Category Archives: review

CycleDog Plush Toys And Other Dog Essentials Made In America

Cycle Dog Earth Friendly Pet Company

Cycle Dog got their start in Portland making rubber-lined dog collars. Both eco-friendly and practical, they became popular quickly. The company has expanded to include manufacturing a variety of plush toys too. They haven’t lost their focus on the environment as the inside of their Duraplush SpringyBot plush toys have a filling made from recycled plastic bottles. Other products include their Eco Last post-consumer recycled rubber toys that are balls, treat dispensers, and fun critter shapes.

Cycle Dog Duraplush toys

 

 

2 Hounds Design

2 Hounds Design began as a one-woman business and has since expanded to help revitalize a lost textile industry, but also help improve the life of animals.

They continually add new designs to their lineup, and the most recent addition is the Paradise Cream which has soft a blue and green peacock pattern. Some of their collars and leashes come in matching designs so you can keep your pets ensemble coordinated!

2 Hounds Design Paradise Cream Martingale collar

 

Dogs Love Hummus Dogs Love Kale treats

Dogs Love Hummus Chews, from Dogs Love Kale, are dog treats primarily made of chickpeas, which are highly palatable and rich in protein. There are no animal-based protein sources in the chews, making them suitable for dogs with common food intolerances.

This chews have ingredients like turmeric and peppermint oil, to make a healthy, limited-ingredient chew that’s safe for dogs with allergies. Turmeric is an antiinflammatory herb.

Dogs Love Hummus Chews are fully digestible, are not hard enough to break teeth and emit unpleasant odors. The chewing action can help fight tartar buildup and added peppermint oil relieves bad breath.

They make a wide variety of products including these soft treats with turmeric Beef and Apple flavor.

 

 

Started in 1984, Up Country Inc started making upscale dog collars. Since then they have continued to add stylish designs and products which are made in their Rhode Island factory.

Their innovative Doggie Doorbells are a simple and stylish way to let your dog inform you of their need to go outside. Their door bells come in 11 colors and can be customized to match your house or your dog! Keep checking their store for the holiday version that will be coming out soon!

Up Country Inc Doggie Doorbell

 

 

Polka Dog Bakery Boston MA

Something new that I hadn’t seen before are clam dog treats. It is an interesting twist with an even funnier name – Clam Chowda. Made from slowly dehydrated clam protein in Boston, MA. They make lots of unique dog treat flavors including chicken jerky, and cod and haddock skin treats,

Polka Dog Bakery Clam Chowda Dog Treats Polkadog is obsessed with quality and sustainability. They are always looking for innovative ways to create new treats that are good for your pet and good for the planet. That means sourcing raw materials conscientiously from good people doing good work in our own backyard. Clams are one of the most sustainable protein sources in the ocean. They’re high in Omega fatty acids, low in calories, and filter the water they live in to feed. Low impact and delicious.

 

As you know, buying locally and domestically is a great way to help build and sustain our economy. It also draws on the innovative nature of our fellow countrymen. So many of these products were created out of a sense of entrepreneurship and innovation. Owners have asked themselves, how do I take what I have and turn it into a business. They ask, how do they take their skills and apply it to something they love.

All of these companies, Cycle Dog, 2 Hound Design, Dogs Love Kale, and Polkadog Bakery were all built buy people looking to do what they love.

DogDiscuit Is A Flying Rainbow Of Fun

With the sun setting earlier each day here in the Northeast, the amount of time that we can play outside is getting equally short. One of the favorite things we do each evening is play fetch with a flying disc. The Australian Shepherd is a natural at it and loves the challenge of catching it mid-flight and bringing it back. Apparently he needs a “job” to do as working breed, and returning flying discs to me satisfies that need.

I had been on the lookout for something to supplement his bright orange disc that we usually play with.

