with. Consider checking out DogVacay, Rover and Wag to connect with walkers in your area.

Did you know that DOG for DOG now has puppy food? Have a full grown pup? Check out our list of 14 ways to keep your dog busy while at work. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ideas for keeping your pup entertained while you’re away from home. In the comments below, share your own tips and tricks for new puppies faced with temporary indepen-dance. 

Adopt a Puppy from our Donation Partners

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

Did you know that March 23rd is National Puppy Day!? Puppies are so adorable – their little paws, their big bellies, and how they are so excited about everything makes us squeal with joy. There is still this stigma that you can only adopt adult dogs which isn’t true at all. There are so many puppies that you can adopt at your local shelter or from your local rescue group. We want to introduce you to the puppies that are available for adoption from our donation partners. These rescue groups are amazing group of people that save many homeless dogs each month. To support their huge efforts, we donate DOGSFOOD on your behalf. We want to help them out a little more by introducing you to the puppies that are available for adoption. Please share this post with as any friends as possible. The power of social media is HUGE!

 

 

First up is Mario from Mary S. Roberts Adoption Center. Mario is an 11 week old Chihuahua puppy and you can tell he’s one happy pup because he was wagging his tail while having this photo taken. As for Mary S. Roberts Adoption Center, they have been helping pets for over 100 years which is impressive! Located in Riverside, CA – their facility is 17,000 square feet and they house many pets like Mario.

Gingersnap is a tiny little chihuahua mix puppy with so much love to give from Marley’s Mutts. Her siblings and her mom were rescued right before the Holidays. With the love from all the wonderful people at Marley’s Mutts, she’s come out of her shell. She will need to be adopted to a home that is familiar with small breeds because she’s so small. Small pup parents have to do the shuffle walk so you don’t accidentally step on them which is a breeze to do once you get used to it. Marley’s Mutts is an amazing rescue group that will take any dog in and have a soft spot for hard cases such as Hooch who has no tongue. They also have a brand new program with their local prison program. They take their adoptable dogs and have them train with the prisoners. The prisoners get to take comfort through dogs and the dogs earn the good canine certification, making them easier to adopt. Amazing stuff!

Big Tuna is the cuddliest puppy out of his siblings and is a Terrier mix. How could you not want to take him home with you!? Maeday Rescue is a small but mighty rescue based in Los Angeles, CA. They are very careful about making sure that their pup goes to the right home to ensure that they will live the happiest life. They spend a lot of time with each dog and are able to tell you all about them.

Puff is a 6 month old American Bulldog/ Boxer mix puppy available for adoption from Rocket Dog Rescue. She is a puff ball of energy and so much fun! Rocket Dog Rescue is a rescue group run solely by volunteers in San Francisco, CA. All dogs are placed in temporary foster homes so that the dogs are able to socialize and the rescue is able to learn all about the dog.

 

There’s only 1 thing that’s better than a puppy. More puppies! Simi Valley Missing Pets takes many puppies at high kill shelters. Unfortunately, puppies that are too young need a rescue to save them because the shelters don’t have enough resources to care for very young pups. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of time and energy as they need to be bottle fed since they are separated from their moms. This is only about half of the puppies that SVMP has available for adoption so please check out their Facebook page for their most current list.

Meet Bailey and Blarney, 2 lab mixed puppies that will be ready for a home in about 6 weeks from Detroit Dog Rescue. Detroit Dog Rescue is the first and only No-Kill shelter in the city of Detroit and leaders of the movement. Like many cities who have seen in decline of economic growth, their has been a surge of families who are no longer able to afford their dogs. Our donated food helps DDR donate it to low income families who love their dog and need a little bit of help.

Fredarico is a charming, Chihuahua puppy available for adoption from Oregon Humane Society. Staring into his big doe eyes makes our hearts swoon. Oregon Humane Society adopts out a whopping 11,000 pets every year! What’s unique about them is that not only do they educate their community about adoption; they help with animal cruelty investigations to keep the pets safe.

