Heading to the Beach? Tips and advice to keep your dog happy and safe

I've been writing a lot of posts lately about dogs.  Perhaps because we recently adopted Macy, a 4-month-old puppy and have been acclimating her in her new home, along with our older, 9-year-old dog Oscar and 12-year-old cat, Ginger.  I happy to report she's fitting in just fine!

We plan to bring her along on our day trips to the Jersey shore, which prompted a search of the safest way to do that.  I hope the advice and tips below will help you too as you bring your favorite companion along for a day of fun in the sun.

First and foremost, BEFORE you leave the house, make sure you are going to a dog-friendly beach. Check local regulations and make phone calls if necessary.
  • Water - This goes without saying really.  Just like us, dogs CAN'T drink salty water to hydrate and they will need to hydrate often with all the exercise they'll be getting. You need to have a travel dish and bottled water ready to share.  Share often. Collapsible water dishes are easy to pack in just about anything.
  • Food and Treats - If you plan to stay long enough for lunch or even dinner, be sure to bring meals for your dog too.  Healthy treats for you and him throughout the day will help replenish lost essential nutrients. Check out my earlier posts on safe fruits and veggies for dogs and 150+ Homemade Dog Food Recipes  Be sure to bring along heat-safe treats (nothing easily perishable) and pack with your food in a cooler.
  • Collar and Lease - Most beaches will require you to at least walk your dog to a designated spot before unleashing.  You will also need this for any outings you plan. Make sure your pup is wearing an ID tag and is microchipped if possible, especially if he likes to chase birds or people.  You don't want to lose anyone today!
  • Towel - Yes, your pup needs one too, for multiple reasons.  Use it as a placemat for feeding, toweling off sand before getting in the car and keeping the car seats dry.
  • Life Jacket - Do you know FOR SURE your pup can swim?  Believe it or not, years ago we had a beautiful, loving purebred Akita.  He couldn't swim.  Nothing, not even a couple of feet.  My husband even had to jump in a lake once to save him!  Be sure he can swim before you assume he can. If you are planning on boating, I strongly recommend a Life Jacket, regardless if he can swim or not.  Be sure to wash off as much salt water and sand as you can before heading home.
  • Tote Bag - You really don't need a separate bag, but it might make things a lot easier if you did. You don't want anyone eating treats meant for him or having to dig for a lease when there's no time to spare.
  • Bedding - If you don't have room on the back seat or plan to travel more than 30 minutes to your favorite sandy spot, bringing along their bedding is just a nice thing to do.  If you travel a lot, a portable bed is the way to go.
  • Toys and/or Bones - Always a good idea to keep dogs occupied when needed.
  • Awareness - Keep an eye out for hidden objects in the sand.  Debris, broken shells, horseshoe crabs and such can hurt your pup.
  • Shade - Your dog needs rest and shelter from the sun just like us.  Be sure to give regular breaks from the heat and sun.  

150+ Homemade Dog Food Recipes

If you read last week's post, 60+ Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs , you know I'm big on healthy eating for our dogs.  I previously hadn't given a lot of thought to making my own food, I was quite happy with the raw treats and adding to their kibble , however, when our older dog contracted Lyme Disease and then diagnosed with Thyroid Disease, I felt I should make the change.  I'm glad I did, and so are Oscar and Macy!

I spent literally hours searching and reading sites for recipes I would make myself and therefore feel comfortable recommending to you.  Of course, check with your veterinarian before you make any dietary changes.  I am not a medical professional, just a Doggie Mom who loves and wants the best for her family, all of them.

Money Crashers, yes, not a website name you would associate with Dog Food recipes BUT, there are 10 healthy, simple recipes for meals and treats.

Life in the Hundred Acre Woods lists just one recipe but it's a good one!  It's prepared in the crockpot, can't get much easier than that.

Munchkins & The Military has 3 recipes; (1) 2-ingredient, (1) 3-ingredient and (1) Bacon Cheddar.  They seem straight forward and easy to prepare.

