Is Climate Change Causing Disease Spread?, Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Helps Adoption, and The Most Dog-Friendly Work Places. Those Topics And More In This Weeks News

Climate Change Causing Spreading Diseases

USA Today had an interesting article about how the changing climate is causing animal diseases to show up in parts of the country where they either haven’t’ been seen before, or weren’t very prevalent. The article quotes veterinarians as saying the warmer weather is allowing diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and heartworm.

Not only are the diseases spreading out from their traditional territory, but there are also new strains being introduced – and can survive – in areas they have not before. The Heartland Virus and the Bourbon Virus are two new entrants that have caused hospitalization and in some cases death. This story is a reminder of the importance of preventing and dealing with the changes associated with our changing world.

MuttNation Sees 61 Adoptions After Event

It’s rare that country music would show up in a dog-focused blog, but Miranda Lamber’s project MuttNation held its fourth annual drive this month and helped 61 dogs move from shelter to permanent homes. In collaboration with the Nashville Humane Association, they held a one-mile “Mutt March” through Nashville to raise awareness.

Miranda is quoted in the article as saying “To the initiated, it probably sounded like dogs barking, but to me, knowing the pure joy that comes from owning a rescue dog -or eight- it was music to my ears. We were marching on behalf of MuttNation to raise awareness for shelter pet adoption and in support of animal rescues across the country – and because its fun and it’s our passion.

Most Dog-Friendly Workplaces

Inc.com posted a list of the most dog-friendly companies. Not surprising was the list of pet-focused companies, and super-large employers like Amazon and Salesforce. What was interesting was we have moved from a mentality of ‘its okay to bring your dog’ to ‘here is what we are doing for you if you bring your dog’.

On-site treats, toys, pet relief areas, dedicated rooms and furniture are all a great way to make the experience of bringing a dog in more enjoyable (for non-dog people as well), but also a great retention tool to keep talented and motivated people working for your company. In this tight labor market, going the extra mile to make life easier for dog owners is a way to ensure employees stay connected to their company.

Another interesting twist on this topic is how Work From Home has now become more prevalent, allowing dog owners the opportunity to stay in the environment most comfortable to them and their dogs. Seeing the rise of co-working pace also decreases commute time for those eligible employees letting them spend more time with their pets before and after work.

Ironically, Inc also posted this story in 2016 “The Problem With Dog-Friendly Offices“.

If you are looking for the complete list of the Top 12 Most Dog-Friendly Companies, here it is:

  • Amazon
  • Procure Technologies
  • Trupanion
  • Petsmart
  • Airbnb
  • Nestle Purina Petcare
  • Petco Animal Supplies
  • Zogics
  • Ceros
  • Uber
  • Salesforce
  • Chewy.com

Travel Time: Keeping Your Pooch Safe on the Road

So, we’re coming into the summer season where school is letting out across the United States, and more families are traveling for vacation to exciting places and to see far off family.

This week, there were a few list articles that popped up on the radar:

Top 10 Cities for Dog-Friendly Urban Hiking

Teach Your Dog To Ride In the Car: Prevent Anxiety and Motion Sickness

The Best Dog-Friendly Bars In Each State (and D.C. too)

It’s great to see that dogs are welcomed out in public more and more, and with the rise of pets replacing children in young couples who put off raising children (until they can afford them – but that’s another story) dogs are becoming not just ‘home companions’ but now ‘travel companions’.

SleepyPod makes all kinds of canine vehicle and air travel restraints. Check out their products here on Amazon to keep your pal safe on your travel.

Delicious And Easy No-Bake Dog Treats

Occasionally, I will make the rounds and read blog posts keeping an eye out for new things I can make or do to bring good things to my dogs, and one post stood out to me on the Chewy.com blog, it was a recipe for No-Bake Trail Mix Bars.

The blog is well done and includes a whole section for “DIY & Recipes” that are super easy to build and make for people of any skill level.

I’m a huge fan of easy recipes. and hate making a huge mess in the kitchen for any reason. This recipe was easy, little mess, full of high-quality foods that my dogs (and I!) enjoyed eating.