What I like about the orange disc:

1. Inexpensive – cost under $5
2. Lightweight – flies very far and has lots of “hang time” so its fairly easy to catch
3. Bright, Solid Color – Easy to see against a backdrop of sky and grass

Sadly, when it gets dark, he can’t see it, so in order to extend playtime, I looked to Amazon for a solution.

Enter the DogDiscuit by Nite Ize Innovation. This disc has a large diameter, is made of flexible plastic, and as LED lighting built in.


It is made of translucent durable, flexible plastic, so it is easy on your dogs mouth, and cushions the impact if they miss catching it. The lights cycle through several colors when they are turned on and are highly visible as the disc is flying. Because of the materials it is made from, the light radiates out to the edges so the entire disc changes color as the lights cycle.

The DogDiscuit is much heavier at 4.6oz than my previous orange disc which weighs 2.7oz. The DogDiscuit flies much faster and has less “hang time” so it requires the dog to be on full alert to follow it.

Also, because the disc is translucent, it is harder for them to see as it is flying.

Another phenomenon I was thinking about is regarding the LED themselves. When people have lights on their house around Christmas, for me it is hard to gauge the distance of how far away they are. There is something about LED lights for me that throws off my vision. I’m not sure if this is the same for dogs.

The “success” rate in times he has been able to catch the disc in flight is much lower with the DogDiscuit than with the orange disc.

The batteries are very easy to replace. Simply remove the domed cover, pull the electronic unit out, slide the two- CR2016 batteries out of the sheath, slide new ones in, replace the electronics, press the dome back into place, and you are ready for hours of fun.

DogDiscuit LED change

Overall, buying this was a great decision. It allows us to extend playtime and the quality of this product is high. It has a durable feel but soft enough it is easy on his teeth and gums.

DogDiscuit LED Flying Disc
Pros Cons
Durable Material Flies Fast
Bright LED With Fun Colors Weighs More Than Alternative Discs
Soft Plastic Easy On Dogs Mouth More Expensive

Dogs of many breeds like the challenge and mental reward of catching and returning a Frisbee (flying disc). Breeds which will enjoy this kind of toy are:

  • English Whippet (Snap Dog)
  • Border Collie
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Goldn Retriever
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Weimaraner
  • American Pit Bull Terrier

The common traits that these dogs have are hunting, retrieving, and herding dogs. Their internal motivation to keep ‘things’ together, and their high energy are the perfect attributes for type of play that flying discs provide.

Chewy.com Goody Box product insert

Chewy’s Goody Box Delivers the Best of Made In the USA Toys and Treats To Your Door

I have been doing a lot of research recently on Made In The USA toys and treats (read some of my other posts here, here, and here) and was pleasantly surprised to see that Chewy has created a box specifically for this! I bought this box at full retail price and am sharing my experience with you.

First, the cost of the box was around $21 and even included free shipping! It was fast, too. The box shipped from Chewy in Paulsboro, NJ and was delivered by Lasership. It is hard to say how long it actually would take because I ordered it prior to Labor Day, so it sat with the delivery company for an extra day, but I received it in three “shipping days”.

Second, I was surprised to see how much was included. We are subscribers to BarkBox and pay for an extra toy, so there are two bags of treats, and three toys; but with the Chewy Goody Box, it includes FIVE bags of treats, and one toy.

The full list of products received in this Goody Box were:

  1. 10oz Blue Wilderness Trail Treats Grain Free Biscuits Salmon Recipe
  2. 6oz Zukes Mini Naturals Peanut Butter & Oats Recipe Treats
  3. 4oz Dogswell Happy Hips Chicken Breast Jerky Treats
  4. 3.5oz True Chews Premium Grillers With Real Steak Treats
  5. 5oz Wellnes Soft WellBites Grain-Free Lamb & Salmon Recipe Soft & Chewy Treats
  6. Benebone Peanut Butter Flavored Wishbone Dog Chew Toy

 

I can say from personal experience that Zukes Mini Naturals and Benebone are two favorites in this household. As soon as I had opened the carton, both dogs could smell the Benebone and followed me around while I was organizing everything.

