Category Archives: Pet Health & Safety

Calcium Supplements For Dogs


In her 28 year career, our holistic vet said she had only ever encountered two dogs with low calcium, and Luca was the second! She said it was extremely low and looked genuinely surprised at the review of the full workup blood panel, but it didn’t surprise me one bit. Did I expect low calcium? No. But with Emi and Luca a rare diagnosis tends to be the norm.

I don’t speak “vet” so in laymen’s terms essentially his body doesn’t absorb calcium properly. He was getting it, it just wasn’t being properly processed.

For more information about low blood calcium in dogs, see

So what do you do if your dog is diagnosed with low calcium?

You might immediately think of dairy, but many dogs don’t digest dairy well and with Luca’s low-fat diet that wasn’t really an option for him. Dog Food Advisor has a good article explaining lactose intolerance in dogs if you’re interested in learning more.

In addition to prescribing an array of herbal supplements she sent me home with a list of high calcium foods to start adding to Luca’s diet.

  • Chopped and Steamed Collard Greens
  • Chopped and Steamed Kale
  • Chopped and Steamed Broccoli
  • Chopped and Steamed Sweet Potatoes
  • Dried Figs
  • Salmon, canned with bones

The National Osteoporosis Foundation has a full list of calcium rich foods with how many mg per serving available at

After reviewing the calcium content of each, we opted to go with collard greens whenever possible. Our vet said chopping it into small pieces and steaming it for about 4 minutes would make it easier to digest. We use kale and salmon when collard greens aren’t available and give the occasional dried fig as a yummy treat. He absolutely LOVES all of his new foods (although he’s never been a picky eater!).

Luca is about 60 pounds (stay tuned for the weight-loss post!) and she said to add 1/2 cup of the steamed veggies per meal.

*Note that giving your dog too much calcium can adverse health effects. Always consult your vet on dietary changes or other medical issues. I am not a vet and the information in this post should not be substituted for the care and advice of your veterinary practitioner. As a rule of thumb I always consult the Pet Poison Helpline website before introducing anything new to my dogs. If you’re investigating calcium options for your dog I suggest you run a quick search on each as well.

Summer Hazards For Dogs


Summer fun can also bring a whole new set of warm weather hazards for your dog. According to the ASPCA, these are a few of the top hazards and below are the reasons why.

Animal Toxins:

Certain species of toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions call all be very dangerous to dogs. Even just mouthing a toad or drinking water that a toad sat in could lead to possible death by poisoning. Read more at

Although many spiders are harmless, the black widow and brown recluse spider can be lethal. Don’t let your dog play with spiders or other insects.

Outdoor Plants and Bulbs:

The list of plants and bulbs that can be toxic to dogs is far too long to include here. Make sure to take a good inventory of your yard and any outdoor space your pet spends time in and remove any plants that are unsafe. A complete list of plants that are poisonous to your dog are listed here.

Swimming Pool Treatment Supplies:

Pool chemicals are dangerous in two forms. Don’t let your dog drink the pool water and make sure stored chemicals are safely out of your dog’s access.

Fly Baits with Methomyl:

Methomyl is an insecticide that is highly toxic to pets as well as humans. Because Methomyl is also toxic if inhaled, make sure your pets are not exposed to them in any space.

Slug and Snail Baits with Metaldehyde:

Metaldehyde is a popular insecticide found in multiple forms including: pellets, liquids, pelleted baits, wettable powders, and granules so it may be difficult to keep track of. It is toxic to all species. Without treatment this poisoning can be deadly.

Blue-green Algae:

Found in both fresh water and salt water. Don’t let your dogs swim in or ingest water that has the appearance of pea soup. Dogs can die within an hour of ingestion. For more information on the seriousness of this summer toxin visit

Citronella Candles:

Citronella candles, insect coils and oil products can produce stomach irritation in dogs, and possibly cause central nervous system depression. Keep them well out of reach of dogs.

 Cocoa Mulch:

Yes it smells good but this product of chocolate production still contains methylxanthine, the part of chocolate and coffee that is poisonous to dogs. Dogs have varying reactions to methylxanthine, best to play it safe and avoid use of cocoa mulch.

Compost Piles:

Although we love the green aspect of composting, make sure your compost piles are well fenced off. Decaying organic matter can be toxic to pets and wildlife, even small amounts can lead to serious illness within as little as 3o minutes.


