Joyful season, dangerous plants!

Animals will often chew plants to get some roughage. For dogs this is because they are omnivores and actually enjoy plant foods. Plant roughage can be a good source of vitamins and can be helpful for passing food through the intestines. Cats are strictly carnivorous, but eating plants can benefit them by helping to bind hair in the stomach and carry it back out when they hack the hair out through their esophagus and mouth. However, animals also eat leaves for reasons we do not always understand. This is especially true for pets that are kept indoors most or all of the time, since they have not learned which plants taste bad and should be avoided, or they do not have enough access to plants and will chew on whatever is accessible.

There are some types of decorative plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. In some cases, only mild indigestion and discomfort will result, in other cases, the toxicity can lead to more severe health problems, and even fatalities. If you are planning to bring holiday foliage into your home this year this season, you will need to know which plants are safe, which should be kept out of your pet’s reach, and which should be avoided entirely.

Poinsettia Plant Basics

A lot of people have been led to believe that the poinsettia plant is deadly for pets and children, but this is actually an unlikely occurrence. The poinsettia plant’s brightly colored leaves contain a sap that is irritating to the tissues of the mouth and esophagus. If the leaves are ingested, they will often cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a large amount of the plant’s material to cause poisoning, and most animals and children will not eat such a large enough amount because of the irritating taste and feel from the sap.

However, if the plant has been treated with a pesticide, your pet could be at risk of becoming ill from ingesting the pesticide. The size of your pet and the amount of ingested plant material will be the determining factors for the severity of the poisoning. Young animals — puppies and kittens — are at the highest risk. Severe reactions to the plant or to the pesticide it has been treated with include seizures, coma, and in some cases, death.

Holly and Mistletoe

Holly and mistletoe are also popular holiday plants. These plants, along with their berries, have a greater toxicity level than the poinsettia. Symptoms of illness form ingesting these plants include intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.

Mistletoe contains multiple substances that are toxic to both dogs and cats, including toxalbumin and pharatoxin viscumin. Mistletoe is well known for causing severe intestinal upset, as well as a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, breathing problems, and even hallucinations (unusual behavior). If a large enough amount of these plants are ingested, seizures and death may follow. The leaves and berries of holly and mistletoe plants, even the dried plants, should be kept well out of your pet’s reach, or kept out of the home altogether.

Lilies and Daffodils

Both popular gift items at this time of year, plants in the lily and daffodil can be toxic to pets. In cats, Lilium and Hemerocallis genera lilies are the most dangerous. Eating even a small amount of the plant will have a severe impact on a cat’s system, causing severe symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, arrhythmia, and convulsions. Daffodils are also toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs.

Amaryllis

The beauty of the flowering Amaryllis is matched by its toxicity. The Amaryllis contains Lycorine and other noxious substances, which cause salivation, gastrointestinal abnormalities (vomitingdiarrhea, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain), lethargy, and tremors in both cats and dogs. The bulb of the plant is reputed to be even more dangerous than the flowers and stalk. The Amaryllis also goes by other names, including Belladonna, Saint Joseph Lily, Cape Belladonna, and Naked Lady.

 

The Christmas Tree

There are other dangers to consider with the good ol’ Yule tree other than lights and ornaments. The oils produced by fir trees can be irritating to a pet’s mouth and stomach, causing excessive vomiting or drooling. The tree needles, meanwhile, may cause gastrointestinal irritation, obstruction and puncture.

Additionally, the water used to nourish Christmas trees can be noxious. Bacteria, molds, and fertilizers can cause your pet to become extremely sick with only a few laps.

Playing it Safe

If you do choose to bring any of these plants into the home, or place them near the entry way where your pet can reach them, be very careful about where you are placing them. Cats, especially, need to be considered, since they can jump to high shelves. If your cat is a known plant chewer, you will probably be better off choosing imitation plants over the real things. But, if your dog or cat does manage to ingest any part of these holiday plants, call your veterinarian or poison control immediately to find out what you should do to minimize the damage.

 

From PetMD

 

 

8 Ways to Keep Indoor Cats Happy & Healthy

Indoor cats live safer, longer lives than their outdoor counterparts, but an unstimulated cat can lead to destructive behavior, excessive sleeping, or unhealthy weight gain. These tips from Animal Wellness Magazine will ensure your kitty stays fit and happy, both physically and mentally.

1. Feed her a high quality, meat-based, grain-free diet, and don’t free feed.

Raw diets are the most biologically appropriate, followed by wet food diets. Having food available 24/7 encourages indoor cats to eat out of boredom, which can quickly lead to obesity. Feed your cat at set times during the day, and if the food isn’t eaten within half an hour, remove it. An interactive feeder will challenge your cat to work for her food, and make mealtimes more mentally and physically engaging.