Puppies are the cutest but they are also a lot of work. It takes consistent training, tons of patience, money, and lots of love and probably a ruined shoe or two. If you’re ready for the challenge and all of the love you will receive in return. Not ready for a puppy but still really want a dog? Adopt a senior dog. They just want a good meal and a good sleep. Either way, adopt don’t shop!

All Natural Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Pet

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

All Natural Spring Cleaning Tips for your Pet

Last week on the blog, in the spirit of spring cleaning, we talked about how often to bathe your pets and how often to wash their favorite belongings (leash, bed, food bowl, toys, etc.) While we agreed that there was some wiggle room on most things, we think we found a good general consensus for cleaning across your doggie items. In that same squeaky clean vibe, this week we thought we’d discuss how to clean those same items using all natural products. Since all of the too-be cleaned items come in such close contact with your pup, it’s always best to make sure anything you use is pet friendly. Working with all natural cleaners helps ensure that your pup likely won’t ingest something that could make them ill (though it’s always good to be on the safe side and double check your ingredients). We hope we’ve dug up some simple, cheap and interesting ways to keep your pup so fresh and so clean (clean).

Bathing: Obviously there’s no real better way than good ‘ol dog shampoo, but you can do your pup a favor by picking a brand that offers better ingredients. Our office pups get a bath about once a month using DOG for DOG’s DOGSPA shampoo, and there are lots of other natural shampoos on the market for keeping your little one (and their skin) clean and happy! Look for labels with no chemicals, unnatural fragrances, or unnecessary ingredients.

 

Hardwood floors: Many of the conventional cleaning products that promise an easy and sparkling floor are terrible for our health and the environment. Floor cleaners that give you shine can also give you off-gassing of petroleum-based polymers. In addition, most of the fragrance that accompanies conventional floor cleaners are either indoor air pollutants on their own, or are inert on their own but mix with ozone to create formaldehyde and other toxic air contaminates. So, obviously, best to avoid those! The best non-toxic floor cleaning solution is ¼ of a cup of mild liquid dishwashing detergent added to a bucket of warm water (for damp mopping). For scuff marks use a sprinkle of baking soda on a damp sponge and rub. Go over the floor twice, first to dissolve the dirt and then again, after rinsing the mop and wringing it thoroughly, again to rinse. The floor can then be buffed dry with a towel—this is done easily by attaching a towel to a clamp mop handle. Of course, different kinds of hardwood floors need slightly different cleaning procedures. Cleaners recommended for a penetrating floor finish are solvent-based. Use a natural citrus solvent rather than a mineral spirit or turpentine based cleaner. Spray a light film on the floor and dry mop with a microfiber or regular dust mop. Here are some other unique tips for cleaning your floors.

 

Carpeted floors: Like for hardwood floors, some of the products you can buy commercially are better than others, and if you need to buy a cleaner, there are definitely some kinder options out there. Be sure to do your research! If you have the time and interest in making your own, you can do it for less than what you’d pay and with many common items! We’ve included a personal favorite here, but be sure to check out more here and here.

 

White vinegar – White vinegar is known to remove tough stains, especially those from pets. It has some great deodorizing properties and will tackle any tough stain. Water is needed to dilute the vinegar because it can be quite potent. Vinegar is safe to use on most fabrics and is effective against many strains.

Lavender essential oil –  Lavender EO gives this spray even more deodorizing properties and helps tackle bacteria and viruses lurking in your carpets. It is one of the most versatile essential oils and is safe to use around children and pets.

Ingredients:

 

Directions:

  • Combine vinegar and water in a large spray bottle.
  • Add in salt and lavender essential oil.
  • Cap and shake.
  • Spray on carpets liberally, shaking bottle frequently between sprays.
  • Allow carpets to dry.
  • Vacuum treated areas.

Note: For tougher stains, spray mixture directly on stain. Let dry and vacuum. Repeat if necessary.

Source: DIYNatural.com

all natural spring cleaning tips for your pet

Blankets / sheets on your bed: All laundry detergents leave a residue on clothing, which is absorbed by our skin (and inhaled). The ill effects of some of the chemicals in detergents range from skin or eye irritation to possibly much more serious, such as endocrine disruption. Because of “trade secrets,” manufacturers are not required to disclose what’s in their detergent, so the ingredient list is usually vague and not very helpful. A 2008 study found that of all the top selling laundry detergent brands tested, each contained at least one ingredient considered hazardous under federal law. None of these ingredients was listed on the label and the study didn’t disclose which brands were tested. Find a few we trust here, and consider washing your linens with these!