Fertilizers can contain a wide variety of dangerous ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Read more about the common signs to watch for from fertilizer poisoning at

Flea Products:

Carefully read any flea and tick product prior to applying to your pet, your self, your home or your yard. When used incorrectly these products can result in serious illness or even death. For alternatives to traditional flea and tick medicines check out these options in the Pup’s Place grooming section.

If you suspect your dog has come into contact with any of these items or is showing any signs of   illness or poisoning contact your vet immediately. 

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7 Tips for a Dog Safe 4th of July


I’ve heard it said, and am not surprised, that more dogs run away on July 4th than any other day of the year. The booms, thuds and bright lights of fireworks that make us go “Oooooh” and “Ahhhhhh” make dogs say “Get me out of here” and that’s precisely what they try to do. They want to avoid the chaos and go somewhere calm, little do they realize that running in any random direction will do them no good. So PLEASE, this 4th of July take some extra precautions to keep your pups safe.

Seven Tips for a Safe July 4 with your Dog

1. ID

Double check to make sure your dogs are wearing their ID tags with a properly fitting collar. I know I’m guilty of letting mine roam the yard without them on ocassion but for the few days before and after the 4th they are mandatory. Just in case tips 2-7 fall through, this is your backup. (I also recommend you considering microchipping since collars and tags can get lost just as easily as a dog. Our dogs have HomeAgain but I believe there are several options on the market.)

2. Exercise

Help your dog burn off some extra energy with a long walk or run earlier in the day. Burning off some extra energy will help them relax and timing this for earlier in the day lessons the chance of any stray fireworks. Be prepared with an extra grip on the leash though as youth with whipper snappers (a.k.a. whip-its, snappers, poppers, whip ‘n pops) often start earlier in the day.

3. Stay

Keep your dogs inside. If at all possible, especially if you have a dog with a history of anxiety, stay home with her. Resist all temptations to take dogs to fireworks with you, it is never a good idea. If you need to take your dog outside for a bathroom break, keep them on a leash – even in your fenced yard and have a flashlight ready in case she bolts on you.

4. Protect

Keep windows, curtains and doors shut. If you have guests make sure they are aware that all pets need to stay inside and should only be escorted out by you. Keeping the doors and windows shut will stop any escapes and will also help cut down on noise that may cause your dog anxiety. Keeping curtains shut will help block out the bright, flashing lights.

5. Provide

Provide a safe place for dogs to chill out. Many dogs prefer to retreat to small enclosed areas when stressed or frightened, if your dog is comfortable in a crate make sure you provide them that option.

6. Avoid

Keep fireworks away from dogs. Do not set off fireworks near or around your pets. Aside from the danger of your pets running away, your pets curiosity may prove a dangerous combination with open flames and explosives. Keep your dogs safely inside. Even unlit fireworks can be dangerous to dogs if chewed or ingested so keep them out of reach.

7. Distract

A favorite toy or special treat can help distract from firework chaos. To make the treat last longer try one of the coolest toys we’ve found. The gimme gummy has a hollow center that can be filled with treats and frozen or is even OVEN safe to 450 degrees so you can also bake treats right inside! How awesome is that?! Check out treat and stuffing recipes here!

Made of extra durable food grade silicone, the gimme gummy by Safe Made Pet Products is safe for use in the dishwasher to clean and sanitize.  And as with all safemade™ products, the gimme gummy is tested to ASTM guidelines for safety for children’s toys and the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) standards for lead and phthalates—so you know it’s not only safe for your pet, but for every member of your family. Buy now.

Safe Summer Travel With Dogs

Ahhh summer, it finally seems to be upon us. As we start hitting the road for fun travel adventures many of us will bring the dog(s) along. Dogs love to be part of the family fun and a car ride always seems to get Emi and Luca excited, at last they don’t feel like we’re out partying without them at the dog park.

When it comes to safe travel with your pets, here are a few products you might want to keep on hand to make summer travel easier.

Top 3 Dog Travel Necessities


1. Dog Car Seat Restraint

The safety hazards of having your dog roam around the freely are far too great to risk. Made from recycled plastic water bottles, these dog harnesses serve double duty with their car seat restraint loop. They also have reflective trim for late night pit stops.

Buy now. Continue reading

Pet Friendly Summer Travel


Dogs are part of the family and fortunately,  travel with dogs is getting easier now that the travel industry is becoming more pet friendly.

Here are a few of our favorite sites for helping you to plan your next trip with your pup.


