When you visit this page, the first post you will see is Pet Peeves Unmasked Blog Mission. That’s because the whole purpose behind each and every one of the posts I write is to push you gently to become the best pet parent possible! That’s the blog mission. And, that’s my personal mission.
“Perfect” Pet Parenting
Furthermore, I have written a book entitled “Perfect” Pet Parenting that covers all aspects of caring for dogs and cats. It is based on my personal experience as a pet caregiver and incorporates the expertise of professionals who focus on specific areas of a companion animal’s wellbeing. This blog site contains extracts from my book.
One of the biggest advantages of managing a blog site is that posts can be edited, updated and published at any time and as quickly as needed. Blog followers are hungry for knowledge and like to have access to the latest information in a matter of seconds. Consequently, they are faithful followers when they have sources they can trust that give them the tools to improve their life and the life of those close to them.
Pet Peeves Unmasked Posts covers a very wide range of subject matter that is organized into groups. Each blog is then filed in a specific category which is located in the right hand column of this page.
As you will notice, group topics are extremely diverse. Animal rights and adopting. Breeds and body language. Gentle leaders and leashes. Dry food and water bowls. Vaccinations and CPR. Walking and dog parks. Pet sitting and pedicures. Car rides, air cargo and boarding. And, I mustn’t forget to mention the heart-warming stories of some amazing, heroic dogs and cats.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to leave comments and suggestions because when we all work together, we can all keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
What better way to introduce today’s topic of dry pet food fiction than show you the first of two videos. This is because I believe in setting the stage so that pet parents can decide for themselves. It’s not an attempt to persuade. There is no marketing agenda.
All pet caregivers are faced with the same decisions when it comes to choosing what to give their dogs and cats to eat. Being informed helps you decide what is best and what is affordable. Each family has its own unique circumstances. Nevertheless, I’m sure you all want your pets to be happy and healthy, and lead the kind of life they deserve.
THE REALITY BEHIND PET KIBBLE
What Are The Ingredients?
Let’s take a look at what actually goes into making pet kibble. The following list shows the main ingredients.
meat by-products (parts not generally for human consumption, by-product meal either named or unidentified)
grains (corn, wheat, rice)
pulses (chickpeas, beans, lentils, soybeans)
Please take note that this type of dry food is high in calories. As a result, it’s very easy for a pet to become overweight. This usually occurs if it free feeds (grazes) and doesn’t get measured quantities at specific meal times.
Exactly How Is Kibble Made?
After studying the manufacturing process in considerable detail, I have been calling the marketing and sale of these products dry pet food fiction. That’s because they have really low nutritional value and frequently contain ingredients that cause harmful health effects, both long term and short term.
As you may have already realized, dry food for both dogs and cats is highly processed. That translates into a diet that does little to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
With the exception of a very small number of businesses that make commercial oven-baked dry food, around 95 percent of all kibble is manufactured by extrusion. Prepare yourself for what comes next! This is the reality behind pet kibble!
The Extrusion Delusion
In the extrusion process, the dry and wet ingredients are mixed together and pulverized to form a dough-like consistency. It is then fed into an expander for cooking and subjected to extreme pressure and high temperature.
In the next step, the dough is extruded (forced) through a specially shaped die, cut into pellets, and passed through a dryer. The pellets are then sprayed with fats, oils and synthetic additives such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This step is aimed at replacing these natural substances which the food will have lost during the manufacturing process.
Finally, the finished product is packaged ready for shipping to stores.
Why Is Dry Pet Food So Popular?
Despite the fact that kibble is not the best option out there, these are the main reasons why people choose to give it to their pets.
convenience…open the bag, scoop and serve
time-saving…no preparation required
relatively long shelf life before spoiling
can be used in automatic feeders
can usually be left out in the food bowl all day before it starts to go rancid
generally more economical than other food alternatives
To Sum Up
This article is just one of many more I intend to write on the topic of mealtime foods, snacks and treats. In a couple of weeks you’ll be able to read about a presentation I attended in Florida given by a nationally-respected advocate for pet food transparency. Her name…Susan Thixton. What she told us is life-changing!