2. Make sure she has fresh, clean water available all the time.

The air inside your home can get dry, especially during winter. If your cat doesn’t drink much water, consider buying a pet water fountain. Not only will it encourage her to consume more water (cats like moving water), but it will also give her something to watch and play with.

3. Play with your cat.

Interactive play is one of the best ways to keep your cat physically active. Just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference, and it can also help satisfy her natural hunting instincts. Encourage your cat to chase toys or laser lights to keep her active. Cats also love jumping into empty cardboard boxes, so a few of those will also peak her interest!

4. Make sure she has at least one durable scratching post.

Preferably one that is big enough for her to stretch full length along, scratching is an excellent exercise for cats, and will also prevent her from shredding your upholstery. Cat trees or cat condos are another great option to keep your kitty occupied, as many cats enjoy having a birds-eye view of their surroundings.

5. Try a feline window seat for your cat.

Indoor cats love to look outdoors, and a soft, comfy platform near a spacious, sunny window will soon become one of her favorite spots. Make the view even more captivating by situating a bird feeder on or next to the window ledge outside. Barkery kitty Willow loves the Kitty Window Bubble, available at your local Brookside Barkery!

6. Try giving your cat her own pot of cat grass.

You can also get these grass kits to grow on your own at the Barkery. Cats love fresh greens, and cat grasses such as oats, wheat, barley, and rye provide extra nutrition for your cat in the form of chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Your cat will love nibbling on the fresh blades!

7. Cat videos provide hours of entertainment.

Cats love to watch videos of birds, fish, insects, rodents, and other small critters. If you have an iPad, download one of the many apps for cats; they’re games that generate everything from virtual fish in ponds to mice in boxes, with or without sound effects. Load the game and put the iPad on the floor to provide loads of interactive fun for your kitty.

8. Give your cat some quality time every day.

Some people believe cats aren’t as affectionate as dogs, but most kitties love one-on-one attention from their favorite people. Take some time to stroke your cat, talk to her, or brush her. Make eye contact and slowly blink at her – in feline body language, slow blinking signals trust. You’ll find that spending quality time with your cat will relax you and strengthen your bond.

 

CBD For Dogs

Like responsible pet parents that we are, we just can’t stand watching our furry friends being in pain or suffering in any shape or form.

Every since cannabis has become so popular among humans for treating a number of medical conditions, holistic veterinarians started wondering if this magical herb can also help our pets.

As it turns out, dogs seem to respond very well to this one specific chemical in cannabis – cannabidiol. CBD for dogs has become a new occurrence, and as it seems our furry friends are loving it.

However, when it comes to marijuana for dogs, pet parents have to be extra careful. Unlike CBD, the most famous cannabis compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is toxic and dangerous to dogs. In fact, dogs are very sensitive to it, and you should avoid it at all costs.

On the other hand, CBD seems to bring forth a feeling of calmness and balance in all mammals, including dogs. It’s not psychoactive like THC, and what’s also interesting, it fits perfectly in our dog’s bodies through its positive interaction with an endocannabinoid system that very much resembles our own.

Here are just a few health benefits CBD can have for your dog:

  • helps with allergies and skin issues
  • reduces anxiety
  • reduces learned fears and phobias
  • reduces aggressive behavior
  • boosts appetite and relieves digestive problems
  • helps with arthritis, joint, and mobility issues
  • helps dogs battle cancer and tumors
  • helps heal glaucoma
  • relieves seizures and epilepsy

This infographic from the Greencamp Blog is a fantastic guide for pet owners who are considering trying CBD for their own furry family member:

CBD for dogs

If your dog is in need of a natural way out of a medical condition, stop in the Barkery and let a nutrition specialist find the best CBD hemp product for your pet.

 

How to Repurpose Raw Bones

The holidays are a wonderful time of year! Family, food, and friends, and entertaining guests means taking time to entertain your dog as well.

In this video, Alex and Delena will show you how to upcycle raw marrow bones by turning them into delicious treat nooks that will keep your dog engaged and away from your feet during dinner time. Featuring Primal Pet Food, on special this month:

  • Primal 3 Pack $10 – includes a small or medium raw beef marrow bone, 1 pint Primal Goat Milk, & one Raw Pronto Trial Bag.
  • Primal 2 Pack $15 – includes one 5.5oz bag of Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets and 1 pint of Primal Goat Milk (used in the video)

Protect Your Dog’s Paws This Winter

The winter season can take a toll on your dogs’ sensitive paws. Constant exposure to snow, ice, and salt can result in dry, cracked, and even painful paw pads. Keep his or her feet safe all season long with these helpful tips from Animal Wellness Magazine.