This site is pretty all inclusive with lots of planning resources for traveling with dogs including emergency vets, pet sitters and fun places to visit with your dog. Our favorite feature on this site is the search by route feature where you can find pet friendly hotels along your travel route. Continue reading

Guide to Dogs and Ticks – Part 3


In Part 1 of our Dog Owner’s Guide to Ticks we talked about why ticks pose a danger to dogs, the different types of ticks, and where ticks live. Part 2 outlined ways to protect your dog against ticks and Part 3 will explain what to do if you find ticks on your dog, including the proper way to remove a tick from a dog.

As I mentioned previously, we had a lovely hike the other day, followed by several hours of removing ticks from the dogs. Since Emi has short hair, the few ticks on her were easy to spot. In a matter of minutes she was clean and ready for more sunshine.

Luca on the other hand was a mess. Not only was his wet, long fur matted with burs, leaves and sticks but there were about 100 ticks buried in his fur that had to be carefully removed. Luckily he was dog tired and laid patiently still.

Here are some tips on how to safely remove ticks from your dog.

Continue reading

Guide to Dogs and Ticks – Part 2


In Part 1 of our Dog Owner’s Guide to Ticks we talked about why ticks pose a danger to dogs, the different types of ticks, and where ticks live. Part 2 will outline ways to protect your dog against ticks and Part 3 will explain what to do if you find ticks on your dog, including the proper way to remove a tick from a dog.

As I mentioned in Post 1, we had a lovely hike the other day, followed by several hours of removing ticks from the dogs. Some people might say that “we asked for it” since we don’t use chemical flea and tick treatments on our dogs. I dare to say that even if you do choose to use these chemicals, venturing into the wilderness is likely to bring about some unwanted pests on both you and your dogs no matter what.

*A note about chemical flea and tick preventatives or treatments:
Conventional flea and tick medicines are typically pesticides, whether taken as a pill or applied topically. These pesticides go directly into your dog’s blood system and can effect your dog’s overall health in many negative ways, including by taking a toll on your dog’s immune system. Read packages carefully and take caution when something warns against coming into contact with your skin – it’s probably not something you want in contact with your dog’s skin either. The effects of these pesticides on the planet raises many more red flags and is another reason we choose to steer clear of their use. For more information I encourage you to read the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report “Poisons on Pets: Health Hazards from Flea and Tick Products.”

The good news is there are some easy and earth friendly ways to reduce your chances of a tick infestation on your dog. Continue reading

Guide to Dogs and Ticks – Part 1


Just thinking about ticks makes my skin crawl, ick! But as a pet parent, it’s important you know and understand how ticks can effect your dog’s health and how to keep your dog safe and healthy.

Yesterday we went on our first big hike of the spring. Three hours hiking bluffs and letting the dogs swim was a great way to spend the morning, until we got home and had to spend the next two hours plucking ticks off of them. So, I decided it’s time to share a Tick Guide for Dogs with our readers.

In Part 1 of our Dog Owner’s Guide to Ticks we’ll talk about why ticks pose a danger to dogs, the different types of ticks, and where ticks live. Part 2 will outline ways to protect your dog against ticks and Part 3 will explain what to do if you find ticks on your dog, including the proper way to remove a tick from a dog.

What are ticks and why are ticks dangerous to dogs

Ticks are small, bloodsucking anthropods and there are more than 800 species of ticks worldwide. For our purposes we’ll focus on the ones the ticks that most commonly effect dogs in the US.

Ticks carry disease-causing microbes that are transmitted through toxins, secretions, or organisms in the tick’s saliva and transmitted through a bite. Some of these diseases can be fatal to dogs and humans.

What types of ticks affect dogs and where are ticks found Continue reading

How Canine Acupuncture Helped My Pup

canine-acupuncture Luca was about 35 lbs when I found him on the streets of Memphis. He was in rough shape and limped badly for such a young dog. The vet prescribed a joint supplement and along with swimming about 3-4 times a week Luca seemed to do pretty well for a couple years.

Then we moved to Bismarck, ND where the swimming options are not so great for dogs and the weather is much colder, he gained weight quickly. Our first winter here it was clear that Luca would need more help than just a supplement but we weren’t sure what to do. It got to the point where he was in visible pain and unable to sit, lay or stand well. After extensive research and desperation to avoid heavy medication, I discovered a local vet that specialized in acupuncture.

The first morning that I took Luca for an acupuncture consultation he was so uncomfortable in the car that I was almost in tears as I watched him wince trying to get comfortable. I had hope the acupuncture would work but felt it would be a long treatment process and was fearing his pain would become unbearable.

Continue reading