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
This is my take on how dogs transmit happiness. From the moment a puppy is born, it is loved by its mother. It feels great comfort and happiness which it then transmits back to the being that gave it life. As it grows in a safe environment, it develops into a grateful and happy young adult that only knows how please and give love…always. And so the cycle continues.
The events are just two months apart. On March 5th I attended a memorial service honoring police and military K-9s, in north Pinellas County, Florida. The exact location is the Garden of Heroes, an area reserved for service animals and K-9 dogs on the beautiful grounds of Curlew Hills Memory Garden in Palm Harbor.
And yesterday, on May 27th, the nation celebrated Memorial Day. I took this photo a few days prior, just after local Boy Scouts had placed flags throughout the entire property. It was an emotional sight.
Pastor Danny McDonald Officiated
“All dogs go to heaven.” These words often appear on social media. However, it’s especially poignant when they are said at a memorial service to honor police and military dogs. I think, without exception, we all believe that.
In addition, Pastor McDonald told the attendees that working dogs have “enormous heart” and are motivated to fulfill their mission to serve. He also said that the memorialized K-9s were “Knights of Valor.” How true.
MILITARY WAR DOG
MWD Sgt E5 Pphantom USAF
Sgt Pphantom completed nine years of service in base security with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Recipient of the United States War Dog Association War Dog Medal, he retired and was adopted by Bill and Sheila Schroeder.
MILITARY SERVICE DOG
Honey was a Certified Full Mobility, P.T.S.D., Medical Service Dog. She was the faithful friend and partner/companion to U.S. Army Veteran, Michael Gaither. “She saved me, my life many times, and always had my back, always by my side.”
LAW ENFORCEMENT DOGS
As expected, those present at the ceremony memorializing both law enforcement and war dog heroes experienced a range of emotions. As each officer paid tribute to their K-9 partner, there was pride and sadness, as well as smiles, laughter, and tears. Here’s a tiny part of their stories.
K-9 Axel, Handler Sergeant Kilian, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Dual certified in patrol and narcotics, Axel was a great dog. But he was also somewhat of a problem child due to his loud, obnoxious barking. And he had a few bites on deputies while on calls for service. Nothing too serious, though!
K-9 Buck, Handler Officer Ambrose, Clearwater Police Department
Buck was so smart they had to change the way they did bomb detection training. He figured out how the reward towels were set up with fishing lines. As a result, the trainers moved the lines to the other side of the fence so he couldn’t see them. He also had an “on/off switch.” He was as sweet and patient as could be when visiting a kid’s school and then go straight back to business.
K-9 Egon, Handler Retired Sergeant Wagner, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
On one call, Sergeant Wagner thought he knew more than his partner. He was pretty sure that the suspect was hiding behind a car even though Egon had alerted in the bushes that were directly behind his handler. Eventually Sgt Wagner took Egon back to the bushes where the suspect was. The big take away from his experience…“Trust your dog!”
K-9 Koa, Handler Retired Officer Dawson, Clearwater Police Department
I really wish I had a copy of the poem that Officer Dawson wrote about his friend, companion and working partner, Koa, so I could share it with you. But, unfortunately, I don’t. What I can tell you, though, is that it was long, beautifully written and, very emotional. After having been with Clearwater PD for 20 years, Ofc. Dawson now works with Pinellas County School Police.
K-9 Scout, Handler Officer Burnside, Clearwater Police Department
Now, this is some story about a K-9 trained to detect drugs and firearms. On his first day home he was loose inside and what did he do? Well, he started running in full sprints in circles, ran into the china cabinet, and broke all the plates!
K-9 Toby, Handler Deputy Blizniak, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Toby was a stellar, single purpose, narcotics detection dog assigned to the Narcotics Unit. He loved to swim and got so much enjoyment from this activity whenever he had the opportunity.
A Working Dog’s Oath
At this memorial service honoring the area’s police and military K9s that had passed during the last 12 months, somebody gave me a small card. Here is the text in a different format. It sums up the life, duty and sacrifice of those who protect us.
