Friday, June 28, 2013

Featured Fridays- Cycle Dog

I've decided to start featuring a new eco-friendly company or product every Friday. These weekly post will be called "Featured Fridays" and if you know of an environmentally friendly company or product that should be featured, send me an e-mail or message me through social media.

Photo of Lanette Fidrych and her dogs- Provided by Cycle Dog
and used by permission 
For the very first Featured Friday, I have chosen the company, Cycle Dog, and their unique dog collars that are made from old bike tubes. I found them by accident one day while surfing the web and contacted them to see if I could interview the founder, Lanette Fidrych. Lanette is truly passionate about the environment, and when she started collecting old bike tubes in her basement, to avoid sending them off the the landfill, she had no idea that one day she would be running a successful business with those old tubes. 

Today, her company, Cycle Dog, creates a variety of eco-friendly products and continues to lead the pack when it comes to running a green company. Check out the complete interview to learn more about Cycle Dog and their eco-friendly pet products! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Natural Ways to Clean Your Dog's Ears

Fortunately, none of my current dogs have had any ear issues and I haven't had to think about cleaning their ears much. Occasionally, I take a damp washcloth and swipe their ears but I haven't had to do any hardcore ear cleaning in a long time. I know other dog owners aren't as lucky! Some breeds are more prone to ear problems than others and other dogs develop ear problems just in the summer months due to increased water play. My recently deceased chocolate lab Scooby loved playing in the water when he was young and at times did develop ear problems. I fortunately had a veterinarian that was willing to show me the proper way to clean my dog's ears and how to know when to bring him to the vet and when to deal with it myself.....if there were only more vets like that! Obviously, if your dog has an actual infection, you will need to treat it with antibiotics from your veterinarian, but if you are just looking for simple everyday ways to clean your dog's ears and keep him from developing an infection, here are some tips and resources.

Over at the Daily Puppy, they have a wonderful step-by-step guide on how to clean dog's ears with vinegar and water. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully!!!! OR visit the ASPCA website to watch a video on cleaning your dog's ears AND use their warning signs list to help you decide if your dog needs to see a vet. I also recommend talking to your vet about natural ways to clean your dog's ears, the method you plan to use, and how often you plan to inspect and clean your dog's ears. All dogs are different, and when it comes to ear cleaning, there is not a one size fits all, so talk to your vet before trying anything at home.

In my personal experience, all my current dogs have floppy ears and no hair that grows in them, so I inspect them regularly and usually only need to swipe with a washcloth. My in-laws however have a small dog that has to have her ear hair trimmed regularly, and they have to watch her ears more closely for possible ear infections. I have learned to NEVER use cotton swabs or go down into the dog's ear with anything! You should only ever clean the outer part of the ear and if you think there is something inside the ear, see a veterinarian. Personally, I would just be honest with your vet that you want to use natural ways to clean your dog's ears, and if they won't help you determine the best natural ways to clean your dog's ears, find a new trustworthy vet that will!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Best Eco-friendly Dog Crates

Green, eco-friendly, earth friendly, environmentally friendly; all terms I look for when I buy things. So, let's be honest instead of using these terms to truly help the consumer make informed buying decisions, companies are starting to find ways to use these terms and MISLEAD the consumer. My favorite thing to see, is when they have reusable shopping bags selling at grocery stores, and the bag is made from nylon that takes 30-40 years to decompose (when the bag does finally have to be disposed of), which according to Ocean Conservatory, that is longer than it takes a plastic bag to decompose. Now, I am not saying grab the plastic bag instead, what I am saying is just because something is reusable doesn't mean it is really earth friendly.

When people first starting pushing the idea of taking care of the Earth, the says 'reduce, reuse, and recycle' were thrown around everywhere. The truth is you need to be doing all three of those things and then some to truly be making a difference in helping the Earth be destroyed at a slower rate.So, when it comes to reusing things, great do it, but it all really starts with when you buy something. When you start searching online and see 'earth-friendly', just how friendly is it? How GREEN was the manufacturing?