 

Their beds: Most beds can go in the washing machine, so consider cleaning with one of the natural products found above! While there are detergents touted as just for pets, as long as you use a mild detergent without dyes or fragrance you can safely wash your pet’s bedding and toys in your washer. To help neutralize odor, add one cup of baking soda to the wash water. Do not use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets which may irritate a pet’s skin due to the added perfume. Line drying bedding and toys will help to freshen and dissipate odors. If you must use a dryer, be certain to clean the lint filter which may be filled with hair. After washing your pet’s laundry, cleanse your washing machine by running a cycle of hot water with 1/2 cup of chlorine bleach. Now you’re ready for the next load for the rest of your family!

 

Food bowls: Commercial over-the-counter cleaners, when used as directed on the label’s instructions, are safe to use around your four-legged family member, says Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director at the ASPCA’s animal poison control center in New York, N.Y. “Dilution is very important,” she continues. “This is not a situation where a little is good and a lot is better. And we want to keep our animals out of that area until the products are dry. For instance, when you wash your floors, keep your pet out of the kitchen until the floors are dry. Then it’s OK for them to come back into the area.” When used correctly, the residue left behind is minimal, Dr. Wismer adds. “But if owners are worried about residues, they can certainly clean them off with just plain water afterwards.” Another option: Try some safer alternatives. Mother Nature has provided all-natural solutions that do the job in a way that’s safer for your family and pets. Below, we’ve included several recipes for cleaning products that use simple ingredients from your pantry, like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. To keep your dog’s stainless steel, ceramic or plastic food and water bowls clean, use this simple mixture that will scrub away stuck-on food and grime. It can be used to clean up other surfaces, as well, such as cutting boards, dirty spots on laminate floors and crusty countertops.

 

Ingredients:

  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Salt

Combine equal parts of the ingredients to create a thick paste. Apply some to a sponge or washrag and scrub the inside and outside of the dish or bowl using a circular motion. Rinse well with warm water.

Leashes: How often you clean your pup’s collar and leash will have to do with how dirty they get them. If your dog doesn’t see much outside action, you’re safe to wash infrequently. But if they’re rolling around outside in a leash and/or collar fairly often, it couldn’t hurt to give these items a good cleaning once a month. Most collars and leashes can be thrown in the dishwasher or clothing washer, but you can read about handmade ways to clean here. These methods include baking soda and peppermint soap!

Toys: For cloth toys, they are best washed on cold in your washing machine, after being placed in a delicate garment bag. Make sure to reduce the amount of soap you use, assuming the washer won’t be 100% full of toys. If so, it could be time to give a once over and do some purging! When in doubt on how much soap to use, less is better. Once done, remove from the wash and squeeze remaining water out. If you have the ability to line dry, pin them all up and give them an hour or so in the sun to dry out. Placing them in the dryer is just fine, make sure it’s on low heat and if you’re worried about them, place them inside a pillow case. If you have plastic toys, use a solution of 50% white vinegar to 50% water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes. Remove and use a nail brush to scrub the dirt off, rinse with fresh water and allow to dry.

 

Need a quick all-purpose cleaner? Simply combine 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1 gallon of water, pour into a clean spray bottle, use as needed, and wipe clean when done. This inexpensive and easy-to-make solution cuts through grease and grime – dog generated or otherwise – on most surfaces. And it also can be used to clean your dog’s plastic or rubber toys, grooming tools and other non-porous surfaces that may need a little freshening up. The mix can be stored between uses. If the smell of vinegar is too potent for your taste, try this easy-to-make all-purpose cleaner that uses lemon juice instead. The baking soda cuts through grime like a knife; the lemon juice contains natural enzymes that break down organic matter. You can use this on most household surfaces and you can safely use it around animals.