To Sum Up
The article here that is entitled Memorial Service Honors Police Military K-9s is just the second one I’ve written about working dog heroes. I’m looking forward to doing more research so, if you have any ideas for future topics, please let me know.
“Taco” hadn’t even graduated yet but he was already a hero. Just days before Clearwater Florida hosted K9 graduation day, this talented police dog made his very first apprehension. He caught a driver who had run into the woods and was hiding behind a bulldozer. This was after crashing into another vehicle and rolling into a pond. Taco’s handler, Corporal Matthew Aitken, of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, then arrested the man for leaving the scene of a crash with injuries. Bravo, “Taco”!
Teams Of Two Plus Guests
I had never attended an event like this before and I’m so glad I did. It was great to see the community, many parents and children, supporting Florida’s law enforcement. In addition, there were many working dogs and their handlers who also came out to cheer on their fellow officers. After all, they’ve been through this themselves and know exactly how it feels on this special day.
K-9 Certification Ceremony
On March 19 this year the police dog certification event was hosted by Clearwater, Florida, and held at Countryside High School football field. The Master of Ceremonies was Sergeant Mike Kilian of the Special Operations Division – K9 Unit whom I’d met a few weeks earlier at a local Sheriff’s Youth Ranch Open House.
He explained that the Basic Patrol training program had lasted an intensive four months, from November 2018 thru February 2019 at several different locations. They included both Sheriff and Police Department K-9 compounds as well as a few private businesses that allow law enforcement to use their facilities during non-working hours.
Meet The Graduates
You already caught a glimpse of them in the video but here’s a formal introduction. These are the fab five working dogs that we honored on K9 graduation day in Clearwater. They are now all doing extremely well and performing their duties to uphold Florida law.
K-9 “Logan” and handler Deputy Anthony Lorusso from Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
K-9 “Chato” and Officer Nathaniel Hansmann from Largo Police Department.
K-9 Charlie K “CK” and Officer Tommy Nguyen from Tarpon Springs Police Department.
K-9 “Smitty” and Deputy Jacob Baroff from Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
And last, but by no means least, is the duo K-9 “Taco” and Corporal Matthew Aitken, who also happens to be the course instructor. And his right hand man throughout the training period was Assistant Instructor, Deputy Robert Wilkins, from Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
I must say it’s pretty impressive to see a really long line of K-9 cruisers circle the field with lights flashing. Then, once they were in their allotted spaces, handlers and dogs awaited signals for action. The group comprised seasoned working dogs and rookies about to join their ranks. Also, a very young little guy who totally impressed us with his smarts and cuteness. The attendees would meet him later.
We saw agility demonstrations consisting of jumping fences and walking in between the handler’s legs while on the go. In addition, there were narcotics and explosive device detection demos. And, of course, locating and catching bad guys with their bite technique apprehensions.
But on K9 graduation day it was “Chaos,” the puppy-in-training, who melted everyone’s heart. I wonder how he got that name! Directed by his handler, Deputy Rob Wilkins with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, it was immediately obvious that he was a natural. He knew exactly how to apprehend the “fake” suspect despite his juvenile stature.
Out Of The Blue
Well, we had all been promised a few surprises. And this was by far the best one of all. The noise got closer and louder. Then we saw it. The helicopter landed on the football field right in front of us. Suddenly out jumped K9 “Hector,” followed by Deputy Brad Byers, revved up to chase down another suspect. Not wasting a second, they went straight into action and got their man! That’s what I call a perfect example of how to hit the ground running!
Let’s pause now for a moment to think about another aspect of what’s involved here. Even though the public feels the thrill and excitement when watching these training exercises, let’s not forget that this work has very real elements of danger. Sometimes they lurk out of sight, are totally unexpected, and can have deadly consequences. One such example involved K9 “Ozzy” during an assignment where he went into a swamp. As a result, he picked up a bacterial infection that spread very rapidly. Sadly, it overwhelmed him and he couldn’t be saved.