Skinny Ms. has a very low cost, nutrient packed recipe for the crockpot.

Dog Treat Kitchen is a comprehensive site with over 100 recipes including biscuits, cakes and meals.  There is plenty of great information you can tailor to your dog's needs.  She also offers a FREE ebook by signing up for the Newsletter.  This is one to bookmark!

Food.com offers just one recipe which looks the easiest to make from what I've seen so far.

Gourmet Sleuth has a lengthy, informative post including a basic recipe and 6 additional recipes.  The owner of this site is also has a degree in Foods and Nutrition.

Amazon offers over 30 FREE recipe eBooks for Kindle Unlimited Users.  The average non-Kindle user cost is $2.99.

You can get a FREE ebook, "21 Delicious Dog Food Recipes" from BreedingBusiness.com just for signing up.

Now that you have plenty of sites to check out, read and decipher what you like, you're asking "How much do I feed Fido?!"  There is no standard amount (i.e. 1/2 cup, 2 cups, etc.).  Just like us, it all depends on the size, age and activity level.  If your dog has medical issues, that will change the amount (and most likely the ingredients) as well.

I found Fido Savvy to be quite informative and they tell you how to calculate what your dog needs (it looks complicated but it's not).  They include puppies, pregnant/nursing, seniors, overweight, active/working dogs.

After all this reading, I've learned a key factor in feeding is calorie intake.  My suggestion would be this:
  • Choose several recipes you want to create and make a master list of the ingredients.  Remember, most recipes are similar so the ingredient list should be fairly short.  
  • Look up the calories per serving for the ingredient and note that on the master list.  Add to the list as you add to your recipe repertoire.  
  • Back on the recipe pages, write down the total calories for that recipe.  
It sounds like a hassle but realize you only do this once for each recipe and then you have it forever.  You can also take the recipe pages to your Vet for confirmation.

Of course if this is your first venture into Homemade Dog Food it will be time consuming to get started but don't let that deter you.  Starting is always the hardest part in anything we do.  Once you get your feet wet, you'll realize how very easy this is and how happy and healthy your pets are.

**There are plenty more sites you can find by Googling Homemade Dog Food.  I didn't include more here because I felt they were either (1) Too lengthy and thereby confusing (2) poorly written (3) didn't offer any real pertinent information another site didn't already have or (4) it was just plain repetitive.

July 19 is National Ice Cream Day

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) tells us how National Ice Cream Day was originated.  "In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation's population."

Here's where you can grab your freebies!

Carvel offers Buy 1 Get 1 Free on any size, all day.

Friendly's offers buy 1 for $1.99, get another free single scoop cone or dish.

Baskin Robins offers an upgrade of their double scoop ice cream with a free waffle cone for the entire month of July.  On July 31st only, you can get 31% off ALL ice cream sundaes.

Dippin' Dots offers a free sample of Redberry Sherbet made with Sour Patch Kids.

Your Pie is offering free Gelato all day.  This is a limited area so check here if there's a location near you.

...and don't forget your favorite Fido!  Pet Smart is offering a free sample of their dog-friendly ice cream at participating PetsHotel locations from 12:00-4:00pm. Find one here; make sure you have only "PetsHotel" marked in the search box.

These chains have offers when you sign up for their clubs and remember, along with free coupons, you will also get promotional emails.

Bruster's Sweet Rewards sends a Welcome Offer, Birthday Gift and Anniversary Coupons.

Dairy Queen's Blizzard Fan Club sends a Buy 1 Get 1 Free for signing up, Birthday and Anniversary coupons.

Maggie Moo's sends free ice cream,  Birthday and Anniversary coupons.

Marble Slab Creamery sends a free coupon for signing up and another free coupon on your Birthday.  They'll send $5 off on your Anniversary.  This looks to be an App-only sign up program.

Sign up for My Sonic and they'll send monthly offers.  They don't specify what it will be.