1. Apply a Protective Paw Balm

Before walks, apply a protective balm or spray to your dog’s paws. The Barkery has a variety of all-natural paw balms which work by shielding the paw pads from harmful elements and keeping them moisturized. Best of all, these balms are quick and easy to apply.

2. Avoid Salt

Avoid sidewalks with excess amounts of salt. The harsh chemicals found in many de-icing products can cause your dog’s pads to dry and crack, and they are toxic if ingested. We recommend using a pet-safe salt around your home, or do your best to walk in the snow alongside the sidewalk to prevent any damage to the paws.

3. Invest in Doggie Booties!

Boots are one of the most efficient ways to protect your dog’s paws from winter’s wrath. Avoid cheap boots, as they are likely to fall off the moment you step outside. Opt for a quality brand that will stay on your dog’s feet and last through the elements. Don’t worry if your dog doesn’t respond well to the boots right away – once your pup gets used to them, she’ll be much more comfortable walking outside in the winter months.

4. Wipe His Paws

Always wipe your dog’s paws thoroughly after walks to remove any leftover snow, ice, or salt that may remain. Be sure to check between the paw pads, and carefully remove any ice balls that have formed. This final step will prevent further injury from occurring after visits outside.

Chain of Hope Needs Our Help.

Do you know what Chain of Hope is? If the answer is no, it’s time to remedy that.

Chain of Hope (CoH) is like a lot of local Kansas City area rescue organizations in that it’s run by some of the most compassionate people you’ll ever meet. People with huge hearts. But they’re also among the bravest and most vigilant animal advocates on the planet.

CoH volunteers perform outreach in some of the poorest areas of the city.

Places where residents might have a pet, but not have the financial means to feed it good, healthy food. Or to provide a dog house to keep their pet out of the rain and wind.  Or warm hay to make that dog house a cozier place.  They find pets who have been abandoned.  Neglected.  Chained up.  Or forgotten.

And what they do is AMAZING. The transformations they can create are among the most wonderful things imaginable, helping dogs who are sick, neglected, or injured grow strong and healthy again, in loving homes.

And we’re trying to buy them 10,000 pounds of food.

What would five tons of food do for them?  It would mean that ALL of the dogs at their shelter get the healthiest food.  It would mean that all of those people that they help during their outreach can give THEIR pets healthy and nutritious food.  And it would mean that Chain of Hope doesn’t need to worry about food for about three months. That means they can devote more of their efforts to outreach.  It means they can spend more on medical help for injured or sick pets.

It means they can do MORE good!

We need your help! As a grassroots organization, Chain of Hope operates SOLELY on donations. When you support Chain of Hope, you are directly helping animals in need. We are asking every customer to donate $1 to our fundraising effort. Your generous donation will help us in buying 5 tons of food for this incredibly deserving organization.

We’re also giving away massive holiday gift baskets at each of our store locations. Raffle tickets are available at each location for purchase, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Chain of Hope.

Raffle Tickets:

1 for $3
2 for $5
5 for $20

Click here for more stories about the animals that have been helped by Chain of Hope.

Essential Oils for Skin Care

Most abnormal skin conditions include some amount of inflammation or infection. Veterinarians are trained to utilize anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressives to manage these conditions, but essential oils, some of which have been revered since biblical times, can be very effective and safe if utilized properly. Essential oil usage is often a choice now requested by many natural-minded pet parents, and this article by Integrative Veterinary Care explains why.

What is an Essential Oil?

These oils are not the lipid or fatty oils from the plant, but rather the life blood of the plant. An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid which contains the volatile aromatic compounds from the plant.

Using oils to manage skin conditions is where essential oils shine the most. Many skin conditions produce an odor, so what could be better than using a treatment that smells good, too? It’s the volatility of the essential oils which makes them aromatic.

The aromatic oil carries the components which protect the plant form adversaries. A natural chemical might repel an insect or kill a fungus. These same plant constituents can be used protect us or our animal patients.

It is also these same constituents that can be analyzed with tools such as gas chromatography to identify the specific “finger print” of an essential oil. The combination of these natural chemical constituents is what gives particular oils their unique properties for use, effectiveness, safety or danger.

Do They Work?

Natural product producers cannot make claims that their products are used to prevent, manage, or cure disease. The FDA only allows that these claims be made by drug manufacturers. But many holistic veterinarians practice with essential oils and maintain testimonials that support the efficacy of essential oils.