He was certified in March 2018 and had been on duty up until November. During that short time he had already chalked up 20 catches in the City of Largo. Gone too soon, he was in his prime and had been the partner of Officer Nate Hansmann with the Largo Police Department. Nevertheless, he passed his baton to another wonderful dog and was proudly remembered. Through the graduation of this officer’s new partner, K9 “Chato” will now carry on his valuable work.
These magnificent law enforcement dogs respond every day to the call of duty. Their valor and sacrifice are a vital contribution towards keeping our communities safe.
Thank you all for your service.
Stay tuned for teasers on Facebook and LinkedIn about my next Florida K-9 story which will be published very soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, please follow my pet parenting page. You’ll be able to stay up-to-date on all things dogs and cats. http://www.facebook.com/PetPeevesUnmasked/
If you’re unsure what to feed your dog or cat, take a look at these pet food meat facts.
What’s The Difference
But, before I really get into this, it’s helpful to understand what comes naturally. And, what our pets need to eat to be strong and healthy and stay that way throughout their lifetime. So here’s a quick quiz.
What’s the difference between a carnivore, a herbivore, and an omnivore?
Carnivores, such as wolves, dogs and cats, eat meat.
Herbivores, such as deer, cows and sheep, eat plants.
Omnivores, such as whales, squirrels and humans, eat meat and plants.
Why is this so important? Because once you understand the basics, you may realize that what dogs and cats need to eat may not, in fact, be what you are giving them to eat. And the purpose of today’s blog is to help pet parents choose the most appropriate diet for their companion animals.
What Comes Naturally To Dogs And Cats
Dogs and cats are not vegetarians. They are carnivores. Consequently, I am laying out here why pet carnivores must eat meat. This is a characteristic that has been handed down from their wildlife ancestors. Their anatomy, including their digestive system, was created for that purpose. The fact is, they are ill-equipped to break down plant fiber. Simply said, they were not created to be either herbivores or omnivores.
So, when our dogs and cats eat high quality meat that comes from a reputable source it will contain the proteins, amino-acids and trace minerals that their bodies require.
A Balanced Diet For Canines
The fundamental component of a well-balanced diet for our domesticated canines is meat, organ and muscle. And the source may be beef, bison, venison, elk, lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and turkey. These are, indeed, the facts about meat for all dog pet food.
Nutritionists also recommend including small amounts of antioxidant-rich, dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli. In addition, small portions of fruits like apple, pear and blueberry will enrich the nutritional value of the diet as well.
A Balanced Diet For Felines
It’s no secret. Cats are obligate carnivores, just like their canine counterparts. Their very existence depends on meat and animal organs. Have you ever watched an outdoor cat in the evening hours? Sooner or later, it will catch a mouse. Why? Because it can only get the fatty acids, minerals and vitamins it needs to thrive from animal tissue. Especially important are calcium, vitamin A and niacin, which plant tissue simply doesn’t have, either in the amount, form or ratio that cats need. So, it couldn’t be clearer. Our domesticated kitty carnivores must eat their meat.
Another point worth mentioning is that although cats lack the enzymes required to digest plant-based foods, small amounts can provide important benefits. Green, leafy vegetables help them detoxify the colon. In addition, they may also enable hairballs to get pushed through the digestive tract or provoke vomiting to expel them.
A Couple Of Great Supplements
Although I will be writing about food supplements at another time, here are some very brief comments about two of them.
Sardines. Fortunately, most dogs and cats love sardines. They are loaded with a whole range of highly concentrated nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B12. This small, cold-water fish provides wide-ranging health benefits from bone support to cardiovascular performance to preventing certain allergies and slowing down memory loss.
Pumpkin. I always have a can of organic pumpkin handy in case a client of mine is out of town and their pet is in need of a stool-consistency regulator. Usually, dogs as well as cats like the taste and a small amount added to the food works in one of two ways. It either adds bulk to a loose stool, or it will soften a hard stool.