  • How long will the materials take to decompose? 
  • How much pollution was caused to make the materials? 
  • How quickly and safely can those materials be reproduced in the environment?
  • How are the workers treated? (Humans are part of the Earth, too)!

So now onto my real point of this blog post, how do you find the best eco-friendly dog crate you can spend your hard earned money on?  I have a metal one that I have had for years. It was purchased back when green and eco-friendly were not marketing tools or even information a manufacturer shared with the consumer. It is metal, not even sure what metals are in it; I am guessing some iron since it has some rusting going on. I have no idea what type of paint was used on the metal, and it had a plastic tray at the bottom, (which over time, my dog destroyed and had been decomposing in a landfill for over six years....only 30 more to go maybe???). If at some point I do decide to replace it, or have to replace it, there are a lot of options out there that are environmentally friendly, but when you start searching you get some misleading products as well. I'm sorry, but a crate made in China from recycled plastic does not make my cut for being environmentally friendly! The mistreatment of factory workers, the extreme pollution to recycle and remix the plastic and the pollution to ship the whole thing, and I could go on, but I won't. I would much rather buy a homemade wooden dog crate from a local guy. Even then I would still wonder what wood he used and what paint or stain was on it, but still a much better chance that dog crate is actually eco-friendly!
So, if you are looking for an earth friendly dog crate or other items, I suggest starting with finding out what materials are being used to make the crate. At inhabitat.com, there was a great article about which materials, (wood, plastic, or metal) are best/greenest for human furniture, and those same rules can apply to dog furniture.

All in all, when I look at all the dog crate options out there, I think wood is the winner, (but be cautious for wood composite or veneer). The only down side I can see to this option is a chewing puppy eating his way out of it. However, given the proper training, toys, and limited time in the crate....wood is how I would go, if I had it to do over again. Hunt Ridge Ranch, offers some beautiful wood crate options and so did mywooddogcrate.net. However, there were plenty of misleading products out there when I searched for "eco-friendly dog crate" on the Internet. Be a good green consumer and do your research before you buy. Check out the company, the materials and the OVERALL impact of product you are considering. 
You always have the option of making one yourself. Upcycle old wood or wooden furniture into a dog crate that is perfect for your furry friend. I have also seen people use old pallets and wooden crates to make raised dog bowl holders and dog beds.....all great alternatives to the plastic ones!

And to be quite honest, when my old metal dog crate does need to be replaced, I will definitely be looking for ways to upcycle it into something else, and you can bet that project will be on my Pupcycled Pinterest board!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to Find a Good Dog Sitter While You Are on Vacation