Top 12 Essential Oils For Skin

These top twelve essential oils support healthy skin and have been found in research to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, or immune supportive properties. Indeed, pharmaceutical companies have isolated some of these constituents in order to manufacture drugs. Further study of each chemical constituent can guide you toward additional uses of the oil.

1. Lavender

Almost every essential oil discussion begins with lavender because its applications are so universal. It is soothing emotionally and physically. It does not burn irritated skin when applied topically, even if the skin is burned, chafed, or rashy. It can help to relax a pet that is frenzied due to chronic itching. It has been used internally, but make sure that it is pure and not perfume grade.

Methods of Application:

When applied “neat” (undiluted) to the skin, the smell and taste of lavender can deter licking. Pet owners love this feature, as they may not need to use an E-collar. Lavender on a pet has calming effects, and both the pet and owner can benefit from the aroma. Lavender not only penetrates the skin, but also the nasal passages and the blood brain barrier. Fur is a wick to the effectiveness, and can be diffused actively with a cold air diffuser or passively through the air when applied topically. You should never use heat with essential oils, it will damage the natural chemistry.

You can also dilute lavender with coconut oil, almond oil, avocado oil, or well-shaken water to disperse and cover a  larger body surface area. Another option is to add essential oils to your pet’s shampoo. This can be soothing and provide immediate relief. The skin is a huge surface area which allows for the transfer of chemical constituents into the body and toxins out of the body.

2. Frankincense

Frankincense is distilled from resin and includes several varieties such as Boswellia carteri or Boswellia sacra. It is high in alpha-pinene and limonene. This has been used for centuries to support healthy skin and immune systems.

3. Copaiba

Copaiba is sold as an essential oil, but is essentially a sap from a tree in an Amazonian culture where this is their anti-inflammatory medicine. It is very high in beta-caryophyllene.

4. Chamomile (Roman)

Chamomile is ideally steam distilled from its flowers/ Roman chamomile is very high in isobutyl angelate and isomyl methacrylate. These have anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and skin regenerative properties in addition to being calming.

5. Citronella

Citronella is also steam distilled, but from its leaves. It is high in geraniol and limonene. Citronella is antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, an insect repellent and a deodorant.

6. Tea Tree

Also called Melaleuca alternifolia, this oil is commonly used and commonly feared. It is very high in terpinene and terpinenol. It is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, immunostimulant, analgesic, a neurotonic and protects against radiation. Fears may be unfounded and due to negative experiences with contaminated or poorly distilled product.

7-11. A Blend of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary

This popular combination contains oils which are antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and can numb tissues on contact. Clove can be as high as 87% eugenol. Cinnamon is also high in eugenol, but approximately 50% trans-cinnamaldehyde. These natural chemicals make this a “hot” oil, which can burn skin, but at the same time be antimicrobial and increase blood flow. It’s best used diluted or with a blend.

Eucalyptus radiate, also distilled from leaves, is antiinfectious and anti-inflammatory. Rosemary is another antimicrobial agent, and both can help decrease hair loss. Avoid using if a pet is epileptic.

12. Neem

Neem oil is highly revered as a natural skin care product, but it is not an essential oil. It is a cold pressed vegetable oil which contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), triglycerides, vitamin E, calcium, steroids and some essential oil constituents. Neem oil penetrates deep into the skin to moisturize and heal.

Dosing:

The amount of water and number of drops of oil will depend on the species, size, and age of the pet, and the oil. It would be difficult to do a full body soak on a horse or a mastiff, but easier to soak a hoof or a paw. Horses respond well to essential oil, but we must be cognizant of a potential sensitivity to an oil when it comes to dogs and cats. One drop of oil can go a long way, and it’s best to see your pet responds first. Roughly, we suggest beginning with one drop per ten pounds into the soak water. Multiple oils can be combined.

If essential oils have peaked your interest, consider adding an essential oil treatment to your next grooming or bath appointment. Brookside Barkery has specially formulated essential oil blends for achy joints, nerves, or dry and itchy skin that can bring your pet relief.

Considerations for an Itchy Pet

Pets with environmental allergies tend to suffer in the spring and fall, but what about dogs and cats who seem itchy regardless of the season? In those cases, it’s likely there’s something in the pet’s diet that’s causing the miserable itching.