Ingredients:

  • A clean, empty spray bottle or bucket
  • 3 cups of very hot water
  • 2 tbsp of baking soda
  • 2 tbsp pure lemon juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)

First, pour the water into the bottle or bucket. Next, add the baking soda, making sure it completely dissolves and uniformly distributes throughout the water. Finally, add the lemon juice, again making sure you mix it well. Spray on soiled surfaces and wipe with a clean, damp cloth. When you’re done cleaning, pour any remaining mixture down the drain.

How often you clean will likely be determined by how much your pet sheds, how much dirt they’re dragging in from outside and how often you like to clean your house usually anyways. Doing the research and thinking through what’s best for you and your family is usually best practice in these sorts of matters. We hope that no matter how often you clean and what methods you’re used to using, that you find these DIY and natural methods helpful. We can’t wait to hear what you think – and your own cleaning methods – in the comments below!

Spring Cleaning for your Pets

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

Spring Cleaning for your pets

Many dogs get full run of their human counterparts home – their bed and couch included. But even those regulated to the ground and their own pup beds are still tracking their little paws all over your home. So you might be wondering just how often your dog needs a bath, for their own hygiene and for the sake of your belongings. While this is a topic always up for debate amongst dog groups (some swear by washing weekly, others say they’ve never washed their pup and that’s just fine), we thought it might be helpful to offer up some general guidelines on how often you should bathe your dogs and cats, including the items they come in contact with like beds, food bowls, leashes and more! See our thoughts below:

How often to bathe: The general consensus here seems to be that unless your dog has skin problems (in which case you should consult your vet on best bathing practices), how often you give your dog a bath is really up to you! Many people with non-oily dog breeds wash their dogs about once a month, while more oily breeds are bathed on a more regular schedule. Our office pups get a bath about once a month using DOG for DOG’s DOGSPA shampoo
. Dr. Sherry Weaver writes on
CesarsWay.com, “I recommend you bathe a dog with normal skin once a month with dog shampoo or human baby shampoo. If you want to bathe more often than once a month, use a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo to prevent the skin from becoming dry. Do not bathe your dog more than once a week, unless recommended by your vet.” You can also read about more specific grooming tips here.

What about cats? Cats have built-in grooming tools (tongue and teeth), and are much more efficient than dogs at keeping themselves clean. In a perfect world, you won’t need to worry abou bathing them, and can take them into a groomer if they need anything that they will fight you on. Brushing your cat not only removes dirt, grease and dead hair from their coat, but it helps to remove skin flakes and stimulates blood circulation, improving the overall condition of the skin. One or two brushings per week will help kitty to keep a healthy glow—and you’ll find that regular sessions are especially beneficial when your cat ages and is no longer able to groom so meticulously on their own. The ASPCA has further tips on cat bathing and grooming at home!

Beds: Most people report washing their pets beds once a month, moreso if you live in a wooded area or your dog gets dirty more often. You can simply remove the outer cover and wash and dry the bed linen in your own washer/dryer. The bed base can often be washed this way too. Wash separately from other laundry or minimally with like colors. Use a large load setting, cold water, and plenty of clearly marked pet-safe laundry detergent to aid in dislodging as much pet hair and dirt as possible. Repeat the wash cycle for especially dirty beds. Dry the washed bedding in the clothes dryer with at least one clearly marked pet-safe dryer sheet. The dryer sheet will reduce static electricity and remove excess pet hair. Dry on a low temperature setting for 20 minutes to remove hair and wrinkles, then air dry to avoid shrinking the bed. Again, be sure to check the label of your laundry detergent & dryer sheets to ensure it is pet-safe! Want to clean more often? Thoroughly vacuum the bed to remove excess hair, dirt, and other debris. Roll a lint roller over the bed to pull away hairs that the vacuum missed. How to wash a dog bed should be a primary consideration when you are selecting from the range of commercially available dog beds at your local pet or department store. Check the tags on dog beds to see whether the recommended method of cleaning is feasible and practical for you, your home, and the time you have for cleaning. All too often, people buy a dog bed on impulse because it is cute or it fits with their home decor. It won’t be so cute when you go to wash it and find out it’s a pain in the butt to get clean!