The treats are made from a base of peanut butter and oatmeal with dried fruit and coconut mixed in. The recipe calls for ingredients with no added sugar, so the overall taste was different than what I was used to in commercial human trail mix, but I agree that less added sugar is a good thing.

All of the ingredients were readily available at my local Wegmans grocery store, and the directions were very easy to follow. The Chewy.com blog post has a video and pictures that make completing this treat very easy.

Ingredients in the No-Bake Trail Mix Bars. All Natural, Unsweetened dried fruit
Ingredients in the No-Bake Trail Mix Bars dog treats

The two tricks I found to making this recipe succeed were:

  1. Use your hands to mix the ingredients. Using a spoon or spatula wasn’t efficient.
  2. Half of a cup of peanut butter wasn’t enough to make things stick together well, feel free to increase it.
Video produced by Chewy.com demonstrating their No-Bake Trail Mix Bars dog treats
Trail Mix Bar ingredients in the bowl, ready for mixing.
Using the spatula keeps your hands clean, but increases the mixing time.

Once you have the chia seeds soaked, add all the ingredients together. This recipe reminded me of a Christmas baking recipe from my childhood, peanut butter fruit balls rolled in coconut.

As a tip, ditch the spatula and use your hand. You can wear a glove or put your hand in a ziptop or sandwich bag to mix if you don’t want sticky hands.

No Bake Trail Mix Dog Treats in a pan with parchment paper
Ingredients mixed and pressed into the parchment paper-lined pan

The recipe suggests a 6×10-inch pan, which isn’t one I have. I swapped it out for a 9×9 which is a bit larger. Consequently, the bars that it created were thinner (which could have contributed to the crumbling I experienced). Feel free to use the size of pan you have. The trail mix consistency is think, dry, and light, so you could even use an empty snack cracker box that has a large side removed, or a clean take-out food container. This link will bring you to Amazon to check the price on their Pyrex glass baking pan set.

Broken bars and crumbs
Broken bars and crumbs

Once I had removed them from the pan, they started to fall apart. Increasing the peanut butter is highly recommended. The recipe says to wrap each bar separately in plastic wrap. Instead of that, I put all the bars (and crumbles!) in to an air-tight container. These ‘dog treats’ are just as edible for humans, so the dogs and I snacked on them in the upcoming days.

Australian Shepherd enjoying No-Bake Trail Mix Bars

Mickey was having a diva moment and didn’t want to stand up for his treat, so he devoured it lying down. I probably should have made him shake a paw or speak before he got it, but I was more concerned about his reaction to the taste than his training!

In conclusion, this was a very easy, quick, no-fuss, DIY treat that is nutritionally good for both the dogs and I.

If you are looking to make these at home, check out this link to Amazon for a Pyrex Glass Baking set.

Three Options For Affordable Veterinary Care

Just like with human health, there are many options when it comes to care for you dog. From “primary care” from an ongoing veterinarian, to “urgent care”-style services from a mobile or “next available” vet, there are all kinds of services to meet every need your dog has.

Each of these three types of veterinary services is designed to fit the needs and lifestyle of any type of dog owner. Mobile veterinary services, Vets in store, and full service permanent veterinarians offer the full line of whatever services you are looking for.

Mobile Veterinary Services

Mobile veterinary services will travel to you and meet you in the comfort of your home or farm, and at a time that is convenient for you. This is the most convenient option as you can book an appointment that works in your schedule, and often your dog (or animal’s) primary care veterinarian will schedule regular visits. Not only will your pet be most relaxed in their own environment, but they can get to know and be comfortable with a recurring person.

Veterinarians like Dr. Andrea Switch realized there was a need to meet animals on their own turf, and to offer a convenient option to pet owners, so she launched her mobile service.

While mobile services are very convenient, they are limited to the procedures they can perform due to the limited amount of equipment they are able to travel with, and lack of surgical space.

A few veterinarians and services that offer home visits include VetPronto, HousePaws, VettedPetCare, and ValetVet.

Community Vet Clinics

Another convenient option that bridges the gap between home visits, and a traditional veterinarian is the community vet clinic. Often these clinics are located at pet stores and have convenient times like weekends and evenings. When the host store or center doesn’t have the space inside, often you will find the clinic in a tent outside. One of the independently owned chains that often hosts clinics is Pet Supplies Plus.