The box you see pictures ships in a generic Chewy box, so there aren’t any labels to indicate what the contents are, so these would make a nice surprise gift.

Chatting with Customer Service, they informed me that the boxes don’t have a set schedule to change, so if you order one per month, you may get identical consecutive boxes. Additionally, you cannot set them up for the AutoShip program that Chewy has (similar to a subscription where you get regular deliveries and they include a small discount). If you would like to order a box once a month, you would have to proactively log into the site and place a separate order each time.

Overall, this box is a great value. If you value toys, then this might not be a great option because it comes with a minimum of one, and doesn’t include the option to add more, but if you like the convenience of not regularly ordering treats, then you will certainly love this because it has a great variety of old and new favorites. With 5 bags of treats, this Goody Box has more than I have seen in other similar boxes.

The Chewy Goody Box is great for a number of reasons. First, all of the contents are made by USA manufacturers, so I will definitely buying this again. Second, the price was great. There is a wide variety of products including several brands that I haven’t purchased before and am excited to try. Third, the shipping we really fast. I’m not sure why it ships separately from their mainline products, or why you can’t request an AutoShip “subscription” for it, but it was great to see how fast it arrived at my doorstep.

I keep thinking about this as a subscription box. I wrote an article about a few of the most popular subscription boxes for dogs, and can see how this can be a good substitute for a box you may already be receiving, aside from the need to request one each month.

Chewy has always been very high on my list of retailers to buy from because of their great customer service. They have agents available 24/7, and Michele P that I spoke to today acknowledged the conversation quickly and was knowledgeable on the questions I asked. Their product lineup continues to improve (in the early days it was somewhat limited), and their shipping speed has always been incredible. The locations of the warehouses that Chewy ships from is always closer and closer as they open more sites.

Overall, I would recommend giving this box a try. There is great value for your money, and I truly applaud Chewy for curating a box with American products.

 

Dozer’s Dental Chews And Other Great Made In America Dog Products

One of the values that we find in buying American Made products is that there comes with it goodwill of the country. We have an implicit understanding that the products will be high quality and the people making them will stand behind them.

Dozer’s Dental Chews are Made in the USA of eight simple ingredients, but formed in shapes and sizes to help clean your dogs teeth as they chew. The first three ingredients are potato, rice, and chicken. The chew itself is dense but not overly hard like some nylon chews can be. While the small pieces of nylon chews will safely pass through a dogs tract, Dozer’s Chews are made of food(!) so they are a great treat as well.

Dozers Dental Chews

Why we like this:

– Made from food ingredients so they are a fun treat as well!
– Fun and stimulating shapes to interest your dog and clean all areas of their teeth
– Come in a variety of shapes and sizes for all breeds

 

Greenies Dental Chews and Breath Freshener are a household name. They are made in Kansas and came to be because “necessity is the mother of invention“; nothing like it existed! Their classic shape is almost iconic, and they now come in dozens of varieties, shapes, and formulations; perfect for every breed.

Why We Like These: The unique shape and the wide variety of flavors, along with the proven history of this company gives assurance that they deliver a safe and functional product.

King of Pups by King of Pops. This Atlanta-based creator of inspired popsicles also creates a version for dogs! They are made with yogurt, banana, honey, peanut butter, vegetable gums, and natural flavors. They are made with locally sourced ingredients and available by mail order!

 

Why We Like This: King of Pops goes out of their way to model sustainability and local sourcing. They use high quality ingredients and haven’t forgotten the importance of the human-pet bond.

Check out this great dog treat company from Stroudsburg, PA: WhiskerBiscuits makes fun treats for dogs in a variety of flavors and shapes. They are known for their ‘Peanut Butter Poo’, and “The Big Sack” which has a variety of all their products. They also have a subscription service – The Very Important Pet club – “VIP”. Each month you will receive a shipment of their latest flavor!