Preparing for vacation can be stressful, and as someone who strive to be eco-conscious in all aspects of their life, I can say packing for a week at a beach house has not been easy. I am taking my own homemade sauces, mixtures, homemade laundry detergent; and then there are the reusable cups and picnic plates, and the list just goes on and on. After I get all my stuff packed, I have to get the dogs ready for a week without us, which means finding someone to dog sit. We travel a quite a bit, so finding someone to come to our home and keep our dogs in their natural habitat is important to me. Here are some things I look for when finding a friend or service to take care of my furry babies.
  • Does the person like dogs or own dogs?
  • Can the person meet with my pets for a little before I leave?
  • Will the person be staying at my house all week or just coming a few times a day?
  • If coming and going-How close does the person live to my house and how often will they be checking on them?
  • Is the person willing to keep me updated on how things are going throughout the week?
  • How will the person get in and out of my house?
Here are some important things to tell your pet sitter before you leave for vacation:
  1. The times your dog eats, the amount to feed him, and where the food is stored.
  2. Your veterinarian information.
  3. Directions on giving any medications or supplements.
  4. How often your dog can have treats and where the treats are located.
  5. The basic commands your dog knows and how to use them. For example, 'out' means to go outside, 'in' when crating him, etc...
  6. Phone numbers you can be reached at and hotel information for where you will be staying.
  7. How to turn on and off inside and outside lights.
  8. Where the clean up supplies are located and where to put garbage during the week. (Accidents are always a possibility). 
Now comes the fun part...keeping up the GREEN routine. Here are some things that I do and expect my pet sitter to do to keep my dogs' carbon pawprints reduced:
  • Use the natural cleaning supplies I leave for cleaning up. I leave baking soda, vinegar and rags.
  • Only feed my dogs the food and treats that I leave for them. I make homemade treats or have carrot sticks for them as treats.
  • Deal with their waste properly. We live on five acres of land, so my dogs go in the yard and it stays there, but some people may have to have their dogs walked and should leave eco-friendly disposal bags or clear directions on how to dispose of or bury the waste.
  • Apply all natural flea repellent, if needed. I soak their collars in lemon juice and spray their bedding and fur with lemon juice to repel fleas. If the fleas are bad outside, then I might have the sitter do this once during the week. I do bathe my dogs before I leave and as soon as I return, so I have never come home to a flea infestation.
What other things do you do to prepare your dog sitter and dog? Leave comments below!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

How Much Water Does Your Dog Really Need?

How often does my dog need fresh water?
As the weather warms up and more and more people get outside with their dogs, it is important to make sure you and your dog stay properly hydrated. Most dogs will naturally drink the proper amount of water, but it is possible for dogs to get dehydrated and even over hydrated. While at home, check your dog's water bowl every hour during the day and fill will cold water as needed. If you are traveling or even going on a walk, it is  important to have water with you for your dog and a way for your dog to drink that water. There are many eco-friendly drinking devices on the market, from reusable water bowls that fold up to reusable water bottles that have a flip out bowl. I have a reusable water bowl that has a clip which allows me to attach it to my little backpack I wear when we walk. I put cold water in the backpack and every mile or so, I stop and pour some water into the reusable bowl for my dog. If my dog seems to be panting tto much, I will shorten the walk and increase the water stops. 
How much water does your dog really need on a hot day? 
The size and activity level of the dog will determine how much water is needed, but most dogs will drink about an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. If you have multiple dogs drinking from the same water bowl, like I do, it can be difficult to monitor how much water they are drinking. Once you have an idea of how much water your dog is drinking on their own, you can determine if they need to be drinking more or less and adjust as needed. This is especially important for puppies, since under-drinking can be a sign of Parvo, a dangerous virus that can lead to severe illness or death. 
Is all water safe for my dog to drink?
What kind of water you give your dog is also important. If you have a well, it is important to get the water tested on a regular basis to make sure it is free of harmful bacteria. Many homeowners buy spring water to drink and serve their dogs water from the tap, but never have the water tested and monitored. This could lead to illness in your dog. Another thing that well water users need to keep in mind is how they are cleaning their well. Some people use UV lights to kill bacteria and others use bleach. If you bleach your well, be sure not to serve water from the tap to your pet for a few days. If you have public water, you should also make sure it is healthy for your dog to drink and be aware of any warnings that are issued by your local water authority. If you allow your dog to drink water while out and about, from a stream, lake or other fresh water source, it is best to limit how much they drink from those sources and do your research on how well the water is monitored. We have a lake near our home that has had many problems, so we are very careful not to let our dogs drink that water when we go there. As an eco-friendly dog owner it is important to investigate the water sources in your area and determine which ones are safest for your dog. You can do this my contacting your local water authority, state park service, or other water-related resources

Knowing how much water your dog needs and what kind of water he is drinking, can lead to a healthier and longer life for your dog. Please check out my links tab to eco-friendly stores/sites, to find environmentally safe drinking bowls and travel bowls for your dog. For more guidance on how to determine if your dog drinks too much or too little water, check out Dogster