Pets with food allergies typically have symptoms such as itchy skin, skin and ear infections, and sometimes, vomiting and diarrhea. Unlike humans, who almost always have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms with a food allergy, dogs and cats are much more likely to develop a skin problem first. Dr. Karen Becker provides some signs that your dog or cat’s allergies may be food related:

  • Your pet is less than 6 months old, or his allergies didn’t appear until he was over 6 years of age
  • Your pet is a breed prone to food intolerances
  • Your pet has received steroid therapy for allergies (which we do NOT recommend), but treatment hasn’t provided symptom relief
  • Your pet has sores or skin damage around the neck area, under the collar, and his whole head is itchy
  • Your pet is experiencing GI symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and/or constipation

How Food Allergies Develop

When your dog or cat has a food allergy or sensitivity, her immune system perceives that something in her diet is attacking her body. To deal with the “threat,” the immune system launches a counterattack. Certain substances in the diet are more likely to trigger the immune system than others, and protein is very often the culprit.

Although no research has been published on why carnivores become allergic to their natural evolutionary diet, we believe foreign contaminants may be the culprit, such as growth hormones, antibiotics and chemical residues rather than the actual protein.

Because a large portion of pet foods use conventionally raised farm meats, this will continue to be a problem for almost all susceptible pets. Often, it isn’t until the GI tract has been compromised by inflammation caused by an allergic response that your pet begins to show signs of digestive disturbance.

Identifying Food Intolerances

For pets over the age of 1 year old who are dealing with a food sensitivity, we recommend Glacier Peak’s Wellness Assessment Test to identify food intolerances. This simple hair and saliva test pinpoints over 300 food and environmental triggers that your dog or cat are sensitive to (highlighted in red below).

Pets fed the same food day in and day out for a period of months or years often develop a sensitivity to the protein source. Grains and vegetables can also be culprits. If the food is inexpensive and highly processed, chances are the meat is loaded with antibiotics and hormones, which can also cause the immune system to overreact.

Dogs and cats often grow sensitive to allergenic ingredients in food, typically grains and carbohydrates. The Wellness Kit’s test results can often identify the specific ingredient(s) in your pet’s food that are causing a problem, and the Barkery’s custom diet plan can most often resolve the issue.

Interrupting the Allergic Cycle With a Custom Diet

When your dog or cat is having an allergic reaction to some part of her diet, her body needs a break from the food she’s been eating. This gives the immune system an opportunity to settle down, which usually results in a reduction in symptoms.

After determining sensitivities from the Wellness Kit, the next step is to introduce a custom diet to start the healing process. Switching to a new diet involves transitioning your pet to a different food containing ingredients her body isn’t familiar with.

Because each case of food intolerance is unique, the Barkery’s nutrition specialists can formulate a protocol to get your pack member back on track. After two to three months, we encourage pet parents to find at least one or two other protein sources their pet can tolerate well. Every three to six months, they can rotate proteins and avoid further allergic reactions. Grass-fed, non-GMO proteins are better sources for a sensitive animal.

Supplements that support the immune system will also help your pet during its transition. If you’d like to learn more about the Wellness Assessment Kit, our Barkery Nutritionists are here to answer your questions! Click here for Wellness Assessment Kit customer testimonials.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

People everywhere are discovering the wonders that coconut oil can create. From hair and skincare to digestive and immune health, coconut oil’s popularity is continuing to grow. You may be wondering – if coconut oil is good for me, is it just as good for my pet? Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker explains the benefits coconut oil can have for your animal.

The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs

Coconut oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may have positive effects on your pet’s cognitive function. This oil is also a rich source of lauric acid, which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties as well.

Dogster provides a list of reasons why coconut oil benefits your dogs, which include:

  1. Coconut oil improves overall skin health, and clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin.
  2. Coconut oil helps moisturize the driest skin and makes a dog’s coat gleam with health, whether you add it to her diet, shampoo, or both!
  3. Applied topically to the skin, coconut oil promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
  4. The antibacterial and antifungal properties of coconut oil help reduce doggy odor and doggy breath.
  5. It helps prevent yeast infections, particularly candida.
  6. Dogs suffering from kennel cough may recover faster with coconut oil.
  7. It improves nutrient absorption and digestion (but may case loose stools, so moderation is crucial).
  8. It can help reduce your dog’s risk of diabetes by regulating your pet’s insulin levels. It may also moderate thyroid function and keep infections and heart disease at bay.
  9. Coconut oil promotes motility in arthritic dogs and those with joint issues.
  10. It can benefit brain health and may be helpful for senior dogs whose minds are starting to become “cloudy.”

Dr. Karen Becker recommends feeding one-quarter teaspoon for of 100% organic, cold-pressed, human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for dogs (and cats). This can be added at meal time. It can also be applied topically for animals with flaky and itchy skin.