Whisker Biscuits - The Big Sack

Why We Like This: Subscription services such as these help to support our fellow countrymen, helping them embody the vision of the American Dream, as well as saving us time and money sourcing and buying treats for our canine friends.

Effective Treatments For Dog Ear Infections

While the title of this post isn’t that appealing, ear infections are common for many floppy-ear dog breeds such as shih tzu, poodle, pit bull, cocker spaniel, and Shar Pei.

Infections generally fall into two categories; bacterial, or yeast. WebMD says the main contributing factors of ear infections are: ear mites, excessive hair, moisture or wax, foreign bodies, allergies, and hypothyroidism. Not adequately drying or airing out ears after swimming, or exploring overgrown areas outdoors can expose your dog to the contributing causes of ear infections.

Infected ears can be uncomfortable for your dog, both because of the irritation in their ear canal, but also excessive scratching can cause cuts and increase the redness, as they attempt to scratch the itch away.

From time to time I have had to treat ear infections in my dog at home and found the following to be helpful to treat both kinds. When the non-prescription products don’t work after a few days, then a trip to the vet is necessary. I have found that often my grocery store pharmacy can order pet prescriptions. If you know you have a prescription coming your way from the vet, it is helpful to call the grocery store pharmacy to check their pricing to ensure you don’t overpay at the vet. If your pet prescription requires refills, you might as well save a stop and get them at the same time as your prescriptions (if any), or your groceries!

The five medications I have at home to treat my dogs ear infections are:

Prescription Non-Prescription
Otibiotic Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry
Otomax VetOrganics EcoEars
Virbac Epi-Otic

Effective medications for treating dog ear infections

 

Otibiotic is made by VetUS (Henry Schein Animal Health) and comes in a 15g tube, with instructions to administer 5 drops in the ear each day, for 14 days. The ingredients are gentamicin sulphate, betamethasone valerate, and clotrimazole and they are mixed in a mineral oil paste. It controls bacteria and fungus, and is an anti-inflammatory. It has the same active ingredients and proportion of ingredients as Otomax, however it is less expensive.

Otomax is made by Merk Animal Health and was the original prescribed product we had received to treat both the bacterial and fungal ear infection. It contains gentamicin sulphate, betamethasone valerate, and clotrimazole, and is mixed with a mineral oil paste to aid in application.

Epi-Otic made by Virbac is a clear rinse that helps remove cellular debris and wax from the ears and contains an anti-irritant. The active ingredients are diethylene glycol monoethyl ether, salicylic acid, and chloroxylenol. It is applied by filling the ear, massaging for 60-90 seconds, then allowing the dog to shake out the excess. After that, a cotton swab should be used to wipe out the remaining, along with any debris or wax that has been loosened. Any following medication should be applied after the Epi-Otic has dried.

EcoEars is a natural product made by VetOrganics in the USA. The ingredients are: deionized water, witch hazel extract, denatured grain alcohol, vegetable glycerin, polysorbate 20 (food grade), boric acid, tea tree oil, ionic silver solution, organic mullein leaf extract, rosemary extract, and fingerroot extract. It is a clear liquid that can be administered directly in to the ear, or for squirmy dogs, a cotton ball can be soaked and the liquid squeezed into the ear.

The VetOrganics website goes into further detail to describe how each of the ingredients work to clear up the infection. I have found that it works well as a maintenance product. The label recommends using it twice per day for 10 days, or longer as necessary; weekly as a maintenance product. I found that the prescription medications show a visible improvement in the appearance of ear cleanliness and smell within hours of applying them.