To Sum Up
If you didn’t know this before, you now have the pet food meat facts at your fingertips. As a result, the domesticated cats and dogs that are part of your family will have a species appropriate diet. Truly nourishing food that will foster longevity by keeping them healthier, longer.
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
How cool is that! A doggy treats customer service hotline! I bet the staff at this call center give advice on a whole bunch of stuff. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to tell everyone. You know, Chloe the Bichon, and Harley the Golden, and all my friends at the dog park.
But wait. Where’s that number to call? Gotta search for it online. Then, you know what I’ll do? I’ll post it on my Facebook page. Everyone will see it. Woof!
Then it’ll go viral. Woof! Woof!
Our guardians won’t know if they’re coming or going! Woof! Woof! Woof!
I’m so, so excited, like, I can’t stop wagging my tail!
To Sum Up
For my human readers who have difficulty understanding dog-speak, don’t forget what I wrote last week. Never underestimate doggy smarts. They are prewired!
This puppy learns treats smarts so that the training rewards keep flowing. So, who’s giving this valuable advice? Mom, or Dad, or someone else in the home? Well, that someone is not who you might think. It’s definitely not a human. After all, the whole idea is to outsmart the most intelligent beings on this planet. The ones who spend all this $$$ on rewards so their puppies get a really good education.
Lesson to be learned — don’t ever underestimate doggy smarts. It’s in their DNA!
You don’t always have to take your dog or cat to the groomer. If you have the best brushing and combing pet tools, you can definitely do most of the basic tasks yourself, at home.
The choice of brushes and combs is quite extensive so it’s necessary to know the best ones to pick depending on the type of coat your pet has. Each has a specific purpose and won’t disappoint if used correctly.
It’s Not Only About Esthetics
Did you know that grooming pets brings benefits of another kind? In fact, in this blog we’re not just discussing an enhanced and visually pleasing exterior appearance.
Regular brushing, combing, trimming and bathing will, of course, keep your pet clean, matt-free, and help reduce the likelihood of external parasite infestation. On top of that, these actions assist in minimizing the amount of fur your dogs and cats can dump in your home, on floor surfaces and furniture.
Below The Surface Benefits
So, grooming has below the surface benefits, too. And by that I mean they can promote general well-being as well as detect health risks.
By passing your hand over the skin and doing a visual examination before brushing, you can notice things you may not otherwise. For example, scratches, skin issues, swelling and lumps that may require veterinary attention.
In addition, when you touch a limb from top to bottom, you may notice tenderness which could be an indication of arthritis or injury.
You may already know this but it’s worth highlighting here. The action of brushing actually stimulates blood circulation and helps the secretion and distribution of natural oils. As a result, your pet’s skin gets a health boost and a nice, shiny coat.
Some Of The Best Brushing Combing Pet Tools
The selection is extensive and what you’ll see at your local pet store are at-home grooming tools. They cater to the needs of all breed types and the diversity of coats they exhibit. Most online pet stores have helpful descriptions of the products they sell. Consequently, it’s a lot easier for pet parents to choose the best items for the job at hand.
To give you an idea of what these tools do, here’s a list for quick reference.
Bristle Brushes are widely used for all coat types. They remove surface debris and leave a nice shine on long-coated dogs.
The Slicker Brush has rows of thin wire pins which are good for dematting, detangling and removing loose fur. It’s ideal for long and curly coats.
Pin Brushes are similar to the slicker brush but have plastic or rubber tips on the wire pins for a gentler brushing experience. They are very practical for wavy and curly coats.
The Undercoat Rake has longer, fewer pins than a pin brush. This device is designed to untangle and remove dead hair from the lower layer of double-coated dogs.
Similar in style to the brush used for horse grooming, the Curry Brush is ideal for most short-haired dogs. When gently rubbed over the coat, its short rubber teeth loosen dirt and are able to remove large amounts of shedding hair.
More Useful Grooming Accessories
Grooming Gloves are currently getting a lot of publicity and pet parents find them very practical. They can be used on both dry and wet coats in long, firm strokes, typically to drag off loose hair from short-coated dogs.