Food Bowls: Did you know – NSF International, a public health organization, rated food bowls as the fourth dirtiest spot in our homes. Eeep! We love our cats and dogs so much, and we want to keep them happy and healthy. One way to do this is making sure we thoroughly clean our pet’s food and water bowls to help avoid germs, bugs and mold that can make our furry friends sick. Luckily, there are a few great ways to tackle this cleaning process to make sure you’re doing the job right. NSF recommends either placing the bowl in a dishwasher or soaking it for about 10 minutes once a week in a solution of one part bleach to one part water. Then, rinse well and dry. However, if you don’t feel comfortable using bleach, VetStreet recommends cleaning the dish after every meal with hot water and soap. Or better yet, Tina Wismer, DVM, medical director at the ASPCA’s animal poison control center in New York told Wendy Wilson of Cesar’s Way to combine equal parts of baking soda, warm water and salt and scrub the surface in a circular motion, and then rinse well.

Leashes: Once again, how often you clean your pup’s collar and leash will have to do with how dirty they get them. If your dog doesn’t see much outside action, you’re safe to wash infrequently. But if they’re rolling around outside in a leash and/or collar fairly often, it couldn’t hurt to give these items a good cleaning once a month. Most collars and leashes can be thrown in the dishwasher or clothing washer, but you can read about handmade ways to clean here. A good rule of thumb is to wash your dogs collar at least as often as you wash them! Who wants to put a dirty collar back on a clean pup?

Toys: Although you might not think about cleaning your pet’s toys, depending on how quickly they go through them, it can be an added bonus that results in a cleaner toy bin. If your dog is the type who is on a mission to gut anything with a squeaker or stuffing, then there’s a good chance your toys don’t actually last long enough to necessitate a washing. If you have some favorites sticking around though, and especially if there are young children around, you might consider giving toys that live on the floor a good cleaning. Although babies and dogs alike are quite resilient, there’s something about a toy box filled with crusty drool-laden toys that says it’s time for a quick freshening up. For cloth toys, they are best washed on cold in your washing machine, after being placed in a delicate garment bag. Make sure to reduce the amount of soap you use, assuming the washer won’t be 100% full of toys. If so, it could be time to give a once over and do some purging! When in doubt on how much soap to use, less is better. Once done, remove from the wash and squeeze remaining water out. If you have the ability to line dry, pin them all up and give them an hour or so in the sun to dry out. Placing them in the dryer is just fine, make sure it’s on low heat and if you’re worried about them, place them inside a pillow case. If you have plastic toys, use a solution of 50% white vinegar to 50% water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes. Remove and use a nail brush to scrub the dirt off, rinse with fresh water and allow to dry. Tennis balls can go in the wash, however they do require a bit of funk to make them safe for pets.

How often you clean your floors (whether you have hardwood or carpet) is really up to you. This will likely be determined by how much your pet sheds, how much dirt they’re dragging in from outside and how often you like to clean your house usually anyways. Again, these are all general guidelines based on varying ideals about how to keep your animals and home clean. Doing the research and thinking through what’s best for you and your family is usually best practice in these sorts of matters. That being said, we’d really love to hear your cleaning routines in the comments below!

5 Fun Dog Activities Using DOG for DOG DOGSBUTTER

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

DOGSBUTTER_Flip_Still

 

As we all well know, there’s not much dogs love more than a spoon (or Kong, or finger, or whatever else) full of peanut butter. The sweet and salty treat is not only oh-so-tasty, but delightfully fun to eat. That’s why one of DOG for DOG’s most popular and important products is our DOGSBUTTER. Made with all natural ingredients and without sugar, salt, soy or hydrogenated oils, it’s the perfect treat to hide medication in or fill hollow treats with. And like all of our products, for each DOGSBUTTER sold, we donate an equal amount of food to a dog in need.

We have three varieties – immunity and digestion (topped off with coconut and ginger), skin and coat, and flaxseed, to fit your dogs needs. It’s important to note that while many dog lovers give their pups generic store-bought peanut butter, the ingredients can be taxing on your pet’s stomach and overall health, especially xylitol (which of course ours doesn’t contain). 

While thinking of all the great uses for DOGSBUTTER, we thought it would be fun to round up five fun activities to do with your pup using our dog safe version of peanut butter. Check out our ideas below!