Finally, Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry is another natural formula made in the USA (Texas, to be exact) and contains Calendula, Clove Oil, Aloe Vera, Chamomie, Tea Tree Oil, Silica and Echinacea. It too is a white paste that dries to a powder which helps absorb moisture which can cause bacterial and yeast growth. The recommended application is to squeeze into the ear canal and let dry. This should be used before and after bathing or swimming, and can be used regularly as a maintenance product. I find this especially useful after baths because I know there is often water remaining inside Dexter’s floppy ears.

Some of the product links above are affiliate links to the product pages on Amazon.

Top 5 Reasons I Groom My Dog At Home

I used to go to the big box groomer every six weeks to have Dexter washed, cut, and nails clipped, but after some research online, watching some videos, and buying some inexpensive things from Amazon, I was able to successfully start grooming him at home.

Home grooming isn’t “hard” but it does require some preparation and precision. When I first started, I was glad that he didn’t have to go to school like a child, or his friends would make fun of him. It was bad. Over the last year that I have been doing this, my technique has improved, I am able to follow the same grooming process, and the result is a dog who is presentable in public.

Getting to the place where I decided to start grooming my shih tzu at home wasn’t quick. At first I didn’t think I could. I thought that dog grooming was best left up to the people at the pet store. After a while, though, I realized that they didn’t have any fancy equipment that I couldn’t build or buy, and the only thing I needed to invest was time rather than money.

Top Five Reasons I Chose to Groom My Dog At Home Are:

  1. Reduces Stress On My Dog
  2. Be In Control of the Process
  3. Reduced Investment of Time for Me
  4. Cost
  5. Learning A New Skill

Reducing Stress on On My Dog – The biggest motivator for me to look into grooming at home was the stress I could see in Dexter when he returned home. He would run around the house to get caught up on all the smells, then he would pass out from exhaustion. He is a shih-tzu/terrier mix; a high-energy alert dog. He needs to know about every noise that happens, and has big enough burst of energy to continually bark or chase whatever he alerts to, real or imagined. I knew that spending most of a day at the grooming salon was keeping him on edge the entire time. There were so many dogs, people, and sounds that he couldn’t relax.

Be In Control of the Process – While I trust the grooming salon and the pet store completely, my dog is almost like a child to me. He is a member of the family and I want to ensure that I do the best I can to place him in situations where he will be well taken care of. I was fully confident leaving him with them, and had done so for several years, but even then you hear of stories on the news where something happens to a dog in their care. The rational part of my brain says that these stories are the exception, and there are thousands of successful grooming sessions for every one mistake, but I knew that I could eliminate even that small chance by taking over this responsibility.

Also, I can control the how he looks at the end. Rather than describing the look I want to the groomer then leaving it to them, then potentially having to stay later to have them fix any issues, By doing it myself I could cut his fur to the length I desired the first time. If his tail wasn’t coming out correctly, or his face was too long, I could fix it on the spot as I went. I could control which shampoo was used, I could control the length of the grooming session, I could control the environment, I could control the final look. I wouldn’t have a problem going back to a groomer, but I also like being able to pick and decide each step of the way as well.

Reducing My Investment of Time – The pet store grooming salon is about a 15 minute drive from my house. Not only would I have to drive there and back once to get Dexter to them, but also there and back again to pick him up. Give the amount of time it takes for them to complete the wash & groom process, and the comparative amount of time it takes me to do errands in that same area, it involved a lot of driving. Literally, I would spend an hour of the day just driving to and from the groomer. On top of that, I would be tied to my phone waiting for their call that he was ready. He could be ready at 4pm, he could be ready at 6pm depending on a lot of factors (drop off time, the number of other dogs, etc…). I might be in the middle of a project at that time. I could be just not in the mood to go back out for him; the timing was just unpredictable. In the time it took me to drive to drop him off and pick him up, plus the uncertainty of when he would be done, I would rather schedule my own time and invest an hour to an hour and a half to do it myself.