These clinics often do not require an appointment can offer a lower cost than a traditional veterinarian office because they have fewer fixed costs. Listed on the VIP Pet Care site, they have the following services listed as available at their clinics:

  • Microchipping
  • Vaccinations
  • Rx Flea and Tick Control
  • Heartworm Prevention
  • Testing and Deworming
  • Titer Testing
  • Nail Trims and Grinds (select locations)

Canine services include:

  • 5-in-1 (DAP + PARVO) Vaccine
  • Canine Rabies
  • Bordetella Vaccine
  • Leptospirosis 4-way
  • Roundworm/Hookworm Dewormer
  • Fecal Test

Feline Services include:

  • 3-in-1 (FVRCP)
  • Feline Leukemia Vaccine
  • PureVax Rabies Vaccine
  • Roundworm/Hookworm Dewormer
  • Fecal Test

Community vet clinics typically offer emailed records, walk-up service, and convenient locations that you already visit, and may offer lower prices than traditional veterinarians. While these locations are staffed by professional veterinarians and technicians, they can suffer from high turnover rates due to the intense travel requirements, so you may not have the same veterinarian or technician working with your pet on separate visits.

Full Service Permanent Veterinarian

Traditional veterinarians offer the most comprehensive service due to their permanent facilities and the ability to install specialized equipment that may not be able to travel. Bringing your dog or cat to a veterinarian location may have certain drawbacks, like needing to visit during their established hours, and due to the increased overhead expenses they may be more expensive than other options, but having a permanent staff may ease the anxiety of your pet as they become familiar with the team who work there.

Full service veterinarian offices are often facilities accredited by the American Animal Health Association (AAHA). These voluntary standards help to ensure that your pet has the most enjoyable and safest experience possible while in your vet’s care.

Conclusion

There are so many variables that each pet owner must take into consideration when looking to find the best care for their pet, and finding the right balance of cost, convenience, and quality. With more service providers recognizing that pet owners today are looking for veterinary care, there are ever-expanding options to find the right type of care for your pet.

Keeping Your Dogs Cool In The Car

With school letting out across the United States, we are ready to mark the official start of Summer, which means the temperature will soon – or has been – start to rise. While the heat is a welcomed addition to the lives of many people, we also need to be more aware of the comfort and safety of our canine friends.

If we get overheated, we don’t need to rely on someone else to move us to a cooler area. We don’t have to communicate our discomfort to anyone and depend on their action for relief. Unfortunately, that is the case for dogs. They rely on us to ensure that the environment is comfortable.

One of the places where dogs don’t have an ability to control their own temperature is in vehicles. Summer is a great time to hit the open road and take a trip with your furry friend, but please be sure to not put them in a situation where they can be harmed due to overheating in vehicles, and tragically there are deaths every year.

As I was picking up groceries this weekend, I saw a sign posted at my local Wegmans grocery store that said the following. The sign had this text, which I have copied from a circular and pasted here.

A Pennsylvania shopper wrote us recently with an impassioned plea to pet owners not to leave dogs in hot cars. She cited some information about temperature escalation in a hot car, and I wanted to share this with you. I had not realized how quickly auto temperatures can rise on a hot day (though hot days have been few this season). And since 62% of American households have a pet – and 40% of these are dogs – it seems worth mentioning.

The customer cited information on a website www.MyDogIsCool.com, from United Animal Nations (UAN). Example: On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car … with the windows slightly opened… will reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes. In 30 minutes, it will go up to 120 degrees. On warmer days, of course, it will go even higher. Studies show that leaving the window open a crack does nothing to reduce the heat inside the vehicle.

A dog’s normal body temperature is 101.5 – 102.2 degrees. A dog can withstand a body temperature of 107 – 108 degrees F. for only a very short time before suffering irreparable brain damage, or even death. The closed car interferes with the dog’s normal cooling process.. that is, evaporation through panting. If you dog is overcome by heat exhaustion, UAN recommends giving immediate first aid by immersing him/her in cold water until body temperature is lowered.