SCENT WORK WITH HIDDEN DOGSBUTTER

Teaching your dog to discover prizes using only his nose is a great game for the body and mind. While all dogs have a great sense of smell, sometimes they have to be reminded to use it, and this exercise can get your dog excited about solving the problem of a hidden prize. Set up a bunch of boxes or opaque containers (start with at least four or five) upside-down next to each other and, without your dog seeing you hide it, place some DOGSBUTTER (or a treat made with some) under one of the containers. Next, encourage your dog to smell the boxes and as he (hopefully) pauses at the one with the prize, lift up the box and enthusiastically congratulate him on his discovery. Let him eat the treat and soon your dog will know what’s expected during this game and be excited to sniff out the prize. Keep adding more boxes and space them at further intervals to increase the challenge as your dog’s scent work improves.

HIDE AND GO SEEK WITH PB BITES

Cook up some simple peanut butter bites and try out hide and go seek with your pup. If they’re good at the “stay” command, you can get them to wait while you find a hiding spot. Then, you can tell them to come or leave a trail of treats to where you are. While it doesn’t work for every dog, we’ve known plenty who love a good game of hide and seek as much as the kiddos in our lives!

DOG for DOG DOGSBUTTER

Photo by dogster

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SMOOTHIES

Firing up the blender for an afternoon smoothie? Concoct something awesome that your dog can enjoy too and enjoy your smoothies together!

You will need:

  • 5 ounces of nonfat Greek yogurt (I used one of the single-serving Chobani 0% yogurts)
  • 2 globs of peanut butter
  • 8 small strawberries (use frozen for a frosty treat)
  • A tablespoon of maple syrup (any grade is fine, but grade B is more flavorful)

You know what to do.

DOG PUZZLE

There’s almost nothing better than a Kong with DOGSBUTTER, frozen overnight and ready for hours of enjoyment while you’re away from home or getting things done around the house. But Kong’s aren’t the only toy to hide treats in – there are tons of great options on the market. One that we like are puzzle toys, which you can hide frozen treats in and your pup has to figure out how to get them out. These puzzles provide mental stimulation and rewards your dog for being able to complete a tough and stimulating task.

PEANUT BUTTER PUP-SICLES

A frozen DOGSBUTTER treat? Yes, please!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup peanut butter, preferably unsalted and unsweetened (Check your peanut butter’s label to make sure it doesn’t contain any kind of xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.)
  • Half a ripe banana, mashed
  • Water as needed

Steps:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine peanut butter with a little water or half a mashed banana. (The water and banana aren’t essential, but they help with freezing consistency.)
  2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper, or use Kong-style rubber toys that have a cavity you can fill.
  3. Spoon the mixture onto the tray just like you would cookie dough, or stuff it into the toys. Freeze the tray or toys for several hours or overnight. If you need to reuse the tray right away, pop out the cubes and store them in a bag or container in the freezer.
  4. Serve, and turn any hot dog into a happy camper.

Check out these links here and here for more ideas on fun games to play with your pups incorporating DOGSBUTTER.

When you purchase our DOGSBUTTER or any of our other all natural dog food products, we will donate an equal amount of DOGSFOOD to a dog in need. DOG for DOG was built around a passion to help dogs in every way we can. We make an effort to connect and partner with local shelters and rescue foundations, and with your purchase of DOGSBUTTER, you’re helping us achieve our goal.  Every dog deserves a chance to live a healthy and happy life, and we thank you for joining the movement to make this happen. Don’t forget to browse our entire catalogue of DOGSBUTTER and all-natural dog food products, and order yours today. Your dog—and a dog in need—is ready to enjoy the benefits that come from a tasty treat like DOGSBUTTER! 

DOGSBLOG Reader Survey

by DOG for DOG Team 0 Comments

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If you have 5 minutes today, we would really appreciate it if you took the time to take this super short survey about the blog. We want to learn more about you and your furry family. This information will be used to develop and expand the content of the blog. The survey is completely anonymous and only DOG for DOG will be using the information provided.

The survey will only be up for a short time so answer today!

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