Mark Your Calendar

National Frozen Yogurt Day is February 6th - ok, who wants a cold dessert in the middle of winter? Ok, who doesn't?! I will post all the freebies and such when it rolls around.

60+ Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs - What's Okay and What's Not

Dogs like fruits and vegetables just as much as we do, and luckily there are PLENTY to choose from.

We have 2 dogs; Oscar our 9 year old Dachshund mix and Macy our 6-month old Black Lab.  Unfortunately, Oscar currently has Lyme Disease AND Thyroid Disease (low T3 and T4 cells).  This prompted me to extensively research the internet for SAFE and UNSAFE fruits and vegetables in order to help him in any way we could.**

To be honest, I never thought about giving the dogs fruit or vegetables.  I assumed kibble was good enough, however, when you read the research, it's clear that FRESH fruits and vegetables, pared with kibble, are extremely healthy for all ages and stages of dogs.  We were feeding them Nutro Venison Formula but felt that decreasing the kibble and adding the fruits and vegetables would be beneficial. I figured since we are so health conscious with our family, why not our pets?!

Boy were we right!  We chop up a good mix of both for breakfast and dinner and it's gone before we know it.  We also stopped buying treats comprised of mostly fillers and empty calories.  Instead, we keep a container of chopped fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator.  I can tell you, they REALLY enjoy having a Watermelon treat after being outside on a hot day!  Not only is it tasty to them but it's nutritious and rehydrates.

So....next time those bananas are getting soft, mash them up and mix in with the kibble.  Your pup will thank you for it!

So, without further ado...

Want to print out a pretty PDF for the refrigerator?  Get it here.

**These are suggestions based only on my personal research and not on the advice of a veterinarian or any other medical professional.

You should do your own research before feeding anything to your pets.  There are several links below to some of the sites we used for this post or simply Google it for more research.


We Live in a Disposable Society

We live in a society where just about anything tangible can be purchased in a disposable form. Disposable plastic bottles (water, juice, soda, etc.) can circle the Earth 100 times or more.  In 2013, K-Cups alone circled the Earth over 10 times! Americans generate upwards of 30 TIMES MORE waste than any other country. Have you seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Not something to be proud of.

How long does it take something to decompose?

1 million years:  Glass Bottles
600 years:  Fishing Line
450 years: Plastic Bottles
450 years:  Disposable Diapers
400 years:  Plastic Beverage Holders (they also kill animals by strangulation)
200 years: Aluminum Cans
50 years:  Styrofoam Cups
10-20 years:  Plastic Grocery Bag
1-5 years:  Wool socks
3 months:  Waxed Carton (milk, orange juice, etc.)
3-5 months: Cotton Clothing
2 months: Apple Core
2 months:  Cardboard Box

Want to see more decomposition facts?  Check this out, Recycling.About.Com has great suggestions for recycling all kinds of things.

Here are just a few disposable items that could be purchased in a reusable form or repurposed from other things:

Bottled Drinking  Liquid (use a refillable bottle)
K-Cups (use a reusable, washable filter.  K-Cups are NOT recyclable)
Dryer sheets (use dryer balls and anti-static sheets)
Paper Towels (use washable cloth towels for spills, sponges for cleaning, newspaper for windows)
Paper or Plastic Grocery Bags (use reusable cloth bags)
If you get plastic bags while shopping, reuse them as Garbage bags, doggie poop bags, etc.
Paper Plates and Cups (use washable plates, etc.)
Plastic Cutlery (use washable)
Plastic Sandwich Bags (use washable sandwich containers)
Disposable Cameras (buy only for special occasions as necessary)
Batteries (use rechargeable when possible)
Aluminum Foil (wash and reuse when possible or use a silicone baking mat)
Party Decorations (save them and reuse each year when possible)
Dish Washing Glove (use the durable, longer lasting brands vs. 1 or 2x use)
Toilet Cleaning Products (use a toilet brush, let air dry)
Baby Training Pants (buy washable, use disposable for travel)
Razors (use standard and change the blades when dull)
Cleaning Products (use earth-friendly, biodegradable or simply vinegar and water)

Again, I acknowledge there are times when disposable products must be used for a variety of reasons.  We use them too, just as little as possible.  I basically restrict myself to vacations and big parties for disposable products.