At Wegmans, we pride ourselves on quick checkout, but even so, consider these facts next time you have your dog in the car, and run into the store for “just a minute”. The website mentioned above is a source of additional information.

May Ellen Burris – Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs, WegmansCircular text

I checked out the website and found that there are great resources there to help raise awareness including printable sheets to share on people’s cars, hang in your business, or promote on social media.

Bonnie Judd Shows Us Working With Dog Behind The Scenes

Vanity Fair produced this video as part of their Notes On A Scene series on YouTube featuring Bonnie Judd giving us a play-by-play look at how dog-centric scenes from popular movies are filmed. She gives us a detail look at scenes from “Air Bud: 7th Inning Fetch“, “Marley and Me” and explains how she trained the dogs who star in “A Dog’s Journey“.

Bonnie Judd has a long and respected resume of working with dogs, and other animals, on production sets. She has worked on productions like Smallville, Police Academy, Sandlot 2, Racing in the Rain, The Dogfather, and dozens of commercials. She has even contributed to Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York ride at Universal Studios Orlando.

In this video below from Vanity Fair, Bonnie gives us a behind the scenes look at some of the commands that are used to direct the dogs in various scenes. She tells us of the many safety measures in place to ensure the dogs and human actors are comfortable, and safe during the production.

One of the best things she shared with us is that the happiness of the dogs is important. She places a heavy emphasis on ensuring the dogs are not just following commands, but that they are enjoying the experience, and they aren’t placed in stressful or dangerous situations.

Some of the fascinating parts of the video are when she goes in depth in the process of how they trained the dog over time to interact with people and props. In the backpack scene from Air Bud, she tells us that they started with a small bag for the dog to carry, then gradually increased the size of the item until they ended up with a (newspaper-stuffed) backpack that the dog would carry without irritation.

In the hotel-chase scene from A Dogs Journey, she explains that they needed a series of events to occur where the dog would approach the door, sit, speak, dig, then release the dog so they got their reward (a dollar store toy duck!) after doing that sequence.

Another fun quip is that while telling us of training dogs for a basketball scene, she says that the dogs were very easy to teach repetition. They would perform each task exactly the same way, every time, but it was the trainers and the actors who were struggling to, in this case, throw the basket ball to the exact spot where the dog was expecting it!

Bonnie is delightful in this video. She clearly loves the animals she works with, she enjoys the challenge and reward of seeing the dogs show off their skills, and her laughter as she re-lives the scenes is contagious.

I have previous written on this blog about the American Humane Association and the work they do with the “No Animals Were Harmed” initiative to ensure the safety of animals on stage, film, and tv productions.

This excerpt from their website gives a quick overview of their participation

“American Humane works with production personnel and trainers in the pre-production planning stage, monitors the animals on set during production, and enforces American Humane’s Guidelines for the Safe Use of Animals in Filmed Media. It also investigates allegations of mistreatment and cruelty and sanctions productions that do not meet its standards of humane animal treatment.”

-American Humane Association

I would recommend checking out the other videos in the Vanity Fair “Notes On A Scene” playlist if you like to get a glimpse behind the scenes of some of your favorite movies.

Dogs! A Science Tail exhibit

Dogs! A Science Tail

An interesting podcast that I listen to is “Can I Pet Your Dog” hosted by Renee Colvert and Alexis Preston. This week they had a fascinating interview with Dr. Chuck Kopczak who lead the team creating “Dogs! A Science Tail” that was developed by the California Science Center.

A quick note about the podcast for those not familiar with it, Renee and Alexis host this weekly hour-long rollicking adventure about topics of interest to dog owners. Lighthearted dialog between the two hosts, along with serious interviews with experts make this a podcast worth adding to your playlist.

While “museum exhibits” might not be common water cooler talk, this interview about the contents and development of this science exhibit about this history of dogs and the role they play in society was a definite win on this weeks episode.

Dr. Chuck Kopczak was a great guest who talked not only about the history and background in developing the exhibit, but also walked listeners through an auditory tour of each section of the exhibit and told us why each one is important to feature.