Cost – Cost is certainly a factor in any decision. Looking at prices around me, some of the national chains pricing ranges from $29 – $131 for a bath and cut. Exact pricing depends on the size and breed, but even a small, easy to groom dog requiring grooming every 6 weeks would need eight sessions per year at $30, so the yearly cost would be $240. I will list below what I use. Most of them are one-time expenses, and they add up to less that $250, so there is an immediate savings. Granted, some of what you are paying for is the training and experience the groomers have, but with enough practice I feel confident that grooming your dog of any breed at home is attainable.

Learning a New Skill – Last, I am a curious person by nature. I like to know how things work and I like to build my skill level wherever possible. Taking up the challenge to learn about dog grooming was something that fascinated me, and that I took with and ran. Do I feel like I would want to do this for other people’s dogs? No. Would I ever consider leaving my job and doing this full-time? No. What I do have, though, is the satisfaction of not knowing anything about this, and becoming okay at it. And continually improving!

Below I will list the supplies I use when grooming my dog at home. Following that I will link to some videos from Wahl that demonstrate how you can groom many dog breeds yourself.

Bath:
FreshWave Dog Shampoo
AquaPaw – hand-held pet shower
Soggy Doggy Towel
Andis hair dryer (use the Low setting)

Grooming:
My DIY Grooming Table
Scissor set from Amazon
Wahl Pro-Series Pet Clippers – Read my review here

(The Wahl set comes with a pair of scissors and a plastic comb, but both are of okay quality. I opted to buy a separate set of scissors because it included stainless steel scissors, and a stainless steel comb)

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Dexter with his FreshWave shampoo and the AquaPaw connected to the shower.

These videos from Wahl are clearly from decades past, but the techniques they demonstrate are time-tested.

 

This is the video the designer of the AquaPaw produced when it was first introduced to demonstrate its use.

Dog Toys (And More!) Made In The USA

Last article featured mostly dog treats and food Made In America, but this time In this we look at some durable toys and durable products that your dog will love.

Not only will these products improve the lives of your puppy, but when you buy American, you support our domestic economy. Keeping money here helps create and maintain jobs in our communities. It helps fund schools and has a ripple effect because the money you spend to buy the product is spent again in a community close to home; by the men and women building and creating the things your dog loves. Not only will these products give your dog a warm heart, but yours too!

Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff BallsThese ultra-durable balls are made of non-toxic, 100% recyclable materials right here in the USA. The company even offers a guarantee if your dog destroys it. I can say that after several years of owning one of these, that it takes a lot of abuse and still looks brand new. It has an incredible bounce to it too, so it will keep your pup really engaged while playing. Check out some of their holiday themed balls as well!

American Mutt – American Mutt has a wide assortment of products all Made in America. They are one of the few companies I have seen that makes a dog bed 100% in the USA. Check out their CoreBlu bed which is Waterproof, Fungal-proof, and has an incredible 5 Year Warranty! With that commitment, you know the company and employees put care and attention into what they make. There are several styles of bed to choose from, including a bolster bed that is raised off the floor!

SaltSox – Protect your pups paws from summer heat, dirty sidewalks, hot sand and much more. The built-in heat barrier reflects radiant surface heat and the breathable mesh fabric allows for natural cooling. Perfect for when the temperatures soar! Check out their versions for temperatures both hot (LavaSox) and cold (SaltSox). Both varieties are made in Chicago, IL! The bottom of the sock even has a grippy sole to improve traction indoors and out. This is the perfect gift for dog lovers who live in cities, or the suburbs where regular walking on pavement and snow can cause injury.

AquaComb – This innovative tool is made in Sarasota, Florida. It connects to a hose (garden or otherwise) and the patent-pending fingers direct water beneath even the thickest of dog coats to help deep clean dirt and dander. The fingers come in two lengths for short and longer coats, so there is one that is perfect for your pet. It comes in four models as well, made specifically for dogs, made for grooming horses, and models for cleaning pool and spa filters. This product is great for 4-H clubs and others who spend lots of time washing dogs, grooming horses or ponies.