Some will argue that washing all those reusable products is just as bad as buying disposable.  Is it? The article, Top 10 Water Wasters: From Washing Dishes to Watering the Desert from Scientific America gives a great summation of everything from hand washing vs dishwashers and washing the car to drinking alcohol.

Take a look around your home.  Do you have cases of plastic bottled drinks?  Boxes full of snack size foods.  Cabinets filled with canned soups or boxed this and that.  Refrigerators and freezers full of pre-made meals? Don't get me wrong, we have some of those same boxed foods and pre-made meals in our own Kitchen.  There are definitely times when I need something quick and easy to prepare.  BUT, it is always my last resort and quite honestly, I feel guilty even buying them.  And yes, I definitely acknowledge that there are areas where the water isn't safe to drink and there's no choice but bottled options.

WebMD has a very informative article on bottle water vs tap or well water.  It's worth reading.
Eating Well has another informative article on 'healthy' pre-packaged foods.
Men's Fitness tells you how to pick the 'right' can of soup.  (Watch the sodium content!!)

Some time ago I made the switch to cloth napkins.  Think about it, you use cloth napkins at restaurants and for holiday dinners.  You only need to buy them once every few years, or even less if you have a surplus.  You can color coordinate them with your decor.  You can buy them for special occasions with specific themes. You can use them to clean up spills or place them under hot dishes. If you have small children, they can't rip them up and shoot spitballs across the table!  Well, that should be reason enough to switch!  And last but not least, you can throw them in the wash and reuse them again and again!  Ok, that's obvious, just reinforcing my point here.

I could go on about the cost savings but honestly, you can Google it and there are dozens, if not hundreds of sites that will give you a Cost Benefit Analysis.  Yes, it's worth doing if you don't take my word for it.

How about plastic bags and aluminum foil?  Oh don't get me started on this!  BPA-free plastic containers or glass are perfect for food storage

Here's MY bottom line and why I switched:

First, I'm eco-friendly.  IN A BIG WAY.  Our family of 5 produces just ONE 10-gallon bag of trash per WEEK.  The rest is reused, composted or recycled.

Second, I'm frugal.  Ok, let's face it, I'm cheap. I've had to learn how to stretch a dollar much farther than it should be, which is okay, because I value every penny that comes into the house and give a lot of thought before I let it back out.

The best deals I found were always at Kohl's.  They always have a clearance section with napkins in it and since I don't care about 'every day' napkins being color coordinated, I bought 4 for $2 PLUS used a percent off coupon (which they always have).  So for about $5, I bought 12 assorted colored napkins that I keep in the Kitchen.  On another trip (I believe after Halloween), they had a huge pile of solid black napkins for about 50 cents each (4 for $2 plus the discount coupon).  I keep those in the Dining Room.

As for holidays, just hit the After Sales.  Kohl's will discount holiday merchandise up to 90% AND you can still use the discount coupon!  Really, you can't beat that.  Whenever I'm at HomeGoods, Kohl's or Target, I always check the clearance shelves for food storage containers, napkins, etc.  I'm a very patient person and with patience comes big savings.  That works for me!

In the end, just do what you can.  In today's world, it's very hard to be eco-conscious ALL the time. Implement new strategies in your family if you don't have any already in place and stick to them. You'll be surprised how quickly it will become a regular habit that you will feel good about.

If you need a little does of reality, watch this documentary; TOXIC: Garbage Island.  "Located between North America and Asia lies an island the size of Texas. This island is made up completely of human garbage: a sludge of plastic, metal, and decapitated Barbie dolls – and the island is growing."