The very basic Metal Comb helps manage tangles and is particularly useful in sensitive areas such as the ears, toes and tail. Some styles even have teeth with rounded tips for extra safety.
Flea Combs, used mostly for cats, feature narrowly spaced teeth for the effective removal of live and dead fleas as well as their eggs. Areas worthy of special attention are the face, neck and just in front of the tail.
The FURminator is a patented, highly effective de-shedding tool. It comprises a metal comb with a button to release the collected fur, and works on nearly all coat types.
A Shedding Blade is a curved metal strip where the two ends join together at the handle. The lower edge has zig zag teeth and as you drag it across the flat, short or combination harsh types of coats, it effectively removes loose hair.
To Sum Up
Now that you have a better idea of what’s out there, you are in a position to choose the best brushing and combing pet tools, that are perfect for grooming your dog and cat at home. And, not only that, think of the health benefits it provides and the enjoyment of bonding even more with your furry companions.
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!
If you belong to a gym, think about this for a moment. So many homeless dogs languish and never get adopted for lack of socializing and enrichment. Why not skip one workout a week and volunteer at your local shelter instead. Not only do the pups who are waiting to be adopted get a much needed walk, these shelter dogs exercise humans too!
Indoor cats must always stay indoors! Not true. Many pet parents have found that walking cats provides enrichment that cannot be equalled. Sure, watching birds, squirrels and lizards through the window is okay but allowing them the opportunity to breath and smell the fresh air brings far greater joy. Plus, it’s an experience that feline and human can engage in together. It strengthens their bond, an unbreakable bond.
Some Kitties Also Hike And Swim
Although it’s not very common that you’ll actually see a cat being walked, sometimes they participate in other “unusual” activities, too. There are kitties that go hiking. Others enjoy a little swim in the pool.
It’s all up to the creativity of the cat guardian to experiment and find ways to stimulate their pet. The relatively effortless act of walking enriches feline lives. It’s worth remembering that both physical and mental exercise prevent boredom and help keep them in good health, as well. It allows them to thrive, not just be.
KITTING OUT YOUR KITTY
Before your cat companion ventures beyond your front door, make sure you have everything it needs to be safe and comfortable.
As you know by now, I do not take chances. So, if Fluffy tolerates wearing a collar that displays her ID, make sure she is wearing it while on her trip into the big, wide world. Please ensure it is the breakaway type so that it will unfasten if she were to ever get caught up or tangled. That way, she can free herself and avoid further injury.
Harness And Leash
Since cats are far more delicate than dogs, it is never advisable to try walking her with the leash attached to a collar. There are special harnesses just for cats and the leash will clip onto the ring between the shoulders or a little further down the back.
There are two basic styles of harnesses for cats.
Firstly, we have the fabric, vest-type design, that is usually made of soft mesh. It slips over the head, passes underneath the chest, behind the front legs and two side straps snap together between the shoulders.
Then there is the one that is all straps. It is actually two loops that are joined together by a strap that rests on the cat’s upper back. The straps that form the neck loop and the girth loop are positioned and then snapped in place.
Now, if you strongly believe that walking cats provides enrichment and you want to give it a try, ideally you should start in kittenhood. To begin with, the youngster will need to learn to accept a harness, firstly indoors and then outside. Try it out for just a few minutes and then gradually build up to longer periods.
Getting used to how the harness feels and walking at the end of a leash requires practice. This will help to minimize any possible stress and reluctance, and ensure it becomes an experience to look forward to.
However, you need to realize that not all cats like wearing a harness. The older they are when they are first introduced to it, the greater the likelihood that your feline friend will refuse to wear one. You simply won’t know how she will react until you try.
To Sum Up
Most indoor cats never have the opportunity to go outdoors. They can only imagine what it’s like by staring at the outside through a window from the inside.
An indoor cat can benefit greatly from these walks. It is really great exercise. She will stay agile and in her optimum weight. It will stimulate her senses, serve as enrichment, and make her a very happy kitty indeed!
Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!