He explained that from concept to opening, that it takes two years to plan and roll-out an exhibit of this size. (Dogs! is approximately 7,000 – 9,000 square feet). He said the planners worked closely with the directors of the Superpower Dogs movie to release both at the same time.

The most interesting fact that Dr. Kopczak shared was that oxytocin is released in humans as we gaze into the eyes of dogs, similar to how it is released when we gaze into the eyes of children or other humans. When dogs smell this hormone, it increases their gaze back at us! (I found this article in Science Magazine for further reading)

This exhibition reveals where dogs came from, how dogs experience the world, what makes our bond with dogs so special, and how to care for our canine best friends. There is also a demonstration area where dogs can show off their talents from police dogs finding scents and agility exercises, to service dogs helping individuals in daily life.

Highlights include an interactive Jeopardy! game show for attendees to challenge each other with, a dog grooming station, and activities where you can see how a dog sees, and hear how they hear.

Also playing concurrently with the exhibit is Superpower Dogs in IMAX.

Join an immersive IMAX adventure to experience the life- saving superpowers and extraordinary bravery of some of the world’s most amazing dogs. In this inspiring true story narrated by Chris Evans, our best friends are also real-life superheroes. Journey around the globe to meet remarkable dogs who save lives and discover the powerful bond they share with their human partners. Follow ‘Halo’, a rookie puppy training to join one of the most elite disaster response teams in America. Meet ‘Henry’, an avalanche rescue expert in the mountains of British Columbia , ‘Reef’, a Newfoundland lifeguard with the Italian coastguard, ‘Ricochet’, a Californian surf legend helping people with special needs, and the Bloodhound brothers, ‘Tipper and Tony’, who are lea ding the fight to save endangered species in Africa. As we discover the incredible abilities of dogs and the astonishing science behind their superpowers, we’ll never look at our best friends the same way again!

The Dogs! A Science Tail exhibit is set to start traveling to museums and science centers around the world after it’s initial run in California, so look out for a stop new you!

Resources mentioned in this post:

Best Sources For Free (Or Low Cost) Dog Toys

As any pet person can attest, commercial dog toys are expensive! It’s easy to spend $10 or more on a toy that – for heavy chewers like mine – can easily destroy in a day or two.

Having places to go for free or low cost toys is important both for my wallet, and to keep my dogs minds active and challenged.

The first suggestion for affordable dog toys is to create them yourself using safe items around the house. A quick search on Google brought up this page from Care.com that lists 17 DIY Dog Toys You Can Make From Things In Your House. They range from tug toys, to interactive feeders, and include crunchy toys like a water bottle in a braided bed sheet. Creative and inexpensitve!

The next suggestion is subscription boxes. Less expensive than buying toys individually is if you buy them in groups. Often, the price per toy is less when you commit to a year of boxes, and they are sent to you in groups. Services like Bark Box add treats into each box, so if you don’t normally buy bagged treats, you might not see the ‘toy’ savings.

An alternative to Bark Box, is the curated Goody Box from Chewy.com. Having purchased a few of these, I can speak to their value. They are heavy on the treats, but do include a toy or two. The evolving nature of these boxes means that they change over time and, you aren’t committed to a year of shipments.

Thinking outside the box, literally and figuratively, I saw a promotion at my local grocery store pharmacy that featured a free flying disc and waste dispenser if you talked to a Wegmans pharmacist about having your pet medication filled through them, they gave you the toys for free! (As an aside, the medication savings can be substantial). I picked up this free toy the other day while doing my grocery shopping! This was a limited-time promotion and was subject to availability, but this is one less toy I need to buy!

Free dog toys offered for a limited time at the Wegman's grocery store pharmacy when customer inquired about pet medications filled through them!
Dog toy from the Wegman’s grocery store pharmacy

The third source that came to mind was through local animal shelter garage sales. Often these organisations will receive donations from local big box stores of out-of-season merchandise. This benefits the store as a tax savings, and benefits the shelter through the proceeds of the sale. Be sure to check your local newspaper our online garage sale listing site to find out when and where these sales are.

Supporting local shelters is a great way to ensure they can continue to care for animals without a home, and a great place for you to find brand-new, low cost dog toys.